Lockheed L.37 / PV-1 / RB-34 Ventura / B-37 / PV-2 Harpoon
Oakland Airmotive Centaurus
The success of the Hudson in RAF service led Lockheed to propose a military version of the larger Lockheed 18 Lodestar and resulting British interest led to development of the Lockheed 37. Based on the existing Lodestar, the modifications were to provide increased power and an added lift capability of three tons, on the same wings and flaps, and the fuselage was to be re-designed to accommodate bombs, gun positions and other military equipment. The entire Lodestar double tail was retained along with its tendency to be blanketed out in certain landing attitudes by the large and effective Fowler wing flaps. As a replacement for the Hudson, and the Venture promised a 300mph top speed, an eight machine gun armament, twice the bomb load, and a range of up to 500 miles from base.
In February 1940 a proposal submitted by Lockheed for a Blenheim replacement was accepted by the Air Ministry. The aircraft was basically a military version of the Lockheed 18 Lodestar transport.
A direct purchase order was placed for 300 aircraft in May 1940, followed by a further order for 375. There were considerable delays in producing the first machine, which first flew on 31st July 1941, and it was not until April 1942 that the first Venturas arrived at Lockheed's facility at Speke, Liverpool, from the Vega aircraft plant at Burbank, California. In the event, only 394 of the initial orders for Ventura Mk.Is and Mk.IIs (the latter having uprated engines) were delivered.
First used operationally by the RAF on 3 November 1942, the type was soon found to be unsuited to daylight operations and was transferred to Coastal Command.
In 1943 the GR.V version entered service. These machines were supplied under Lease-Lend and were patrol aircraft based on the U.S. Navy PV-1. They had modified bomb bays to accommodate six depth charges. A large proportion of the GR.Vs were delivered direct to the Middle East, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Canada. In Britain No.519 Squadron was the first to receive the GR.V, replacing Hudsons and Hampdens at Wick, followed shortly afterwards by No. 521 Squadron at Docking, both squadrons being engaged in Meteorological flights. These two squadrons reverted to Hudsons the following year when the Venturas were required elsewhere.
By November 1942 the US Navy had taken over the patrolling of the US coastal water from the USAAF and had ordered their own version of the Ventura, the PV-1, for the role. The Vega production line was easily converted to this model from the previous B-34 variant in production for the USAAF. The PV-1 differed primarily from the B-34 Ventura in having two underwing stations capable of holding one 1,000lb bomb or one 155 US gallon drop tank. The streamlined Martin 250 electric turret, first fitted to the USAAF B-34, was retained. The most significant difference internally was the installation of the advanced ASD radar in the nose of the aircraft behind an opaque plastic nose cap. Indicators (or screens) were provided for the navigator in the nose compartment, and for the radio operator stationed behind the pilot. A new under-nose gun pack equipped with 3 x .50 Brownings was developed to replace the original nose mounted depressable guns fitted to earlier Venturas.
Venturas served with all the Commonwealth nations, the Free French and with the Brazilian air force. A long-range version, the PV-2, had been ordered by the US Navy in June 1943 and, differing in several respects from the Ventura, was named the Harpoon; Ventura and Harpoon production totalled 3,028 in September 1945. Post-war surplus PV-2 aircraft were supplied to Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Peru and Portugal.
A few Ventura 5s had been modified for target towing duties with the RCAF and were still operating in 1955. Powered by two 2,000 h.p. Pratt & Whitney R2800-31 engines, they carry sleeve targets in their bomb-bay.
California-based Oakland Airmotive specialized in civilian executive transport conversions of surplus U.S. Navy Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon patrol bombers. The resultant Oakland Centaurus seated 8/14 passengers and was offered as a high speed corporate transport in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Engines: 2 x Pratt & Whitney GR2800--S1A4-G, 2,000-h.p.
Span: 65 ft. 6 in.
Length 51 ft. 2.5 in.
Height: 11 ft. 10.5 in.
Weight loaded: 26,000 lb.
Max. speed: 300 m.p.h.
Cruising speed: 260 m.p.h.
Range: 1,000 miles.
Service ceiling: 25,000 ft.
Armament: Two fixed 0.50-in. machine-guns and two depressable 0.303-in. guns in nose, two or four 0.303-in. guns in dorsal turret, two 0.303-in. guns in ventral position; bomb load 2,500 lb.
Engines: two 2,000 h.p. Pratt & Whitney R2800-31
Span: 65 ft. 6 in
Weight: 26,500 lb
Max. Speed: over 300 mph
Engines: 2 x Pratt & Whitney R2800-31 Twin Wasps, 2000 hp / 1491kW.
Max take-off weight: 14096 kg / 31077 lb
Empty weight: 9161 kg / 20197 lb
Wingspan: 19.96 m / 65 ft 6 in
Length: 15.77 m / 51 ft 9 in
Height: 3.63 m / 11 ft 11 in
Wing area: 51.19 sq.m / 551.00 sq ft
Max. speed: 518 km/h / 322 mph
Cruising speed: 200 kts / 370 kph
Service ceiling : 24,000 ft / 7315 m
Ceiling: 8015 m / 26300 ft
Range: 2189 km / 1360 miles
Bomb load: 2500 lb.
Armament: 2 x .5 in & 8 x .303 in mg, 1134kg Bomb