On September 24, 1949, the XT-28 (company designation NA-159) was flown for the first time, designed to replace the T-6 Texan. The T-28A arrived at the Air Proving Ground, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, in mid-June 1950, for suitability tests as an advanced trainer by the 3200th Fighter Test Squadron, with consideration given to its transition, instrument, and gunnery capabilities. Found satisfactory, a contract was issued and between 1950 and 1957, a total of 1,948 were built.
Following the T-28's withdrawal from U.S. military service, a number were remanufactured by Hamilton Aircraft into two versions called the Nomair. The first refurbished machines, designated T-28R-1 were similar to the standard T-28s they were adapted from, and were supplied to the Brazilian Navy. Later, a more ambitious conversion was undertaken as the T-28R-2, which transformed the two-seat tandem aircraft into a five-seat cabin monoplane for general aviation use. Other civil conversions of ex-military T-28As were undertaken by PacAero as the Nomad Mark I and Nomad Mark II
After becoming adopted as a primary trainer by the USAF, the United States Navy and Marine Corps adopted it as well. Although the Air Force phased out the aircraft from primary pilot training by the early 1960s, continuing use only for limited training of special operations aircrews and for primary training of select foreign military personnel, the aircraft continued to be used as a primary trainer by the Navy (and by default, the Marine Corps and Coast Guard) well into the early 1980s.
The largest single concentration of this aircraft was employed by the U.S. Navy at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Florida, in the training of student naval aviators. The T-28's service career in the U.S. military ended with the completion of the phase-in of the T-34C turboprop trainer. The last U.S. Navy training squadron to fly the T-28 was VT-27 "Boomers", based at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, flying the last T-28 training flight in early 1984. The last T-28 in the Training Command, BuNo 137796, departed for Naval District Washington on 14 March 1984 to be displayed permanently at Naval Support Facility Anacostia, D.C.
In 1963, a Royal Lao Air Force T-28 piloted by Lieutenant Chert Saibory, a Thai national, defected to North Vietnam. Saibory was immediately imprisoned and his aircraft was impounded. Within six months the T-28 was refurbished and commissioned into the North Vietnamese Air Force as its first fighter aircraft.
T-28s were supplied to the Republic of Vietnam Air Force (RVNAF) in support of ARVN ground operations, seeing extensive service during the Vietnam War in RVNAF hands, as well as the Secret War in Laos. A T-28 Trojan was the first US fixed wing attack aircraft (non-transport type) lost in South Vietnam, during the Vietnam War. Capt. Robert L. Simpson, USAF, Detachment 2A, 1st Air Commando Group, and Lt. Hoa, RVNAF, were shot down by ground fire on August 28, 1962 while flying close air support. Neither crewman survived. The USAF lost 23 T-28s to all causes during the war, with the last two losses occurring in 1968.
Experimental development of the counter-insurgency T-28D. It was powered by a 2,445 hp (1,823 kW) Lycoming YT-55L-9turboprop, and armed with two .50 in machine guns and up to 6,000 lb (2,730 kg) of weapons on 12 underwing hardpoints. Three prototypes were converted from T-28As by North American, with the first model flying on 15 February 1963. The project was canceled in 1965.
For fire support missions it usually carried two double-mount .50-caliber machine gun pods (with 100 rounds per gun) and two MATRA Type 122 6 x 68mm rocket pods. It could also carry on paired hardpoints a 120 kg.[264 lb.] HE or GP "iron" bomb, a MATRAType 361 36 x 37mm [1.45-inch] rocket pod, a SNEB 7 x 55mm [2.16-inch] rocket pod, or a MATRA Type 13 single-rail, MATRA Type 20 or Type 21double-rail, MATRA Type 41quadruple-rail (2 x 2), or MATRA Type 61 or Type 63sextuple-rail (3 x 3) SERAM T10 heavy rocket launchers. Improvised napalm bombs (called bidons spéciaux, or "special cans") were created by dropping gas tanks loaded with octagel-thickened fuel inside, then later igniting or detonating the spilled fuel with white phosphorus rockets.
Total 148 airframes bought from Pacific Airmotive (Pac Aero) and modified by Sud-Aviation in France. After the war the French government offered them for sale from 1964 to 1967. They sold most of them to Morocco and Argentina.The Fuerza Aérea de Nicaragua (FAN) purchased four of these ex-Morocco aircraft during 1979. Argentina later sold some to Uruguay and Honduras.
T-28S Fennec aircraft sold to the Argentinian Navy as carrier-borne attack aircraft. They were given shortened propeller blades and a tailhook to allow carrier landings.
An attempt by Hamilton Aircraft Company of Tucson, Arizona to make a civilianized Nomad III-equivalent out of refurbished ex-USAF T-28As. It had a Wright Cyclone R-1820-80 engine to make it fast and powerful, but had to lengthen the wingspan by seven feet to reduce the stall speed to below a "street-legal" 70 knots. The prototype flew for the first time in September, 1960, and the FAA Type Certificate was received on 15 February 1962. At the time, the T-28-R2 was the fastest single-engined standard category aircraft available in the United States. It had been flown to a height of 38,700 ft. [11,800 m].
T-28R-1 Nomair I
A military trainer that had a tandem cockpit, dual instrumentation and flying controls, and hydraulically-actuated rearward-sliding canopy. Six were sold in 1962 as carrier-landing trainers to the Brazilian Navy and were modified with a carrier arrestor hook. They were later transferred to the Brazilian Air Force.
T-28R-2 Nomair II
Modified to have a cramped five-seater cabin (one pilot and two rows of two passengers) that opened from the port side. Ten aircraft were modified in all; one was sold to a high-altitude photographic company.