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NA-64
NA-64
With hostilities on the horizon, France went to North American for a version of the BT-9 called the NA-57. These proved very popular, so, just before the war, they ordered a further 230 updated machines. This incarnation was called the NA-64, later to be called the YALE. It was a hodge-podge machine, featuring the Harvard canopy, the fixed landing gear and the Wright Whirlwind engine. It did, however, have the semi-monocoque rear fuselage rather than the earlier fabric structure. It retained an early wing type, which gave it certain vicious stall characteristics. Later modifications to correct this were never really successful so the aircraft kept its reputation of biting the unwary.

The Yale is a fixed undercarriage, lower powered, lighter weight version of the well known Harvard. Both the Yale and Harvard evolved from the North American Aviation NA-16 which was first flown in 1935. It was originally designed to fill the middle role in the American's three tier training program, in which pilots advanced through primary, basic, and advanced phases.

Early in 1939, the 230 Yales were ordered by the Government of France and assembly began in North American's California facility. Just over one hundred had been delivered when France fell to the Nazis in 1940. One hundred and eleven of these had just been delivered when France fell. The Germans were happy to press them into service in the Luftwaffe, many still in their packing crates, as they too had a shortage of trainers. The Luftwaffe made use of these Yales until lack of spare parts forced their grounding. The remainder of the order, with their French stenciling and plates and instruments calibrated in metric measurements, was shipped to Canada whose Air Force was moving quickly to build its training program under the Canadian Air Training Plan.

Initially the Yales served as advanced trainers in the Canadian Air Training Plan’s two phase flying training system. When sufficient numbers of the higher performance Harvards became available the Yales were relegated to the role of wireless operator training. This conversion involved gutting the rear cockpit and fitting it with radio equipment of the type used on operational fighters and bombers. These aircraft could be recognized in flight by their nose high attitude caused by the large, heavy radio sets. This weight also caused the engines to be overworked and often in need of repair or overhaul. In total, 119 Yales served with the RCAF, the last one being retired in 1946.

Of the 11 NA64 Yales that are still flying today, most if not all, came from the collection of the late eccentric Ernie Simmons, of Tillsonburg, Ontario.
Engine: Wright R-975; 9 cylinder supercharged radial
Wing Span: 48 feet, 1 inch (14.7m)
Length: 28 feet, 5 inches (14.8 m)
Height: 8 feet, 10 inches (2.7 m)
Weight (empty): 3247 pounds (1473 kg)
Weight (gross): 4375 pounds (1985 kg)
Maximum Speed : 170 miles per hour (274 km/h)
Range: 700 miles (1127 km)