Vultee Vengeance (RAF)

The Vultee Vengeance dive-bomber was produced in large numbers for the RAF, but was virtually obsolete by the time it entered service, and only served in the Far East. The first British orders were placed in the summer of 1940, when the reputation of the German Stuka was at its peak, but the first production aircraft didn't arrive until the start of 1942, by which time it had become clear that the two-man dive-bomber was very vulnerable to enemy fighter aircraft, and that fighter-bombers were more effective.

Vengeance Mk I

The designation Vengeance Mk I was given to 200 aircraft built by Northrop before the start of the lend-lease scheme. They were given the British serial numbers AN838-999 and AP100-137. Deliveries began in January 1942, and ended on 22 August 1942.

Vengeance Mk IA

The Vengeance Mk IA was the designation given to 200 aircraft built by Northrop after the start of the lend-lease scheme. They had the American designation A-31-NO and the British serial numbers EZ800-999. 99 of these aircraft went to the Royal Australian Air Force, while other aircraft were kept back by the USAAF, where they were designated as the RA-31 (R for restricted flying). The last Mk IA was delivered on 18 Mau 1943.

The Mk IA, II and III were all armed with six 0.30in machine guns, two flexibly mounted in the rear cockpit and four fixed in the wings. They could carry two 500lb bombs in their internal bomb bay as standard and two 250lb bombs at overload weights.

Vengeance Mk II

The Vengeance Mk II was the designation given to the first 500 aircraft built by Vultee, before the start of lend-lease. The first production Mk II flew in December 1941. After the American entry into the war 243 of the 500 aircraft were retained by the USAAF, where they were given the designation V-72. Another 122 went to the RAAF.

Vengeance Mk III

The next 100 Vultee-built aircraft were ordered under lend-lease, and were given the USAAF designation A-31-VN and the British serial numbers FB918-FD117.

Vengeance Mk IV-1

The final batch of British aircraft was based on the A-35B. They were armed with six 0.50in wing guns, and carried under-wing racks that could carry either extra fuel tanks or two more 500lb bombs. The 104 Mk IV-1s were powered by the 1,700hp Wright R-2600-13 Cyclone engine, and had the British serial numbers FD118-221.

Vengeance Mk IV-2

They were followed by 458 aircraft powered by the Wright R-2600-8 Cyclone, and with the British serial numbers FD222-417, HB300-440 and KG810-820. The RAAF received 121 A-35Bs, some of which came from this British production.

Service

No.82 Squadron was the first to convert to the Vengeance, receiving its aircraft at Bombay in August 1942. After a period of training the squadron began to fly anti-submarine patrols on 17 November 1942, before in June 1943 the squadron moved to the Burma front to begin attacks on the Japanese. The squadron operated the Vengeance until the summer of 1944, before withdrawing to convert to the Mosquito.

Although No.82 Squadron had been the first to receive the Vengeance, it was not the first to take it into action. That honour fell to No.110 Squadron, which arrived in India in May 1942. The Vengeance arrived in October, and the squadron began operations over Burma in March 1943. In May 1944 it withdrew to convert to the Mosquito. In August 1944 a detachment of Vengeances was sent to the Gold Coast to take part in mosquito-spraying experiments, disbanding in December.

No.45 Squadron was next to take the Vengeance into action. It had arrived in Burma towards the end of the retreat of 1942, and had been dispersed. The squadron reassembled in India in March, and eventually received the Vengeance, taking it into action for the first time on 27 June 1943 after a long training period. After six months of operations the squadron withdrew to convert to the Mosquito.

No.84 Squadron received its Vengeances in December 1942, but spent all of 1943 in dive-bomber training and didn't begin operations until 16 February 1944. These lasted until July 1944 when the squadron was withdrawn to convert to the Mosquito.

The Vengeance was also used in combat over Burma by Nos.7 and 8 Squadrons of the India Air Force. No.8 Squadron received the aircraft in April 1943, and began operations over Burma on 15 December. These lasted until July 1944, when the squadron withdrew to convert to the Spitfire.

No.7 Squadron, IAF, received the Vengeance in March 1943, but didn’t take it into combat until July 1944, after most other units with the Vengeance had been withdrawn. Operations continued until November 1944, when the squadron withdrew to convert to the Hurricane.

Twelve RAF squadrons used the Vengeance as a target tug. Of these Nos.291, 587 and 667 squadrons used the Vengeance from late in 1944, and No.34 Squadron received in it February 1949, while the remaining eight squadrons received the Vengeance in the spring or early summer of 1945, and operated them until May 1947 at the latest. The Vengeance was also used as a target tug by the Fleet Air Air, serving with Nos.721, 733 and 791 squadrons.

Squadron

Dates

Notes

34

Feb 49

Target Tug

45

Dec 42-Feb 44

Burma

82

Aug 42-Jul 44

Burma

84

Dec 42-Oct 44

Burma

110

Oct 42-Jan 45

Burma

288

May 45-Jun 46

Target Tug

289

Mar 45-Jun 45

Target Tug

291

Nov 44-Jun 45

Target Tug

567

Apr 45-Jun 46

Target Tug

577

Jul 45-Jun 46

Target Tug

587

Oct 44-Jun 46

Target Tug

631

May 45-May 47

Target Tug

667

Oct 44-Dec 45

Target Tug

679

Apr 45-Jun 45

Target Tug

691

Apr 45-May 47

Target Tug

695

Mar 45-May 47

Target Tug

7 IAF

Mar 43-Jul 44

Burma

8 IAF

Apr 43-Jul 44

Burma

Vultee Vengeance Mk I (Model 72)
Engine: Wright GR-2600-A5B-5 Cyclone
Power: 1,700hp
Crew: 2
Wing span: 48ft
Length: 40ft
Height: 12ft 10in
Loaded Weight: 12,480lb
Max Speed: 279mph
Cruising Speed: 250mph
Service Ceiling: 24,300ft
Range: 1,200 miles
Armament: Four 0.30in guns in wings and two 0.30in flexibly mounted guns in rear cockpit
Bomb-load: 1,500lb

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 December 2009), Vultee Vengeance (RAF) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_vultee_vengeance_RAF.html

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