The Douglas BT-2 was a basic trainer originally produced by converting O-32 observation aircraft but that was later produced from new.
The first O-32 was produced in 1929, and was an unarmed staff transport similar in construction to the O-2H armed observation aircraft. It was thus a single bay biplane with unequal span staggered wings and a fixed undercarriage. It was powered by a 450hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-3 radial engine, and was followed by thirty O-32As, which were very similar.
In 1930 the Air Corps modified its pilot training and introduced a new basic trainer aircraft classification. Forty O-2Ks became the Douglas BT-1. The O-32 became the sole BT-2. The thirty O-32As became the BT-2A. This involved adding dual controls and instruments in the rear cockpit.
In June 1930 the Air Corps placed their first ever order for a purpose-built basic trainer when they ordered 146 BT-2Bs from Curtiss. These aircraft were similar to the O-38, but were powered by the 450hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-11 in place of the more powerful 525hp Pratt & Whitney R-1690 of the O-38. In December 1930 a second order was placed, this time for twenty BT-2Cs with a modified undercarriage and shorter fuselage.
A number of BT-2s were converted into instrument trainers by fitting blind flying hoods over the rear cockpit. Fifty eight BT-2Bs were converted into BT-2BIs and thirteen BT-2Cs became BT-2CIs.
In 1940 the BT-2 was used as the basis of a radio-controlled anti-aircraft target. Two BT-2BIs and fifteen BT-2Bs were converted, initially with the designations BT-2BG and BT-2BR respectively. They were both later redesignated as the A-4 aerial target. The seven remaining BT-2Cs were converted into drone control aircraft to operate with the A-4s and given the designation BT-2CR.
The BT-2 remained in use as a trainer until the early 1940s. By then the Air Corps had replaced its Douglas biplanes, although a few were still serving with the National Guard.
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-1340-11
Span: 40ft 0in
Length: 31ft 2in
Height: 10ft 6in
Empty weight: 2,918lb
Maximum take-off weight: 4,063ft
Max speed: 134mph
Service ceiling: 19,200ft
Range: 320 miles
Bomb load: None