Northrop BT-1: Almost but not quite.

Hard to imagine this poor-handling and questionable dive bomber was the origin -with more than a bit of “tunning”- of the inmortal Douglas “Slow But Deadly”. The BT was designed by the Northrop Corp., then a part of the Douglas company. Really modern with its all-metal structure, semi-retractable undercarriage, and dive brakes, the U.S. Navy bought with a modest 54 in the middle 1930’s. They saw service in both the USS Yorktown and Enterprise starting in 1938. The type was, as I’ve already noted, not very successful especially near the carriers at low speed where its dubious, even dangerous flight characteristics left a lot to be desired. Gladly its offspring more than compensated its forebear’s weaknesses.

Magnificent Kodachrome LIFE picture of some  BT-1’s of the CV-5 in the quite busy deck of the USS Yorktown, around 1938-39.


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