The Stearman model 75, or Stearman Kaydet, was the primary trainer for Army and Navy pilots for more than a decade. The two-seater biplane’s simple and sturdy design made it ideal for novice pilots.

From 1934 until February 1945, the Stearman Aircraft Company, a division of the Boeing Aircraft Company, built a total of 8,428 model 75 airplanes for the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy for use as primary trainers. Video // Peter Ising

“This was usually the first airplane that they (Army Air Corps cadets) flew, so they got some ground school and then they got 60 hours of primary flight training in this aircraft,” said Master Sgt. David Brown, 459th Air Refueling Wing. “That was their first introduction to aerobatics, formation flying and the very basics leading onto more advanced training in the Air Corps.”

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Instructor with a cadet beside a PT-17 during Basic Flight Instruction Training at Southern Field, Georgia, 1943.

Photo // U.S. Air Force

Development

The aircraft was designed in 1933 by Lloyd Stearman for the civilian market and introduced in 1934.

The Kaydet’s construction consisted of a fabric covered steel fuselage and wooden wings.

The model 75 received the designation PT-13 Kaydet when the U.S. Army Air Corps adopted it in 1936. Two years later, the Boeing Airplane Co. purchased the Stearman Co. and continued producing different versions of the Kaydet using different engines. Those aircraft with a Lycoming engine were designated the PT-13; with a Continental engine, the PT-17 and with a Jacobs engine, the PT-18.

See more STEARMAN photos on Flickr

Operational History

Thousands of pilots were trained with the Kaydet during World War II.
Following the war, the U.S. Army Air Forces phased out the aircraft in favor of more modern trainers.

Did You Know?

– After World War II many Kaydets were sold to private buyers and converted into crop dusters.
– The trainers were sold to Canada, China, the Philippines, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil for both military and civilian uses.
– During its 11 years, more American military pilots learned to fly in the Stearman model 75 than any other airplane.

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Dave Brown takes off in his PT-17 Stearman biplane before performing aerobatics at the Flying Circus Aerodrome and Airshow in Bealeton, Va., Jul. 30, 2017.

U.S. Air Force photo // J.M. Eddins Jr.

Aircraft Stats

Primary function:Trainer
Contractor: Boeing
Power plant: 220 hp Lycoming R-680 (PT-13), 220 hp Continental R-670-5 (PT-17)
Wingspan: 32 feet 2 inches (41.8 meters)
Length: 24 feet 3 inches, (44.5 meters)
Speed: 124 mph
Ceiling: 11,200 feet (9,144 meters)
Crew: Two