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A-31 Vengeance

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A-31 Vengeance
An Australian Vengeance in 1943 (AWM 0G0537)
Type dive bomber
Manufacturer Vultee
Maiden flight 1939
Number built 1,528

The Vultee A-31 Vengeance was an American dive-bomber of the Second World War built by Vultee Aircraft. While over 1,500 aircraft were built, the design was not considered successful and Vengeances saw little combat during the war.


The Vultee A-31 Vengeance was a dive-bomber built originally in the late 1930s as the Vultee Model 72 (V-72) by the Vultee Corporation. Additional aircraft were built by the Northrop Corporation. The V-72 was built with private money and was intended for sale to foreign markets. The V-72 was a low-wing, single engine powered, monoplane with a closed cockpit and a crew of two. An air-cooled radial Wright Double Row Cyclone GR-2600-A5B-5 engine rated at 1,700 hp powered the V-72. It was armed with both fixed forward firing 30 caliber machine guns and flexible mounted 30 caliber machine guns in the rear cockpit. The aircraft also carried up to 1,500 lb of bombs in an interior bomb bay and on external wing racks.


France originally ordered the V-72, but with the fall of France in 1940, the order was taken over by the United Kingdom, which ordered additional aircraft. Under Lend-Lease, the US Army Air Corps ordered additional aircraft for Britain under the designation A-31. Additional V-72 aircraft were sold to Brazil, China, Turkey, and the USSR during the late 1930s.

When the Army Air Corps became interested in dive bombing, a number of V-72 and A-31 aircraft were either ordered or re-possessed for their own use. An improved version of the Vengeance, designated the A-35, was ordered which was equipped with a Wright Cyclone R-2600-19 engine.

When production of the Vengeance was completed in 1944, a total of 1,528 aircraft had been produced.

Operational service

British service

As the Vultee Vengeance it was used both by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Fleet Air Arm (FAA). The Vengeance was used by the RAF mostly in Burma. The Vengeance was found to be very vulnerable to enemy fighters in front line use and was soon withdrawn for use in secondary roles such as training of attack squadron pilots and towing targets for gunnery training. In these roles all armament was removed from the aircraft. The FAA received their aircraft near the end of the war in late 1944 and 1945 and did not see front line action before the war ended.

The following RAF units operated the Vengeance:

The Vultee Vengeance saw service in India and Burma at some time during the Burma Campaign with No. 45 Squadron (Nicknamed "The Flying Camels").

Indian service

The Vengeance also saw service with two squadrons of the Royal Indian Air Force. The aircraft was inducted in 1943 when No.7 Squadron, IAF was re-equipped with the type. It was followed in service by No. 8 Squadron IAF

The following IAF units operated the Vengeance:

Australian service

Australia placed an order for 400 Vengeances as an emergency measure following the outbreak of war in the Pacific. While the first Vengeance was delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force in May 1942, the aircraft did not arrive in substantial numbers until April 1943. By this time the crisis for which the aircraft had been ordered to meet had passed and the Australian Vengeances saw little combat.

Following a short front-line career the RAAF's Vengeances were withdrawn from service in March 1944 and the Vengeance-equipped combat squadrons were re-equipped with B-24 Liberator heavy bombers. While the RAAF still had 58 Vengeances on order in March 1944 this order was cancelled and the aircraft were never delivered. Small numbers of Vengeances remained in service with support and trials units until 1946.

The following RAAF units operated the Vengeance:[1]

Specifications (A-31)

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two: pilot, navigator/gunner
  • Length: 12.12 m (39 ft 9 in)
  • Wingspan: 14.63 m (48 ft)
  • Height: 4.67 m (15 ft 4 in)
  • Wing area: 30.84 m² (332 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 4,672 kg (10,300 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 7,439 kg (16,400 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1× Wright Double Row Cyclone GR-2600-A5B-5 radial air-cooled engine, 2,279 kW (1,700 hp)



  • four fixed forward firing .30 inch machine guns in the wing
  • two flexible mount .30 inch machine guns in rear cockpit
  • two internal 500 lb bombs
  • two 250 lb bomb on wing racks



  • Jefford, G. G. RAF Squadrons, second edition. London: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.

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