Northrop BT

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BT
NorthropBT Oct1941 Miami.jpg
Northrop BT-1s over Miami in October 1939
Role Dive bomber
Manufacturer Northrop
First flight 19 August 1935
Primary user United States Navy
Number built 55
Variants SBD Dauntless

The Northrop BT was a two-seat, single-engine monoplane dive bomber built by the Northrop Corporation for the United States Navy. At the time, Northrop was a subsidiary of the Douglas Aircraft Company.

Design and development[edit]

The design of the initial version began in 1935. It was powered by a 700 hp (520 kW; 710 PS) Pratt and Whitney XR-1535-66 double row air-cooled radial engine and had hydraulically actuated perforated split flaps or "dive-brakes" and a landing gear that retracted backwards into fairing "trousers" beneath the wings.[1] The perforated flaps were invented to eliminate tail buffeting during diving maneuvers.[1]

The next iteration of the BT, the XBT-1, was equipped with a 750 hp (560 kW; 760 PS) R-1535. This aircraft was followed in 1936 by the BT-1, powered by an 825 hp (615 kW; 836 PS) R-1535-94 engine. One BT-1 was modified with a fixed tricycle landing gear and was the first such aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier.

BT-1 of VB-5 in 1938

The final variant, the XBT-2, was a BT-1 modified[1] to incorporate landing gear which folded laterally into recessed wheel wells, leading edge slots, a redesigned canopy, and was powered by an 800 hp (600 kW; 810 PS) Wright XR-1820-32 radial. The XBT-2 first flew on 25 April 1938 and after successful testing the Navy placed an order for 144 aircraft. In 1939 the aircraft designation was changed to the Douglas SBD-1 with the last 87 on order completed as SBD-2s. By this point, Northrop had become the El Segundo division of Douglas aircraft, hence the change.

Operational history[edit]

BT-1 at El Segundo
VB-5 lineup of BT-1s

The U.S. Navy placed an order for 54 BT-1s in 1936 with the aircraft entering service during 1938. BT-1s served in USS Yorktown and Enterprise. The type was not a success in service due to poor handling characteristics, especially at low speeds, "a fatal flaw in a carrier based aircraft."[2] It was also prone to unexpected rolls and a number of aircraft were lost in crashes.

Variants[edit]

XBT-1
Prototype, one built.
BT-1
Production variant, 54 built.
XBT-2
One BT-1 modified with fully retractable landing gear and other modifications.
BT-2
Production variant of the XBT-2, 144 on order completed as SBD-1 and SBD-2.
Douglas DB-19
One BT-1 was modified as the DB-19 which was tested by the Imperial Japanese Navy as the DXD1 (Navy Experimental Type D Attack Plane)

Operators[edit]

 United States

Specifications (BT-1)[edit]

BT-1 modified as a testbed for tricycle landing gear

Data from United States Navy Aircraft since 1911 [3]

General characteristics

Performance

Armament

  • Guns: ** 1 × .50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun
    • 1 × .30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun
  • Bombs: 1,000 lb (454 kg) bomb under fuselage

Notable mentions in media[edit]

Northrop BT-1s appeared in pre-war yellow wing paint schemes in the Technicolor film Dive Bomber (1941) starring Errol Flynn.

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b c Rene J. Francillon (1990 ed), McDonnell Douglas Since 1920, Volume I. Annapolis, Maryland, Naval Institute Press
  2. ^ "Northrop BT-1." historyofwar.org. Retrieved: 5 December 2009.
  3. ^ Swanborough and Bowers 1976, p. 358.
Bibliography
  • Bowers, Peter M. United States Navy Aircraft since 1911. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990, ISBN 0-87021-792-5.
  • Brazelton, David. The Douglas SBD Dauntless, Aircraft in Profile 196. Leatherhead, Surrey, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1967. No ISBN.
  • Drendel, Lou. U.S. Navy Carrier Bombers of World War II. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1987. ISBN 0-89747-195-4.
  • Gunston, Bill. The Illustrated History of McDonnell Douglas Aircraft: From Cloudster to Boeing. London: Osprey Publishing, 1999. ISBN 1-85532-924-7.
  • Kinzey, Bert. SBD Dauntless in Detail & Scale, D&S Vol.48. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1996. ISBN 1-888974-01-X.
  • Listemann, Phil. Northrop BT-1 (Allied Wings No.3). France: www.raf-in-combat.com, 2008. ISBN 2-9526381-7-9.
  • Swanborough, Gordon and Peter M. Bowers. United States Navy Aircraft since 1911. London: Putnam, Second edition, 1976. ISBN 0-370-10054-9.

External links[edit]