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Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-3 Yellow Peril

The Naval Aircraft Factory was a government owned and operated business intended to produce aircraft for the U.S. Navy.  Its best-known product was the N3N trainer produced beginning in 1936.  The plane’s nickname comes from the bright yellow paint scheme used by Navy trainers and from its tendency to ground loop very easily.  The N3N served as the main introductory trainer for the Navy throughout World War II.  A few N3Ns remained in Navy service at the Naval Academy until 1960.  Most of the Yellow Perils were sold soon after the end of World War II.  Many found their way into the hands of agricultural spraying operators.  In the mid-1950s the U. S. Forest Service and California based sprayers conducted experiments in using their aircraft to fight forest fires from the air.  The experiment proved a great success and by 1956 a small fleet of N3N and Stearman biplanes were being used to fight fires throughout California.

Service History

Built by the Naval Aircraft Factory and delivered to the U.S. Navy in 1941.  The aircraft’s service history is unknown, but it was eventually sold to Jensen Flying Service and was modified for use in aerial fire fighting.  In 1990, the U.S. Forest Service loaned the aircraft to the Pima Air & Space Museum as part of a program to preserve historic fire-fighting aircraft.  The museum purchased the aircraft in 2015.


34 ft


25 ft 6 in.


10 ft 10 in.


2,792 lbs (loaded)

Maximum Speed

126 MPH

Service Ceiling

15,200 ft


470 miles


One Wright R-760-2 radial with 235 horsepower


2 (Front seat removed to accommodate water tank)

Naval Aircraft Factory

Jensen Flying Service, 1950s



Serial Number