The T-37 is a twin-engine primary trainer used for teaching the fundamentals of jet aircraft operation and instrument, formation, and night flying. Affectionately known as the Tweety Bird, it was the first USAF jet aircraft designed from conception as a trainer (as opposed to a modification such as the T-33). Its flying characteristics helped student pilots prepare to transition to the larger, faster T-38 “Talon” later in the pilot training program. Side-by-side seating in the T-37 makes it easier for the instructor to observe and communicate with the student.
The XT-37 prototype made its initial flight on 12 October 1954 and the pre-production T-37A first flew on 27 September 1955. Following modifications, the T-37A entered operational USAF service in 1957. In 1959, the T-37B joined the USAF. Similar to the A, it had more powerful engines, a redesigned instrument panel and improved radio communications and navigational equipment. In time, all A’s were modified to B standards.
The T-37C, with provisions for armament and extra fuel, was built for export. Both T-37Bs and Cs serve the air forces of several Allied nations. In all, nearly 1,300 T-37As, Bs, and Cs were built before production ended in the late 1970s. In addition, nearly 600 A-37 attack modifications of the T-37 were built.
Warner Robins Air Logistics Center supports the communications and navigation equipment on all T-37s. In the 1980s a small number of T-37s were assigned to the 19th Air Refueling Wing here at Robins to help maintain aircrew proficiency. The T-37B on display was delivered to the USAF in November 1960 and assigned to the 3515th Pilot Training Wing at Craig AFB, AL. During its service life this aircraft was temporarily assigned to the 19th Air Refueling Wing here at Robins AFB under the Accelerated Copilot Enrichment (ACE) Program. It was retired from the 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus AFB, Mississippi in 2007 and flown to the Museum for display.