North American Sabreliner

A CT-39A Sabreliner sits on display Jan. 7, 2019, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The Sabreliner was used in support of combat operations in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Matthew Seefeldt)

The North American Sabreliner (later sold as the Rockwell Sabreliner) is a mid-sized business jet developed by North American Aviation. It was offered to the U.S. Air Force in response to their Utility Trainer Experimental (UTX) program. It was named "Sabreliner" due to the similarity of the wing and tail to North American's F-86 Sabre jet fighter." Military variants, designated T-39 Sabreliner, were used by the U.S Air Force, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps after the Air Force placed an initial order in 1959. The Sabreliner was also developed into a commercial variant.

Role Trainer aircraft
Business jet
Manufacturer North American Aviation
Rockwell International
First flight September 16, 1958
Introduction 1962
Status In active service
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
Produced 1959–1982
Number built 800+



Pilot proficiency trainer and utility transport for the United States Air Force. Based on Sabreliner prototype but powered by two 3,000 lbf (13 kN) Pratt & Whitney J60-P3 engines, 143 built.
T-39A modified as a cargo and personnel transport, powered by P&W J60-P-3/-3A engines.
One T-39A modified for electronic systems testing.
Radar systems trainer for the United States Air Force, fitted with avionics of Republic F-105D fighter bomber (including R-14 NASARR main radar and APN-131 doppler radar) and withstations for three trainees, six built.
Proposed radar systems trainer fitted with avionics of F-101B Voodoo all-weather interceptor. Unbuilt.
(NA265-20 or NA277) Radar systems trainer for the United States Navy, equipped with AN/APQ-94 radar for radar intercept officer training and the AN/APQ-126 radar for bombardier/navigator training. (T3J-1 prior to 1962 redesignation program.), 42 built.
United States Navy cargo/transport version, with JT12A-8 engines, originally designated VT-39E, seven second-hand aircraft.
Electronic warfare crew training conversion of the T-39A for the United States Air Force, for training of F-105G "Wild Weasel" crews.
United States Navy cargo/transport version based on the stretched fuselage Sabreliner 60, JT12 engines equipped with thrust reversers, 13 bought.
CT-39G modified for the Undergraduate Flight Officer Training program.
U.S. Navy T-39N in Centennial of Naval Aviation commemorative paint scheme in 2011.
Navy trainer for the Undergraduate Flight Officer Training program.
Original United States Navy designation that became the T-39D in 1962.

Specifications (T3J-1/T-39D)

Three-view of the Navy's T-39N version

Data from T-39 Sabreliner on Boeing History site

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4–5
  • Capacity: 5–7 passengers
  • Length: 44 ft (13.41 m)
  • Wingspan: 44 ft 6 in (13.56 m)
  • Height: 16 ft (4.88 m)
  • Wing area: 342.1 ft² (31.79 m²)
  • Empty weight: 9,257 lb (4,199 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 16,340 lb (7,412 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 17,760 lb (8,056 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney J60-P-3 turbojet, 3,000 lbf (13.3 kN) each


  • Maximum speed: 478 knots (550 mph, 885 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 435 knots (500 mph, 800 km/h)
  • Range: 2,170 nm (2,500 mi, 4,020 km)
  • Service ceiling: 40,000+ ft (12,200+ m)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.338


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