|REVIEWER:||Carmel J. Attard|
The Vultee Vengeance attracted little in the way of publicity during the war years but the ground troops quickly appreciated the worth of this dive bomber as RAF and Commonwealth pilots provided truly ‘close support’ bombing attacks at times only yards in front of the allied infantry.
The Vengeance Mk1 and MkII and MkIII in RAF service were all externally similar. Although the had only one machine gun in the rear cockpit local modifications eventually brought these up to the later standards. Similarly on the MkIIs and IIIs external bomb racks were added beneath the outboard wing panels.
The Northrop company built this dive bomber under licence as V-72 designated as Vengeance 1 and 1a, the latter being lend-lease machines. However the identification of the RAF variants 1, 1a and II was somewhat confused and generally for the modeler the Mk1 and 1a can be identified by the single gun armament in the rear cockpit while most Mk IIs and some referred to as Mk IIIs had twin machine guns for the rear gunner. All these aircraft carried two machine guns in the wing. Vultee -produced Vengeances were designated A-31 (Vengeance Mk1) with suffix added for the Mks II and III for the RAF.
To meet American requirements the aircraft was improved by fitting the R-2600-13 engine and adding an additional gun in each wing. This was known as the A-35B. The A-35A was similar to the A-31 but with the American equipment fitted. The A-35B was designated by the allies as Vengeance IV though few saw service with the RAF. Several were taken on charge by the USAF and used for target-towing and similar second-line duties. Eventually the Mk IV / A-35B was identified by the large air intake slightly offset to port which was added beneath the cowling. The extended exhaust pipes fitted on the production line were usually removed in service. Provision for six wing guns was also apparent.
Considering the Vengeance dive bomber had what has been described as ‘a somewhat indifferent career’, in the RAAF it was nevertheless delivered in large numbers and flown by five operational squadrons: No 12, 21, 23, 24 and 25, and was extensively used on operations in New Guinea area until its basic unsuitability was recognized. The fact the squadrons achieved as much success as they did provide the greatest possible tribute to their crews.
The RAAF received 342 Vengeances out of a total of 400 that were scheduled to be supplied under the terms of Lend-Lease. The first aircraft was received in May 1942 and deliveries were spread between then and early 1944. The 58 aircraft still to be delivered were cancelled. Following their withdrawal from front line service, the remaining Vengeances were used by several communications units and for target towing. The Australian flying career ended in early 1946, although it took another five years to dispose of all of them. 16 were transferred to the RAN in 1948-50 for ground and fire fighting training duties.
Frog and Special Hobby produced a good representation of the Vengeance. The Frog kit was a much earlier release and as one would expect had its short comings such as thick plastic parts, thick canopy section, slightly narrow nose cowling but even when built from the box it makes a pleasing model. Still it has the cross section of the forward fuselage and lower cowling is slightly too square and reference to photographs indicate the need to round off the lower sides of the cowling and nacelles. I have in fact utilized parts from the Special Hobby surplus items such as the short stub exhaust pipe can by replacing it with a resin set from SH kit. This Frog kit is a rebuilt model.
The undercarriage doors are somewhat complex in shape. I slightly improved on the ones provided in the kit by slight sanding to enhance shape. Building new undercarriage doors from scratch would have been a better option. I also detailed more the cockpit inside and replaced the twin gun position with a single gun, as the former appeared too cumbersome. The cowling gills were not noticeable on the Vengeance although they were slightly open when the aircraft was parked. Again I made use of the spare cowling front that comes in the SH kit which had the required small air intake at the top besides another one at lower as required for the particular type I was kitting. This also necessitated the need to widen slightly the forward nose/cowling section and gently fairing with little filler. I also replaced the thick plastic canopy with one gently sent by Jays Hobby Products who sent me a much-needed ‘Falcon’ clear vac canopy (set No 30) replacement for this model. This was trimmed and set so well using little white glue diluted with tiny amount of water.
My other model of the Vengeance is the Special Hobby kit, which is a far improvement over the earlier Frog kit release. Still it had a couple of issues as it lacked locating guide pins and the double vac canopies that comes with the kit tarnished yellow and unsuitable to apply to the model. A quick mail to SH soon came with a double fresh set of clear canopies and am thankful to the Special Hobby customer care service team for their efficient way to send me replacements.
The Frog kit is completed as A-35A EZ986 which is a Vengeance Mk 1A (A-31), 200 of which were built. The Special Hobby kit is a Vengeance Mk II A35B HB335 and represents a Target Tug version of which 251 were built. This was finished in a target-tug livery with additions of tail wire guards.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
The interior of the cockpit on RAF and RAAF were in the main in the US interior green color more like a mixture of yellow zinc chromate and olive drab. Wheel wells were also usually in this medium interior green color. Some RAF machines in Burma had azure blue undersides. Both machines had the dark earth dark green upper surface camouflage and the TT Vengeance carried the yellow/ black stripe undersides as common to the mission they flew.
Although not very well known the Vengeance remains an important addition to any collection of representative WWII aircraft, with the variety of camouflage applicable to both RAF and Australian Vengeances
Carmel J. Attard
4 July 2017
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