Combat aircraft. And what didn't you fly peacefully?

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Combat aircraft. And what didn't you fly peacefully?
Combat aircraft. And what didn't you fly peacefully?

One of those aircraft of the Second World War, about which we can safely say "with a difficult fate." In reality, this plane could not take place at all, or become completely different, because it was conceived as anything, but not as a naval patrol attack aircraft. And to be very specific - like a passenger liner.

1939 year. Lockheed is working on a replacement for its L-14 passenger liner to squeeze out Douglas rivals who have rowed the dollars too well with their DST and DC-3 models.

The L-14 was not bad, but not a competitor to the same DC-3, which was both simpler and cheaper, and took on board more passengers with luggage.

And the designers of Lockheed came up with an aircraft that they called the L-18 Loudstar. Basically, it was an aircraft that used a lot of the L-14 base, but differed from it in the shape and size of the fuselage. A longer and higher fuselage did not have the best effect on speed characteristics, but this was not critical for a passenger aircraft. But "Loudstar" could take on board 18 passengers instead of 14 from its predecessor.

Now this figure will make many smile, but those were the 30s of the last century. That is, almost 100 years ago.

Lockheed planned to equip the plane with a whole range of different engines from Pratt & Whitney with a capacity from 490 to 650 hp, so to speak, for every taste.

The most interesting thing in the fate of this aircraft is that Lockheed did without building a prototype. We took three production L-14s and redesigned the fuselage and tail. And the first such L-18 took off on September 21, 1939, and the first production L-18 took off in February 1940.

However, Lockheed was deeply disappointed. The plane “didn't take off” in terms of sales. It happened. Despite the fact that all the work was done more than quickly, the DC-3 has firmly taken its place in the market. Slower, but capacious and reliable, it has become the king of freight and passenger routes.

The L-18 was sold in small numbers. 43 cars were purchased in the USA, another 96 were sold to other countries. In general - a complete disappointment. The expenses, of course, paid off, but nothing more.

However, it so happened that the history of the aircraft was continued thanks to 38 aircraft, which were acquired by Great Britain and one purchased by the American Air Force.

Combat aircraft. And what didn't you fly peacefully?
Combat aircraft. And what didn't you fly peacefully?

The US Air Force bought one L-18 badged as the C-56. It was an ordinary passenger plane, which simply carried staff officers. I liked the plane, and the Air Force bought three more under the C-57 brand. I really liked the plane, so 10 more units were bought.

These planes worked very hard for the benefit of the Air Force, because when the Second World War began, the American military had a plane in mind, and Lockheed received an order for 365 aircraft, plus the military simply requisitioned a certain number from Lockheed.

The aircraft were designated C-56, C-57, C-59 and C-60, depending on the installed engines. Aircraft that ended up serving in the Navy or Coastal Services were called R-50s. "Sea" gathered about a hundred.


All these aircraft were passenger options, where the cabin was simplified to the maximum and the floor was somewhat reinforced. In fact, they are ordinary airborne transport vehicles, without weapons. Some S-60 models had mounts so that members of the landing could fire from personal weapons. So-so defense, you know.

The good American guys sent 15 cars from this order under Lend-Lease to the British allies. The British also appreciated the planes, and …

And the question followed: "Can you do the same, but with mother-of-pearl buttons"?

"Easy" - was the answer from "Lockheed", by that time (February 1940) the company had already thoroughly filled its hand in all sorts of alterations.

And it began …

The British were generally distinguished by their ability to puzzle, plus a peculiar sense of humor. But a promise to order 25 planes is a promise to order 25 planes, and during a war only a completely foolish person can disdain military orders. There weren't any at Lockheed. And the experience was.

Back in 1938, Lockheed, at the request of the Dutch, built the L-212A, a training bomber, from the L-12A Electra Junior. The L-212A differed from the cargo-passenger ancestor by a bomb bay in the luggage compartment, bomb suspensions and weapons, which consisted of a 7.7-mm machine gun and the same machine gun on a turret in the tail section.

These 15 aircraft served in the Dutch East Indies and took part in the war, patrolling the coastal waters of the East Indies (now Indonesia). Naturally, all aircraft were lost during skirmishes with Japanese aircraft.

Around the same time, by order of the British, Lockheed converted the L-14 Super Electra into a naval anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft. The aircraft received a transparent nose, where the navigator-bombardier was located, enlarged gas tanks and decent defensive armament from five 7, 62-mm machine guns.


Well, yes, this is the "Hudson", which was adopted not only in Britain, but also in the United States, where they also liked the car.

So when the prospect of another Hudson loomed, Lockheed rolled up its sleeves.

To begin with, it was decided to install new engines on the plane, which was to become again a naval reconnaissance officer with the function of an anti-submarine aircraft. Swung to the most powerful at that time Pratt-Whitney R-2800 "Double Wasp".

It turned out to be not very simple: new propellers had to be developed, since the Pratt-Whitney engines originally had propellers that did not allow them to be installed in length into the nacelle of the aircraft without changing the wing. Move nacelles - remodel the entire wing. Lockheed decided it would be easier to come up with other screws.

The screws have been designed. Smaller diameter, but wide-bladed, which made it possible to maximize the use of engine power at low and medium altitudes, exactly where a naval patrol aircraft should operate.


They did not become greedy in terms of weapons. The aircraft received a battery of 8 machine guns of British caliber 7, 69 mm. 2 movable machine guns were located in the bow of the navigator's cabin, 2 more fixed above it, 2 on the turret at the top of the fuselage and 2 on the pivot mount under the tail section.

To cause trouble for an enemy submarine, the plane could carry 2,500 kg of bombs. This was more than enough to make life difficult for German submariners with good preparation, but fatally.

Compared to the Hudson, the new plane flew faster and farther. In March 1940, the British received the first aircraft for testing. The tests passed with brilliance, and as a result, received the name "Ventura", the plane was ordered in a series of 300 aircraft.

In March-May 1942, "Ventura" began to take up military service. Moreover, the first place of service of the naval patrol aircraft was … the bomber division! Yes, the first Ventura entered the 21st Bomber Division. Britain had a shortage of medium bombers, and in 1942 Britain went from defensive to offensive in an air war with the Reich. And there were not enough medium bombers.


They served as Ventura bombers until the fall of 1943, when they were replaced by the Mosquito. And the planes went to serve their real purpose. All subsequent series were already at the disposal of the Coastal Command, where they served as patrol and anti-submarine aircraft.

Meanwhile, Lockheed was stepping up its aircraft production. In September 1941, the US Air Force requisitioned 208 aircraft from Lockheed and began using them for training purposes and as patrol aircraft. And for the already requisitioned planes, they ordered another 200 training and patrol aircraft under the name B-34. These aircraft were armed with a Martin top turret with two 12.7 mm machine guns.

In July 1942, the Ventura came to the attention of the American fleet. There they operated, along with flying boats, ground vehicles RVO-1 (this is still the same "Hudson" in the American version), which showed themselves very well. "And we need it too!" - said the naval forces and created a coastal-based naval aviation, typing everything that came to hand and that was given to them almost voluntarily.

So B-24 became naval PB4Y, B-25 was renamed PBJ, and B-34 became PV-2.


The plane really came to the yard. It got to the point that the brave naval guys began to rob their British allies, simply withdrawing vehicles from British orders in the interests of the US Navy. This is how the Ventura PV-3 appeared, these are British vehicles, deprived of parts of the machine guns in the bow and upper turret. It was logical where these planes flew (along the US coast, chasing German submarines), where the appearance of enemy fighters was simply impossible.

Fixed machine guns 7, 69-mm were replaced by 12, 7-mm "Browning", which made the aircraft suitable for attack on lightly armored ships. And since the end of 1943, the entire production of "Ventures" went exclusively in the interests of the American fleet. The aircraft were equipped according to American standards in terms of weapons and radio communications. The British lost part of their order for 300 aircraft.

In 1943, a modification of the "Ventura" went with an ASD-1 radar in a now opaque nose and the possibility of suspension of dropped fuel tanks.

Americans began to use "Ventura" very competently. The aircraft carried out patrol duty on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. When it became clear that the plane was more than good, they began to supply it to the units that fought in the Pacific Ocean.

Due to its speed, the Ventura at low altitude could easily escape from the Japanese A6M3 or Ki-43, and with the afterburner there was a chance (small, but there was) to escape even from the Ki-61. But if it was not possible to leave, then the Ventur crews easily got involved in a fight, since 6 large-caliber machine guns made it possible to reason with any enemy.

And on later models of 1944, at the bottom of the bow, they began to hang a container with three Browning 12, 7-mm machine guns with 120 rounds of ammunition per barrel. The combat capabilities of the aircraft have grown considerably in the offensive. And two more such de machine guns could be installed in the side windows of the rear of the fuselage.

No wonder that with such a set of weapons the idea came to use the Ventura as an escort fighter. And "Ventura" accompanied the B-24, which flew from the Aleutian Islands to the Kuril Islands and transport C-47 with cargo for the garrison of New Guinea.


Well, the idea of a night fighter was just a stone's throw away. When the Japanese night bombers completely got hold of the American naval command, the night fighter squads were created, in which the once again converted Ventura served.

The side windows of the navigator's cockpit were repaired and four 12.7 mm machine guns were installed in the cockpit. In the nose and on the wing, the antennas of the AI IV radar, designed to search for air targets, were mounted. The crew, consisting of five people, was reduced to three: a pilot, a radio operator and a gunner. The hatch defensive installation was removed. About two dozen aircraft were converted in this way.


And in this form, "Ventura" began to try to search for and shoot down Japanese night bombers. And from October 1943 to July 1944, 12 Japanese aircraft were shot down. Considering the areas in which this search took place, it is quite worthy. This, after all, is not over London "Junkers" to catch.

As a fighter, the Ventura was not bad, but the lack of normal vertical maneuver and a low operating ceiling hindered it. But the aircraft was not originally designed for this.

But the main work of "Ventura" was the search for enemy submarines, followed by an attack or reconnaissance. The flight range of 2,670 km made it possible, the set of the most modern American navigation equipment greatly facilitated the tasks, the bomb load of 2,270 kg was a very serious test for any submarine.


The bomb bay was frankly small, only 1,360 kg of bombs could be placed in it, the rest was suspended from the outside on pylons. The aircraft could be equipped with bombs of 50, 114, 227 and 545 kg, as well as depth charges of 147 or 295 kg. It was possible to place the Mk.13 torpedo inside the bomb compartment. Fuel tanks could be placed on the pylons or in the bomb bay. The tanks were unprotected and it was required to use up the fuel from them in the first place.

The first submarine, Ventura, was sunk on April 29, 1943. It happened in the area of the island of Newfoundland, the German boat U-174 was unlucky. It was followed by U-761, U-336, U-615 and others. The war was raging across the Atlantic, and it is worth noting that the Ventura were more effective in it than the German submariners, who could not oppose anything to the American aircraft. Anti-aircraft crews of the boats were very simply suppressed by Ventur machine guns, after which bombs were used.

In the Pacific Ocean, the role of "Ventura" was reduced to slightly different tasks. Since the Japanese followed different tactics for submarines, the targets for the Ventur were boats, small transport ships and even land positions.

"Ventura" stormed the Japanese positions on the Marshall Islands, the Gilbert Islands, the Caroline Islands with machine guns and bombs, acting easily without fighter cover. Here a very important feature of the aircraft became clear - excellent survivability. The cars returned to the airfields, literally riddled with fire from the ground, with battered engines, but remained operational. Even with the cylinders punctured, the R-2800s continued to pull the plane.

There was a case where three Japanese shells hit the engine from Pratt-Whitney, but he dragged the plane back to base.

And that was an excellent property. Because the Ventura's buoyancy was very bad. Having landed on the water, PV-1 lasted no more than 30-40 seconds, then that was all. Drowned. Therefore, it was better to pull "on the teeth" to the ground.

Massively "Ventura" were used in the Aleutian operation, where they bombed the Japanese garrisons, aimed at the targets "Liberators" and B-24, which bombed from high altitudes. "Ventura" "polished" from low altitudes, using both bombs and machine guns. The Japanese also got it on the Kuril Islands. Remains of American aircraft, including the Venture. You can still see it, for example, on the Shumshu island.


Many Ventures landed due to damage or lack of fuel in Kamchatka in 1944. Five planes turned out to be completely serviceable, and ours interned them in accordance with the then Soviet-Japanese agreement on neutrality. The crews were sent to the United States, and the planes were used for their own purposes, mainly to patrol the coast. The aircraft, although not listed, were used by the 128th mixed air division. And on one "Ventura", as on a communications plane, the division commander ran through all the regiments of the division, scattered at a considerable distance from each other.


Worked "Ventura" and as scouts. Re-equipment took place even in units, in the field. Instead of the rear lower machine-gun mount, a camera was installed, sometimes cameras were mounted in the bomb compartment. The rest of the bomb bay was usually occupied by fuel tanks.

Usually the functions of the cameraman were performed by the navigator (who, by the way, might not have been in the crew, his functions could have been performed by someone from the crew), or the cameras were controlled by a separate specialist, depending on the importance of the task.

Later, a separate version of the scout appeared, which was named "Harpoon". The wingspan was significantly increased, the tail area was increased, where only gas tanks could be installed, as a result of which the range increased to 2,900 km. The armament remained the same.

To increase the volume of the bomb bay, its doors were made convex, and now it was possible to hang more bombs or two unguided (but weighty) Tiny Tim missiles inside the bay.


"Harpoon" was slower than "Ventura" by 20-30 km / h, became a little less maneuverable. But the altitude increased, the car became easier to fly, especially when flying on one engine. It was necessary to significantly strengthen the power set of the wing, the aircraft of the first series were generally forbidden to dive, but as a result, half of the patrol divisions moved to the Harpoons.

"Ventura" and "Harpoons" took the most direct part in the final operations of the Second World War in the Pacific Ocean. They stormed the garrisons in the Philippines, the Kuriles, the Mariana Islands and even Japan itself.


One unique machine was used on the Mariana Islands. It was equipped with loudspeakers and tried to convince Japanese soldiers to surrender.

After the war, the Ventura became the primary patrol aircraft in the US Navy. It began to be replaced in 1947 by the more modern P2V-1 Neptune, created by the same team under the leadership of Wessell, but Neptune was originally designed as a military aircraft.

The last "Ventura" and "Harpoons" were removed from service in 1957, the aircraft were mainly in reserve and were sold and distributed to other countries. "Ventura" and "Harpoons" were in service with Portugal, Italy, France, the Netherlands, South Africa and Japan.

Some PV-2s flew until the mid-70s as transport and service.

A very peculiar plane. A dashing alteration that has lived a very interesting and rewarding life. But it could have become a passenger plane …


LTH PV-2 "Ventura"

Wingspan, m: 19, 96

Length, m: 15, 67

Height, m: 3, 63

Wing area, m2: 51, 19

Weight, kg

- empty aircraft: 9 161

- maximum takeoff: 14 096

Engine: 2 x Pratt Whitney R-2800-31 Double Wasp x 2000 hp

Maximum speed, km / h: 518

Cruising speed, km / h: 390

Practical range, km: 2 389

Practical ceiling, m: 8 015

Crew, pers: 4-5


- two front fixed 12, 7-mm machine guns;

- two 12, 7-mm machine guns in the dorsal turret;

- two 12, 7-mm machine guns under the fuselage;

- bombs weighing up to 1361 kg in the bomb bay or 6 x 147-kg depth charges or 1 torpedo.

A total of 3,029 aircraft of all modifications were produced

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