Up-Close Aircraft Day



Saturday, December 14, 2019


BT-13A Valiant Japanese "Val" Dive-Bomber



March Field Air Museum is proud to announce the latest installment of “Up-Close Aircraft Days” on Saturday, December 14, 2018, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. As part of the interpretive new program, a different aircraft is featured each month with the next focused on the BT-13A Valiant Japanese “Val”. On the second Saturday of each month throughout the year, Museum guests will have the opportunity for a close-up look – sometimes climbing stairs to get a close-up view into the cargo bay or cockpit - other times even climbing aboard.


For the upcoming “Up-Close Aircraft Day” guests will see the museum’s very special BT-13A Valiant. Equipped with extended wingtips, simulated dive brakes, landing gear fairings and a reshaped vertical stabilizer, the museum’s BT-13A was modified and painted to depict an Imperial Japanese Navy Type 99 Aichi D-3A1 "Val" dive-bomber for the 1970, Academy Award winning film, “Tora, Tora, Tora. 


“Val’s” carry the distinction of dropping the first bomb of the December 7, 1941 surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as the record for sinking more Allied ships than any other Axis aircraft during the Second World War. 


In its original configuration, our movie star “Val” began its life in 1941 as a USAAF BT-13A training aircraft constructed by Vultee Aircraft Inc.  It’s original 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. The Valiant proved to be an excellent aircraft for introducing fledgling pilots to basic flight maneuvers. During the war, over 11,500 BT-13As and its variants were produced.