HISTORY OF THE HARVARD
The Harvard is arguably one of the best pilot training aircraft ever produced. The original version, the NA-26 first flew in 1935. The RCAF took delivery of its first one in the summer of 1939 and operated them continuously until May 1965.
During World War II, the RCAF used this aircraft as an advanced trainer as the Harvard had more power, a retractable undercarriage, and variable pitch propeller, thus more speed. All these features helped prepared the trainee pilots trained on Tiger Moths, Fawns or Cornells for faster combat aircraft like the Hurricane and Spitfire.
The Harvard is a stable instrument platform, great for aerobatics, can do a vicious spin, and has a tendency to ground loop on landing.It has poor visibility from the back seat for the instructor at night and during flapless landing.
A total of 1,455 fixed-gear and 20,110 retractable-gear variants of the Harvard were produced in the USA, Canada and other countries. Noorduyn in Montreal produced some 2800 Harvards in Canada. Canadian Car and Foundry Ltd. built a further 550 after the war. The Harvard was still serving in large numbers for the South African Air Force as late as 1997. The RAF still operates one Harvard in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight to qualify modern jet pilots who have been selected to fly its Spitfires or Hurricanes.