Even before the outbreak of war in Europe, the twin engine Lockheed Hudson reconnaissance aircraft and the British Bristol Blenheim, were already struggling to fulfil the ever-increasing mission demands placed upon them.
Both were already heavily outclassed by the new generation of Axis fighters and with more dependable and heavier armed bombers such as the Wellington, Halifax and Avro Lancaster being pressed into service, they both found themselves being slowly withdrawn from frontline operations.
Lockheed had been working on a more versatile and heavily armed version of its Hudson - one with the capacity to participate in daylight raids over occupied Europe and extended anti-submarine patrols in the northern Pacific and Atlantic.
Their solution was the PV 1 Ventura - a redesigned version of the original Hudson with more powerful engines, greater wingspan and a large dorsal turret supplemented by additional wing and nose cannons.
Britain immediately placed an order in early 1940 for 25 ‘bomber versions’ of the Venturas, later followed by an order for 300 of the more heavier armed reconnaissance version with the re-powered 2,000 hp (1,491 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radials.
The RAF initially used the PV-1s for daylight raids with the first operational mission carried out in November 1942 when three Venturas of 21 Squadron attacked railway targets in the Netherlands.
A month later, 47 Venturas from 21, 464 (RAAF) and 487 (RNZAF) squadrons participated in Operation Oyster, the large daylight 2 Group raid against the Philips radio and vacuum tube factories at Eindhoven. Also committed to the raid were 36 Bostons and 10 de Havilland Mosquitos.
The Venturas were placed in the third wave of bombers and suffered the highest loss rate of all participating aircraft with nine shot down and many others damaged by flak and bird strikes.
Six months later 10 Venturas of 487 RNZAF were tasked with bombing a power station in Amsterdam. More a public relations exercise than a strategic raid, the Squadron were told that it was important for Dutch morale and the raid was to continue no matter what opposition.
It was a disaster just waiting to happen and German fighters destroyed all 10 aircraft almost immediately they crossed the coast.
By mid 1943, the new De Havilland Mosquito had all but replaced the Ventura in the frontline role and the remaining PV-1s were passed to Coastal Command for anti-submarine and shipping patrols.
55 PV's were also ordered by the RAAF and used in the South West Pacific Area, but like the British, the Australians soon found the were vastly inferior to Japanese fighters and found themselves gradually replaced by the highly successful Bristol Beaufighters.
Back on mainland USA, the fierce competition between the USAAF and the USN over aircraft production resources continued with the USAAF insisting that they were responsible for all land-based submarine warfare
The US Navy were desperate for long range reconnaissance and bomber capable aircraft that could be land-based but instead, were forced to rely on the PBY Catalina. They were not pleased.
The imbalance only changed when the USAAF requested the use of the Naval Aircraft Production Plant in Renton, Washington to manufacture its Boeing B-29 Super Fortress.
The Office of the Navy only agreed if the USAAF discontinued their objections to naval land-based bombers with the agreement stating that Lockheed would immediately cease production of the B-34 and 37 and instead, direct all resources toward developing a naval version of the PV 1 - the heavily armed, long-distance, bomber capable PV2 Harpoon.
All Lockheed PV-1 Ventura Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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