1956, the U.S. Navy requested competitive designs for a new jet
trainer capable of taking their student pilots through advanced
combat flight categories such as gunnery, fighter tactics,
bombing, and carrier qualification. North American Aviation
emerged the winner with its design, which used proven features
from operational North American aircraft like the FJ-1 Fury and T-28
Trojan. Skipping the prototype phase, North American
(purchased by Rockwell, which was later purchased by Boeing)
went straight to the pre-production stage, building six YT2J-1
aircraft for evaluation. Of mid-wing configuration, the aircraft
had tandem LS-1 ejection seats for pupil (front) and instructor
(rear). The instructor's seat was raised to provide a good view,
with full dual controls so the aircraft could be controlled from
either seat. The first of the YT2J-1s flew on January 31, 1958.
Built with student pilots in mind, the Buckeye, as it was
called, had a strong, wide-based tricycle landing gear, powered
controls, large trailing-edge flaps, air brakes on both sides of
the fuselage, and a retractable arrester hook, all of which were
hydraulically actuated. The YT2-J1 was powered by a single
3400-pound thrust Westinghouse J34-WE-48 fuselage-mounted
turbojet, as were the initial T2J-1
production models (T2-A after 1962).
201 of this version were produced, the first entering service in
The Buckeye was well-designed for field maintenance conditions,
with serviceable components installed at waist level or lower.
Thus, the need for stands and ladders for most routine
maintenance, including fueling, was eliminated.