So what’s a “Cornell” anyway…?

The recently formed Commemorative Air Force New England Wing just received its first aircraft, a Fairchild PT-23. The aircraft arrived at its new home, the Hampton Airfield (7B3) in NH, yesterday afternoon, after being diverted to KMHT on Friday.

A fly-by for the awaiting crowd before landing.

Some people refer to this aircraft as “Cornell”, so let’s figure out why.

First, a bit about the origins of this design. The Fairchild M-62 (company model designation for this type) was conceived in the late 1930s as a basic trainer for the US Army Air Corps. The initial aircraft delivered to the military were designated “PT-19” and were powered by a Ranger inline engine. Later, the design was switched to use a Continental radial engine; this type carries the designation “PT-23”. The final version of the design was called “PT-26” and had a closed cockpit.

Fairchild PT-19A (N1777, c/n T42-3629) at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum’s WW2 weekend at KRDG on 2019-06-08.

The PT-26s – named “Cornell” by the Royal Canadian Air Force – were used during World War 2 in Canada to train pilots for the British Commonwealth. Many of these were also built in Canada (by Fleet).

Former RCAF Fairchild Cornell II (N79307, c/n FZ-337, RCAF serial #10890) at Grimes Airfield (8N1; Bethel, PA) on 2016-10-29. This aircraft was built by Fleet.

With almost 8,000 built, the PT-19/23/26 design was used by some two dozen different air forces around the world, mostly in Latin America, but also in countries like India and South Africa.

Fairchild PT-23A (N73HA, c/n 331H0) at KCEF on 2013-08-24.
Fairchild PT-23A (N60332, c/n 225SL) at the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum’s WW2 weekend at KRDG on 2019-06-08.

A bit more about the CAF New England Wing’s aircraft: Built in 1942, it is a PT-23A (c/n T42-6001) and originally carried the US Army Air Corps’ serial number 42-2962. It was flown (over several days) from Texas to its new home in New Hampshire. For the Wing to acquire this aircraft is the result of a lot of work by many people, not least by the group’s leader and organizer Nick Infantino who will now be off to college to pursue a career in aviation.

(All photos in this article by Ora Lassila / So Many Aircraft.)

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