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The T-28 Trojan/Nomad

Overview

When the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) put out a request for a trainer to replace the T-6 North American responded with the T-28. The T-28 made its first flight on September 26, 1949. The United States Air Force (USAF) ordered the T-28A Trojan. The U.S. Navy (USN) ordered an upgraded version, the T-28B, and later a carrier capable version, the T-28C. Other nations also purchased the T-28. Fairchild modified some T-28As to be an attack aircraft, the AT-28D Nomad.[i] North American produced over 3,000 T-28s. They served in at least 23 foreign countries.[ii] The USAF limited the T-28s use as trainers in the early 1960s. The USN continued using T-28s as trainers until 1984.[iii]


[i] Vintage Aircraft Recognition Guide by Tony Holmes, © HarperCollins Publishers, P.393.

[ii] Arsenal of Democracy by Tom Gervasi and Bob Adelman, © 1977.

[iii] Cactus Air Force, T-28A Trojan - Cactus Air Force, last accessed 1/27/21.

In Combat

The South Vietnamese Air Force received some T-28s. USAF pilots trained the South Vietnamese pilots. On August 28, 1962 Captain Robert L. Simpson took Lt. Hoa, a nephew of the South Vietnamese Vice-President, on a combat training mission.[i] Major Gene Mechling and Captain Carlie Brown were also on the mission training South Vietnamese pilots. The mission was escorting a U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) helicopter that was transporting South Vietnamese (ARVN) troops to attack a Viet Cong (VC) stronghold. Captain Simpson and Lt Hoa were attacking a VC position when enemy fire shot them down. Captain Simpson and Lt. Hoa were killed but their bodies were not recovered. The US listed the loss as a training accident. The VC celebrated the VC Army of Lac-Hoa Village shootdown. The victory was used on VC propaganda leaflets and children’s schoolbooks.[ii] It was the first non-transport fixed wing aircraft the US lost in Vietnam.[iii] The USAF lost another T-28 in 1962.[iv]

On March 16, 1963 a T-28 provided the Communists with another propaganda boon. Laotian pilot Lieutenant Chert Saibory defected to North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese incorporated the T-28 into their fledgling Air Force.[v]

The United States conducted a “secret war” in Laos. The Hmong tribesmen fought on the American side throughout the conflict. Some Hmong flew the T-28 in combat. Many Hmong were killed flying T-28s and C-47s.[vi]

T-28 pilot, Captain George H. Albrecht was shot down and killed on November 19, 1964.[vii] There were 10 USAF T-28 losses in 1964, in Southeast Asia. This was the peak year for USAF T-28 losses during the conflict. The last 2 combat USAF T-28 losses were in 1968. The total USAF T-28 losses in Southeast Asia was 23.[viii] Colonel Joseph L. Chestnut of the 1st Special Operations Wing crashed in Laos on October 13, 1970.[ix] There was no sign of enemy fire.[x]

In Cuba T-28s performed Counter Insurgency (COIN) missions against Fidel Castro’s forces before the Batista government fell. The French Air Force also flew T-28s in missions against rebels in Algeria.

In 1963 communist backed Simba rebels attempted to take over the Congo. The Simbas gained control of almost half the country. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited some pilots who participated in the disastrous Bay of Pigs Invasion to fly in support of the Congolese government. T-28s were among the aircraft used in the CIA operations. The T-28s began operations in the summer of 1964. On one mission two T-28s crashed because of fuel starvation. Villagers took in and cared for one crew, Cuban exile Juan Peron and CIA Officer Richard Holm. Simba rebels captured, killed and ate the other T-28 crew Juan Turon and Fausto Gomez.[xi]

During the 1989 coup attempt in the Philippines T-28s joined in the coup attempt. The USAF sortied 2 F-4 Phantom IIs from Clark AFB. The Phantoms convinced the T-28 pilots to stay on the ground.


[i] Technically American military personnel in Vietnam were instructors. In reality they were performing combat missions.

[ii] Vvfm.org, THE WALL OF FACES - Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (vvmf.org), last accessed 1/27/21.

[iii] Cactus Air Force, T-28A Trojan - Cactus Air Force, last accessed 1/27/21.

[iv] Vietnam Air Losses, US Air Force Loss Statistics (vietnamairlosses.com), last accessed 1/27/21.

[v] USAF.com, North American T-28 – USAF.com, last accessed 1/27/21.

[vi] Hmong T-28 Pilots Who Lost Their Lives During the American War in Vietnam, Hmong T-28 Pilots Who Lost Their Lives During the American War in Vietnam - YouTube, last accessed 1/27/21.

[vii] Special Operations.net, USAF T-28 Combat Losses (specialoperations.net), last accessed 1/27/21.

[viii] Vietnam Air Losses, US Air Force Loss Statistics (vietnamairlosses.com), last accessed 1/27/21.

[ix] Special Operations.net, USAF T-28 Combat Losses (specialoperations.net), last accessed 1/27/21.

[x] Vvmf.org, THE WALL OF FACES - Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (vvmf.org), last accessed 1/27/21. Major Chestnut’s body was not recovered so he was listed as Missing in Action. He was promoted to Colonel before he was declared Killed in Action.

[xi] T-28 Trojan Foundation, T-28's in Congo and Cuba (t28trojanfoundation.com), last accessed 1/28/21.

T-28 Stats

Source: Vintage Aircraft Recognition Guide by Tony Holmes (c) HarperCollins Publishers 2005.

 T-28 

Max Speed

346 mph

554 km/h

Range

1060 mph

1,696 km

Engine Output

1,425 hp

1,062 kW

Max Ordinance Load

4,000 lbs

1,814 kg

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Robert Sacchi

Comments

Robert Sacchi (author) on January 31, 2021:

Thank you for reading and commenting. Airplanes have lots of tales to tell.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 31, 2021:

Your aircraft articles continue to shed light on the different wars and countries affected by war, such as Vietnam. Thanks for your research and information.

Robert Sacchi (author) on January 30, 2021:

Thank you for reading and commenting. North Vietnam incorporated it into its Air Force. I don't have any information about its eventual fate. If I come across any information I'll definitely add it. Maybe some reader has some information.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on January 30, 2021:

Very nice article, The T 28 was one of the successful planes and had a span of about 45 years. However, I remember reading that one of the planes defected to Vietnam in 1963 piloted by a Thai and the plane was impounded and the pilot imprisoned.I don't know what happened after that.

Robert Sacchi (author) on January 30, 2021:

Thank you both for reading and commenting.

Pamela Oglesby - In the early 60s the U.S. didn't want to admit it had combat troops in Vietnam. In the case of the T-28 pilots they were called "instructors". They would have a Vietnamese pilot in the back seat on combat missions so they could claim the American pilots were instructors. The U.S. trained many foreign troops in the United States, including pilots.

Liz Westwood - I'm glad you found this article interesting.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 30, 2021:

You have gathered a lot of interesting information about this aircraft and events associated with it in this informative article.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 30, 2021:

I didn't know the USAF trained the South Vietnamese to fly the T28s. This plane has an interesting history. My husband is not fond of the CIA as due to his service in the Vietnam war, but that is another story. I enjoyed your article, Robert, as always. Thank you for sharing.

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