Lend Lease Wings

A formation of Brewster Bermuda dive bombers on a training flight. The aircraft never saw widespread service as a result of its mediocre performance.

A formation of Brewster Bermuda dive bombers on a training flight. The aircraft never saw widespread service as a result of its mediocre performance.

During the Second World War, the United States produced thousands of aircraft, guns, artillery, vehicles and ships that its armed forces never used. Instead, these weapons from the great “Arsenal of Democracy” were sent to other Allied nations fighting desperately to stem the tide against the Axis Powers. Well known are the Bell P-39 Airacobras that reached Russia and performed excellent duty as ground attack aircraft. The P-51 Mustang, the F4U Corsair, Grumman F4F Wildcat, the TBM Avenger all served in with the British Fleet Air Arm or Royal Air Force, as well as in other Allied nations during the war.

But some lesser known types were sent overseas as part of the Lend Lease effort. Perhaps one of the more unusual was the Brewster SB2A Buccaneer. Designed before the war as a carrier-based dive bomber, the British and Dutch were so desperate for such an aircraft that they placed orders for it before the prototype even flew in 1941. When it finally did, the aircraft’s performance proved to be such a disappointment that the contracts were largely canceled. A few Brewsters, dubbed Bermudas by the FAA, saw limited service as training aircraft and target tugs, but its role as a combat dive bomber had been eclipsed by better aircraft.

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Number 88 Squadron became the first Douglas Boston unit in the RAF. It began flying anti-shipping and interdiction missions in February 1942.

The British also used the legendary Consolidated B-24 Liberator, though not primarily as a strategic bomber but as a long range anti-submarine aircraft. And after the Fall of France, the Douglas DB-7 Boston ended up in RAF service flying low altitude, short-ranged hit-and-run raids against German targets on the Continent. The Boston became a mainstay of the RAF’s light attack units in 1942-43, equipping about two dozen squadrons before ultimately being replaced by the DeHaviland Mosquito in the later stages of the war.

A badly damaged British Liberator, seen here back in England after it had been struck by a falling bomb dropped from a squadron mate in mid-flight. The British largely used their Liberators as long-range anti-submarine and maritime patrol aircraft.

A badly damaged British Liberator, seen here back in England after it had been struck by a falling bomb dropped from a squadron mate in mid-flight. The British largely used their Liberators as long-range anti-submarine and maritime patrol aircraft.

Categories: World War II Europe, World War II in Europe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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