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Wed, Nov 08, 2023

CAF Acquires Rare TT-1 Pinto

Warbird Institution Enters the Jet Age

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) has added a Temco TT-1 Pinto, registration N4486L, to its world-leading collection of historic military aircraft. Unique within the CAF’s fleet, the TT-1 is the only jet-powered, post-World-War-II-era machine amongst the organization’s famed collection of reciprocating-engined warbirds.

The acquisition of the TT-1 Pinto instantiates the CAF’s commitment to preserving aviation history and ensuring future generations of Americans come to know and appreciate the aircraft by which their freedoms have been so long and well protected and preserved.

TT-1 Pinto is the United States military designation for the Temco Model 51, a light-jet produced in very small numbers by Dallas, Texas-based Temco Aircraft in the hope of securing a U.S. Department of Defense contract for a jet-powered primary trainer. While the contract was awarded to Cessna’s T-37 Tweet, the Temco Model 51 was an capable aircraft in its own right.

Painted in broad-strokes, the Temco TT-1 Pinto was a single-engine, two-tandem-seat, primary jet-trainer. The aircraft was fitted with a durable mid-wing; a retractable, tricycle undercarriage; and numerous features characteristic of front-line combat aircraft, to include: ejection-seats, liquid oxygen equipment, and speed-brakes.

Following its 1956 maiden flight, the TT-1 Pinto was commended to the loving care of the U.S. Naval Air Test Center (NATC) in Patuxent River for evaluation. Navy test pilots reported favorably on the aircraft’s flight characteristics, but rated the little jet’s wave off capability “marginal” on account of its being, to a small degree, underpowered.

Only 15 specimens of the Model 51/TT-1-Pinto were built between 1955 and 1957, the entirety of which served in the Navy’s Air Training Command at Pensacola, Florida, where the planes took part in a program devised for purpose of testing the feasibility of conducting primary military flight training in jet-powered aircraft.

By the end of 1960, the TT-1s were phased out insofar as their performance was deemed insufficient. The wee jets—all of them—were sold as surplus.

Hoisted from ignominy by the CAF, N4486L has been assigned to a newly established Super Pinto Sponsor Group within the organization.

Rick Bell, one of the aircraft sponsors, remarked: “We are thrilled to operate this exceptional aircraft; it will enhance our ability to tell the story of military aviation history beyond World War II. The Pinto is also a great addition to our educational and historical outreach efforts."

The Pinto Sponsor Group will presently unveil the TT-1 Pinto. The aircraft will be based at the CAF’s Memphis, Tennessee hangar, but travel on occasion to the CAF’s Pensacola and Dallas facilities.

The CAF hopes to start offering living history flights in the TT-1 Pinto in 2024.

FMI: www.commemorativeairforce.org/aircraft

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