Lockheed PV-1

Lockheed PV-1

Lockheed PV-1 (Ventura)

The Lockheed PV-1 was the designation given to the Ventura bomber in service with the US Navy. In the spring of 1942 the USAAF agreed to transfer responsibility for all anti-submarine warfare off the American coast to the US Navy, after years of fighting to keep that role. Part of this agreement saw responsibility for the Ventura pass from the USAAF, where it was designated as the B-34, to the US Navy. Eventually 2,162 aircraft were built with the PV designation (Patrol, Lockheed), of which 1,600 would be PV-1s.

A number of modifications were made to the Ventura to make it more suitable for the maritime patrol role. It retained the 2,000hp R-2800-31 engines used on the Ventura II, but fuel capacity was increased from 1,345 US gallons to 1,607 US gallons, half in permanent fuel tanks, 310 gallons in drop tanks and the rest in optional bomb-bay fuel tanks. The PV-1 was armed with two forward firing 0.50in guns, twin 0.50in guns in the dorsal turret and two 0.30in guns in the ventral position. The bomb bay was modified so that it could carry six 325lb depth charges, a single torpedo or the normal 3,000lb of bombs of the Ventura II.

Late production aircraft also carried three 0.50in guns in a gun-pack under the nose (in this version the glass bombardier’s station in the nose was removed) and had the capacity to carry eight 5-in HVAR rockets under the wings. The aircraft was also equipped with ASD-1 search radar.

The PV-1 made its maiden flight on 3 November 1942. Of the 1,600 that were built between December 1942 and May 1944 most entered service with the US Marine Corps and the US Navy, while 387 or 388 went to the RAF and Commonwealth air forces as the Ventura GR.Mk V

All PV-1s were equipped with oblique cameras in the fuselage. A number were given additional cameras and redesignated as the PV-1P.

Perhaps the most unusual use of the PV-1 (or any version of the Ventura) was to equip the US Marine Corps’ first night-fighter squadron, VMF(N)-531. This squadron was commissioned in November 1942, but didn’t become operational until September 1943, at Banika in the Russell Islands. It achieved its first victory in November 1943, before serving on Vella Lavella and Bougainville.

The PV-1 was preceded into Navy service by the PV-3, twenty seven Ventura IIs taken over by the US Navy after Pearl Harbor. These aircraft entered service with VP-82 in October 1942, and were used to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic from Argentia, Newfoundland.

The PV-1 entered service with VB-127 at NAS Deland on 1 February 1943. VP-135 became the first squadron to operate the PV-1 in combat when it took its aircraft to Adak in the Aleutians. From here four squadrons would operate the PV-1, flying a mix of reconnaissance and attack missions against Paramushiro, the northernmost of the Kurile Islands. The PV-1 was also used from the Solomon Islands, flying anti-submarine patrols over the Pacific, and for a short period operated from Fernando de Noronha, off the coast of Brazil.

Crew: 5
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-31
Horsepower: 2,000
Span: 65ft 6in
Length: 51ft 9in
Empty weight: 20,197lb
Loaded weight: 31,077lb
Maximum weight: 34,000lb
Maximum Speed: 322mph at 13,800ft
Cruising Speed: 170 mph
Service ceiling: 26,300ft
Range: 1,360 miles
Guns: four 0.50in and two 0.30in
Bomb load: 3,000lb

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Lockheed PV-1 - History

U. S. Navy (USN) PV-1 Bureau Number
PV-1 Ventura 29870 pilot Birdsall MIA March 21, 1944, 4 missing
PV-1 Ventura 33079 pilot Pierce MIA March 21, 1944, 4 missing
PV-1 Ventura 33214 pilot Trewhitt ditched September 17, 1943, 1 missing
PV-1 Ventura 33254 crashed February 3, 1944
PV-1 Ventura 33343 pilot Moore ditched March 25, 1944, 3 missing
PV-1 Ventura 33346 pilot Austin crashed December 30, 1943
PV-1 Ventura 33361 pilot Baker MIA February 14, 1944, 6 missing
PV-1 Ventura 34. pilot Tony crashed August 21, 1944 (?)
PV-1 Ventura 34641 pilot Witman MIA March 25, 1944 discovered 2002m 7 missing, resolved
PV-1 Ventura 34644 (NZ4521) transfered RNZAF
PV-1 Ventura 34645 (NZ4522) transfered to RNZAF
PV-1 Ventura 34651 (A59-55) transfered to RAAF
PV-1 Ventura 34754 (A59-56) transfered to RAAF
PV-1 Ventura 34799 pilot Taylor MIA October 29, 1944, 7 missing
PV-1 Ventura 34824 pilot Davis MIA May 3, 1944, 5 missing
PV-1 Ventura 34853 (NZ4540) pilot McFarlane damaged March 11, 1944 afterwards written off
PV-1 Ventura 34924 pilot Beathard rescued August 8, 1944
PV-1 Ventura 48903 (NZ4575) transfered to RNZAF
PV-1 Ventura 48906 (A59-73) transfered to RAAF
PV-1 Ventura 48934 pilot Logan MIA May 13, 1944, 6 missing
PV-1 Ventura 49393 (NZ4578) transfered RNZAF
PV-1 Ventura 49444 (NZ4609) transfered to RNZAF
PV-1 Ventura 49447 (NZ4618) transfered to RNZAF
PV-1 Ventura 49452 (NZ4613) transfered to RNZAF
PV-1 Ventura 49454 (NZ4614) transfered to RNZAF
PV-1 Ventura 49507 pilot Cowles force landed August 20, 1944, crew interned returned
PV-1 Ventura 49524 (NZ4632) transfered to RNZAF
PV-1 Ventura 49555 (A59-96) transfered to RAAF
PV-1 Ventura 49580 (NZ4634) transfered to RNZAF
PV-1 Ventura 49624 pilot Parker ditched January 18, 1945

U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) B-34/RB-34 Lexington Serial Number
B-34 Lexington 41-38117 (NZ4600) displayed at MoTaT

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Ventura Serial Number
PV-1 Ventura A59-55 (34651) pilot Sinclair crashed December 7, 1943
PV-1 Ventura A59-56 (34754) crashed January 27, 1945 off Bremer Island
PV-1 Ventura A59-73 (48906) abandoned Gove Airfield
PV-1 Ventura A59-96 (49555) displayed Queensland Air Museum

Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Ventura Serial Number
PV-1 Ventura NZ4521 (34644) scrapped 1948
PV-1 Ventura NZ4522 (34645) pilot Thomas force landed September 9, 1944
PV-1 Ventura NZ4540 (34853) damaged landing March 11, 1944 written off
PV-1 Ventura NZ4575 (48903) pilot Houghton crashed October 10, 1944
PV-1 Ventura NZ4578 (49393) pilot Graham MIA May 28, 1945
PV-1 Ventura NZ4600 (41-38117) displayed at MoTaT
PV-1 Ventura NZ4609 (49444) pilot Lloyd crashed June 10, 1945, remains recovered
PV-1 Ventura NZ4613 (49452) pilot Benton crashed June 9, 1945
PV-1 Ventura NZ4614 (49454) pilot Stevens crashed September 9, 1944, 5 missing
PV-1 Ventura NZ4618 (49447) pilot Thomas force landed September 22, 1945
PV-1 Ventura NZ4632 (49524) crashed July 14, 1945
PV-1 Ventura NZ4634 (49580) pilot Hobbs crashed December 20, 1944

Other Known Wrecks
PV-1 Ventura fuselage abandoned Espirito Santo
PV-1 Ventura destroyed October 23, 1944
PV-1 Ventura Isle de Guadalupe


Lockheed PV-1 - History

Aircraft History
Built by Lockheed as model 237-27-01 in Burbank. Constructors Number 237-5524. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN) as PV-1 Ventura bureau number 34641.

Wartime History
Assigned to Bombing Squadron 139 (VB-139). No known nickname or nose art. Squadron Number 31 was painted on the nose and tail in black. Later, changed to number 33.

Mission History
On March 25, 1944 took off from Attu Airfield piloted by Lt. Walter S. Whitman, Jr. as one of five PV-1 Venturas on an "Empire Express" bombing and reconnaissance mission against Shumshu Island in the Kurlie Islands. Soon after take off, PV-1 Ventura 33343 Number 28 piloted by Lt. J. H. Moore crashed.

In the face of extremely bad weather and hazardous flying conditions. Two Venturas were unable to reach the target area aborted the mission when they jettisoned their bombs into the sea and returned to base. About six hours into the mission, Attu radioed Whitman his bearing over Kamchatka. This was the last contact with the bomber. Only one Ventura managed to completed the mission and returned safely. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

Search
When Whitman’s aircraft failed to return, an over water search was initiated by US Navy ships and aircraft over an area extending 200 miles from Attu, but no trace of the bomber was found.

Wreckage
In fact, this bomber crashed into the slope of the Mutnovskiy Volcano on Kamchatka Peninsula amid scrub brush. The precise cause of the crash remains a mystery. Possibly, it was hit by anti-aircraft fire over the northern Kurile Islands. Or it was attempting to make an emergency landing on Kamchatka in Soviet territory.

During 1962, geologist Mikhail Khotin was the first to discover the aircraft which was only visible during the brief summer months. Due to Cold War tensions, the crash site was investigated by the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB) and the Soviet military and unexploded munitions were detonated, breaking up the wreckage and probably dispersed to disguise it from U.S. spy satellites.

In 1992 during a thaw in relations, the crash site was reported to the United States by historian Ms. Alla Paperno but no action was taken for another eight years.

During August 7-9, 2000 a US Army CILHI team led by retired U. S. Army Maj. Gen. Roland Lajoie, chairman of the US - Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs (USRJC), and Col. Konstantin Golumbovskiy, the USRJC's deputy chairman visited the crash site. The engines showed damage, possibly caused by Japanese anti-aircraft fire. At least one live bomb was still present at the crash site.

In 2002, US Army CILHI, recovered small bone fragments, artifacts and air crew related items assumed to be those of the crew, including a 1943 nickel. The recovered remains were transported to the CILHI Laboratory for mDNA testing against relatives of the crew.

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on January 16, 1946. The entire crew earned the Purple Heart, posthumously.

All are memorialized at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the courts of the missing. Palko and Parlier on court 1. Whitman on court 2. Hanlon, Lewallen and Fridley on court 3. Crown on court 5.

After the 2002 recovery of the remains, the crew were identified by the Department of Defense (DoD).

On November 20, 2003 the crew were buried in a group burial at Arlington National Cemetery at section 60 site 8249.

Lewallen also has a memorial marker at Valley View Cemetery in Torrington, WY.

Parlier also has a memorial marker at Mount Sterling City Cemetery in Mount Sterling, IL.

Relatives
Frances Williams McClain (aunt of Whitman)
Charlotte Davis (sister of Jack Parlier)

Contribute Information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?


Lockheed PV-1 Ventura/PV-2 Harpoon

Its initial sorties as a light bomber with the RAF were not a success, but in the maritime role the Ventura proved invaluable. Impressed by this performance, the US Navy adopted the type as the PV-1 for Pacific service. A major redesign to increase range and load-carrying ability resulted in the PV-2 Harpoon. After war service, surplus aircraft flew with several air forces, while others were converted to crop sprayers and executive transports.

Pleased with the Hudson, the British Air Ministry was interested in Lockheed's proposal to modify the Lodestar in a similar way, as a replacement for both the Hudson (in the maritime reconnaissance role) and the Bristol Blenheim light/medium bomber.

The Ventura, as it was to be known, was larger than the Hudson, with more powerful engines, improved armament and a greater load-carrying capability. Large numbers went to the RAF, RAAF, RNZAF and SAAF. A few were retained by the USAAF for over-water patrols as B-34 and B-37 Lexingtons.

From 1942 the US Navy took over all ASW work from the army and obtained 1600 PV-1s. The improved PV-2 Harpoon followed with major design changes to optimise it for the maritime role.


Lockheed PV-1 - History

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United States Navy
During the early months of 1942, the primary responsibility for anti-submarine warfare in the United States was shouldered by the Army Air Force. This irked the Navy, as it considered this region of battle its burden. To carry out such a task, the Navy was pursuing a long-range, land-based patrol and reconnaissance aircraft with a substantial bombload. This goal was always resisted by the Army Air Force, which carefully protected its monopoly on land-based bombing. This forced the navy to use long-range floatplanes for these roles. The Navy was unable to upgrade to more capable aircraft until the Army Air Force needed the Navy plant in Renton, Washington to manufacture its Boeing B-29 Superfortress. In exchange for use of the Renton plant, the Army Air Force would discontinue its objections to Naval land-based bombers, and provide aircraft to the Navy. One of the clauses of this agreement stated that production of the B-34 and B-37 by Lockheed would cease, and instead these resources would be directed at building a navalized version, the PV-1 Ventura.


U.S. Navy Lockheed PV-1 Ventura patrol bombers on an airfield in the Caribbean in 1944/45.
[Source: U.S. Navy]

The PV-1 began to be delivered in December 1942, and entered service in February 1943. The first squadron in combat was VP-135, deployed in the Aleutian Islands in April 1943. They were operated by three other squadrons in this theatre. From the Aleutians, they flew strikes against Paramushiro, a Japanese island. Often, PV-1s would lead B-24 bomber formations, since they were equipped with radar. In late 1943, PV-1s were deployed to the Solomon Islands and to the newly captured field at Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands.

After the war, the U.S. Navy deemed many PV-1s as obsolete and the aircraft were sent to Naval Air Station Clinton, Oklahoma to be demilitarized and reduced to scrap.

Royal Air Force
The Ventura Mark I was first delivered to the Royal Air Force in September 1941, and flew its first combat mission on 3 November 1942 against a factory in Hengelo, the Netherlands. On 6 December 1942, 47 Venturas engaged in a daylight, low altitude attack against Eindhoven, also in the Netherlands. This was the primary event that demonstrated the Ventura's weakness in such raids: of the 47, nine of the bombers were downed. Following this tragedy, tactics were switched to medium altitude raids. The Ventura fared little better in this strategy. During one attack on a power station in Amsterdam on 3 May 1943, New Zealand's 487 Squadron was told the target was of such importance that the attack was to be continued regardless of opposition. All 10 Venturas to cross the coast were lost to German fighters. Squadron Leader Leonard Trent, (later the last of the Great Escapers), won the Victoria Cross for his leadership in this raid.


A RAF Ventura Mark I (s/n AE742 'YH-M') of No. 21 Squadron.
[Source: Imperial War Museum]

It was never a very popular aircraft among RAF crews, and despite the fact that it was 50 mph (80 km/h) faster and carried more than twice as many bombs as its predecessor, the Hudson, it proved ill-suited to its task as a bomber. By the summer of 1943, the Ventura had been phased out of service in favor of the de Havilland Mosquito. Its last mission was flown by No. 21 Squadron RAF on 9 September 1943. After leaving bombardment service, a number were modified to be used by Coastal Command they served as the Ventura G.R.I.. A total of 387 PV-1s were used by the RAF as the Ventura G.R.V. They were used in the Mediterranean and by Coastal Command. Some RAF aircraft were modified into Ventura C.V transport aircraft.

Royal Australian Air Force
A total of 55 PV-1s were used by the RAAF in the South West Pacific Area, serving primarily in New Guinea. Initially, air crews and ground staff disliked the Ventura, preferring the North American B-25 Mitchell. But in many cases, the PV-1 had developed a grudging respect from its operators.

Royal Canadian Air Force
A total of 157 Ventura G.R. Mk. Vs were used operationally by the RCAF from 16 June 1942 to 18 April 1947 in the home defence coastal patrol role in both Eastern and Western Air Command. They were flown by 8, 113, 115, 145, and 149 Squadrons. A further 21 Ventura Mk. Is and 108 Ventura Mk. IIs were used in a training role at 1 Central Flying School, Trenton, Ontario, and at RCAF Station Pennfield Ridge, New Brunswick (RAF No. 34 Operational Training Unit) as part of the BCATP. A total of 21 Mk. Is, 108 Mk. IIs, and 157 G.R. Mk. Vs were in service during this period for a total of 286 aircraft.

South African Air Force The South African Air Force also received some 135 PV-1s, which were used to protect shipping around the Cape of Good Hope, and to bomb Italian shipping in the Mediterranean. They were used by the South African Air Force up to 1960.

Royal New Zealand Air Force
From August 1942, No. 487 Squadron RNZAF, (operating in Europe as part of the Royal Air Force), was equipped with the type, although losses (including on 3 May 1943 the loss of all 11 aircraft attacking Amsterdam), lead to their replacement with the de Havilland Mosquito in June.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force in the Pacific received 139 Venturas and some Harpoons from June 1943 to replace Lockheed Hudsons in the maritime patrol bomber and medium bomber roles. Initially Venturas were unpopular with the RNZAF due to rumoured poor performance on one engine, the fate of Squadron Leader Leonard Trent VC's 487 Squadron (above) as well as the failure of the U.S. to provide New Zealand with promised B-24 Liberators. Despite that the RNZAF Venturas came to be amongst the most widely used of any nation's, seeing substantial action until VJ Day over South West Pacific islands.

The first 19 RB-34s that arrived by sea from the U.S. in June had much equipment either missing or damaged. Six airworthy machines were hurriedly produced by cannibalization and sent into action with No. 3 Squadron RNZAF in Fiji. On 26 June the first PV-1s were flown to Whenuapai and No. 1 Squadron RNZAF was able to convert to 18 of these by 1 August, then replacing the mixed 3 Squadron in action at Henderson Field, Guadacanal in late October.

By this time No. 2 Squadron RNZAF at Ohakea and No. 9 Squadron RNZAF were also using the type. The following year No. 4 Squadron RNZAF and No. 8 Squadron RNZAF also received Venturas. Some squadrons were retained on garrison duty while others followed the allied advance to Emirau and Green Island and to New Britain. RNZAF Venturas were tasked with routine patrols, anti-shipping strikes, minelaying, bombing and strafing missions, air-sea rescue patrols, and photographic reconnaissance missions. In an apparently bizarre case of taking Lockheed's marketing slogan of The Fighter-Bomber too literally, even briefly, Venturas conducted fighter sweeps.

RNZAF machines often clashed with Japanese fighters, notably during an air-sea rescue patrol on Christmas Eve 1943. NZ4509 was attacked by nine Japanese single-engined fighters over St. George's Channel. It shot down three, later confirmed, and claimed two others as probables, although it suffered heavy damage in the action. The pilot, Flying Officer D. Ayson and navigator, Warrant Officer W. Williams, were awarded the DFC. The dorsal turret gunner Flight Sergeant G. Hannah was awarded the DFM.

By late 1944 the Ventura began to be phased out of front line action as the RNZAF backed away from the Patrol Bomber concept, orders for PV-2 Harpoons were canceled after a handful or aircraft had been delivered. At VJ Day only 30 PV-1 aircraft remained on the front-line with No. 3 Squadron at Jacquinot Bay.

Planned re-equipment with de Havilland Mosquitos did not take place until after the cessation of hostilities. The last Ventura unit was No. 2 Squadron, which continued to operate PV-1 and PV-2 aircraft on meteorological duty until 1948. A restored RNZAF RB-34 (NZ4600) is owned by the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland.


Lockheed PV-1 - History

The vast expanses of the Pacific meant a lot of patrol aircraft were needed.

Let’s take a look at a successful wartime expedient to fill that need.

The Ventura had a fairly complicated development history, so this may take a little longer than I normally devote to the technical details!
The story really starts way back at the Model 10 Electra, a light airliner that first flew in 1934. This type was best known as the plane Amelia Earhart disappeared with in 1937.

That same year she disappeared a larger, more powerful plane known as the Model 14 Super Electra first flew. Even though the pace of aviation technological development was rapid at the time, sales were slow due to the lingering effects of the great depression. Almost immediately with the launch of the Model 14, Lockheed produced engineering drawings for a fully militarized version. This would prove to be a wise move since the little Lockheed could not really compete with the Boeing 247 or Douglass DC-2. But the RAF ordered 200 of the military version in 1938. This was the largest order in Lockheed’s brief history.

The type was named “Hudson” by the British and it had several significant “firsts”. In October of 1939 it was the first RAF aircraft flying from England to down a German aircraft, that also made it the first American-built type to score a kill. It later became the first aircraft to capture a warship on the high seas when a No 269 Squadron Hudson flying from Iceland damaged the U-570 so that it couldn’t submerge. The crew waved a large white flag to the plane which circled until RN naval vessels arrived on scene. When the US found itself at war several Hudsons were taken over and re-badged A-28 or A-29 (depending on R-1830 or R-1820 engine) by the Army Air Force. These were used for training and anti-submarine patrols from the continental US.
For those first several months of war there was a bit of a turf battle between the AAF and Navy about those ASW patrols. The Navy finally won the dispute, and took over several A-29s that were renamed PBO.

Meanwhile, things were happening at Lockheed too. The Super Electra was really never successful as a civilian type. Mainly because it was too small and under-powered to be economical. So it was enlarged and given more power and designated Model 18 Lodestar. This type was ordered into production as the military transport C-56/C-60.
And of course, it was also militarized much as the Model 14 had been. Again, the RAF was the first customer for the type. The Ventura Mk I had the same layout as the earlier Hudson and looked very similar. Superficially it would be hard to tell the two apart but side-by-side it would be apparent that the Ventura was slightly bigger and had much bigger engines (R-2800 replacing R-1820 or R-1830). Instead of patrol work the British felt the type would be a good replacement for the Bristol Blenheim as a light day bomber. But, as was the case of most converted airliners, it quickly proved too fragile and too vulnerable for that role. It did however, excel as a replacement for the Hudson with better load, range and speed.
The USAAF also took a number of Model 18s as the B-34 Lexington. They used it mostly as a bomber trainer before giving up all production rights to the US Navy.
The Navy designated it PV-1 (a small number were taken from British orders as PV-3, but I believe these were all used stateside). It seems a little odd that the “bomber” designation was dropped from this aircraft (the earlier Hudson was a PBO, even the Catalina was a PBY), and the “V” part of the designation was because the type was built by Lockheed’s new Vega subsidiary. The Navy version was different in having extra fuel and an ASD-1 search radar in place of the bombardiers station.
The one knock against the type was its high wing loading that often made it difficult for fully loaded planes to get airborne from a hot, humid, tropical airfield. This led to the PV-2 Harpoon which was mostly similar except for a larger wing of course this fixed the complaint but made the plane slower.

Apart from Britain and the US Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were major users.

The new Ventura’s intended role with the navy was long range patrol and harassment missions to all the minor trouble spots in the Pacific. Not quite as long range as the Catalina, but much faster, more maneuverable, with heavier firepower and bomb load. Patrol pilots who found themselves assigned to Ventura squadrons developed an almost fighter pilot mentality and conducted patrols VERY aggressively. Of course that may also be because many of them were assigned to Marine squadrons! In early 1943 when the type entered service, the quality of Japanese pilots was slipping badly and Ventura pilots were happy to exploit this. Many scored kills, even over fighters. Missions were mostly flown in singles or pairs. The first squadrons were based in the Aleutians but they were quickly assigned to many scattered islands. Especially those with by-passed Japanese bases nearby. They were also used for taking a closer look at things spotted by other types (PBY, PBM, PB4Y) it was on one such mission at the tail end of the war when a Ventura crew first spotted survivors of Indianapolis before anyone officially knew the ship was missing.
As the Navy’s first type in broad production to carry radar it was used in number of unexpected roles too. Venturas were called on as leaders for AAF bomber squadrons, especially when weather was poor. The Marines also used the type as a night fighter in the Solomons for several months. It was an improvement, faster than, the P-70 Havoc. But still mostly inadequate for that job.

The aircraft shown here was flown by VP-133 and based out of Tinian in the last year of the war. The whole squadron carried the octopus tentacles around the turret. They raided by-passed bases including Truk. Summer of 1945 a detachment was sent to Iwo Jima to attack picket boats and radar installations along the coast of Japan to help clear the way for B-29 attacks.

This is the Revell kit. Anyone familiar with the large Monogram kits from the 1970s will find plenty familiar here. I believe this was the last such kit made (after Revell bought the brand out). Dating to early this century it is more modern in terms of good detail and fit with engraved panel lines. Its a surprisingly minor type to get the big brand treatment, but I for one am completely pleased we got this before the end of that era.


Lockheed Ventura PV-1 ex RAAF A59-96 History

Built for United States Navy with Bu No 49555 at Lockheed Vega factory which was located next to Burbank’s Union Airport in California. The aircraft was then allocated to the RAAF and on 29 May 1944 departed the West Coast on delivery to Australia, flown by Flt Lt Gibbes, arriving on 01 June 1944 at No 2 Aircraft Depot, Richmond. 03 June 1944. On 20 July 1944 the Ventura was allotted No 2 Aircraft Park, Bankstown for storage. On 25 July 1944 A59-96 was issued ex 2AD and received at No 2 Aircraft Park, Bankstown. Then on 20 November 1944 the aircraft was allotted 2AD Care and Maintenance Section, Evans Head for storage. Then on 5 February 1945 the aircraft was allotted No 1 Air Observers’ School, Evans Head for storage ex 2AD Care and Maintenance Section. The Ventura suffered Cyclone damage on 31 March 1945 which struck the Northern Rivers district of NSW at approximately 1515 hours.

On 14 May 1945 A59-96 was allotted to 2AD for inspection and fitment of bomb bay fuel tank and CO2 cylinders. The Ventura went on to storage in October 1946 and was disposed of by the RAAF on 19 November 1946 and by 25 March 1949 disposal action was completed. (The status card does not record the name of the purchaser).

A Civil History of A59-96 post disposal

Contributed by Bill Staff (August 2006) as per the QAM website.

“The aircraft was acquired from Evans Head by the Jones and Short Carrying Company and moved to Mr Short’s back yard at 38 Booyun Street, Brunswick Heads. The other partner in the business, Mr Alf Jones (who was married to Short’s sister) lived in Nana Street, across the lane behind Short’s property and three doors up. The business (and partnership) eventually folded and Short sold 38 Booyun Street. The aircraft was sold to the owner of the property next door, Cecil Robb, who owned the next three blocks along from 38 Booyun Street (36, 34, and 32). Blocks 34 and 32 were vacant and overgrown with Bracken Fern. The time of the sale would have had to be at the latest, in the early fifties. The aircraft was moved over to the back corner of Block 34 at the time of the sale. The Staff family moved into 35 Booyun Street across the road and the Goodwin’s moved in to 36 Booyun Street in 1956. At this time, the aircraft had no wings, empennage, or interior fittings. It was a bare, gutted fuselage. The aircraft had been there for some time of course and was the scene of many legendary games, involving kids from all over town. As a young kid, I have memories of many of the local kids conducting serious war games in that thing. If you could get over the concern for possible resident spiders and snakes. The older kids designated themselves as the only ones allowed in the cockpit, so the only time I could get up there was when there was no-one else around. Otherwise, I was ordered to be the tail gunner. I remember parachuting out the side door many, many times. It is reported by other residents of the street that the aircraft also served a useful purpose as a class room, principally in the study of anatomy! The aircraft remained in Booyun Street until approximately 1962 when it was removed, at the insistence of the Byron Council, to the Robb family farm at Kennedy’s Lane, Tyagarah. My Mother and Sister still live at number 35 and I still call it home”.

Warbirds Online will continue to monitor further progress on the restoration of Lockheed Ventura PV-1 A59-96.


Lockheed PV-1 - History

Photograph:

Lockheed PV-1 Ventura VH-SFF A59-67 at RAAF Richmond, NSW in November 1996 (David C Eyre)

Country of origin:

Description:

General reconnaissance and bomber aircraft

Power Plant:

Two 1,492 kw (2,000 hp) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-31 Double Wasp 18-cylinder radial air-cooled engines

Specifications:

Armament:

Two 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Browning machine guns in rear ventral position two or four similar guns in dorsal turret two fixed 12.7 mm (0.5 in) and two manually operated 7.7 mm (0.303 in) Browning machine guns in nose provision for bomb load of up to 1,134 kg (2,500 lb)

History:

In June 1940 the Vega Aircraft Division of the Lockheed Aircraft Corp at Burbank, California, was awarded a contract by the British Purchasing Commission to supply 875 examples of a new bomber derived from the Lockheed 18 airliner. The new aircraft was then given the designation Lockheed V-146, or Vega 37. Resembling the Hudson, the new aircraft had a longer fuselage, more armament, and more power. In all, 1,600 Venturas were built from December 1942 to May 1944, with some 388 of these being supplied to the RAF as the Ventura GR-V.

The type entered service in October 1942 with No 21 Squadron RAF, and went into action against the Phillips works at Eindhoven, The Netherlands. However, the type was not particularly successful in the daylight bomber role, and was withdrawn. The US Army Air Force then took delivery of the type as the B-34 Lexington, but it was never flown operationally. The B-34B trainer variant, and the Ventura II and IIA, were reconnaissance models. A night fighter version, which was fitted with a Mark IV radar and six 0.5 in machine guns in the nose, was placed in service in March 1943 by the US Marines on Bougainville and in the Solomon Islands.

On 30 June 1943 the type was ordered for the US Armed Service as the PV-1. These 500 aircraft had an increased wingspan, larger fins, more armour, revised armament, and more fuel to provide a longer range. Following World War II, the Ventura proved very popular as a fast means of transport for up to 15 passengers. About 150 were converted in the USA for various roles by a number of companies, and given such appellation as the Howard Super Ventura, etc. A couple of these survive.

The RNZAF flew the Ventura extensively from 1943 to 1948, receiving 116 PV-1s (serials NZ4501 to NZ4582, and NZ4606 to NZ4639), and 23 RB-34 Lexingtons (serials NZ4583 to NZ4605) under Lend-Lease. All PV-1s delivered to the RNZAF after NZ4510 were operated in standard US Navy colours, being delivered to Ford Island, Hawaii where they were received by an RNZAF Detachment at Kaneohe Naval Air Station and flown to New Zealand by RNZAF crews. Operated by a number of operational units, including Nos 1, 2, 3 and 9 Squadrons RNZAF, the type was used on air-sea rescue patrol operations in the region of St George’s Channel.

The Venturas were operated from a number of Pacific Islands during the island-hopping campaign. No 1 Squadron was the first to receive the type, receiving 18 Venturas at Whenuapai Air Station in August 1943, and flying to Henderson Field, Guadalcanal in October. They were initially operated as patrol bombers, these including anti-shipping and anti-submarine, bombing and strafing land targets, mine-laying, photo-reconnnaissance, supply drops to Australian coast watchers, and navigation escort for fighter ferry flights.

No 1 Squadron was relieved in February 1944, having completed 886 missions, by No 2 Squadron RNZAF. This unit moved to Bougainville Island in April 1944 and was itself relieved by No 9 Squadron the following month, No 9 being the first RNZAF unit to bomb Rabaul, NG.

No 3 Squadron operated from Emirau in the Bismark Archipelago in late 1944. On Christmas Eve 1943 NZ4509 was attacked by Mitsubishi A6Ms from Rabaul and, although receiving some damage, shot down three confirmed plus two probables, and drove off the remaining fighters. A total of 26 RNZAF PV-1s was lost on non-operational flights, and 16 on operational flights, during the war and all RB-34As survived. Following their retirement, most of the Venturas and Lexingtons were scrapped. However, one survived and is on display at the MOTAT Museum in Auckland. This example (NZ4600) was recovered from a farm where it had lain derelict for many years. It was initially in service with the USAAC as 41-38117, then with the RAF as FD655 in early 1943, and is thought to have operated in North Africa. Transferred to the RNZAF in 1943 as NZ4600, by late 1944 it was with Technical Training at Nelson.

The Ventura also saw service with the RAAF. In the European Theatre Nos 459 and 464 Squadrons used Mk GR-5s and Mks I and II respectively. Between May and August 1943 twenty examples were supplied to the RAAF in Australia, these being Mk I (RB-34s) serials A59-1 to A59-9 and A59-11 to A59-18 and Mk II A59-10, A59-19 and A59-20. Later, between June and July 1944, 55 Model GR-5s were obtained under Lend-Lease and allotted serials A59-50 to A59-104.

Most served with No 13 Squadron, which was formed in June 1940 to operate Ansons, Hudson and then a mix of Beauforts and Venturas. In May 1944 the unit was based at Cooktown, QLD and by this stage was equipped only with the Ventura. It then moved to Gove in the Northern Territory and performed anti-submarine and strike operations to southern parts of Indonesia and East Timor. In August 1945 it moved to Morotai in eastern Indonesia and Labuan, and undertook patrols dropping leaflets. At the conclusion of hostilities the unit’s aircraft were used to return Australian servicemen and POWs to Australia. A few Venturas were at various times attached to Nos 4 and 11 Communications Units. After the war the survivors were broken up for scrap, most at Tocumwal, NSW.

In 1986 a deal was arranged with an American group to exchange an airworthy ex-RAAF Canberra bomber for an airworthy Ventura. The latter was flown to Australia painted in RAAF No 13 Squadron markings, painted as A59-67 and registered VH-SFF. Based at Point Cook, VIC, it flew at a number of aviation events on the east coast but in October 1998 at RAAF Richmond, NSW, it suffered a double engine failure and crash landed. It was returned to Point Cook and restored for static display. Another Ventura is under restoration at the Queensland Air Museum at Caloundra, QLD, for display.


Lockheed PV-1 Ventura

Back in the 1970s, Monogram and Revell released a string of big bombers in 1/48 scale, from the medium bombers like the B-25 up through the heavies, including the B-17, B-24 and B-29. And then, the whole big bomber thing kind of died. Tamiya made a Lancaster, Accurate Miniatures did a run of early B-25s, and little else happened. Today, if you want to build a 1/48 bomber, you’re often as not limited to the same selection of 40-year-old molds.

In recent years, though, the tide’s been turning, and the big bombers are back in vogue. To me, that’s the big deal about Revell’s PV-1 Ventura. Sure, it was only a light patrol bomber, but it’s also their first twin-engine bomber in a long time (since the A-26 Invader, I believe).

How is it? Fantastic, especially for the pricetag of around $30. Detail is soft in some areas, and the fit is awful with a few of the smaller bits like the gear bay doors, but overall, this one’s a winner.

Detail overall is quite good – particularly the surface detail. It could be a bit crisper in places – the crew door in the port side of the fuselage feels a bit soft, for example. Where the detail falls apart is in the little things. The tires and machine guns are awful, and the cockpit lacks the business present in pretty much every WWII aircraft.

Engineering – 5

While the detail may be soft in places – at least soft for a new-tool kit – the engineering is top notch all the way. Everything is designed to go together logically, and it’s almost impossible to get it wrong.

Smart engineering is one thing, but it all falls apart if the fit’s not there. Fortunately, the PV-1 is a paragon of great fit. The wings, in particular, seat into the fuselage along an internally-braced wingspar, and they fit so well that you can paint them separate from the fuselage. Likewise, the tail snaps into place with authority and no need to glue or fill.

Instructions – 3

The instructions are easy to follow, but don’t go into the detail I would like. For example, the gear bay doors have a rather vague fit, and the instructions offer no insight on how “deep” to mount them. Painting instructions are also too broad for my taste, particularly with detail items.

Markings – 3

I didn’t use the kit markings, but my main gripe is with the octopus design. Revell turns this into like four different decals, which just begs for obvious seam lines. If I were them, I’d have done this as a paint mask and charged an extra $5 or so.


PV-1 Ventura / PV-2 Harpoon

On July 1 st 1943 LCDR Curtis L. Tetley assumed command of the newly created VB-144 at NAS Alameda, CA. The squadron was assigned to fly the Lockheed PV-1 Ventura.

The Lockheed Ventura was a bomber and patrol aircraft of World War II, used by United States and British Commonwealth forces in several guises. It was developed from the Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar transport, as a replacement for the Lockheed Hudson bombers then in service with the Royal Air Force.

Lockheed Ventura/B-34 Lexington

The Ventura was very similar to its predecessor, the Lockheed Hudson. The primary difference was not in layout rather, the Ventura was larger and heavier than the Hudson. The RAF ordered 188 Venturas in February 1940. They were delivered from mid-1942 onwards. Venturas were initially used for daylight raids on occupied Europe. They proved unsuited to this task, because (like many other bombers used by the RAF), they were too vulnerable without long-range fighter escorts. They were replaced in this role by the de Havilland Mosquito. The Venturas were gradually transferred to patrol duties with Coastal Command, 30 went to the RCAF and some to the SAAF.

The RAF placed a further order for 487 Ventura Mark IIs, but many of these were diverted to United States Army Air Forces service. The U.S. Army Air Forces placed its own order for 200 Ventura Mark IIA, which were put into service as the B-34 Lexington. Later redesignated RB-34.

PV-1 Ventura

The PV-1 Ventura, built by the Vega Aircraft Company division of Lockheed (hence the ‘V’ Navy manufacturer’s letter that later replaced the ‘O’ for Lockheed), was a version of the Ventura built for the U.S. Navy. The main differences between the PV-1 and the B-34 were the inclusion of special equipment in the PV-1, adapting it to its patrol-bombing role. The maximum fuel capacity of the PV-1 was increased from 1,345 gal (5,081 l) to 1,607 gal (6,082 l), to increase its range the forward defensive armament was also reduced for this reason. The most important addition was of an ASD-1 search radar.

Early production PV-1s still carried a bombardier’s station behind the nose radome, with four side windows and a flat bomb-aiming panel underneath the nose. Late production PV-1s dispensed with this bombardier position and replaced it with a pack with three 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns underneath the nose. These aircraft could also carry eight 5 in (127 mm) HVAR rockets on launchers underneath the wings.

On 27 Jun 1945, VPB-144 was transferred to Eniwetok, via Johnston and Majuro Islands. The squadron was placed under the operational control of TF 96.1. Sector and photographic reconnaissance patrols were conducted over Wake and Ponape islands. During this time the squadron aircraft were upgraded to the PV-2 Harpoon.

PV-2 Harpoon

The PV-2 Harpoon was a major redesign of the Ventura with the wing area increased from 551 ft² (51.2 m²) to 686 ft² (63.7 m²) giving an increased load-carrying capability. The motivation for redesign was weaknesses in the PV-1, since it had shown to have poor-quality takeoffs when carrying a full load of fuel. On the PV-2, the armament became standardized at five forward-firing machine guns. Many early PV-1s had a bombardier’s position, which was deleted in the PV-2. Some other significant developments included the increase of the bomb load by 30% to 4,000 lb. (1,800 kg), and the ability to carry eight 5-inch (127 mm) HVAR rockets under the wings.

While the PV-2 was expected to have increased range and better takeoff, the anticipated speed statistics were projected lower than those of the PV-1, due to the use of the same engines but an increase in weight. The Navy ordered 500 examples, designating them with the popular name Harpoon.

Early tests indicated a tendency for the wings to wrinkle dangerously. As this problem could not be solved by a 6 ft (1.8 m) reduction in wingspan (making the wing uniformly flexible), a complete redesign of the wing was necessitated. This hurdle delayed entry of the PV-2 into service. The PV-2s already delivered were used for training purposes under the designation PV-2C. By the end of 1944, only 69 PV-2s had been delivered. They finally resumed when the redesign was complete. The first aircraft shipped were the PV-2D, which had eight forward-firing machine guns and was used in ground attacks. When World War II ended, all of the order was cancelled.

With the wing problems fixed, the PV-2 proved reliable, and eventually popular. It was first used in the Aleutians by VP-139, one of the squadrons that originally used the PV-1. It was used by a number of countries after the war’s end, but the United States ceased ordering new PV-2s, and they were all soon retired from service.


Watch the video: Lockheed PV-1 Ormoc Bay - Howard Hassett Aircraft - VPB-137 - Crew 18