LOCKHEED PV VENTURA and HARPOON
by Jack McKillop
The Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (LAC) of Burbank, California, had concentrated on building all-metal, twin-engine commercial transport aircraft in the 1930s; all of these transports, i.e., the Models 10 (USN R2O and R3O), 12 (USN JO), 14 (USN R4O) and 18 (USN R5O), had been purchased by the U.S. Navy. (For a brief of history, see the description of the R30.) In June 1938, LAC had received its largest order to date from the British Purchasing Commission for the Lockheed Hudson, a military version of the Model 14, to be used by the Royal Air Force's (RAF's) Coastal Command in the maritime reconnaissance role; by May 1943, a total of 2,941 Hudsons were delivered including 20 for the USN which designated them PBOs, q.v.
In September 1939, LAC submitted a proposal to the British Air Ministry for a new, improved aircraft, based on the Model 18 Lodestar, that could serve as a replacement for (1) the Hudson in the maritime reconnaissance and antisubmarine warfare (ASW) roles and/or (2) the Bristol Blenheim in the light or medium bomber role. The British decided that the latter mission had a higher priority and in February 1940, they placed an order with LAC for 25 medium bombers to be designated Ventura Mk. I. In subsequent discussions with the British, LAC proposed a more advanced design with more powerful engines and based on the performance estimates, the RAF ordered 300 aircraft in May 1940; this order was increased to 675 aircraft later in the year.
By 1940, LAC was building the Hudson and the P-38 Lightning in their Plant B-1 and did not have the capacity to build the Ventura there so it was decided to build the Model 37, as the new aircraft was designated, in the Vega Airplane Company's Plant A-1 at the Union Air Terminal in Burbank, California. The Vega Airplane Company, formed in August 1937 as the AiRover Company and renamed Vega Airplane Company in 1938, was a wholly owned subsidiary of LAC that had been established to built light, general aviation aircraft. Vega was merged with LAC on 31 December 1941 and finally absorbed by LAC in November 1943.
The experience that had been gained in the production of the Hudson and the operational experiences of the RAF's Coastal Command were incorporated in the Model 37 Venturaresulting in increased and more effective armament, increased fuel capacity and more powerful engines. Based on the Model 18, the Ventura was an all-metal, mid-wing, twin-engine monoplane with twin fins and rudder assemblies; like the Model 18, it featured a fuselage that was wider and deeper than the Hudson. The Ventura Mk. Is (LAC Model 37-21-01) were powered by two 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) Pratt and Whitney Double Wasp S1A4-G eighteen- cylinder, twin-row, air-cooled radial engines and were equipped with Fowler flaps; these flaps increased drag allowing a lower landing speed and also increased wing area reducing the take-off roll. The Model 37 also had a fully retractable landing gear with the main landing gear retracting into the engine nacelles and the tail wheel retracting into the fuselage. A crew of five could be accommodated and armament consisted of eight to ten machine guns located in the nose, the British Boulton Paul dorsal turret and a ventral tunnel position; an internal bomb bay accommodated up to 3,000-pounds (1,361 kg) of ordinance. Since the aircraft was developed as a medium bomber like the Hudson, it had four Plexiglas panels on both sides of the nose and a flat Plexiglas panel in the floor for use by the bombardier.
The first Ventura Mk. I rolled off the assembly line in July 1941 and made its first flight on 31 July. A total of 188 Ventura Mk. Is were built for the RAF with 21 of them going to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), at least six to the South African Air Force (SAAF) and one retained by LAC.
The remaining 487 aircraft on the original contract were built as Ventura Mk. IIs (LAC Model 37-27-01). These were similar to the Mk. I but had Pratt and Whitney R-2800-31 engines built to the U.S. military standard rather than the engines of the Mk. I which were built to the civilian standard. Of the 487 Ventura Mk. IIs, 196 were delivered to the RAF, RCAF and SAAF; 264 were retained by the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) and designated Model 37s; the USAAF aircraft were redesignated R-37s in October 1942, the "R" indicating restricted. The last 27 aircraft on the contract were delivered to the USN as PV-3s which were used for training and familiarization.
The Ventura Mk. I and IIs entered service with three squadrons of No. 2 (RAF) Group, RAF Bomber Command starting in May 1942. No. 21 (RAF) Squadron was the first; the Royal New Zealand Air Force's (RNZAF's) No. 487 Squadron followed in August 1942; and the Royal Australian Air Forces's (RAAF's) No. 464 Squadron was the last in September 1942. The first operational mission was flown on 3 November 1942. On 6 December 1942, 47 Venturas from the three squadrons joined Douglas Bostons (equivalent to USAAF A-20s) and deHavilland Mosquitos in a low-level attack against the Philips electronics plant at Endhoven, the Netherlands; nine of the Venturas were shot down and 37 damaged. The Venturas were then switched to medium-altitude bombing missions against airfields, transport targets and steelworks in France. On 3 May 1943, eleven RNZAF aircraft attacked a power-station in Amsterdam; one returned. As a result of these missions, it became evident that the Ventura was not suitable as a medium bomber and the three squadrons began re-equipping with the faster Mosquito Mk. VI in August 1943. Some of the Venturas were modified to G.R. Mk. Is and used for weather reconnaissance by RAF Coastal Command.
The second order for the Model 37 was placed by the USAAF on 8 August 1941; the contract called for the production of 550 O-56-LOs (LAC Model 137-96-03) in LAC's Plant B-1 in Burbank. The O-56 was intended to serve in the armed reconnaissance role and was to be equipped with two 1,700 hp (1,268 kW) Wright R-2600-13 Cyclone fourteen-cylinder, twin-row, air-cooled radial engines instead of the Pratt & Whitney R-2800s in the Ventura Mk. I and IIs. In early 1942, the USAAF abolished the "O" for observation category and these aircraft were initially redesignated B-34B-1-LO Lexingtons however, since they had different engines than the B-34 (see below), they were again redesignated B-37-LOs. The need for this aircraft diminished even before the first one was delivered and only eighteen aircraft were delivered between September 1942 and April 1943; all were redesignated RB-37-LOs in October 1942, the "R" indicating restricted use.
Before the Ventura Mk. I made its first flight, a significant event occurred that affected the production of this aircraft. The event was the signing of the Lend-Lease Act by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 11 March 1941; this act authorized the U.S. to provide goods and services to those nations whose defense was deemed vital to the country. Under the Lend-Lease system, the U.S. military would order the equipment using an American designation and serial number and the equipment was lent, or leased, to one of our Allies who may assign their own designation and serial number.
On 13 August 1941, the USAAF signed a third contract with LAC for 200 LAC Model 137-27- 02s to be delivered to the RAF as Ventura Mk. IIAs. Ordered as B-34-VE Lexingtons and assigned both USAAF and RAF serial numbers, these aircraft were fitted with a U.S. Martin dorsal turret, rather than a British type, and other US equipment. When the U.S. entered World War II in December 1941, 134 of these aircraft were impressed by the USAAF; the first 20 became USAAF B-34-VEs followed by 66 B-34A-1-VEs for the RAF, the RAAF, the RCAF and the RNZAF as Ventura Mk. IIAs. The remaining 101 aircraft went to the USAAF as 57 B- 34A-2-VE bombardier trainers; 28 B-34A-3-VE gunnery trainers; 16 B-34A-4-VE target tugs; and 13 B-34B-1-VE navigator trainers. In October 1942, all of the USAAF B-34s were redesignated RB-34s, the "R" indicating restricted, i.e., non-combat, status.
Let us digress at this point to describe how and why the USN acquired B-34s. During the interwar years, the USN had always used multi-engine seaplanes as patrol bombers; the main advantage of this type of aircraft was that airfields were nonexistent in many parts of the world and a seaplane could land on the water and be supported by a ship. The disadvantages of the seaplane were that they were slow and lacked defensive armament, range and bomb load. One of the axioms of World War II was that as soon as territory was occupied or conquered, the winning force would build airfields for landbased aircraft to support both offensive and defensive operations. When the U.S. entered World War II, the USN realized that landbased aircraft such as the Hudson were superior to seaplanes in antisubmarine warfare (ASW) operations and approached the USAAF with a request for Consolidated B-24 Liberators. The USAAF was reluctant to agree to sharing the production of these aircraft because of their own lack of long- range heavy bombers. However, an agreement was finally reached on 7 July 1942 whereby the USAAF would transfer a specified number of Liberators, designated PB4Y, q.v., in USN service; North American B-25 Mitchells, designated PBJ, q.v., in USN service; and B-34s, to the USN. The USAAF had two excellent medium bombers in service at the time, the B-25 and the Martin B-26 Marauder, and had no need for another medium bomber therefore, the USAAF agreed to stop procurement of the B-34 so that LAC could concentrate on producing the aircraft for the USN. All further procurement of the Ventura, either for their own use or for Lend-Lease, would be made by the USN.
The USN wasted no time in ordering the Ventura. On 7 July 1942, the same day that the agreement with the USAAF was reached, the Navy placed an order for 200 PV-1 Venturas (LAC Model 237-27-01); the PV-1 was essentially a modified B-34/Ventura Mk. IIA. The modifications consisted of replacing some USAAF equipment with Navy equipment; increasing the fuel capacity by 19.5 percent; reducing the armament to two fixed forward-firing 50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in the upper decking of the nose, two 50-caliber machine guns in the Martin dorsal turret, and two flexible 30-caliber (7.62 mm) machine guns in the ventral tunnel position; and modifying the bomb bay to accommodate 3,000 pounds (1,361 kg) of bombs, or six 325 pound (147 kg) depth charges or a torpedo. These early PV-1s retained the side windows in the nose and the flat bombardiers window in the floor of the nose. The PV-1 made its first flight on 3 November 1942.
The USN placed four additional orders for PV-1s; the first order was for 200, the second for 412, the third for 288 and the fourth for 300. A total of 1,600 of these aircraft were delivered between December 1942 and May 1944 including 387 transferred to the RAF as Ventura G.R. Mk. Vs but many of these latter aircraft were diverted to the RAAF, RCAF, RNZAF and SAAF. Later production PV-1s included AN/ASD-1 airborne radar in the nose, a gun pod with three 50- caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns mounted under the nose, eight zero-length High Velocity Attack Rocket (HVAR) rails under the wings accommodating five-inch (127 mm) rockets and the elimination of the side and flat windows in the nose.
In July 1942, the USN approached LAC with the idea of increasing the range of the PV-1 to maximize its usefulness as a maritime patrol aircraft. This project was assigned to Vega engineers and as a result, the new aircraft was designated Vega Model 15, instead of using the LAC Model 37 designation. The new aircraft was the PV-2 Harpoon, Vega Model 15-27-01. The aircraft used the same fuselage and engines as the PV-1 but in order to increase range, the fuel capacity of the PV-2 was increased by 15.9 percent over the PV-1; to increase take-off performance, a new wing with greater span, constant taper and rounded wing-tips and enlarged vertical tail surfaces were used. Armament was also increased to nine 50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns, two fixed guns in the upper decking of the nose, three fixed guns in a pod beneath the nose, two guns in the Martin dorsal turret and two flexible guns in the ventral tunnel position. Production models were equipped with eight zero-length HVAR rails, four on each wing. The internal bomb load was increased to 4,000-pounds (1,814 kg). The new aircraft would have reduced speed but increased range and better field performance and the USN placed an order for 500 aircraft on 30 June 1943.
The PV-2 made its first flight on 3 December 1943 and the first aircraft was delivered in March 1944. During testing, it was discovered that the wings had a tendency to wrinkle dangerously; a quick fix of reducing the wing span was tried but that did not solve the problem and LAC was forced to redesign the whole wing. By the end of 1944, only 99 aircraft had been produced; the first thirty PV-2s were not equipped with the new wing and because of fuel tank leakage, the outer wing tanks were sealed off and they were accepted by the USN as PV-2Cs and were used for training. All other PV-2s had the modified wing and leak-proof fuel cells in the wing tanks.
The USN also ordered 908 PV-2Ds in three batches of 100, 533 and 275. These aircraft had eight forward-firing 50-caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns instead of the five on the PV-2. Only 35 aircraft were delivered before the contract was canceled after VJ-Day. The last PV-2D was delivered in September 1945.
PV-1: 1,600 LAC Model 237-27-01s.
PV-1P: Unknown number of PV-1s fitted with cameras for photographic reconnaissance.
PV-2: 470 Vega Model 15-17-01s.
PV-2C: First 30 PV-2s not equipped with the LAC modified wing.
PV-2D: 35 aircraft identical to the PV-2 but equipped with eight 50 caliber (12.7 mm) forward firing machine guns in the nose.
PV-2T: Small number of PV-2s and PV-2Ds converted to crew trainers post World War
PV-3: 27 Lend-Lease Ventura Mk. IIs (LAC Model 37-27-01) intended for the RAF requisitioned by the USN.
BUREAU NUMBERS (BuNos)
The Bureau Number (BuNo) and corresponding manufacturer serial number (msn) are: PV-1
BuNo 29723-29922, msn 237-4876 to 237-5075 (200 aircraft)
BuNo 33067-33466, msn 237-4876 to 237-5075 (200 aircraft)
BuNo 34586-34997, msn 237-5476 to 237-5887 (412 aircraft)
BuNo 48652-48939, msn 237-5888 to 237-6175 (288 aircraft)
BuNo 49360-49659, msn 237-6176 to 237-6475 (300 aircraft)
PV-2: BuNo 37065-37534, msn 15-1031 to 15-1500 (470 aircraft)
PV-2C: BuNo 37035-37064, msn 15-1001 to 15-1030 (30 aircraft)
BuNo 37535-37550, msn 15-1501 to 15-1516 (16 aircraft)
BuNo 37551-37623, msn 15-1517 to 15-1589 (73 aircraft canceled)
BuNo 37624-37634, msn 15-1590 to 15-1600 (11 aircraft)
BuNo 84057-84064, msn 15-1601 to 15-1608 (8 aircraft)
BuNo 84065-84589, msn 15-1609 to 15-2133 (525 aircraft canceled)
BuNo 102001-102275, msn 15-2134 to 15-2408 (275 aircraft canceled)
PV-3: BuNo 33925-33951 (ex-RAF AJ511-AJ537), msn 137-4649 to 137-4675 (27 aircraft)
Two 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) Pratt and Whitney Double Wasp R-2800-31
eighteen-cylinder, twin-row, air-cooled radial engines with two-speed superchargers driving three-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic broad-blade constant-speed propellers, 10 feet 7 inches (3.23 meters) in diameter.
PV-1 & PV-3: 65 feet 6 inches (19.96 meters)
PV-2: 74 feet 11 inches (22.83 meters)
PV-1 & PV-3: 51 feet 9 inches (15.77 meters)
PV-2: 52 feet 1.5 inches (15.89 meters)
PV-1 & PV-3: 17 feet 10.5 inches (5.45 meters)
PV-2: 18 feet 3 inches (5.56 meters)
PV-1 & PV-3: 551 square feet (51.19 square meters)
PV-2: 685 square feet (63.64 square meters)
MAXIMUM FUEL CAPACITY
PV-1: 1,607 US gallons (6,083 liters)
PV-2: 1,863 US gallons (7,052 liters)
PV-3: 1,345 US gallons (5,091 liters)
PV-1: 20,197 pounds (9,161 kg)
PV-2: 21,370 pounds (9,693 kg)
PV-3: 17,275 pounds (7,836 kg)
PV-1: 34,000 pounds (15,422 kg)
PV-2: 36,000 pounds (16,329 kg)
PV-3: 27,750 pounds (12,587 kg)
PV-1: 322 mph at 13,800 feet (518 km/h at 4,205 meters)
PV-2: 282 mph at 13,700 feet (454 km/h at 4,175 meters)
PV-3: 315 mph at 15,500 feet (507 km/h at 4,725 meters)
PV-1: 26,300 feet (8,015 meters)
PV-2: 23,900 feet (7,285 meters)
PV-3: 24,000 feet (7,315 meters)
Four: pilot, navigator/bombardier, radio operator/gunner and dorsal turret gunner.
PV-1: 1,360 miles (2,190 km)
PV-2: 1,790 miles (2,880 km)
PV-3: 950 miles (1,530 km)
PV-1: Initially, two 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in the upper decking of the nose; two 50 caliber machine guns in the Martin dorsal turret; and one 30 caliber (7.62 mm) machine gun in the ventral turret. The bomb bay accommodated one 2,000-pound (907.2 kg) or one 1,000-pound (453.6 kg) or six 500-pound (226.8 kg) bombs; or six 325-pound (147.4 kg) Mk. 17 depth charges; or one Mk. 13 torpedo. A pylon was located on each wing and this could accommodate two 150 US gallon (567.8 liter) drop tanks; or two 1,000-pound or two 500-pound bombs; or two 650-pound (294.8 kg) Mk. 29 or two 325- pound Mk. 17 depth charges. Armament later increased by the addition of three 50 caliber machine guns in a nose chin pod and the addition of launching rails for eight 5- inch (127 mm) High Velocity Attack Rockets (HVARs).
PV-2: Five 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose, two in the upper nose decking and three in a chin pod; two 50 caliber machine guns in the Martin dorsal turret; and two 50 caliber machine guns in the ventral turret. The bomb bay accommodated four 1,000-pound (453.6 kg) bombs or a torpedo and underwing hardpoints accommodated eight 5-inch (12.7 cm) High Velocity Attack Rockets (HVAR) plus two 1,000-pound (453.6 kg) bombs, depth charges or fuel tanks.
PV-2D: As PV-2 except forward armament consisted of eight 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose.
Both the USN and the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) used PVs during World War II. The squadrons operating these aircraft were based at numerous Marine Corps Air Stations (MCAS); Naval Air Bases (NAB); Naval Air Facilities (NAF); Naval Air Stations (NAS); Naval Auxiliary Air Facilities (NAAF); Naval Auxiliary Air Stations (NAAS); and at USAAF bases as indicated below:
STATIONS IN THE CONTINENTAL U.S.
NAS ALAMEDA, California, 4.5 mi (7.2 km) west northwest of Alameda (37.47N, 122.19W)
NAS BEAUFORT, South Carolina, 4 mi (6.4 km) northwest of Beaufort (32.28N, 80.44W)
NAAF (NAAS effective October 1943) BOCA CHICA, Florida, 7 mi (11.3 km) east northeast of Key West (24.34N, 81.41W)
NAS BRUNSWICK, Maine, 1.5 mi (2.4 km) southeast of Brunswick (43.53N, 69.56W)
MCAS CHERRY POINT (Cunningham Field), North Carolina, 2.5 mi (4.0 km) southwest of Cherry Point (34.54N, 76.53W)
NAS CLINTON, Oklahoma, 17 mi (27.4 km) southwest of Clinton (35.21N, 99.11W)
NAF CROWS LANDING, California, 2.5 mi (4.0 km) northwest of Crows Landing (37.24N, 121.07W)
NAS DELAND, Florida, 2.5 mi (4.0 km) north northeast of Deland (29.05N, 81.17W)
NAAS ELIZABETH CITY, North Carolina, 3.5 mi (5.6 km) southeast of Elizabeth City (36.16N, 76.11W)
NAS HOUMA, Louisiana, 3.9 mi (6.3 km) east southeast of Houma (29.34N, 90.40W)
NAS HUTCHINSON, Kansas, 8.9 mi (14.3 km) south of Hutchinson (37.55N, 97.54W)
NAS MOFFETT FIELD, California, 3 mi (4.8 km) north northwest of Sunnyvale (37.24N, 122.03W)
NAAF MOUNT VERNON, Washington, 5 mi (8.0 km) northwest of Mount Vernon (48.28N, 122.25W)
NAS NEW YORK (Floyd Bennet Field), New York, in Brooklyn (40.35N, 73.53W)
NAS NORFOLK (East Field), Virginia, 6 mi (9.7 km) north of Norfolk (36.56N, 76.17W)
NAAF OTIS FIELD, Massachusetts, 9 mi (14.5 km) north northeast of Falmouth (41.39N, 70.31W)
NAS QUONSET POINT, Rhode Island, 16.5 mi (26.6 km) south of Providence (41.35N, 71.25W)
NAS SAN DIEGO, California, 4.5 mi (7.3 km) west southwest of San Diego (32.42N, 117.12W)
NAAS VERNALIS, California, 2.3 mi (3.7 km) south of Vernalis (37.36N, 121.19W)
NAS WHIDBEY ISLAND (Ault Field), Washington, 3 mi (4.8 km) northwest of Oak Harbor (48.21N, 122.40W)
STATIONS OUTSIDE THE CONTINENTAL U.S.
NAS ADAK (Mitchell Field), Adak Island, Aleutian Islands, Territory of Alaska (51.45N, 176.40W)
NAAF AGADIR, French Morocco (30.30N, 09.34W)
NAB AGANA, Guam, Mariana Islands (13.30N, 144.30E)
NAF AMCHITKA, Amchitka Island, Aleutian Islands, Territory of Alaska (51.30N, 179.00E)
NAS ARGENTIA (Bristol Field), Newfoundland (47.18N, 53.59W)
ASCENSION ISLAND, South Atlantic (07.56S, 14.22W)
NAAF ATKINSON FIELD, Essequibo, British Guinea (06.29N, 58.15W)
NAS ATTU (Casco Field), Attu Island, Aleutian Islands, Territory of Alaska (52.55N, 173.00W)
NAB BETIO (Hawkins Field), Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands (1.36N, 172.92E)
CAMAGUEY FIELD, Cuba (21.23N, 77.55W)
NAF CANTON ISLAND, Phoenix Group (2.50S, 171.40W)
NAAF CARLSEN FIELD, Trinidad (ex-NAAF Edinburgh Field) (10.28N, 61.24W)
CLARK FIELD, Luzon Island, Philippine Islands (15.11N, 120.33E)
NAS COCA SOLA, Panama, Canal Zone (09.22N, 79.53W)
NAAF EDINBURGH FIELD, Trinidad (redesignated NAAF Carlsen Field 6 March 1944) (10.28N, 61.24W)
NAF EMIRAU, New Ireland Island, Bismarck Archipelago (1.40S, 150.00E)
NAF ENIWETOK (Stickell Field), Marshall Islands, (11.30N, 162.15E)
NAF ESPIRITU SANTO, New Hebrides Islands (15.50S, 166.50E)
MCAS EWA, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii (21.19N, 158.05W)
NAF FERNANDO DE NORONHA, Brazil (03.51S, 32.25W)
NAF FORTALEZA (Pici Field), Fortaleza, Brazil (03.47S, 38.32W)
NAAF FUNAFUTI ISLAND, Ellice Islands (08.31S, 179.13E)
NAB GUADALCANAL (Henderson Field), Guadalcanal Island, Solomon Islands (09.26S, 160.03E)
NAS GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (19.54N, 75.12W)
NAF HATO FIELD, Curacao (12.11N, 68.57W)
NAF IPITANGA, Bahia, Brazil (12.55S, 38.20W)
NAS JOHNSTON ISLAND (16.45N, 169.30W)
NAS KANEOHE BAY, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii (21.27N, 157.46W)
NAF MACEIO, Brazil (09.31S, 35.48W)
NAF MAJURO, Dalop Island, Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands (7.09N, 171.12E)
NAS MANUS, Manus Island, Admiralty Islands, Bismarck Archipelago (02.05S, 147.00E)
NAS MIDWAY ISLANDS (Henderson Field) (28.13N, 177.22W)
MOKERANG FIELD, Los Negros Island, Admiralty Islands (2.00S, 147.24E)
MOTOYAMA AIRFIELD, Iwo Jima. Volcano Islands (26.47N, 141.19E)
MUNDA AIRFIELD, New Georgia Island, Solomon Islands (08.20S, 157.16E)
NAF NATAL, Brazil (05.55S, 35.15W)
NORTH FIELD, Tinian, Mariana Islands (15N, 145.38E)
OWI AIRDROME, Owi Island, Padaido Islands (01.15S, 136.12E)
NAF PELELIU, Peleliu Island, Palau Islands (07.01N, 134.15E)
PITOE AIRFIELD, Morotai Island, Molucca Islands (02.20N,128.25E)
NAF PORT LYAUTEY (Craw Field), French Morocco (34.16N, 06.36W)
NAB PUERTO PRINCESSA, Palawan Island, Philippine Islands (09.45N, 118.46E)
NAF RECIFE (Ibura Field), Recife, Brazil (08.08S, 34.55W)
NAF REYKJAVIK, Reykjavik, Iceland (64.08N, 21.56W)
NAB ROI-NAMUR (Dyess Field) Roi Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands (09.24N, 167.29E)
NAAF ROOSEVELT ROADS, Ensenada Honda, Puerto Rico (18.18N, 65.17W)
NAF RUSSELL ISLANDS (Renard Field), Banika Island, Russell Islands, Solomon Islands (9.05S, 159.13E)
NAB SAMAR, Samar Island, Philippine Islands (11.02N, 125.45E)
NAS SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (18.27N, 66.06W)
NAF SAN JULIAN, Cuba (22.10N, 84.06W)
TACLOBAN AIRFIELD, Leyte Island, Philippine Islands (11.14N, 125.02E)
NAB TINIAN (West Field), Tinian Island, Mariana Islands (15.00N, 145.38E)
NAF TIRIRICAL FIELD, Sao Luiz, Brazil (02.35S, 44.14W)
NAF TOROKINA (Piva Field), Bougainville Island, Solomon Islands (6.14S, 155.03E)
NAB TREASURY ISLANDS, Stirling Island, Treasury Islands, Solomon Islands (7.25S, 155.34E)
NAF VELLA LAVELLA (Barakoma Field), Solomon Islands (7.54S, 156.41E)
NAAF ZANDERY FIELD, Dutch Guiana (05.28N, 55.12W)
U.S. MARINE CORPS OPERATIONS
Although the USN had conducted experiments in radar since the early 1920s, it was the RAF that had advanced the use of radar, especially in the area of directing fighters to intercept enemy aircraft. Their use of this weapon system during the Battle of Britain in 1940 brought many U.S. military observers to England in 1941 to study radar and its operation; among them were a number of USMC officers. Both the USAAF and USN began working on creating night fighters, the USAAF using twin-engine aircraft and the USN using single-engine, carrier-based aircraft. In January 1942, the USN's Bureau of Aeronautics committed the USMC to providing night fighter squadrons but the plan generated by the Marine Corps Commandant called for eight 12- plane night fighter squadrons to be established in the first half of 1945. By June 1942, the Commandant had changed the goals because it was realized that when fighter superiority is won during the day, the enemy shifts to night operations; this is exactly what the Japanese did in the Solomon Islands especially with their night nuisance raids which deprived the ground forces of sleep and lowered combat efficiency. Accordingly, the first Marine night fighter squadron was authorized for 1 January 1943. However, the first problem to be solved was the selection an aircraft for use. Numerous machines were considered: the USAAF's Douglas P-70 (night fighter version of the A-20 Havoc) and Northrop P-61 Black Widow; the USN's Curtiss SB2C Helldiver, q.v., and Chance Vought F4U Corsair, q.v.; and the RAF's Bristol Beaufighter and deHavilland Mosquito. By July 1942, it was learned that "a possibility does exist for obtaining a few PV- 1Venturas, similar to the B-34 for training purposes and combat in a pinch." Further attempts were made to obtain USAAF aircraft but the Marines were stuck with the Ventura.
Marine Night Fighting Squadron Five Hundred Thirty One [VMF(N)-531] was commissioned at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, on 16 November 1942. The first aircraft received were two North American SNJ-4 Texan trainers, q.v., later supplemented with Brewster SB2A-4 Buccaneers, q.v. The Buccaneers had been built for the Netherlands East Indies Air Force and all of the instruments were inscribed in Dutch. In January 1943, the squadron finally was assigned two PV-1s equipped with Identification, Friend or Foe (IFF) equipment, Very High Frequency (VHF) radio sets and British Airborne Intercept (A.I.) Radar Mk. IV which had a range of 1 to 2 miles (1.6 to 3.2 kilometers); these aircraft also were equipped with an additional four fixed 50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose. Unlike the USN's PV-1s,the crew of the Marine aircraft consisted of three men, the pilot, radar operator and dorsal turret gunner. The remaining ten aircraft would be delivered later.
The Marines faced innumerable problems, e.g., the vast majority of the squadron personnel were new, night-fighter techniques were new and had to be developed, there was a critical shortage of parts and test equipment, the aircraft equipment did not work properly, etc.
The Marines finally got six of their twelve aircraft in service and in July 1943, half of the air echelon flew to the West Coast and transported to MCAS Ewa, Territory of Hawaii, in the escort aircraft carrier USS Long Island (CVE-1). The ground echelon, including ground radar intercept personnel, departed the West Coast in SS President Polk and arrived at NAF Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands, on 25 August; the air echelon flew from Hawaii to the Solomon Islands arriving at NAF Russell Islands on 11 September and began flying night patrols immediately. The ground echelon joined the air echelon on 23 September.
During their daylight raids, Japanese aircraft normally flew at 25,000 feet (7,620 meters); supposedly, this altitude was less than the PV-1's service ceiling but in reality, the aircraft could not climb above 15,000 feet (4,572 meters). There was concern that the PV-1s would be useless but fortunately for the Marines, the Japanese night flying aircraft normally flew at a lower altitude during their night missions.
At 0430 hours local on 13 November 1943, the squadron scored its first victory when a the crew of PV-1 number 54 shot down a Mitsubishi G4M, Navy Type 1 Attack Bomber (Allied Code Name Betty) about 50 miles (80.5 km) southwest of Torokina Point on Bougainville Island. The standard procedure for intercepts was that the pilot had to fly within 150 to 700 feet (46 to 210 meters) to visually identify the unknown aircraft ("bogey") before opening fire; this prevented the accidental shooting down of a friendly aircraft with a malfunctioning IFF system.
In late December 1943, the remaining six PV-1s of VMF(N)-531 began a movement to the South Pacific. The aircraft were transported to MCAS Ewa in the escort aircraft carrier USS White Plains (CVE-66) arriving on 6 January 1944; after three weeks in Hawaii, the six PV-1s flew to NAF Russell Islands arriving on 19 February. The squadron was finally reassembled after eight months.
By April 1944, VMF(N)-531 had moved to NAF Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands joining their Ground Intercept radar component which was located at Pakoi Bay. Night missions continued and the squadron made one final move in the South Pacific to NAF Torokina, Bougainville Island, on 7 May 1944. The squadron's last kill occurred at 0437 hours local, 11 May, when an Aichi E13A1, Navy Type 0 Reconnaissance Seaplane, Allied Code Name Jake, was shot down as it landed in Simpson Harbor, Rabaul, New Britain Island; the squadron's final tally was twelve Japanese aircraft destroyed, all at altitudes between 7,000 and 15,000 feet (2,134 and 4,572 meters). VMF(N)-531 was relieved and returned to MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, in August 1944 and was disbanded on 3 September 1944.
The Marines had operated an aircraft that lacked altitude capability and the ability to slow down, to climb or to turn sharply and all future Marine night fighter squadrons in World War II would operate single-engine carrier aircraft with greater performance, i.e., the F4U Corsair and the Grumman F6F Hellcat, q.v. However the F4U and F6F lacked one thing that both the RAF, the USAAF and the crews of VMF(N)-531 felt was mandatory for a night-fighter, a two-man crew, one to fly the plane and the second to observe the radar screen. A pilot is ill prepared to accomplish both tasks. The VMF(N)-531 Commanding Officer put it this way: "The F4Us would have shot down many more bogeys had they had a radar operator to help them, just as the PV-1s would have shot down many more bogeys if they had the F4Us performance."
U.S. Navy Operations
A total of 29 USN squadrons operated PVs during World War II. Initially designated patrol squadrons (VPs), these squadrons were redesignated bombing squadrons (VBs) on 1 March 1943 and patrol bombing squadrons (VPBs) on 1 October 1944. PV-equipped squadrons operated in the Atlantic and the North, Central, South and Southwest Pacific. The first unit equipped with PV-1s was VP-82 in October 1942. The last squadron to operate the PV-1 was Medium Patrol Squadron (landplane) Three (VP-ML-3) on 1 August 1948.
All but two of the PV squadrons serving in the Atlantic were established at NAS Deland, Florida, and received their primary training there. The squadrons then moved to NAAS Boca Chico, Florida, for advanced training in antisubmarine warfare (ASW) off the coast of Florida. Most operations in the Atlantic consisted of ASW, barrier sweeps and convoy escort. During the war, PV squadrons sank or assisted in sinking six German submarines in the Atlantic.
In the North Pacific, four squadrons operated PV-1 and PV-2 aircraft from bases in the Aleutian Islands, Territory of Alaska, between April 1943 and the end of the war. Initially, the PV squadrons were tasked with supporting the Allied recapture of Attu and Kiska Islands and they flew photographic reconnaissance, patrol and bombing missions to those islands. With the capture of the two islands, the squadrons were based there and flew sector patrols and photographic reconnaissance and bombing missions against Japanese installations in the northern Kurile Islands.
In the Central Pacific, the PV-1s were initially based on Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, in December 1943. The squadrons began conducting bombing strikes against Japanese installations in the Gilbert, Marshall and eastern Caroline Islands and attacks on enemy shipping resupplying these islands. With the occupation of islands in the Marshalls, PV-1s were based there and began missions in support of operations in the Marianas, sector patrols and photographic reconnaissance missions to Wake and Ponape Islands. With the conquest of Tinian and Guam, PV-1s and PV-2s were transferred there to fly ASW, patrol and reconnaissance missions. While at Tinian, detachments were sent to Iwo Jima to spearhead attacks against heavily armed Japanese picket boats that gave warnings of incoming B-29 Superfortress raids.
In the South and Southwestern Pacific, the first PV-1 equipped squadron was based at NAAF Funafuti in the Ellice Islands in June 1943 and flew patrol missions. In September and October 1943, two squadrons were transferred to Guadalcanal and New Georgia Islands in the Solomon Islands to fly search and strike missions. Subsequently, a squadron was based in the Stirling Islands and flew strikes against Rabaul on New Britain Island. After the Admiralty Islands were occupied by U.S. forces, PV-1 units were based on Manus and New Ireland Islands and then moved to Morotai Island and later Los Negros Island. While at these latter two bases, the PV-1 squadrons flew search sectors, ASW patrol and antishipping missions. With the invasion of the Philippines in October 1944, PV-1s served in the islands until VJ Day being based initially on Leyte and later on Samar, Palawan and Luzon . During their time in the Philippines, the crews flew ASW, patrol and bombing missions against ground and shipping targets on Formosa and in the Philippines. A PV-1 of VPB-152 found the survivors of the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis(CA-35) which had been sunk by a Japanese submarine while she was en route from Tinian, Mariana Islands, to the Philippines after delivering parts of the atomic bomb to Tinian.
Two squadrons, VB-152 and -153, were established in April 1944 to operate PV-1s modified to accommodate the Pelican target seeking glider bomb. The Pelican was initially developed for use against submarines and was designed around the casing of the standard 525-pound (238.1 kilogram) depth charge and was fitted with a "semi-active radar homing" (SARH) seeker that homed in on reflections from a radar beam provided by the PV-1 launch aircraft. The glider bomb could not be used against defended targets because the signal was lost when the bomb was more than 800 yards (731.5 meters) from the controlling aircraft requiring the aircraft to continue on a straight course while painting the target with its radar beam. In mid-1943, the Pelican project changed, it now became an anti-ship missile with a larger, 2,000-pound (907 kg) general purpose bomb and radar homing and testing on the Pelican continued with two of four rounds striking their target ship offshore from the NAS New York, in July 1944. In September, the project was cancelled and supplanted by a new missile, the Bat, which had its own internal radar transmitter and receiver and did not need the aircraft radar to hit the target.
A brief history of the squadrons that operated the PV-1 and -2 is listed below.
VP-82; VB/VPB-125: VP-20 established, 1 September 1938; redesignated VP-44, 1 July 1940; VP-61, 6 January 1941; VP-82, 1 July 1941; VB-125, 1 March 1943; and VPB- 125, 1 October 1944. Squadron headquarters detachment at NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, began transitioning from PBO-1 Hudsons, q.v., to PV-1s in September 1942 while the remainder of the squadron was operating PBO-1s from NAAF Edinburgh Field, Trinidad. Headquarters detachment moved to NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, 15 November, with PV-1s. German submarine U-174 caught on the surface, depth charged and sunk south of Cape Race, Newfoundland, in position 43.35N, 56.18W on 27 April 1943. Both squadron detachments returned to NAS Quonset Point on 17 June, reformed, retrained with PV-1s and moved to NAAF Boca Chica, Florida, on 4 July to provide ASW coverage and convoy patrols off Florida and in the Caribbean; a detachment operated from NAF San Julian, Cuba, 1 October 1943-1 May 1944. To NAF San Julian, 1 May 1944 and then to Brazil on 11 February 1945 remaining until April flying barrier sweeps from NAF Natal with detachments operating from NAF Fernando de Noronha and NAF Fortaleza; and Ascension Island during March. To NAAS Elizabeth City, North Carolina, 30 April; disestablished 8 June. Awarded Navy Unit Citation for operations 1- 30 April 1943.
VB/VPB-126: VP-93 established 5 January 1942; redesignated VB-126, 1 March 1943; and VPB-126, 1 October 1944. VB-126 was flying convoy coverage and ASW patrols from NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, with PBY-5A Catalinas when re-equipped with PV- 1s in March 1943. Returned to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island 17 June and for the next 18 months, detachments flew ASW patrols from NAS Quonset Point; NAS New York, New York; and MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. To Brazil 10 January-21 May 1945 being based at NAF Natal with detachments operating from NAF Fortaleza and Ascension Island. To NAS New York 21 May and disestablished 27 June.
VB/VPB-127: VB-127 established at NAS Deland, Florida, 1 February 1943, with PV- 1s; redesignated VPB-127, 1 October 1944. To NAAF Boca Chica, Florida for advanced training, April-May 1943. To NAF Natal, Brazil 10 May 1943 to fly ASW patrols and convoy escort; detachment at NAF Fortaleza, 21 June-2 September 1943. German submarine U-591 caught on the surface, depth charged and sunk near Pernambuco, Brazil, in position 08.36S, 34.34W, on 30 July. Based at NAF Port Lyautey, French Morocco 6 September 1943 - 16 June 1945 to fly antishipping and ASW patrols over convoy lanes; detachments at NAAF Agadir to facilitate ASW patrols in the vicinity of the Canary Islands, 30 November 1943 - June 1945; and Algiers, Algeria, to transport personnel, cargo and mail to Naples, Italy, 24 June - 27 September 1944). On 24 February 1944, German submarine U-761 detected by USN PBY-5A Catalina, q.v., equipped with Magnetic Anomaly Detection (MAD) equipment while attempting to pass the Straits of Gibraltar. U-boat was attacked by an RAF Catalina Mk. IB and depth charged by a VB-127 PV-1 when it surfaced. Submarine crew scuttled the boat in the mid-Atlantic near Tangier, French Morocco, in position 35.55N, 05.45W, as two British destroyers approached. To NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, 23 June 1945, and disestablished 10 July.
VB/VPB-128: VB-128 established at NAS Deland, Florida, 15 February 1943, with PV- 1s; redesignated VPB-128, 1 October 1944. To NAAF Boca Chica, Florida for advanced training in March 1943. Detachment to NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 12-24 May 1943, to fly ASW patrols and the remainder of the squadron to NAS New York, New York, on 17 May to provide convoy protection. To NAF Reykjavik, Iceland, 23 August, to assist the RAF's Coastal Command in ASW patrols. German submarine U-279 depth charged and sunk southwest of Iceland in position 60.40N, 26.30W on 4 October. To NAS San Juan, Puerto Rico, 19 December to re-equip with HVARs; modifications completed by 11 May 1944 and ASW patrols commenced from NAAF Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, on 1 June. Returned to NAS Norfolk, Virginia, 26 September and transferred to NAS Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, in October and commenced training; half of the squadron to NAS Midway Islands for weather patrols. To Owi Airdrome, Owi Island, 21 December and re-equipped with new PV-1s January - February 1945. Based in Philippine Islands 28 February - 21 June flying antishipping searches and convoy escort and from April, began attacking land targets from 28 April; based at NAB Samar from 28 February, Tacloban Airfield, Leyte, from 29 March, and NAB Puerto Princessa, Palawan, from 6 April. While at NAB Samar, VPB-129 sank one Japanese midget submarine and damaged another on 18 March and sank another on 22 March. To NAB Tinian, Mariana Islands, 21 June and flew search missions until VJ Day.
VB/VPB-129: VB-129 established at NAS Deland, Florida, 22 February 1943 with PV- 1s; redesignated VPB-129, 1 October 1944. To NAS Boca Chica, Florida, 10 May for advanced training. To Brazil to fly ASW patrols, convoy escort and barrier sweeps while based at NAF Natal, from 5 June; NAF Recife, from 15 June; and NAF Ipitanga, Bahia, from 24 July. On 30 July, German submarine U-604 found on the surface northeast of Bahia and attacked with machine guns and four Mark 47 depth charges. Submarine submerged, resurfaced at a 60-degree angle with the screws out of the water, and then submerged again. The boat was so damaged that it was scuttled in the South Atlantic by its crew on 11 August in position 04.30S, 21.20W, and the crew taken aboard the submarines U-185 and U-172. To NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, 7 February 1944 and trained in the use of HVARs. ASW patrols, convoy escort and convoy sweeps off the U.S. east coast resumed from NAS Quonset Point on 27 March and continued for the rest of the war. To NAAS Elizabeth City, North Carolina, 4 May [detachments at NAS New York, New York, 4-11 November and NAS Brunswick, Maine, 3 December 1944-March 1945]. To NAS Quonset Point in May 1945 and disestablished 4 June.
VB/VPB-130: VB-130 established at NAS Deland, Florida, 1 March 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-130, 1 October 1944. To NAS Boca Chica, Florida, 17 May for advanced training. To Caribbean to provide convoy protection and ASW patrols based at NAS San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 7 June; and NAAF Edinburgh Field, Trinidad, from 16 June. Along with five PBM Mariners, q.v., attacked German submarine U-615 on the surface in the Caribbean Sea southeast of Curacao on 6 August, in position 12.38N, 64.15W, and damaged which prevented it from submerging; the crew scuttled the U-boat. To Brazil where it continued ASW patrols and convoy escort while based at NAF Recife, from12 August, and NAF Fortaleza, from 27 August. To NAS Norfolk, Virginia, 30 April 1944 for new aircraft with HVAR capability. Departed U.S. 3 July 1944 and arrived at NAS Manus, Admiralty Islands, 10 October. Flew ASW and antishipping patrols until transferred to Tacloban Airfield, Philippine Islands, 6 November 1944. While under operational control of USAAF's Far East Air Forces, flew ASW patrols from Tacloban with detachments operating from Owi Airdrome, Owi Island; and Pitoe Airfield, Morotai Island. To NAS Manus 24 April 1945 and returned to U.S. in May and remained until VJ Day.
VB/VPB-131: VB-131 established at NAS Deland, Florida, 8 March 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-131, 1 October 1944. To NAAF Boca Chica, Florida for advanced training, 31 May. To Caribbean to fly ASW patrols and convoy escort while based at NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from 28 June (detachments at NAS San Juan, Puerto Rico, 30 June-14 July, and Camaguey Field, Cuba, 12 July-4 September). To NAS San Juan 10 September for training in the use of radar for night ASW patrols; and then to NAAF Zandery Field, Dutch Guinea, where USAAF B-25G Mitchells flew day ASW patrols and VB-131 flew the night patrols; a detachment operated from NAAF Atkinson Field, British Guinea, 21 October 1943-8 March 1944. To NAS Norfolk, Virginia, 11 March 1944 and then NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, 14 April. Equipped with new aircraft with upgraded radar, navigational equipment, HVAR capability and chin guns, and transferred to NAS Attu, Aleutian Islands, 8-17 October and began antishipping searches, fighter decoy and task force coverage in and around the Kurile Islands. Flew missions against military targets and fisheries in the Kurile Islands and beginning in April 1945, flew daily searches for enemy vessels. In late November 1944, a crew spotted what appeared to be a weather balloon and were ordered to destroy it; the device exploded in a blinding flash when fired on. This was one of the first Japanese balloons sent to North America that was destroyed by U.S. and Canadian forces. To NAS Whidbey Island 2-8 August 1945 remaining there until VJ Day.
VB/VPB-132: VB-132 established at NAS Deland, Florida, 15 March 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-132 1 October 1944. To NAAS Boca Chica, Florida, for advanced training, 14 June 1943 and then flew ASW patrols from 5 July (detachment at NAF San Julian, Cuba, 4 August-13 October flying ASW sweeps of convoy routes in the Caribbean). To NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, 18 October for training with HVARs. To French Morocco in December and flew ASW patrols from NAF Port Lyautey from 24 December; to NAAF Agadir, French Morocco, 7 February 1944 to provide ASW coverage for the Canary Islands. Began training Free French aircrews on the PV-1 in July and upon completion of the training in November, the squadron's aircraft and equipment was turned over to the French and U.S. personnel returned to NAS Norfolk, Virginia, on 24 November. After reforming and reequipping, transferred to NAS New York, New York, on 1 February 1945 and flew ASW sweeps and patrols on the convoy routes into New York Harbor. Began retraining with PB4Y-2 Privateers, q.v., in March but ordered to disestablish. To NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, on 25 May, where disestablished on 30 May.
VB/VPB-133: VB-133 established at NAS Deland, Florida, 22 March 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-133 on 1 October 1944. To NAAF Boca Chica, Florida, 29 June for advanced training and then to Caribbean in July to fly ASW patrols and convoy escort missions until April 1944 while based at NAS San Juan, Puerto Rico, from 19 July (detachment at NAF Hato Field, Curacao, 29 July-1 October); NAF Hato Field, from 1 October (detachment at NAAF Atkinson Field, British Guinea, 15 October-15 December); and NAAF Edinburgh Field, Trinidad, from 15 November (detachment at NAF Hato Field, 15 December 1943-1 February 1944). Depth charged two German submarines encountered on the surface without sinking either. To NAS Norfolk, Virginia, 16 April 1944 and reformed at NAS Alameda, California, 4 May; to NAF Crows Landing, California, for training 6 May and returned to NAS Alameda 15 June. Transported from San Francisco, California, to Oahu, Territory of Hawaii June-July in the light aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVL-22), arriving NAS Kaneohe Bay 4 July. Began operational training including sending detachments to NAS Johnston Island for search and reconnaissance patrols. To the Central Pacific in September conducting search and bombing missions until VJ Day while based at NAB Roi-Namur, Kwajalein Atoll, from 4 September (conducted bombing raids against Wake and Nauru Islands); and NAB Tinian Mariana Islands from 5 March 1945 (with a detachment operating from Motoyama Airfield, Iwo Jima, 23 March-15 June which attacked Japanese picket boats providing air warning for B-29 Superfortress raids on Japan and flew reconnaissance and search and patrol missions; and a detachment operating from NAF Peleliu, Palau Islands from 15 June flying day patrols and night ASW missions).
VB/VPB-134: VB-134 established at NAS Deland, Florida, 29 March 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-134, 1 October 1944. To NAAS Boca Chica, Florida, for advanced training, 5 July. To MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, 25 July to fly escort cover patrols along the eastern seaboard and then to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island on 21 November for HVAR training. To Brazil January 1944 to fly ASW patrols and convoy escort while based at NAF Recife from 24 January (detachment at NAF Maceio, 16- February-5 April); NAF Maceio from 5 April (detachment at NAF Recife training Brazilian aircrew, 5 April-26 October); NAF Fortaleza on 28 April (detachment at NAF Tirirical Field, 28 April 1944-6 February 1945, and NAF Fernando de Noronha, 11-21 February 1945). To NAS Norfolk, Virginia, 7 March 1945 and disestablished on 25 April.
VB/VPB-135: VP-17F established, 2 January 1937; redesignated VP-17, 1 October 1937; VP-42, 1 July 1939; VB-135, 15 February 1943; and VPB-135, 1 October 1944. Transferred from Aleutian Islands, to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, in February 1943 and transitioned from PBY-5A Catalinas, q.v., to PV-1s. To Aleutians Islands with PV-1s to fly bombing, photographic reconnaissance and ASW missions while based at NAS Adak from 12 April; NAF Amchitka from 5 May; and NAS Attu from 10 August. To NAS Whidbey Island 5 November and with new PV-1s, returned to NAS Adak on 19 April 1944 where aircraft were equipped with Long Range Navigation (LORAN) equipment. To NAS Attu 19 May to fly day and night missions against the Kurile Islands. To NAS Whidbey Island 23 October for reforming and training. To NAAF Mount Vernon, Washington, 1 June 1945 to re-equip with PV-2s. To NAS Attu, 4 August 1945.
VB/VPB-136: VP-16F established, 2 January 1937; redesignated VP-16, 1 October 1937; VP-41, 1 July 1939; VB-136, 1 March 1943; and VPB-136, 1 October 1944. Began transitioning from PBY-5A Catalinas, q.v., to PV-1s at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, March 1943. In Aleutian Islands April to December 1943 based at NAS Adak, Aleutian Islands from 23 April flying ASW patrols and ground attack and bombing of Japanese positions on Kiska Island, Aleutian Islands in preparation for the Allied invasion. To NAS Attu, 1 October to fly long-range missions to the northern Kurile Islands, to NAS Adak 10 October for R&R, and to NAS Attu 16 November to fly missions to the Kurile Islands. To NAS Whidbey Island, 13 December for reforming and upgrading of PV-1s with Long Range Navigation (LORAN) equipment and three 50 caliber (12.7 mm) nose machine guns. To NAS Attu 7 June 1944 for bombing and photographic missions to the Kurile Islands and ASW patrols. To NAS Whidbey Island 12 March 1945 and began re-equipping with PV-2s in May 1945. Squadron still at NAS Whidbey Island on VJ Day.
VB/VPB-137: VB-137 established at NAS Alameda, California, 17 February 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-137, 1 October 1944. To NAS Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, by ship, 9-16 May. Detachments sent to NAS Midway Islands and NAAF Funafuti Island, Ellice Islands to fly patrols. To NAAF Funafuti, 30 June to fly patrol and low-altitude reconnaissance missions during the invasion of the Gilbert Islands. To NAB Betio, Gilbert Islands in December to fly patrols. To NAS Kaneohe Bay, 15 January 1944 and then to NAS Alameda on 2 March. After reforming, to NAF Crow's Landing, California, 24 March for advanced flight training and back to NAS Alameda 1 August. Transported to NAS Kaneohe Bay in escort aircraft carrier USS Nassau (CVE-16), 9-15 August, and began training with detachments at NAS Midway Islands, 22 August-4 September and NAS Johnston Island, 3-19 September. Deployed to Mokerang Field, Los Negros Island, 15-26 October and then to Pitoe Airfield, Morotai Island, 29 November 1944 from which it flew daily patrols and occasional air strikes against Tobi Island. Moved to Tacloban Field, Philippine Islands, 1 January 1945 and commenced daily searches and attacks against ground targets. Detachments sent to Clark Field, Luzon, 11 March-27 May, and NAB Samar, 15 April-May. Mostly ground targets on Formosa and Luzon were hit during this period. Transferred to NAS Kaneohe Bay in June and then NAS San Diego, California, on 9 July where the squadron was disestablished on 20 July.
VB/VPB-138: VB-138 established at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, 15 March 1943 with PV-1s. Redesignated VPB-138 1 October 1944. To NAS Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, in escort aircraft carrier USS Pybus (ACV-34), July 1943. Detachment of nine aircraft to NAF Canton Island to provide cover for a photographic squadron that was charting Japanese-held Baker Island, 10 August-27 September 1943. To NAF Russell Islands, Solomon Islands 15 October 1943 to attack Japanese installations at or near Rabaul, New Britain Island, and Kavieng, New Ireland Island. To NAB Treasury Islands, Solomon Islands, 1 February 1944; continued bombing missions in the Bismarck Archipelago in addition to flying antishipping and Dumbo missions. Departed NAB Treasury Islands 14 May 1944, arriving in California on 19 May. Reformed at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, 25 June 1944, and flew PV-1s in preparation for transitioning to the PV-2 but production delays in the PV-2 program caused the squadron to be transferred to NAS Hutchinson, Kansas, and begin conversion training to PB4Y-1 Liberators, q.v., on 1 November 1944.
VB/VPB-139: VB-139 established at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, 1 April 1943 with PV-1s. Redesignated VPB-139 1 October 1944. To NAS Alameda, California, 22 July where new equipment installed in the aircraft. To NAF Amchitka, Aleutian Islands, 1 October 1943 with the aircraft arriving between 7 and 10 October and began flying routine patrols. Detachment at NAS Attu, Aleutian Islands 1 November for familiarization followed by the entire squadron on 10 December. Flew routine patrols and bombing and photographic missions against targets in the Kurile Islands, January- April 1944. To NAS Whidbey Island 30 June 1944 and reformed with PV-2s in August. To NAS Attu 16 March 1945 and began routine patrol and bombing missions against the Kurile Islands. Detachment to NAF Amchitka 24 July 1945; squadron on Attu and Amchitka Islands when the war ended.
VB/VPB-140: VB-140 established at NAS Alameda, California, 21 April 1943 with PV- 1s. Redesignated VPB-140, 1 October 1944. To NAS Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii arriving 25 June 1943 and conducted advanced training. To NAF Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands; divided into two detachments on 28 August 1943 at NAB Guadalcanal and Munda Airfield, New Georgia Island. Both detachments flew combat missions against Japanese installations at or near Rabaul, New Britain Island in the Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville Island, Solomon Islands. Munda detachment to NAB Guadalcanal, 27 February 1944 and squadron moved to NAS Alameda, April-May 1944. Reformed at NAS Alameda 22 May 1944 with in preparation for transitioning to the PV- 2 but production delays in the PV-2 program caused the squadron to be transferred to NAS Hutchinson, Kansas, 18 October 1944, to begin conversion training to the PB4Y-1 Liberator.
VB/VPB-141: VB-141 established at NAS Deland, Florida, 1 June 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-141 1 October 1944. To Caribbean to fly convoy escort, and ASW patrols, August 1943-7 July 1944 while based at NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 9 August 1943, and NAS San Juan, Puerto Rico, 1 October 1943-7 July 1944. Detachments based at NAAF Atkinson Field, British Guinea, 10-18 October 1943; NAAF Edinburgh Field, Trinidad, 11 October-15 November 1943; NAF Hato Field, Curacao, 29 October 1944-7 April 1945; and NAS Coca Solo, Canal Zone, 19 March-7 Jul 44. At 1630 hours on 19 December 1943, a U-boat was spotted on the surface and attacked with negative results. To NAS Beaufort, South Carolina, 7 July 1944; trained until February 1945 when a detachment was sent to NAS Brunswick, Maine, to fly patrols. Another detachment to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, in April 1945 to pick up five PV-2s however, the aircraft were later grounded until modifications could be made to the wings and tail surfaces. Another detachment to MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, 24 April-7 May 1945, to fly patrols. Squadron disestablished at NAS Beaufort on 16 June 1945.
VB/VPB-142: VB-142 established at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, 1 June 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-142, 1 October 1944. To NAS Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, in escort aircraft carrier USS Prince William(CVE-31) August 1943. A six plane detachment to NAS Midway Islands and a second four-plane detachment to NAS Johnston Island to fly patrols and gain experience; both detachments to NAS Kaneohe Bay in November. To NAB Betio, Gilbert Islands 19 December 1943 to begin bombing operations against targets and ships in the Marshall Islands, 20 January 1944- July 1944; detachment sent to NAF Majuro, Marshall Islands, for two weeks in April to attack enemy airfields. Conducted raids on enemy bases in the Marshall Islands and on Nauru Island in support of Allied invasions, May-July 1944. To U.S. in escort aircraft carrier USS Windham Bay (CVE-92), July 1944. Reformed at NAS Moffett Field, California, in September and trained with PV-1s; re-equipped with PV-2s in January 1945. To NAS Kaneohe Bay, February 1945 in aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (CV-11) and commenced training; detachment of six aircraft to NAS Midway Islands March-April 1945 to gain experience. To NAB Tinian Island, Mariana Islands, May 1945 and commenced patrols. Japanese submarine HIJMS I-165 carrying two Kaitan mini submarines sunk 480 miles (772 km) east of Saipan Island, Mariana Islands on 27 June 1945. Last combat patrol flown over Truk Atoll, Caroline Islands on 15 August.
VB/VPB-143: VB-143 established at NAS Deland, Florida, 15 June 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-143 1 October 1944. To NAAS Boca Chica, Florida, for advanced training July 1943. Based in Brazil August 1943 - May 1944 flying ASW patrols and convoy escort; at NAF Recife, 16 August 1943, and NAF Ipitanga, 28 January 1944. Flew dawn and dusk sweeps, convoy coverage and any required night missions in cooperation Airship Patrol Squadron Forty Two (ZP-42) and two Martin PBM Mariner, q.v., squadrons while at NAF Ipitanga.. To NAF Hato Field, Curacao, 10 May 1944 to patrol the immediate area surrounding the island in cooperation with Scouting Squadron Thirty Seven (VS-37). To NAAS Boca Chica, 24 June 1944 to began intensive training in the use of HVARs and updated ASW techniques. On 24 October 1944, the squadron was informed that they would re-equip with PB4Y-1 Liberators, q.v., and the first aircraft arrived in November.
VB/VPB-144: VB-144 established at NAS Alameda, California, 1 July 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-144 1 October 1944. To NAS Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii in escort aircraft carrier USS Copahee (CVE-12) August 1943 and trained and flew operational patrols. To NAB Betio, Gilbert Islands, 9 January 1944 and flew combat patrols. To NAB Roi-Namur, Marshall Islands, 1 February 1944 and commenced bombing operations against Japanese bases in the Gilbert, Marshall and Eastern Caroline Islands. Leaving a detachment at NAB Roi-Namur, returned to NAB Betio 30 March and continued attacks on the Marshalls; a second detachment sent to NAB Roi-Namur in April 1944 and the entire squadron moved there on 1 September. To NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, via NAS Kaneohe Bay on 1 November 1944 and began re-equipping with PV-2s. To NAS Kaneohe Bay in the escort aircraft carrier USS Kadashan Bay (CVE-76), April 1945 and then to NAF Eniwetok Atoll, Marshall Islands 27 June 1945. Flew patrols and photographed Japanese held islands until VJ Day.
VB/VPB-145: VB-145 established at NAS Deland, Florida, 15 July 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-145 1 October 1944. To NAAF Boca Chica, Florida, for advanced training 14 August 1943. Based in Brazil 16 September 1943-1 February 1945 flying routine patrols, convoy coverage and ASW missions from NAF Natal with detachments at NAF Fernando de Noronha for barrier sweeps when required; and Ascension Island, 5- 14 September 1944 . To NAF San Julian, Cuba, 1-28 February 1945, to fly channel patrols and convoy coverage. To NAS New York, New York, 9 March 1945 and then to NAS Brunswick, Maine, to fly convoy escort over the northern convoy routes. To NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, 1 June 1945 and disestablished 18 June.
VB/VPB-146: VB-146 established at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, 15 July 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-146 1 October 1944. To NAS Alameda, California, 5 December for final training and then to NAS Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii in escort aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CVE-57) December 1943. Trained and flew patrol missions from NAS Johnston Island and NAS Midway Islands. To NAS Manus, Admiralty Islands, 8 June 1944 and conducted sea searches, ASW patrols and attacks on Japanese ships and land targets. To Pitoe Airfield, Morotai Island, 19 October 1944; and Mokerang Airdrome, Los Negroes Island, 1 December 1944 to fly sector searches and antishipping patrols. To NAS San Diego, California, via NAS Kaneohe Bay 18 February 1945 and then to NAS Moffett Field, California, 15 April 1945 to re-equip with PV-2s; squadron was still in training on VJ Day.
VB/VPB-147: VB-147 established at NAS Beaufort, South Carolina, 14 August 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-147 on 1 October 1944. To NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, for advanced training, 27 September. To NAS New York, New York, 23 October to fly operational patrols over the convoy routes. To NAS Quonset Point. 25 January 1944 for advanced ASW training and then to NAS Elizabeth City, North Carolina, to continue ASW patrols, search sweeps and convoy escort. In Caribbean 4 May 1944-1 June 1945 flying ASW and sector patrols and convoy escort while based at NAAF Carlsen Field, Trinidad, 4 May 1944 (detachments at NAAF Zandery Field, Dutch Guiana, 13-25 May and 1-30 June 1944; and NAS San Juan, Puerto Rico, 3-13 June 1944) and NAF Hato Field, Curacao, 1 December 1944. Received first PV-2 in April 1945. To NAS Quonset Point on 1 June 1945 where disestablished 2 July 1945.
VB/VPB-148: VB-148 established at NAS Alameda, California, 16 August 1943, equipped with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-148, 1 October 1944. To NAAS Vernalis, California, September 1943 for advanced training. To NAS Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii February 1944 in escort aircraft carrier USS Nehenta Bay (CVE-74). To NAF Russell Islands, Solomon Islands March 1944; Munda Airfield, New Georgia Island in April to fly patrol and bombing missions to Bougainville Island; and NAF Emirau, New Ireland Island May 1944 to fly twice-daily long-range patrol missions to the Caroline Islands. A Japanese convoy was spotted southwest of Truk Atoll on 26 July 1944 and six PV-1s attacked the convoy sinking four ships. To NAS Kaneohe Bay in late October and then to NAS Alameda in escort aircraft carrier USS Chenago (CVE-28) in December 1944. Reformed at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, January 1945 with PV-1s. To NAS Kaneohe Bay in escort aircraft carrier USS Copahee (CVE-12) June 1945 and re- equipped with PV-2s. Detachments to NAS Midway Islands and NAS Johnston Island to fly ASW patrols and long range searches until 16 August when they returned to NAS Kaneohe Bay.
VB/VPB-149: VB-149 established at NAS Beaufort, South Carolina, 16 September 1943 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-149, 1 October 1944. To NAAS Boca Chica, Florida, 6 October for advanced training. Flew ASW patrols off U.S. East Coast while based at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina, 21 November 1943 and NAS Beaufort, 17 December 1943-3 August 1944. To NAAF Otis Field, Massachusetts, for advanced training 4 August 1944 and then to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, 1 October. To NAS Alameda, California, 1 November and then to NAS Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii in the escort aircraft carrier USS Wake Island (CVE-65) arriving 5 December. Detachment to NAS Midway Islands, 14-31 December, for operational training. To NAS Manus, Admiralty Islands 28 February 1945 and then to the Philippine Islands to fly ASW patrols and bombing attacks against Japanese troop concentrations where while based at Tacloban, Leyte, 1 March and NAB Samar, 29 March. Departed Samar 14 August for Hawaii and then NAS Alameda in the escort aircraft carrier USS Nassau (CVE-16) arriving 27 August. VPB-149 was disestablished on 6 September 1945.
VB/VPB-150: VB-150 established at NAS Alameda, California, 15 September 1943, with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-150, 1 October 1944. To NAAS Vernalis, California for advanced training, 1 December 1943. To NAS Alameda and then transported to Territory of Hawaii in escort aircraft carrier USS Nehenta Bay (CVE-74) arriving NAS Kaneohe Bay on 25 March where PV-1s modified with HVAR rails and chin guns. To NAB Betio, Gilbert Islands, 10 July, and began attacks on Japanese installations in the Marshall Islands. To North Field, Tinian, Mariana Islands, 28 August, to fly ASW patrols, reconnaissance flights, radar survey flights and bombing attacks on Japanese bases on Pagan Island. To NAB Tinian, Mariana Islands 18 November and continued combat operations. To NAS Moffett Field, California via NAS Kaneohe Bay March 1945; began re-equipping with PV-2s in July but disestablished on 20 July.
VB/VPB-151: VB-151 established at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, 3 January 1944 with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-151, 1 October 1944. To NAS Alameda, California, 15 April for transport to the Territory of Hawaii in escort aircraft carrier USS Sitkoh Bay(CVE-86) arriving NAS Kaneohe Bay, on 7 May. To NAB Betio, Gilbert Islands 5 August and began flying bombing attacks on Japanese installations in the Marshall Islands. To North Field, Tinian, Mariana Islands 29 August to fly search patrols and bombing missions to Japanese bases in the Caroline and Marshall Islands. To NAB Tinian, Mariana Islands, 18 November and continued operations. Detachment deployed to Motoyama Airfield, Iwo Jima, 13-19 March 1945, to fly antipicket boat sweeps. To NAS San Diego, California, via Hawaii on 4-21 June and disestablished on 30 June 1945.
VB/VPB-152: VB-152 established at NAS Clinton, Oklahoma, 1 April 1944, with modified PV-1s; redesignated VPB-152, 1 October 1944. VB-152 was organized to carry the Pelican target seeking glider bomb and they continued training with Pelicans at NAS Houma, Louisiana, April-July 1944 but due to the limitations of the bomb, the project was dropped in late July. Re-equipped with unmodified PV-1s in October and continued "standard" training and then moved to the West Coast in November to prepare for overseas shipment. Moved to NAS Kaheohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii in USS Sangamon (CVE-26) February 1945 and a detachment sent to NAS Midway Islands, 24 February-30 March. Deployed to NAF Peleliu, Palau Islands, 24 April and conducted antishipping searches and patrols. On 12 July, the squadron was assigned to fly special weather flights and rescue missions. On 2 August, one of the squadron aircraft found the survivors of the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA-35) which had been sunk by the Japanese submarine HIJMS I-58 on 30 July after delivering parts of the atomic bomb to Tinian Islands in the Mariana Islands. VPB-152 was still at NAF Peleliu on VJ Day.
VB/VPB-153: Established as VB-153 at NAS Clinton, Oklahoma, 15 April 1944 with modified PV-1s; redesignated VPB-153 on 1 October 1944. VB-153 was organized to carry the Pelican target seeking glider bomb but the program was cancelled and VB-153 resumed the "standard" PV-1 training syllabus in September. The squadron moved to NAS Moffett Field, California, in November and re-equipped with unmodified PV-1s and later, PV-2s in February 1945. Transported by ship to the Territory of Hawaii in March 1945 and began advanced training at NAS Kaneohe Bay; detachment sent to NAS Midway Islands to fly routine search patrols, April-June 1945. Transferred to NAB Agana, Mariana Islands on 6 June 1945 and flew sector patrols until VJ Day.
VB/VPB-198: VB-198 established at NAS Moffett Field, California, 12 September 1944, with PV-1s; redesignated VPB-198, 1 October 1944. Squadron served as an Operational Training Unit (OTU) to train and supply pilots and crews for all operational squadrons in the Pacific. In April 1945, the PV-1s were replaced by PV-2s.
VPB-199: VPB-199 established at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, 1 October 1944, with PV-1s. VPB-199 served as an Operational Training Unit (OTU) to train and supply pilots and crews for all operational squadrons in the Pacific. In August 1945, the PV-1s were replaced by PV-2s.
VB/VPB-200: VB-200 established at NAS Kaneohe Bay, Territory of Hawaii, 1 April 1944 with PV-1s and PB4Y-1 Liberators, q.v.; redesignated VPB-200, 1 October 1944. The squadron was a combat replacement unit providing instruction on multi-engine patrol aircraft and training replacement crews, ferrying aircraft and stand-by offshore patrol for ASW and rescue work. Sections of the squadron operated from NAS Midway Islands and NAS Johnston Island. The squadron was re-equipped with PV-2s in January 1945.
Copyright © 2001 John E. McKillop