Cessna T-37/A-37 Tweety Bird/Dragonfly

The Cessna model 318 was chosen in the early 1950s to fill in a USAF requirement for a light, basic jet trainer for its student pilots. The aircraft received designation T-37 with popular name Tweety Bird or Tweet. Later also a light attack version was developed from the T-37, designated A-37 Dragonfly.

It is a twin jet, with engines in the wing roots, at the side of the fuselage. The intakes in the wing roots have the shape of half an oval. The exhausts are immediately behind the wings, at the side of the fuselage. Between the intakes is the cockpit with side-by-side seating for student and instructor pilot. The rear part of the canopy opens up in one piece. The wind screen has a vertical frame in the middle. The aircraft has a cruciform tail with a nearly rectangular vertical stabiliser, but with a large dorsal fin in front. Finally, the (single) wheels of the main gear have quite large diameter rims. 

The air intakes of the T-37 look like an oval cut in half. Note the same shape for the plates in front of the intake.

The tail has a cruciform shape, with the vertical stabiliser being nearly rectangular. In front is a large dorsal fin.

Detail of the exhausts of the Cessna T-37 and A-37.

Different versions

The different versions of the Cessna T-37/A-37 can externally be distinguished by

  • the presence of pylons under the wings, for storage of weapons
  • the presence of tip tanks
  • the presence of a gun in the nose

Details will follow later.

Confusion possible with

Aermacchi MB326


The MB326 (and similar MB339) has straight wings and a nearly rectangular vertical stabiliser like the T-37, but for the rest it is signficantly different: a tandem canopy, the main landing gear retracts outward, low horizontal stabilises and the air intakes are much smaller and nearly round. Further­more, the MB326 has the exhaust of the single engine at the very rear of the aircraft.


at 3a

This is a twin engine jet trainer with straight wings and engines at the sides of the fuselage as well, but it obviously has a tandem cockpit, lower horizontal stabilisers and a more triangular vertical fin. (photo: Toshiro Aoki/WikiMedia)

Grumman F9F Panther

f9f 4

Like the Cessna the F9F has air intakes in the wing roots and a cruciform tail. However the intakes are triangular, as is the vertical stabiliser (sort of). Additio­nally, the Grumman aircraft has one engine with an exhaust under the rear fuselage, and a single seat cockpit.

Hunting/BAC Jet Provost

jet provost t5

The Jet Provost has a side-by-side canopy like the T-37, but the canopy slides back. Furthermore it has only one engine with the exhaust at the very end of the fuselage. The intakes have a long oval shape and are at the side of the fuselage, below the cockpit. The tail of the Jet Provost is conventional, with a trapezium vertical fin.

Canadair CL-41 Tutor

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From the same era is the Canadair CL-41 side-by-side jet trainer. Especially, the front has similarities with the T-37. The CL-41 is a single jet though, with exhaust directly at the rear. Also, is has a T-tail.