The Yellow Peril
When discussing historic aircraft, one usually mentions fighters, bombers, and even cargo planes. But in some accounts training aircraft are equally or even more important. One such trainer—the Navy N3N “Yellow Peril”—was used to school tens of thousands of naval aviators and U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen for World War II and the Cold War.
The N3N had its origins in a 1934 design for a primary trainer for the Navy, a successor to the Consolidated NY-series biplanes then in naval service. The new aircraft was to be produced by the Naval Aircraft Factory (NAF) in Philadelphia. (Thus the first “N” indicated trainer [“T” already being used for torpedo planes], the “3” indicated the third NAF design, and the final “N” was for Naval Aircraft Factory.)
The plane would have all-metal wings and fuselage structure, with fabric covering. A significant feature would be removable side panels for ease of inspection and maintenance, an important factor for aircraft that would be flown at a high tempo and abused, as trainers were.