The Vultee Vengeance in the RAF

The Vultee Vengeance in the RAF

The Vultee A-31 Vengeance was an American dive bomber of World War II, built by Vultee Aircraft. A modified version was designated A-35. The Vengeance was not used operationally by the United States, but was operated as a front-line aircraft by the British Royal Air Force, the Royal Australian Air Force, and the Indian Air Force in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific. The A-31 remained in service with U.S. units until 1945, primarily in a target-tug role.

By the time that Britain had received large numbers of Vengeances, its opinion on the usefulness of specialised dive bombers had changed. As the Battle of Britain and operations over North Africa had shown the dive bomber to be vulnerable to fighter attack, it rejected the Vengeance for use over Western Europe or the Mediterranean. It was decided to use the Vengeance in the Burma Theatre to carry out dive-bombing operations in close support of British and Indian troops in the jungles.

The first RAF squadrons (No. 82 and No. 110) received Vengeances in October 1942.

An Operational Training Unit (Bomber) was set up at Peshawar in February 1943, No.152 OTU as it became to be known. And it operated there training  British, Indian and other Commonwealth aircrew in dive bombing tactics.

The first dive bombing missions against Japanese forces were flown on 19 March 1943. A further two RAF squadrons in Burma received Vengeances, (No. 84 and No. 45), together with two squadrons of the Indian Air Force (IAF) (No. 7 and No. 8).

Vengeances were heavily deployed in support of the second Arakan campaign of 1943/44, and defending against the Japanese attacks on Imphal and Kohima of April–July 1944. Following the successful defeat of the Japanese attack, the RAF and IAF started to phase out the Vengeance in favour of more versatile fighter bombers and twin-engine light bombers, with the last Vengeance operations over Burma being carried out on 16 July 1944.

After Burma service, a detachment from 110 Squadron RAF was sent to Takoradi in West Africa via the Middle East, a number of aircraft breaking down en route. Between September and December 1944.

Although phased out of front line service with the RAF, Britain continued to receive large numbers of Vengeances, with bulk deliveries of Lend Lease aircraft (as opposed to those purchased directly by Britain) having only just started. Many of these surplus aircraft, including most Vengeance Mk IVs, were delivered to the UK and modified as Target tugs, being used in this role both by the RAF and the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm (FAA).[15] In these roles, all armament was removed from the aircraft.

A small number served in Europe, including a couple that made their way to Italy. The last Vengeances however were operated by the Indian Air Force. The No.22 Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit, operating in India flew the type well into 1947. In June 47 the Unit was disbanded and a small flight – The No.1 Target Tug Flight was formed and it operated the aircraft into July 1947.  Which is when the last recorded flight of the Vengeance in the RAF took place.

1,931 Vengeances were built by the US. Out of which 1,562 found their way into RAF service, donning an RAF Serial number. Others served with the RAAF, taking part in the Australian/Pacific sector. Today there is only one RAAF Example that has been preserved – anywhere in the world!

Vengeance Timeline in SEAC

Red X : Operational Use by IAF Squadrons

Vengeance Serials

1562 Records
AF Series : 199
AN Series : 462
AP Series : 38
EZ Series : 200
FB Series : 82
FD Series : 318
FP Series : 1
HB Series : 251
KG Series : 11

Vengeance Losses in SEAC

Vengeance Losses in SEAC 206

By Year:

1942 8 1943 77 1944 91 1945 23 1946 6 1947 1

Vengeance Gallery

Vengeance-EZ897 Drigh Road Aircraft DrighRoad Vengeances AN796 EZ854 - Vultee Vengeance AP114 - Vengeance on Ground Vengeance Taking Off QueenMary-Vengeance Flickr CarlYeates-Vengeance Vengeance Mark III, FB922 Vultee Vengeance fuselages, newly arrived from the United States, under inspection at No. 1 (India) Maintenance Unit, Drigh Road, India FB977-Ground Vengeance-FB977 FD354-Interval FD354-Closeup

9 thoughts on “The Vultee Vengeance in the RAF

  1. My dad was in a vengeance sqdn. He was in India as an nco. He came home on a troopship and returned to his work at a local flour millers. His name is Clifford Penistone. His friends in India were Stan & Eric. I think they were PTIs & Armourers.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Mi currently a book on 82 Squadron and their exploits with the Vengeance and later the Mosquito. Did your father serve on 82?

  2. Looking for any information on vultee vengeance flown by RAF Sqn 667 between 1944 & 1945 ,especially vutee vengeance with the serial number HB 395

  3. A book by Sarah Mosher, ‘Remember Me’ is about 110 Squadron in Burma. Might be some stuff on other squadrons. My Dad was an air gunner in 110.

  4. Sadly another example of a poor aircraft shoved into the Burma campaign. The Vengeance was another poor aircraft bought in haste. The aircrew who flew in them and the ground crew who worked on them did a magnificent job against the odds… the good results achieved in Burma can be put down to their dedication. The Burma Boys not only suffered appalling living conditions but also the ignominy of flying second-rate or worn-out aircraft. Then there was the lack of promotion, recognition and awards to add insult to injury. Then the final insult of an appallingly disorganised and disrespectful demobilisation and return home after VJ Day, treated again as ‘second-class’ compared to RAF in the European theatre. I salute the 1000s of ground crew and air crew who served in the Burma/SE Asian campaign… you deserved better treatment. Many New Zealanders ended up in the skies over Burma and did it hard! As a Kiwi, I salute you in particular.

      1. Yes, that would be great, you can share the photos and data on this site, do you have access to my fathers profile on the ‘ancestry’ ?

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