First flown in 1958, T-2 Buckeye (its original designation was T2J-1) jet trainer aircraft were produced for the U.S. Navy by North American Aviation at Columbus, Ohio. T-2 trainers were used by the Naval Air Training Command to conduct basic jet flight training for future Navy and Marine Corps aviators. The trainer established an outstanding record of safety and reliability while providing training for more than 11,000 students to pilot 18 different models of Navy jet aircraft. Buckeyes also were purchased by Venezuela (T-2D) and Greece (T-2E).
The two-place, high-performance T-2 Buckeye was used for a wide variety of pilot training, from the student’s first jet flight to fully qualified flight. The aircraft was used for teaching a wide range of skills, including high-altitude, high-speed formation and aerobatic flights; basic and radio instruments; night and day navigation; and gunnery, bombing and carrier operations.
The Buckeye had a tandem seating arrangement with the rear seat elevated to provide student and instructor pilot with excellent visibility. The front and rear cockpits had duplicate controls, allowing control of the aircraft from either cockpit. The rocket-catapult ejection seats provided emergency escape capabilities from ground level to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters) at speeds from 63 mph (101 kph) to 604 mph (972 kph).
The flying characteristics, control response, low stall speed and good stability of the T-2 combined to provide the qualities required of a good training aircraft. In addition, the T-2 was a rugged, versatile and forgiving aircraft. The wide-tread tricycle landing gear provided excellent control during takeoff and landing. The thrust-to-weight ratio and high limit load factor provided performance capabilities equal to many jet tactical aircraft. The airframe was constructed to withstand carrier landings, inadvertent high g-loads and rough landings encountered during student training.
Ground-level maintenance was emphasized throughout the design of the Buckeye. Convenient access to installed components, grouped at waist level or lower, eliminated the need for workstands and ladders for most maintenance. Large quick-opening doors provided ready access to equipment.
Engine access was direct and simple. Two forward clamshell doors could be quickly opened to expose engine accessories. Opening three doors on one side permitted complete removal and installation of an engine. The engines were suspended from the primary fuselage structure, thereby eliminating the need for a fuselage field break. All primary servicing procedures, including single-point refueling, could be performed from ground level.
The versatility of the T-2 as a weapons trainer was demonstrated by the capability to install many types of practice stores and packages on the wing store stations. These stores and packages included bombs, air-to-air and air-to-ground rockets, gun pods, and aerial tow targets. An armament accessory kit was available that provided six store stations instead of two, thus making the Buckeye an excellent light-attack aircraft in addition to its training role.