1940 North American Yale

RCAF Yale During WWII

The North American Yale was the forerunner to the highly successful Harvard design by the same company.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, the RCAF eventually acquired a total of 119 Yale aircraft between 23 August, 1940 and 25 September, 1946. Assembly of the Yale in Canada was licenced to Norduyn in addition to their production of the Harvard and Norseman.

The North American Yale was very similar to the Harvard, the most obvious difference being fixed landing gear as opposed to the retractable undercarriage found on the Harvard.

Originally ordered in quantity by the French, the first Yales were diverted to the RCAF after the fall of France. The Yale aircraft instruments were consequently annotated in French and calibrated in the metric system so all were placarded with conversion tables.

Other differences and limitations found in this design included engine and propeller controls which worked in opposite directions to standard practice, electric starters were not included so the engines had to be hand cranked, and the aircraft were chronically under-powered. Never-the-less, the aircraft provided valuable service for aircrew training at the outbreak of war.

(The Yale on static display at The Tiger Boys Aeroplane Works appeared in the WW2 motion picture, Captains Of The Clouds, starring Jimmy Cagney.)

North American NA-64 Yale - SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer:North American Aviation, Inglewood, CA
Nickname: Yale
First Flew: April, 1936
Type: Trainer (Advanced)
Length: 28' 8" 8.74 M
Height:11' 6" 3.5 M
Wingspan: 40' 10" 12.45 M
Empty Weight: 3,250 Lbs 1,470 Kg
Gross Weight: 4,500 Lbs2,041 Kg
Powerplant: Wright Whirlwind R-975-E3 Radial
Horsepower 440
Range: 750 Miles 1,200 Km
Cruise Speed: 150 Mph 240 Km/H 130 Kt
Max Speed: 175 Mph 280 Km/H 150 Kt
Climb: 850 Ft/min 260 M/min
Ceiling: 19,000 Ft 5,800 M

The North American NA-64 is a WWII intermediate trainer that was the predecessor to the well known Harvard, SNJ, T-6, and is most similar to a relatively obscure U.S. Army Air Corps variant, the BT-9.

In their factory configuration, all 230 NA-64's were ordered by the French L'Armee De L'Air in 1939. The first 111 aircraft delivered to France were gratefully accepted by the Luftwaffe and immediately formed into the Goeppingen A/B 116 and the "Rosarius Circus" which trained German pilots assigned to fly captured Allied aircraft. The remaining 119 were acquired (and De-Frenched) by the RCAF, and thus the Yale became the only production military aircraft to have served in squadron strength on both sides during the Second World War. One Yale was documented to have been shot down by a P-51, and no German examples survived after 1945.

RCAF Yale During WWII
RCAF Yale During WWII

A handful of operational Yales survive today, seven are flying, and four of those are in Canada. The original Wright R-975 nine-cylinder radial was the same engine type that powered Lindbergh in the Spirit of St. Louis on his Atlantic crossing in 1927.

Canadian Warplane Heritage Yale
Canadian Warplane Heritage Yale


"The Yale has an unjustifiably bad reputation among those who have not had the privilege of flying one. Supposedly underpowered, it was considered a dangerous aircraft to fly. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is actually nicer to fly than the Harvard and much easier due to the lack of a supercharger and retractable gear. It has a two-speed propeller which can be a bit of an issue when doing aerobatics (but only if you're not careful). However the airplane is docile in all flight regimes. Unlike the Harvard, the Yale does not violently drop a wing in a stall and is more stable in slow flight. The rugged, wide gear makes for straight and easily controlled landings. This is a great aircraft, one which deserves a better reputation than it has been granted."

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