The Lockheed B-34 was the lend-lease designation given to the Lockheed Ventura, but of the 200 aircraft produced under this designation only 66 actually went to the RAF or Commonwealth airforces (as the Ventura IIA), while the remaining 124 were retained by the USAAF, where most of them were used as training aircraft. These aircraft were not the first Venturas to enter USAAF service – 264 Ventura IIs were taken over by the USAAF after American entered the war, under the designation Lockheed Model 37.
The B-34 was powered by the 2,000hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-31 engine. It was armed with two fixed forward-firing 0.50in machine guns in the nose and two in a Martin dorsal turret, two 0.30in beam guns and two 0.30in flexible beam guns in the nose. The B-34 had the same 3,000lb bomb load as the Ventura II.
The B-34 was given three designations during its production run. The first twenty aircraft were produced as the B-34-VE (the VE indicates that they were built by Lockheed’s Vega subsidiary). These aircraft were taken over by the USAAF immediately after the US entry into the war.
Next came 167 B-34A-VEs. Of these 66 went to the RAF and Commonwealth as the Ventura IIA, with the USAAF designation B-34A-1-VE. The remaining 101 entered USAAF service as training aircraft, of which 57 were B-34A-2-VE bomber trainers, 28 B-34A-3-VE gunnery trainers and 16 B-34A-4-VE target tugs.
The final thirteen aircraft were designated as the B-34B-Ve and were used as navigation trainers.
Both the 45th and 304th Bombardment Groups used the Lockheed aircraft alongside a number of other types. Both groups were inactivated in December 1942, but by then B-34-VE had already been withdrawn, for in October 1942 it was given restricted flight status and redesignated as the RB-34.