Vultee BT-13A Valiant

Vultee BT-13A Valiant

     

The Vultee BT-13 Valiant joins the Fairchild PT-19 and the Boeing-Stearman PT-13/17 series (see NASM collection for both aircraft) as the most widely used United States primary trainers of World War II. Using its own money, Vultee developed a Model V-51 basic combat trainer in the late 1930s. The U. S. Army Air Corps tested the aircraft in 1939 under the designation BC-3 and found it acceptable with some reservations. The evaluators judged its 600 horsepower engine too powerful for use by young students and they considered the aircraft too complicated because of its retractable landing gear.

Vultee responded with a simplified design they called the model V-74. Affectionately known by thousands of student pilots as the Vultee Vibrator, it had a less-powerful engine, fixed landing gear, flaps, a two-position propeller, a two-seat tandem cockpit with a full set of flight controls for student and instructor pilot, air-to-ground radio, an intercom, and blind-flying instruments. The trainer flew at a maximum speed of 290 kph (180 mph) and had an operational range of 1,167 km (725 mi). The V-74 satisfactorily passed further Army tests and received the designation BT-13.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Physical Description:
450 horsepower Wright R-975-11 radial engine, fixed landing gear, flaps, two-position propeller, a two-seat tandem cockpit with a full set of flight controls for student and instructor pilot, air-to-ground radio, an intercom, and blind-flying instruments.

Country of Origin
United States of America

Manufacturer
Vultee Aircraft Inc.

Date
1942

Type
CRAFT-Aircraft

Dimensions
Overall: 350cm, 1531kg, 880 x 1280cm (11ft 5 13/16in., 3375.2lb., 28ft 10 7/16in. x 41ft 11 15/16in.)

The Vultee BT-13 Valiant joins the Fairchild PT-19 and the Boeing-Stearman PT-13/17 series (see NASM collection for both aircraft) as the most widely used United States primary trainers of World War II. Using its own money, Vultee developed a Model V-51 basic combat trainer in the late 1930s. The U. S. Army Air Corps tested the aircraft in 1939 under the designation BC-3 and found it acceptable with some reservations. The evaluators judged its 600 horsepower engine too powerful for use by young students and they considered the aircraft too complicated because of its retractable landing gear.

Vultee responded with a simplified design they called the model V-74. Affectionately known by thousands of student pilots as the Vultee Vibrator, it had a less-powerful engine, fixed landing gear, flaps, a two-position propeller, a two-seat tandem cockpit with a full set of flight controls for student and instructor pilot, air-to-ground radio, an intercom, and blind-flying instruments. The trainer flew at a maximum speed of 290 kph (180 mph) and had an operational range of 1,167 km (725 mi). The V-74 satisfactorily passed further Army tests and received the designation BT-13.

As a world war involving the Unites States seemed certain, far-sighted Army officers recognized that when the Air Force inevitably expanded, aircrew and maintenance personnel training must become an early priority. The standard flight training syllabus soon evolved into four 10-week phases: (1) Pre-flight training consisted of aptitude testing and instruction in code, maps, physics, aircraft recognition, and many other topics related to military flight. (2) Primary flight training took the fledgling aviator as far as his or her first solo flight in airplanes such as the Ryan PT-19 or Boeing-Stearman. (3) Ten weeks of Basic flight training provided more advanced flying experience in a heavier and more powerful aircraft such as the Vultee BT-13 and also involved additional classroom work. (4) Finally, pilots destined for fighters flew the North American AT-6 (see NASM collection). Pilots destined for transport or bomber outfits trained in a twin-engine aircraft such as the Cessna AT-17.

Vultee ended 1939 by landing a contract to build 300 BT-13s-at that time the largest basic trainer order ever placed by the Army. By early 1940, these aircraft were equipping Air Corps basic training units across the nation. After America entered the war, Vultee vastly expanded the pace of production. The 300 BT-13s were followed by 6,407 BT-13As delivered to the U. S. Army Air Forces (AAF) and the U. S. Navy. This model had a different engine and other minor changes. The U. S. Navy eventually accepted 1,350 out of this batch and they designated these trainers as SNV-1s. The final variant was the BT-13B with a 24-volt electrical system. Vultee built 1,125 and the Navy received 650 as SNV-2s while the balance went to the AAF. Pratt & Whitney could not meet the demand for the engines that powered the BT-13, so the AAF ordered Vultee to produce 1,693 BT-15s. These trainers were nearly identical to the BT-13A but they were powered by a 450 horsepower Wright R-975-11 radial engine. Production of all models ended in 1944. As soon as the war ended, the AAF and Navy immediately retired almost all BT-13/15s and SNVs.

The Smithsonian example is a BT-13A, AAF serial number 41-22124. Vultee delivered it to the Army on June 3, 1942. This trainer flew from many bases: Maxwell Field, Alabama (June 1942), Starkville, Mississippi (September 1942), Bates Field, Alabama (October 1942), McBride, Missouri (March 1943), Hunter Field, Georgia (May 1943), Wright Field, Ohio (June 1943), and Clinton County Army Air Base, Ohio (July 1943). Clinton County was primarily used to train glider pilots and the NASM BT-13A may have served there as a glider tow airplane. When the war ended, 41-22124 moved to Freeman Field, Indiana, a collection point for aircraft set aside for the future National Air Museum. Its final flight brought it to a storage facility at Park Ridge, Illinois, on May 21, 1946, with just over 1,394 flight hours logged. The Smithsonian accepted it from the Air Force on June 15, 1960.

The Vultee BT-13 Valiant joins the Fairchild PT-19 and the Boeing-Stearman PT-13/17 series (see NASM collection for both aircraft) as the most widely used United States primary trainers of World War II. Using its own money, Vultee developed a Model V-51 basic combat trainer in the late 1930s. The U. S. Army Air Corps tested the aircraft in 1939 under the designation BC-3 and found it acceptable with some reservations. The evaluators judged its 600 horsepower engine too powerful for use by young students and they considered the aircraft too complicated because of its retractable landing gear.

Vultee responded with a simplified design they called the model V-74. Affectionately known by thousands of student pilots as the Vultee Vibrator, it had a less-powerful engine, fixed landing gear, flaps, a two-position propeller, a two-seat tandem cockpit with a full set of flight controls for student and instructor pilot, air-to-ground radio, an intercom, and blind-flying instruments. The trainer flew at a maximum speed of 290 kph (180 mph) and had an operational range of 1,167 km (725 mi). The V-74 satisfactorily passed further Army tests and received the designation BT-13.

Transferred from the United States Air Force.

Physical Description:
450 horsepower Wright R-975-11 radial engine, fixed landing gear, flaps, two-position propeller, a two-seat tandem cockpit with a full set of flight controls for student and instructor pilot, air-to-ground radio, an intercom, and blind-flying instruments.

Country of Origin
United States of America

Manufacturer
Vultee Aircraft Inc.

Date
1942

Type
CRAFT-Aircraft

Dimensions
Overall: 350cm, 1531kg, 880 x 1280cm (11ft 5 13/16in., 3375.2lb., 28ft 10 7/16in. x 41ft 11 15/16in.)

The Vultee BT-13 Valiant joins the Fairchild PT-19 and the Boeing-Stearman PT-13/17 series (see NASM collection for both aircraft) as the most widely used United States primary trainers of World War II. Using its own money, Vultee developed a Model V-51 basic combat trainer in the late 1930s. The U. S. Army Air Corps tested the aircraft in 1939 under the designation BC-3 and found it acceptable with some reservations. The evaluators judged its 600 horsepower engine too powerful for use by young students and they considered the aircraft too complicated because of its retractable landing gear.

Vultee responded with a simplified design they called the model V-74. Affectionately known by thousands of student pilots as the Vultee Vibrator, it had a less-powerful engine, fixed landing gear, flaps, a two-position propeller, a two-seat tandem cockpit with a full set of flight controls for student and instructor pilot, air-to-ground radio, an intercom, and blind-flying instruments. The trainer flew at a maximum speed of 290 kph (180 mph) and had an operational range of 1,167 km (725 mi). The V-74 satisfactorily passed further Army tests and received the designation BT-13.

As a world war involving the Unites States seemed certain, far-sighted Army officers recognized that when the Air Force inevitably expanded, aircrew and maintenance personnel training must become an early priority. The standard flight training syllabus soon evolved into four 10-week phases: (1) Pre-flight training consisted of aptitude testing and instruction in code, maps, physics, aircraft recognition, and many other topics related to military flight. (2) Primary flight training took the fledgling aviator as far as his or her first solo flight in airplanes such as the Ryan PT-19 or Boeing-Stearman. (3) Ten weeks of Basic flight training provided more advanced flying experience in a heavier and more powerful aircraft such as the Vultee BT-13 and also involved additional classroom work. (4) Finally, pilots destined for fighters flew the North American AT-6 (see NASM collection). Pilots destined for transport or bomber outfits trained in a twin-engine aircraft such as the Cessna AT-17.

Vultee ended 1939 by landing a contract to build 300 BT-13s-at that time the largest basic trainer order ever placed by the Army. By early 1940, these aircraft were equipping Air Corps basic training units across the nation. After America entered the war, Vultee vastly expanded the pace of production. The 300 BT-13s were followed by 6,407 BT-13As delivered to the U. S. Army Air Forces (AAF) and the U. S. Navy. This model had a different engine and other minor changes. The U. S. Navy eventually accepted 1,350 out of this batch and they designated these trainers as SNV-1s. The final variant was the BT-13B with a 24-volt electrical system. Vultee built 1,125 and the Navy received 650 as SNV-2s while the balance went to the AAF. Pratt & Whitney could not meet the demand for the engines that powered the BT-13, so the AAF ordered Vultee to produce 1,693 BT-15s. These trainers were nearly identical to the BT-13A but they were powered by a 450 horsepower Wright R-975-11 radial engine. Production of all models ended in 1944. As soon as the war ended, the AAF and Navy immediately retired almost all BT-13/15s and SNVs.

The Smithsonian example is a BT-13A, AAF serial number 41-22124. Vultee delivered it to the Army on June 3, 1942. This trainer flew from many bases: Maxwell Field, Alabama (June 1942), Starkville, Mississippi (September 1942), Bates Field, Alabama (October 1942), McBride, Missouri (March 1943), Hunter Field, Georgia (May 1943), Wright Field, Ohio (June 1943), and Clinton County Army Air Base, Ohio (July 1943). Clinton County was primarily used to train glider pilots and the NASM BT-13A may have served there as a glider tow airplane. When the war ended, 41-22124 moved to Freeman Field, Indiana, a collection point for aircraft set aside for the future National Air Museum. Its final flight brought it to a storage facility at Park Ridge, Illinois, on May 21, 1946, with just over 1,394 flight hours logged. The Smithsonian accepted it from the Air Force on June 15, 1960.

ID: A19600288000