Quick Facts


Vultee BT-13


On loan from the National Museum of the Marine Corps 

Located in the Flight Discovery Center, East Wing (WWII Trainers)

The BT-13 was affectionately known as the “Vibrator,” due to the larger engine that caused the airframe to shake.  The aircraft entered service with the U.S. Army Air Corps as a standard basic trainer. It was the second step in a three-step training program. In U.S. Navy service, the trainer was designated SNV-1 and SNV-2. 

A total of 11,537 were built in three different models. Powered by a 450 hp. Pratt Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior engine—which gave the aircraft a top speed of 180 mph—the BT-13 was the first all-metal aircraft to be flown in the training sequence. It introduced the aviation cadet to the experience of flying a heavier aircraft with a much more powerful engine. The BT-13 had tandem seating, dual controls, an air-to-ground radio and intercom, a two-position prop, and flaps. In addition, there were blind flying instruments that tested the cadet’s skill in night flying and low visibility conditions.  

The student pilot was required to demonstrate proficiency in formation flying, night flying, and instrument flying in a more experienced way than the previous primary trainer. Production ended in 1944. 

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