Tuskegee Valiant Campaign – Plus Freshly Restored TBM Avenger

BT CJR 2

In mid-March, the CAF National Capitol Squadron’s BT-13 Valiant experienced power loss and engine vibration on the downwind leg coming in to its home field at Culpeper Regional Airport in Culpeper, Virginia. Thankfully the pilot made a safe, but effectively dead-stick landing. The engine is now with Covington Aircraft Engines in Okmulgee, Oklahoma for a complete overhaul, but the bill is expected to cost a whopping US$78,000. The National Capitol Squadron is now entering a fund raising campaign to gather the necessary capital to support the rebuild. The money will go strictly towards the contracted repair, overhaul and materials. Volunteers, including some of the Squadron’s cadets (ages 12-23) will provide the additional labor in bringing the Valiant back to health again.

The National Capitol Squadron’s Vultee BT-13 is painted to represent a trainer based at Tuskegee Army Air Field during WWII in honor of Squadron and Commemorative Air Force Honorary Members, General Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., USAF (Ret) combat leader of the Tuskegee Airmen, and Colonel Charles E. McGee, USAF (Ret) also a leading Tuskegee Airman. The aircraft’s side number, TU-70, represents a BT-13 that Colonel McGee flew the most (over 20 times) during his pilot training in 1943. Although trainers were not assigned to individual airmen, the National Capitol Squadron has ceremonially added pilot’s names on the BT-13 in honor of General Davis and Colonel McGee. The unit takes great pride in helping educate the public about the sacrifices of the Tuskegee Airmen, often in conjunction with members of the Tuskegee Airmen including Colonel McGee.

Col Mcgee
Colonel McGee with the National Capitol Squadron’s BT-13 Valiant

Losing the ability to fly this aircraft to air shows at the start of the 2014 season has been very frustrating to all concerned, and they hope to get it back in the air on public view as quickly as possible. Covington estimates they can repair the engine in 4-5 weeks, but shipment will depend on the Squadron’s ability to pay their bill. The schedule is therefore driven almost entirely by the date when sufficient funds become available to release the overhauled engine from Covington. The target is to have the BT-13 flying again by the end of June. Please let’s help get the Valiant back in the air.

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The BT-13 sitting in the National Capitol Squadron's hangar in Culpeper, Virginia waiting for its engine to return. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The BT-13 sitting in the National Capitol Squadron’s hangar in Culpeper, Virginia waiting for its engine to return. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The BT-13's engine cowling and dishpan awaiting the return of the overhauled engine from Covington.  (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The BT-13’s engine cowling and dishpan awaiting the return of the overhauled engine from Covington. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)

The National Capitol Squadron’s beautiful WWII veteran Stinson L-5 Sentinel is also bereft of its engine as well, and could use your help to put it back in the air.

The National Capitol Squadron's L-5 Sentinel also needs a freshly overhauled engine unfortunately. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The National Capitol Squadron’s L-5 Sentinel also needs a freshly overhauled engine unfortunately. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)

In more positive news though, after nearly twenty years of on-again-off-again restoration while with the CAF (first with the now defunct Stars & Stripes Wing in Frederick, Maryland, and latterly with the NCS) the National Capitol Squadron’s TBM-3 Avenger flew for the first time recently in Hagerstown, Maryland. The National Capitol Squadron’s John Fuentes flew her back to Culpeper just last week, and she now sits proudly in her new home. Jack Kosko (a former WWII radio operator on Avengers) and his team of volunteers performed most of the restoration work in Airville, Pennsylvania, with the finishing touches and first flight occurring in Hagerstown, Maryland.

The CAF's freshly refurbished TBM-3E Avenger (Bu.91426) is now home in Culpeper. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The CAF’s freshly refurbished TBM-3E Avenger (Bu.91426) is now home in Culpeper. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The Avenger's fully rebuilt bomb bay, replacing the hopper from its air-tanker days with Conair, and lastly Forestry Protection Services in Canada. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt )
The Avenger’s fully rebuilt bomb bay, replacing the hopper from its air-tanker days with Conair, and lastly Forestry Protection Services in Canada. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt )
The CAF's latest airworthy Avenger originally served in the Royal Canadian Navy as a TBM-3S, but has received modifications to TBM-3E status, complete with an original operational rear turret. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)
The CAF’s latest airworthy Avenger originally served in the Royal Canadian Navy as a TBM-3S, but has received modifications back to TBM-3E status, complete with an original operational rear turret. (photo by Richard Mallory Allnutt)

1 Comment

  1. The Capitol Wing L5 is in Flying-Airshow status. Engine runs as it should and it is quite an attraction for kids. The TBM is down for winter Maintenence, no major repairs, just a vacuum pump and minor leaks. Our lead Mech has a possible 985 engine and we may have the BT13 back in the air for late 2018 Airshows. The 1340 was a total loss and unrepairable.

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