By Tommy H. Thomason

Thursday, May 21, 2015

American Military Training Aircraft

This latest book from E.R. Johnson, published by McFarland, is a comprehensive encyclopedia for aviation enthusiasts of U.S. military trainers, including gliders and helicopters. While perusing its 480 pages, you’re pretty much assured of coming across more than one aircraft of which you were previously unaware. In the event that you hear or read about a trainer with which you are unfamiliar, you’re almost certain to find a summary description of its career—however short or even non-existent—along with a data table, at least one photograph, and a multi-view drawing (by Lloyd S. Jones) of the type in this book

As a handy reference, it is a suitable companion to Johnson’s American Military Transport Aircraft Since 1925, reviewed by me here:, and United States Naval Aviation 1919-1941,

Like Military Transport Aircraft and United States Naval Aviation, it is soft cover and there are no color pictures. It does include an appendix describing the U.S. military trainer designation systems, which changed over time. There is also a very useful glossary and a comprehensive index, which will be invaluable in a search for a particular type covered by the book.

Try as we authors might, it’s virtually impossible to have a book published without error or typo, particularly one of this extraordinary breadth. For example, I only recently realized that the T (for trainer) designation of the Grumman TF (C-1A) Trader was based on its original justification in large part as a trainer rather than being “anomalous” as Johnson reports. See Jones’ drawing labeled as the T-37A has tip tanks that were only present on the T-37C (procured by foreign governments but not the USAF) and the A-37A and B Dragonflies, which were not trainers, per se. Hopefully these slips are few and far between. I believe that they do not detract from the overall usefulness of the book. (I was particularly pleased to note that Johnson avoided a common error by not ascribing dual controls to the Douglas A3D-2T (TA-3B).)

McFarland's website to order books is; the order line is 800-253-2187. American Military Trainers is also available from Amazon both in hardcopy and as an ebook (see for other providers).

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