The XT-37 first flew in 1954, with the production aircraft flying the following year. The light attack prototype followed in 1963. The T-37 has been a standard trainer for many years. The A-37 serves with a number of air forces, but is best known for its light attack and FAC role in the Vietnam conflict. The Dragonfly has no formal military links with New Zealand, but has joined the ranks of privately imported ex-military jet aircraft in this country. Three aircraft have now been imported.
Airworthy is 71-0854 (c/n 43392), now ZK-JTL (illustrated below) which was recovered from Bien Hoa. The aircraft was completed on August 1972 before being sent to Vietnam - one of the last batches delivered. There it was operated by the SQN C/O of the 604th Air Commando, before being passed to the SVAF in October 1972. Utilised in a FAC role, the aircraft operated in South Vietnam, North Vietnam and Cambodia. Imported to New Zealand in October 1991, the aircraft was restored by AeroTech at Ardmore. The aircraft was in good condition despite poor paintwork, with only 796 hours on the airframe. The rebuild took nearly two years (although the aircraft went on the New Zealand Register on July 2, 1992). As well as anti-corrosion work, five out of the eight rubber fuel bladders were replaced, and reconditioned engines were installed. Now operated by Jet Trainers Limited based at Ardmore, the aircraft is painted as '854' in a VNAF scheme.
The two further aircraft are 68-7945 and 70-1296. 68-7945 is under restoration at Aerotech for James MacAlpine in the UK. The aircraft will eventually be exported to the UK. 70-1296 (illustrated below) has accumulated 1688 flying hours. The ex-Vietnam aircraft (c/n 43311, ex VNAF 296) was formerly owned by an American from Chicago, but plans for restoration in New Zealand fell through. The aircraft was subsequently purchased by another American (from Miami, Fl) and was exported to the US in the first half of 2001. The aircraft then appeared on the New Zealand register as ZK-JNF on August 27 2001 and was deregistered on October 26, 2001 as exported - the registration in New Zealand facilitating the paperwork for the FAA. The aircraft is now under restoration.
Last Text Update:- 12 June, 2003
Last Picture Update:- 12 June, 2003
Remember to let me know if you have a request for an image of a particular part of the aircraft!
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