BT-13 Valiant

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Manufacturer: Vultee
Designation: BT-13
Version: A
Nickname: Valiant
Type: Trainer (Basic)
Length: 28' 7"
Height: 11' 6"
Wingspan: 41' 7"
Wingarea: 238.00 Sq Ft
Empty Weight: 3375.00 lbs
Gross Weight: 4496.00 lbs
Crew: 2
No. of Engines: 1
Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney R-985-25
Horsepower (each): 450
Range: 515 miles
Cruise Speed: 140.00 mph
Max Speed: 180.00 Mph
Ceiling: 21,200.0 Ft

During the Second World War, the United States Army Air Forces used a three-phase training program for pilots, Primary, Basic and Advanced. With each phase, aircraft complexity and the difficulty of the tasks to be mastered increased. At the end of Primary, cadets, now capable of performing simple flight requirements left behind the open-cockpit, fabric and wood PT-13, PT-17 & PT-19 training aircraft and moved up to the more complex challenges of Basic.


The BT-13A Valiant evolved in response to a USAAF need for a second phase training aircraft. The Vultee Aircraft Inc. design combined a closed-cockpit, low-wing, metal monoplane with fabric control surfaces and a powerful 450-hp Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp-junior radial engine with a variable-pitch propeller and flaps. Due to its propensity to shake, aviation cadets nicknamed the BT-13A the “Vibrator.” The Valiant proved to be an excellent choice to introduce fledgling pilots to basic flight maneuvers. During the war, over 11,500 BT-13As and its variants were produced. 


In sixty hours of basic training over a ten-week period, the cadet got his first tight formation flying, his first cross-country hops, and his first aerobatics. He learned to recover from twenty-eight different types of stalls and spins. Most of all, he learned an instrument panel and around him control gadgets, handles, cranks, buttons, and switches. There was a bewildering array of lights, dials, and switches. There were blind flying aids and two-way radio.


The museum's BT-13A, s/n 41-21487, was manufactured by Vultee Aircraft Inc., Downey, CA, and received by the USAAF on June 8, 1941. It was assigned to the Basic Pilot School at Cochran AAF, Macon GA. Wrecked on May 3, 1943 the aircraft was disposed as surplus on September 25, 1943 with 1553 airframe hours. The museum received the aircraft in October 1980. This aircraft is on loan from the NMUSAF