Lockheed L15 Harpoon/L37 Ventura
|Howard 500 N500LN is one of a small number of post-war executive conversions still flying. It was seen on take-off at Coventry in the UK but has since moved to the US|
Lockheed-Vega Ventura was a development of the Vega models 21 and 23
and the Lockheed L18 Lodestar and 32. The four designs were amalgamated
as the L37 Ventura, which was planned as a light bomber.
The type first flew as the Ventura I on July 31, 1941 and entered service with the Royal Air Force the following May. The US Navy put it into service as the PV-1 in October 1942.
Wartime production reached 3,028 but with VE-Day in 1945 many were sold on to the secondhand market. About 30 Venturas were upgraded by Howard Aero as Super Venturas, while 25 became Howard 500 executive transports.
The L15 Harpoon was a major redesign of the Ventura, most noticeably with its increased span of 75ft, compared with 65ft 6in. The Harpoon first flew on December 3, 1943 but concerns over the wing meant production was held up while a new design was tested. Only 535 PV-2s were built, late production aircraft being designtaed PV-2Ds with extra forward-firing guns.
Several air forces used the Harpoon after the war, including Japan, the Netherlands and Italy. The type lived on into the 1970s as a flying fuel tanker but now only a handful are still airworthy with museums and private owners in the US.