JACK FISHER COLLECTION
No. 11219. Vultee 88 A-35B Vengeance (42-101465) US Army Air Forces
Photograph from Consolidated

Vultee 88 A-35B Vengeance

03/31/2012. Among the types of aircraft ordered from the USA in 1940 by the British Purchasing Commission was the Vultee V-72 Vengeance single-engined dive bomber. Like several other types picked to meet the urgent needs of the RAF, then confronted by an enemy-occupied Europe, the V-72 had not been procured by the USAAC. To meet British orders, two production lines were established, one at the Vultee factory in Nashville, Tennessee and another by Northrop at Hawthorne, California.

After passage of the Lend-Lease Bill through the Senate and its signature by President Roosevelt on March 11, 1941, further contracts for the Vengeance were placed by the USAAF, to be added to those already ordered by Britain. For procurement purposes, the type was then designated A-31, with 100 ordered from Vultee and 200 from Northrop. Deliveries were in progress when the USA entered WW II; thereafter a number of the aircraft intended for Britain were repossessed (including 243 which had been ordered on the British cash contract, and were in consequence known to the USAAF as V-72s rather than A-31s).

One A-31 airframe was built by Vultee in 1942 at Downey, California (where the first two V-72s had been built) as the XA-31A; when fitted with a 3,000 hp XR-4360-1 Wasp Major for test-flying it became the XA-31B. Five more aircraft were used as YA-31Cs to develop the Cyclone 18 engines for the B-29, flying with the 2,200 hp R-3350-13 and R-3350-37 versions.

Equipped to full Army standards, the Vengeance was redesignated A-35A, with four 0.50 in (12.7 mm) guns in the wings and a single gun of the same caliber in the rear cockpit. Ninety-nine were built by Vultee at Nashville, followed by 831 of the A-35B version which had the 1,700 hp Wright R-2600-13 engine and six wing guns. Of this total, 562 were assigned to Britain and 29 to Brazil under Lend-Lease.

The A-35s saw little service with the Army, many being reassigned for target-towing by the Groups mentioned above and other units. It enjoyed the dubious distinction of being described in 1943 by an USAAF general as "a shining example of the waste of material, manpower, and time in the production of an aeroplane which this office (Directorate of Military Requirements) has tried to eliminate for several months".

Created March 31, 2012