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Fledglings: 1942

Fledglings: 1942

1942. "Final assembly at Vultee's Downey, California, plant of the BT-13A 'Valiant' basic trainer -- a fast, sturdy ship powered by a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine." Photo by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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One of my best memories as a kid

was helping a gentleman restore a BT-13 when I was in high school. This was in northern Illinois back in the mid-1970s. After it was finished in the blue and yellow paint scheme and he had it all inspected and certified, he took me up for a ride in it. I still remember sitting on my parachute with the canopy open as we took off. Then, once at altitude we did a lot of barrel rolls, Immemlmann turns, wing overs, loops and dives. Wow - what a thrill for an 18 year old kid. It was one of the most the most exciting things I've ever done and I'll never forget the thrill.

Not a basic trainer

For the Navy, at least, the Vibrator was an advanced trainer. Real basic training was done in the Stearman N2S Kaydet. Graduates moved on to the SNV (the Vibrator's Navy designation) and then the North American SNJ.

Just like chaparral2f

Here's my brother Jerry in a BT-13 in 1950 or so, looking for the Hun in the Sun, at a Tipton, Pa., airport known at the time as Stultz Field, named to honor Wilmer Stultz, the pilot who did the driving in 1928 when Amelia Earhart made her first transatlantic flight. The next time she did it all herself and all alone, in 1932.

Looks like Herigate Hall

It looks like the line here was what was later (when I worked there) like Heritage Hall, where we had mementos of all the Shuttle and Apollo missions, in addition to the Navajo and hound Dog programs, that North American and Rockwell took on in that building after Vultee shut down at the site.

Vultee vibrator

as they were known where I grew up. There was one at the airport when I was about 10. I would climb into it when no one was around and shoot down hundreds of German aircraft while in that hulk behind a deserted hangar in the hot Illinois sun. Later I discovered that the old plane was airworthy, and the fellow who owned it knew what I was up to but figured I couldn't do any real damage.


Vultee, soon to join into the Consolidated Vultee partnership that will eventually become Convair.


Pondering the meaning of the random writing on that plywood template.

Quite a progression

Used after the war for building the first cruise missiles, then for constructing the Space Shuttle orbiters, and finally the site of a movie studio. The remaining buildings are now being torn down to build a shopping center.

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