The Lockheed PV-1 was the designation given to the Ventura bomber in service with the US Navy. In the spring of 1942 the USAAF agreed to transfer responsibility for all anti-submarine warfare off the American coast to the US Navy, after years of fighting to keep that role. Part of this agreement saw responsibility for the Ventura pass from the USAAF, where it was designated as the B-34, to the US Navy. Eventually 2,162 aircraft were built with the PV designation (Patrol, Lockheed), of which 1,600 would be PV-1s.
A number of modifications were made to the Ventura to make it more suitable for the maritime patrol role. It retained the 2,000hp R-2800-31 engines used on the Ventura II, but fuel capacity was increased from 1,345 US gallons to 1,607 US gallons, half in permanent fuel tanks, 310 gallons in drop tanks and the rest in optional bomb-bay fuel tanks. The PV-1 was armed with two forward firing 0.50in guns, twin 0.50in guns in the dorsal turret and two 0.30in guns in the ventral position. The bomb bay was modified so that it could carry six 325lb depth charges, a single torpedo or the normal 3,000lb of bombs of the Ventura II.
Late production aircraft also carried three 0.50in guns in a gun-pack under the nose (in this version the glass bombardier’s station in the nose was removed) and had the capacity to carry eight 5-in HVAR rockets under the wings. The aircraft was also equipped with ASD-1 search radar.
The PV-1 made its maiden flight on 3 November 1942. Of the 1,600 that were built between December 1942 and May 1944 most entered service with the US Marine Corps and the US Navy, while 387 or 388 went to the RAF and Commonwealth air forces as the Ventura GR.Mk V
All PV-1s were equipped with oblique cameras in the fuselage. A number were given additional cameras and redesignated as the PV-1P.
Perhaps the most unusual use of the PV-1 (or any version of the Ventura) was to equip the US Marine Corps’ first night-fighter squadron, VMF(N)-531. This squadron was commissioned in November 1942, but didn’t become operational until September 1943, at Banika in the Russell Islands. It achieved its first victory in November 1943, before serving on Vella Lavella and Bougainville.
The PV-1 was preceded into Navy service by the PV-3, twenty seven Ventura IIs taken over by the US Navy after Pearl Harbor. These aircraft entered service with VP-82 in October 1942, and were used to fly anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic from Argentia, Newfoundland.
The PV-1 entered service with VB-127 at NAS Deland on 1 February 1943. VP-135 became the first squadron to operate the PV-1 in combat when it took its aircraft to Adak in the Aleutians. From here four squadrons would operate the PV-1, flying a mix of reconnaissance and attack missions against Paramushiro, the northernmost of the Kurile Islands. The PV-1 was also used from the Solomon Islands, flying anti-submarine patrols over the Pacific, and for a short period operated from Fernando de Noronha, off the coast of Brazil.
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-31
Span: 65ft 6in
Length: 51ft 9in
Empty weight: 20,197lb
Loaded weight: 31,077lb
Maximum weight: 34,000lb
Maximum Speed: 322mph at 13,800ft
Cruising Speed: 170 mph
Service ceiling: 26,300ft
Range: 1,360 miles
Guns: four 0.50in and two 0.30in
Bomb load: 3,000lb