Northrop BT-1, BT-2


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Northrop BT-1, BT-2

While Northrop was working on the YA-13/XA-16 developments of the Gamma, the company was also testing a scaled-down version for the US Navy under the designation Northrop XFT-1. This was one of two Northrop prototypes which failed to attract production orders, the other being the Type 3-A of 1935. Both were all-metal fighters, the XFT-1 with fixed landing gear being intended for the US Navy. Powered originally by a 466kW Wright XR-1510 radial, it was later re-engined, as the XFT-2, with a 485kW Pratt & Whitney R-1535, but crashed three months later, in July 1936. The Northrop 3-A was a similar design for the US Army, but differed from the navy aircraft in having retractable landing gear and a modified canopy. Developed alongside these prototypes was the XBT-1, which had semi-retractable landing gear, and this entered production as the BT-1 torpedo-bomber, the first of 54 being delivered in April 1938. The BT-1 had a 615kW Pratt & Whitney R-1535 Twin Wasp Junior radial engine, but one aircraft was modified as the BT-2 to have revised landing gear and a 597kW Wright XR-1820 Cyclone. With other modifications this was to become the Douglas SBD Dauntless as the original Northrop Corporation had by then become the El Segundo Division of Douglas.

Northrop BT-1, BT-2

Matty, 09.08.2013 20:59

"Klaatu" is exactly right. The BT-1 was a dive-bomber - where the "B" stood for "Bomber" - not a torpedo bomber.

Note the central "B" in the aircraft code, over the colored band: that meant "Bombing squadron". A torpedo squadron would display a "T" there. Later, some dive-bombers would display an "S", for "Scout (-bomber) squadron" - formed alongside, and concurrent with, bombing squadrons composed of the same aircraft type.

And in the name "BT", the "T" stood for "norThrop". (Just like in the name "FU", the "U" stood for "voUght".)

Sorry I said "FU" there. (LOL)


Klaatu, e-mail, 17.03.2011 23:10

The BT-1 was NOT a torpedo bomber, it was actually designed to be a dive-bomber. "BT" did not stand for "Bomber-Torpedo". The "B" stood for "Bomber" (meaning dive-bomber). The Navy arbitrarily assigned the letter "T" to indicate aircraft constructed by Northrop, because the letter "N" had already been assigned to indicate aircraft built by the NAval Aircraft factory at Philadelphia.

At the time the BT-1 was in service with the U.S. Navy the torpedo-bombing role was performed by the Douglas TBD "Devastator".


Jackie, 08.08.2010 04:47

The Northrop BT was not very well-liked by pilots due to its poor handling characteristics, especially at low speeds. The last Northrop BT-2s were completed as SBD Dauntlesses


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