Northrop T-38A 'Talon'
|Notes: LOW-WING, supersonic jet trainer (2 CREW) .|
|  Base model:||T-38|
|  Designation System:||U.S. Air Force|
|  Designation Period:||1948-Present|
|  Basic role:||Trainer|
|  Length:|| 46' 4"|| 14.1 m|
|  Height:||12' 10"|| 3.9 m|
|  Wingspan:|| 25' 3"|| 7.7 m|
|  Wingarea:|| 170.0 sq ft|| 15.7 sq m|
|  Empty Weight:|| 7,164 lb|| 3,248 kg|
|  Gross Weight:|| 11,759 lb|| 5,333 kg|
|  Max Weight:|| 12,093 lb|| 5,484 kg|
|  No. of Engines:|| 2|
|  Powerplant:|| General Electric J85-GE-5A (A/B 3,850Lb|
|  Thrust (each):|| 2,680 lb|| 1,215 kg|
|  Range:|| 1,093 miles|| 1,760 km|
|  Cruise Speed:|| 578 mph|| 930 km/h|| 502 kt|
|  Max Speed:|| 812 mph|| 1,307 km/h|| 706 kt|
|  Climb:|| 30,000 ft/min|| 9,143 m/min|
|  Ceiling:|| 53,600 ft|| 16,336 m|
Operators (Past and Present)
||9th RW ||Beale AFB ||CA |
||12th FTW ||Randolph AFB ||TX |
||14th FTW ||Columbus AFB ||MS |
||47th FTW ||Laughlin AFB ||TX |
||49th FW ||Holloman AFB ||NM |
||64th FTW ||Reese AFB ||TX |
||71st FTW ||Vance AFB ||OK |
||80th FTW ||Sheppard AFB ||TX |
||509th BW ||Whiteman AFB ||MO |
||Sacramento ALC ||McClellan AFB ||CA |
Known serial numbers
|58-1194 / 58-1197, 59-1594 / 59-1601, 59-1602 / 59-1606, 59-2868 / 59-2872, 60-0547 / 60-0553, 60-0554 / 60-0561
60-0562 / 60-0596
60-0597 / 60-0605
61-0804 / 61-0947
62-3609 / 62-3752
63-8111 / 63-8247
64-13166 / 64-13305
65-10316 / 65-10475
66-4320 / 66-4389
66-8349 / 66-8404
67-14825 / 67-14859
67-14915 / 67-14958
68-8095 / 68-8217
69-7073 / 69-7088
70-1549 / 70-1591
70-1949 / 70-1956
158197 / 158201
591603 / 591604
Examples of this type may be found at
T-38A on display
Air Force Flight Test Center Museum
Maxwell AFB Air Park
Pima Air & Space Museum
Prairie Aviation Museum
Sheppard AFB Air Park
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Recent comments by our visitors
| Rodney Peters|
| I worked the same ground as an earlier poster,
Williams AFB AZ Lima flight in 1973-1974 I was a crew chief on these fine birds.
I came from T-37ís (Baker flight same base) and these were far easier to maintain. Of course to give you some reference the tweets I worked on had 2 to 3 times their expected lifetime hours on them and they were still ticking!
I was at the Air museum 3 years ago in Tucson AZ and I took my wife and dad on a post flight walk around on a T- 38 they had there, and I was amazed at what I remembered and how enjoyable working with aircraft was.
We also lost a few crews in these planes but I would say all I was aware of where pilot errors. As has been pointed out trainees make mistakes and sometimes gravity wins. But still the number of hours that were flown was just incredible, it was surprising we did not have more loses.
Thanks guys for the site and posters for reminding me of one of the best times (and best jobs) in my life.
07/31/2008 @ 10:38 [ref: 22311]
| Joe Vincent|
| I have well over 2000 hours flying the T-38A and the AT-38B. I flew them at Columbus AFB from 1970-1975 and Holloman AFB from 1976 to 1978. There were accidents (some fatal) at those bases while I was there. But considering the number of hours flown the accident rate was very low. Compare that to the 7 MONTH PERIOD of my F-100 training at Luke AFB in 1969 when there were seven F-104 accidents with 3 fatalities! That's a "widow maker!"
The T-38 is like the best sports car you could ever imagine. My Ops Officer in Vietnam had been a test pilot who had flown all the Century Series fighters, several Navy fighters, and numerous other USAF planes. When asked his favorite, he immediately said the T-38. He said it was the "most responsive and forgiving supersonic plane he'd ever flown, and when you strapped it on, it became an extension of YOU."
05/31/2008 @ 23:35 [ref: 21066]
| Rick Danzey|
| I flew the T-38 at Columbus Jan 1973 to Sep 1976 and then at Holloman in June 1977 and Dec 1979 - Mar 1980. NEVER a Widow Maker whether in the basic training mode or in the advanced training mode. The memories come back so fast after reading the press release. My wife and I just shared about a similar incident at Columbus when we were there. S*** happens. When you fly, nothing is perfect. The only 100% PK is the ground. |
04/24/2008 @ 20:35 [ref: 20712]
| Warren Knight|
| I was a crew chief in Lima Flight (yellow tales) at Williams AFB from 1982-1984. Alot has changed at "Willie"
but one thing has not; the T-38A is still flying.
I remember one flight I launched where the base commander and a rooky went up and came back on one engine after a lightning strike, man were they lucky...man was I unlucky, I had to schedule all the work to fix it! Another infamous flight took place where Scooter (Scott Steiner) left a body panel in the cockpit along side the seat, and when the plane went inverted (base commander again) out popped the panel ending up over the commanders head. Wow!
QC had a field day with that one, and the commander wasn't to happy either. Bird strikes were pretty prevalent. One such incedent happened and the thing went down the intake and nertzed the number one engine, they made it back on one engine, but the mess, and the stench was overwhelming.
Still I had to scrape out the mess being I was the "Jeep" at the time. 82nd OMS Kick the Tires and Light the Fires
01/05/2008 @ 20:17 [ref: 19168]
| Larry Smith|
| I crewed T38 from 1973 to 1977 at Columbus AFB , To Call the T38 A widow maker is not at all correct. The White Rocket save many a mans life.It kept those people who could not handle high landing speeds from ever getting beyond training.
It was a simple acft to maintain cheep on the tax payers,they should leve well enough alone. NO glass cockpits. However in the days before solid state nav systems, Miss. rain could ground the the fleet.
09/18/2007 @ 09:19 [ref: 17953]
| Guy E. Franklin|
Ft George Meade, MD
| T-38A "Widow Maker?" I am a retired crew chief of which the T-38A/F-5 and later NASA styled modified T-38s made a good portion of my career. The T-38 A-Z is, wass and will never be a wdiow maker. The only USAF aircraft that could truly be called a widow maker would be the F-104 aand that is because the aircraft design and performance were way ahead of its time i.e. fly by wire and computer technology.
However, saying that the T-38's basic mission is to "TRAIN;" and needless to say accidents will occur while during training. The equation is simple high performance aircraft + inexpierinced pilots equal high accident rates. As well as the T-38 along with the F-4 phantom has to be one of the most produced aircraft since 1959.
Now that I have praised the aircraft let me be fair and balanced and say that the T-38 is notorious for "Talon Bites." The pencil drains to the rear of the aircraft by the air start doors still have scars on my back since 1976.
09/17/2007 @ 03:42 [ref: 17940]
| L. Dean Davis|
Spring Hope, NC
| I worked on T-38A's from 86-97. I miss those planes as they were my children. I still believe that was the best job I ever had. I was lucky to learn almost every system during my time on it and that experience has helped me tons since. |
04/28/2007 @ 17:12 [ref: 16339]
| L. Dean Davis|
Spring Hope, NC
| I worked on T-38A's for 11 years. I still believe that was one of the better jobs I ever had. I was lucky to learn almost every system during my time on it and that experience has helped me tons since. I miss those planes as they were my children. |
04/28/2007 @ 17:10 [ref: 16338]
San Antonio, TX
| I've started working on T38's and F5's in early 1979. I have always thought they were without a doubt the best supersonic trainer the Air Force has ever bought. This aircraft is very forgiving but as anyone could tell you accidents happen. I have been witness to a few.. but only one fatality, and it was pilot error. The now 2 year old glass cockpit was an absolute must if pilots are to continue to train in them. Not too many F15's, F16's, F22's or F-anythings have the old analog instrumentation anymore. Pilots now train on something similar to what they will be flying. The PMP engine mod now allows for a wider range of operation temperature-wise but has taken some of the performance edge away. I'm convinced they'll easily be flying until 2020... I just don't know if I'll be working on them. |
11/19/2006 @ 20:02 [ref: 14786]
| S. Hall|
| Here at King County Boeing field, (KBFI) we fly the T38 nearly everyday in support of Boeing Commercial flight test. Its a good stable platform for the camera and is simple to maintain. Our other aircraft are T-33s and the T-38 runs circles around it!!
10/12/2006 @ 15:02 [ref: 14434]
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