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"I am writing regarding the P-51A... (Serial #). She was sitting on jacks at Cal Aero Tech when I attended A/C maintenance training there in June of 1951. I often felt sadness for that aircraft, as I was sure it was destined for the bone yard. You cannot imagine the thrill it gave me to run across your museum and see her so beautiful and know she was safe. It made me misty-eyed. I honor you for maintaining a beautiful legacy."
James H., Clarkson, WA
James H., Clarkson, WA
When the Twentieth Century Fox studio began planning production of the feature film Tora! Tora! Tora! in the late 1960s, there were no airworthy examples of period Japanese aircraft available. The problem was solved in typical Hollywood fashion: the studio built their own fleet of Zero fighters, Kate torpedo bombers, and Val dive bombers.
A series of Val replicas was made from Convair BT-15 trainers. This was accomplished by raising the top of the fuselage behind the canopy and adding three feet to the length of the fuselage behind the cockpit, reshaping the canopy, and adding fiberglass wheel pants to the landing gear. The engine was replaced with a Pratt & Whitney R-1340 engine.
The Val replica on display was sold by the studio to the San Diego Aerospace Museum following completion of filming. It was acquired by Planes of Fame in 1973, and placed in storage until the late 1990s. At that time, Touchstone Pictures contacted the museum about using the aircraft in their film Pearl Harbor. The airplane was restored to flyable condition, and the powerplant was changed to a geared R-1340 driving a three-bladed propeller. The Val replica was featured in the movie, along with six other airplanes from Planes of Fame Air Museum.
|Status: Flyable||Length: 32 ft. 0 in.|
|Manufacturer: Vultee||Height: 12 ft. 4 in.|
|Year: 1998||Maximum Speed: 180 mph|
|Model: BT-15||Cruise Speed: N/A|
|Serial Number: 79-1220||Power Plant: 1, Pratt & Whitney R-1340 air-cooled
|Crew: 2||Range: 725 miles|
|Max T/O Weight: 4,470 lb.||Service Ceiling: N/A|
|Span: 42 ft. 2 in.||Armament: none|