Basic flight training in the United States prior to World War II was generally provided in light biplanes, which tended to be slow, stable and tolerant of fledgling pilots. Thus, the majority of U.S. Army Air Corps primary training in 1940 was still being done in biplanes like the Boeing-Stearman PT-13/17 series. However, given the increasingly high-performance nature of the world's combat aircraft, the Army reasoned that the primary training was too easy, giving the beginner a false sense of mastery that could, on the next leg up, slow down his learning, or even cause him to fail, when he was prematurely thrust into more demanding aircraft. Experienced instructors wanted the primary trainer to be a monoplane, with higher wing loading that demanded more careful flying. Such reasoning led the USAAC to evaluate the Fairchild M62 two-seat monoplane in 1939.
With a wing loading factor roughly 43 percent higher than the Boeing-Stearman PT-13, the Fairchild had a higher stalling speed and required a good deal more care at low speed, making it exactly what the Army was looking for, a trainer that would more nearly resemble the fighter aircraft the trainees would eventually fly. Following its evaluation, USAAC ordered 270 of the craft, with two open cockpits, as the PT-19 "Cornell," powered by a Ranger L-440 six-cylinder, inverted, air-cooled inline engine of 175 horsepower.
When the Army placed massive orders for primary trainers, Fairchild increased the plane's power with an upgraded, 200 hp Ranger engine, and the plane became the PT-19A. To meet the increasing demand, the PT-19A was also built by the Aeronca and St. Louis aircraft companies, with a total of more than 3,700 built.
More than 900 of a blind-flying version, the PT-19B, were also built. With its instruments for blind flying, the PT-19B could be fitted with a hood over the front cockpit to simulate blind flying conditions. Fairchild built 774 of the B models, with Aeronca building another 143.
Ranger L-440-3 200hp