Hobby Master 1-72 Air Power
HA5405 Northrop T-38 Talon NASA 901, Ellington Field, Texas, 1960s

The first prototype of what would become the Northrop T-38 Talon and F-5 Freedom Fighters flew on April 10, 1959. The first Talon entered service on March 17, 1961 at Randolph AFB. The USAF and NASA used the Talon to help their pilots maintain their proficiency. NASA especially liked the T-38 for its much lower operating and maintenance costs compared to the F-18 they had tried. Because of the low cost to operate the T-38 the USAF Thunderbirds Demonstration Team used them from 1974 – 1983 during the OPEC oil embargo.


Northrop T-38 Talon NASA 901 MSN 5528 AF serial 63-8181 was used by astronauts for travel and as chase aircraft. On February 28, 1966 NASA 901 piloted by Commander E. See Jr. and rear seat Captain C. Bassett Jr. along with another T-38 NASA 907 departed Ellington, Texas for St. Louis, Missouri. The destination was low broken clouds, rain, snow and fog. NASA 901 pilot realized he was too high to land so he did a visual go-around but struck the McDonnell Aircraft building killing both on board.

Specifications Northrop T-38A Talon
Years of Production – 1961 / 1972
Number produced – 1,100 +
Crew – 2 x Instructor / Student
Dimensions
Length – 46 ft 4.5 in (14.14 m) Wingspan – 25 ft 3 in (7.7 m) Height – 12 ft 10.5 in (3.92 m)
Weight
Empty – 7,200 lb (3,270 kg) Loaded – 11,820 lb (5,360 kg Maximum Take-Off – 12,093 lb (5,485 kg)
Performance
Engines – 2 x General Electric J85-5A (J855R after PMP modification) Afterburning Turbojets Thrust Dry – 2,050 lbf (9.1 kN) per engine Afterburner – 2,900 lbf (17.1 kN) per engine Maximum Speed – Mach 1.3 (858 mph / 1,381 km/h) Range – 1,140 mi (1,835 km) Service Ceiling – 50,000 ft (15,240 m) ROC – 33,600 ft/min (170.7 m/s)