The United States and several Allied nations used the “Kaydet” as a standard primary trainer from the late 1930s to the end of World War II. Even though the U.S. Army Air Corps needed a new biplane trainer in the mid-1930’s, it moved slowly to acquire one because of the service-wide lack of funding for new airplane purchases. In 1936, following the Navy’s lead the previous year, the Army tentatively bought 26 airframes from Boeing (the Model 75), which the Army named the PT-13. With war on the horizon, this trickle of acquisition soon turned into a torrent; 3,519 were delivered in 1940 alone.
Built as a private venture by the Stearman Aircraft Company (bought by Boeing in 1934), this two-seat biplane is of mixed construction. The wings are of wood with fabric covering, while the fuselage has a tough, welded steel framework, also fabric covered. Either a Lycoming R-680 (PT-13) or Continental R-670 (PT-17) engine powered most models. An engine shortage in 1940-1941 led to the installation of Jacobs R-755 engines on some 150 airframes, and these were designated as the PT-18.
The U.S. Navy’s early aircraft, designated NS-1, eventually evolved into the N2S series, and the Royal Canadian Air Force called their Lend-Lease aircraft PT-27s. The Canadians were also responsible for the moniker “Kaydet,” a name eventually adopted by air forces around the world. The plane was easy to fly, and relatively forgiving of new pilots. It gained a reputation as a rugged airplane and a good teacher. Officially named the Boeing Model 75, the plane was (and still is) persistently known as the “Stearman” by many who flew them. It was called the “PT” by the Army, “N2S” by the Navy and “Kaydet” by Canadian forces. By whatever name, more than 10,000 were built by the end of 1945 and many are still flying today worldwide.
The nickname “Yellow Peril” is often associated with this aircraft type. Some Stearman owners claim this name resulted specifically from the Stearman’s allegedly challenging ground-handling characteristics, but most WWII veterans contend that the nickname was more of a generic reference to the dangerous nature of primary flight training, an endeavor in which the Stearman obviously played a major role.
Donated by Mr. Rod Lawrence
Restoration by Leroy Keener
Special thanks to:
Pedron Aircraft Works, LLC
Signature Flight Support, Love Field Airport