The Vultee Vengeance was an American dive bomber of World War II.
In 1940, Vultee Aircraft started the design of a single engined dive-bomber, the Vultee Model 72 (V-72) to meet the requirements of the French Armée de l’Air.
The V-72 was built with private funds and was intended for sale to foreign markets.
The V-72 was a low-wing, single-engine monoplane with a closed cockpit and a crew of two.
An air-cooled radial Wright Twin Cyclone GR-2600-A5B-5 engine rated at 1,600 hp (1,200 kw) powered the V-72.
It was armed with both fixed forward-firing and flexible-mounted .30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns in the rear cockpit.
The aircraft also carried up to 1,500 lb (680 kg) of bombs in an interior bomb bay and on external wing racks.
The Vengeance was uniquely designed to dive vertically without lift from the wing pulling the aircraft off target.
To this end, it had a 0° angle of incidence on the wing to better align the nose of the aircraft with the target during the dive.
This resulted in the aircraft cruising in a nose-up attitude, giving a poor forward view for the pilot, particularly during landing.
It had an unusual, “W”-shaped wing planform.
This resulted from an error in calculating its centre of gravity. Moving the wing back by “sweeping” the centre section was a simpler fix than re-designing the wing root.
This gives the impression of an inverted gull wing when seen from an angle, when in fact the wing has a more conventional dihedral on the outer wing panels.
France placed an order for 300 V-72s, with deliveries intended to start in October 1940.
The fall of France in June 1940 stopped these plans, but at the same time the British Purchasing Commission, impressed by the performance of the German Junkers Ju 87, was shopping for a dive bomber for the Royal Air Force, and as it was the only aircraft available, placed an order for 200 V-72s (named Vengeance by Vultee) on 3 July 1940, with orders for a further 100 being placed in December.
As Vultee’s factory at Downey was already busy building BT-13 Valiant trainers, the aircraft were to be built at the Stinson factory at Nashville, and under license by Northrop at Hawthorne, California.
The first prototype V-72 flew from Vultee’s factory at Downey, California, on 30 March 1941.
Additional aircraft were ordered for Britain in June 1941 under the Lend-Lease scheme, with those being given the US Army Air Corps designation A-31.
After the U.S. entered the war following the attack on Pearl Harbor, a number of V-72 and A-31 aircraft were repossessed for use by the USAAF.
As the USAAF became interested in dive bombing, it decided to order production of an improved version of the Vengeance, designated the A-35, for both its own use and for supply to its allies under Lend-Lease.
It was fitted with a more powerful Wright Twin Cyclone R-2600-19 engine and improved armament.
As US Army test pilots disliked the poor pilot view resulting from the zero-incidence wing, that was “corrected” in the A-35, giving the plane a better attitude in cruise but lessening its accuracy as a dive bomber.
When production of the Vengeance was completed in 1944, a total of 1,931 aircraft had been made.
The majority were produced at the Vultee plant in Nashville, Tennessee.
Indecision about which aircraft type should replace it in production at the Vultee plant led to several “make-work” contracts for Vengeance aircraft to prevent dispersion of the skilled workforce.
That resulted in the overproduction of what was considered an obsolete aircraft.
RAF & Commonwealth Variants
Vultee V-72 license built by Northrop and ordered directly for Britain, powered by 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) R-2600-A5B engine. 200 built.
Northrop built aircraft purchased under Lend-Lease, powered by 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) R-2600-19 engine, otherwise similar to Vengeance I.
USAAF designation A-31-NO. 200 built.
Vultee built aircraft directly purchased by Britain.
Small differences from Vengeance I. 501 built.
Vultee built Lend-Lease aircraft.
Similar to IA, USAAF designation A-31-VN, 200 built.
A-35B supplied under Lend-Lease to RAF and RAAF.
458 supplied to RAF and 121 to RAAF.
Redesignated prototype Vengeance accepted by USAAF in June 1942.
Vultee designation V-88.
XA-31A modified as testbed for 3,000 hp (2,240 kW) Pratt & Whitney XR-4360-1 Wasp Major.
Vengeance III modified as testbed for 2,200 hp (1,640 kW) Wright R-3350-18 Duplex Cyclone engine, One converted.
Vengeance IIIs modified as testbeds for R-3350-17 engines for B-29 Superfortress, Five built.
Redesigned version for USAAF and Lend-Lease. 4° wing incidence.
Powered by 1,700 hp (1269 kW) R-2600-13 or -8 engine.
Four forward-firing .50 in (12.7 mm) calibre M2 Browning machine guns and one in rear cockpit.
Vultee designation V-88, 99 aircraft built.
Modified aircraft with six forward-firing 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns and additional bomb racks.
A-35Bs meant to be in service with the U.S. Navy, order cancelled.
39 ft 9 in (12.12 m)
48 ft 0 in (14.63 m)
15 ft 4 in (4.67 m)
332 sq ft (30.84 m2)
9,725 lb (4,411 kg)
Max take-off weight
14,300 lb (6,486 kg)
1 × Wright R-2600-A5B-5 Twin Cyclone,
14-cylinder radial air-cooled engine,
1,600 hp (1,193 kW)
275 mph (443 km/h, 239 kn) at 11,000 ft (3,350 m)
235 mph (378 km/h, 204 kn)
1,400 mi (2,253 km, 1,220 nmi)
22,500 ft (6,860 m)
43.1 lb/sq ft (210 kg/m2)
0.11 hp/lb (0.18 kW/kg)
4 × fixed forward-firing .30 in (7.6 mm) Browning machine guns in the wing