Wednesday, July 1, 2009



STANDARD DATA: Seats 2. Gross wt. 4,360. Empty wt. 3,345. Fuel capacity 120. Engine 450-hp Pratt & Whitney. PERFORMANCE: Top mph 166. Cruise mph 140. Stall mph 75. Initial climb rate 1,562. Range 516. Ceiling 16,500.

Almost 10,000 BT-13 basic trainers were manufactured for the Army Air Corps before and during World War II, but relatively few remain active. Designed by the Vultee Aircraft Division of the Aviation Manufacturing Corp., the airplane soon took the parent name of Convair as the former company merged with the Consolidated Aircraft Corp. to become Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corp. (Convair). The airplane was officially named the Valiant, universally dubbed the “Vibrator,” but fly it did, behind a 450-hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior nine-cylinder engine or a Wright Whirlwind of the same power. Similar in many respects to the much more prevalent T-6, except for fixed landing gear and generally lower performance, the BT-13 was used by the Air Corps as a “halfway house” on the training road between biplane and civilian lightplane training and the advanced instruction given in the AT-6. Those who enjoy restoring older aircraft can have a field day with the Valiant, several hundred of which exist in out-of-license condition and needing major repair. Plenty of airframes exist for parts sources, and the Wasp that powered most Valiants is one of the best engines ever built; parts and service are available almost anywhere in the free world. The Valiant is relatively easy to fly but weighs almost as much as the Cessna 310 or Beech Baron when everything is full, so it can’t be treated like an Aircoupe.


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