BT-13 Houston Wing
West Houston Airport, Houston, TX
|1 × Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-1 nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 450 hp
|28 ft 10 in
|11 ft 6 in
|42 ft 0 in
The Consolidated Vultee BT-13/BT-15/SNV family of Basic Trainers first entered service in 1940, and was finally retired in the late 1960’s. The Houston Wing aircraft is a BT-13A; about 7,000 of this model were built. It is estimated that only about 40 remain in flying condition today. The Houston Wing BT-13 spent 30 years as a public attraction on top of a Utah welding shop before being rescued and returned to flight status.
A standard BT-13A is equipped a 450 HP Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-1 radial engine which drives a fixed-pitch propeller (the Houston Wing’s BT-13A has a variable-pitch prop). The landing gear is not retractable, and is not equipped with fairings. Due to the large number of BT-13s produced, Pratt & Whitney was unable to supply enough engines to equip the full production. The BT-15 is the same basic aircraft as a BT-13, but is equipped with a 450 HP Wright R-975-1 radial engine.
Although the ‘official’ name of the BT-13 is the “Valiant”, it is commonly referred to as the “Vultee Vibrator”. The origin of the “Vibrator” nickname is unclear, with several different stories being credited:
When approaching a stall, the airplane shudders or vibrates noticeably During more “adventurous” maneuvers, the canopy rattles or vibrates The powerful radial engine and fixed-pitch prop caused all the windows on the base to vibrate whenever a BT-13 took off
The Vultee BT-13 Valiant was an American World War II-era basic trainer aircraft built by Vultee Aircraft for the United States Army Air Corps, and later US Army Air Forces. A subsequent variant of the BT-13 in USAAC/USAAF service was known as the BT-15 Valiant, while an identical version for the US Navy was known as the SNV and was used to train naval aviators for the US Navy and its sister services, the US Marine Corps and US Coast Guard.