DescriptionThe Cessna T-37 Tweet (designated Model 318 by Cessna) is a small, economical twin-engined jet trainer type which flew for decades as a primary trainer for the United States Air Force (USAF).
The A-37 Dragonfly variant served in the light attack role during the Vietnam War and continues to serve in the air forces of several South American nations.
In the spring of 1952, the USAF issued a request for proposals for a "Trainer Experimental (TX)" program, specifying a lightweight, two-seat basic trainer for introducing USAF cadets to jet aircraft.
Cessna responded to the TX request with a twin-jet design with side-by-side seating. The USAF liked the Cessna design, which was given the company designation "Model 318", and the side-by-side seating since it let the student and instructor interact more closely than with tandem seating. In the spring of 1954, the USAF awarded Cessna a contract for three prototypes of the Model 318, and a contract for a single static test aircraft. The Air Force designated the type as XT-37.
The XT-37 had a low, straight wing, with the engines buried in the wing roots, a clamshell-type canopy hinged to open vertically to the rear, a control layout similar to that of contemporary operational USAF aircraft, ejection seats, and tricycle landing gear with a wide track of 14 ft (4.3 m). It first flew on 12 October 1954.
The wide track and a steerable nosewheel made the aircraft easy to handle on the ground, and the short landing gear avoided the need for access ladders and service stands. The aircraft was designed to be simple to maintain, with more than 100 access panels and doors. An experienced ground crew could change an engine in about half an hour.
The growing American military involvement in Vietnam in the early 1960s led to strong interest in counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft. In late 1962, the U.S. Air Force's Special Air Warfare Center at Eglin Air Force Base's Hurlburt Field in Florida evaluated two T-37Cs for the role.
The Air Force found the T-37 promising, but wanted an improved version of the aircraft that could carry a much larger payload, and had much greater endurance and better short-field performance. This meant a heavier aircraft with more powerful engines.
For more details of the upgrade of the A-37, click here.
For details of the production, operational history and variants of the T-37 Tweet, click here.
Specifications below are for the T-37B variant.
Cessna T-37 Tweet
Cessna A-37 Dragonfly
- Crew: 2
- 29 ft 3 in (8.92 m)
- 33 ft 99.3 in (12.581 m)
- 9 ft 2 in (2.79 m)
- Wing Area:
- 201 sq ft (18.7 sq m)
- Empty Weight:
- 4,056 lb (1,840 kg)
- 6,574 lb (2,982 kg)
- 2 × Continental-Teledyne J69-T-25 turbojets, 1,025 lbf (4.56 kN) thrust each
- Maximum speed: 425 mph (684 km/h, 369 kn)
- Cruise Speed:
- 360 mph (580 km/h, 310 kn) at 35,000 ft (11,000 m)
- Stall Speed:
- 85 mph (137 km/h, 74 kn)
- 932 mi (1,500 km, 810 nmi)
- Rate of Climb:
- 3,370 ft/min (17.1 m/s)
- Service Ceiling:
- 38,700 ft (11,800 m)