Valiant warbird joins flock

ABOVE AND ABOVE RIGHT: John Kempton at the controls of his Vultee BT 13 Valiant warbird as it soars over Lake Hume. The plane made its first flight at Albury this week after Mr Kempton imported it from the US. Pictures: DAVID THORPE
ABOVE AND ABOVE RIGHT: John Kempton at the controls of his Vultee BT 13 Valiant warbird as it soars over Lake Hume. The plane made its first flight at Albury this week after Mr Kempton imported it from the US. Pictures: DAVID THORPE
Valiant warbird joins flock

ANOTHER unique aircraft has joined the vintage warbird collection at Albury Airport.

A Vultee BT 13 Valiant, the only one flying in Australia, made its first flight this week since being imported from the US by its new owner John Kempton, of Albury.

The Valiant, designed in 1938, was used as a training plane by all branches of the US military during World War II as a bridge for fledgling pilots between primary trainers such as the Stearman biplane and the more advanced trainers such as the Harvard.

Mr Kempton’s Valiant was built in 1941 and delivered to a US Air Force base in Los Angeles in 1942.

Its history from the end of the war to the 1970s was lost when its records were destroyed but it is known to have flown only 3200 hours.

It was restored to flying condition in the US in 2005.

After its arrival in Albury, in a container, the plane took three months to rebuild under the supervision of chief mechanic Greg Burke at Hazair.

The plane, still in its olive drab livery, weighs two tonnes and has a top speed of 250km/h.

It will be used mainly for private flying, with an occasional appearance at air shows.

At the end of World War II, most of the 11,500 Valiants built were scrapped or sold as surplus for only a few hundred dollars, mainly for their engines, which were bolted onto other planes.

In the 1960s, some were bought by Twentieth Century Fox and modified to resemble Japanese torpedo bombers for the movie Tora Tora Tora.