RB-34A Lockheed Ventura Instrument Panel
AeroAntique is pleased to share this instrument panel owned by one of our good friends. We welcome inquiries and are happy to put you in contact with the owner of this artifact. Please email us with the name of the artifact at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This WWII-era RB-34A Lockheed Ventura instrument panel resides in the collection our friend Charles Darby of New Zealand.
According to Charles:
"This panel set was recovered in the 1980s from a scrap dealer near to where the aircraft was scrapped after WW2. The panels have not been restored other than by fitting the correct types of instruments (none of which were fitted when found). The paint finish and all placards are original WW2.
This instrument panel came from an RB-34A Ventura that was linked to three Air Forces. Built for the USAAF as 41-38104, it was transferred to the RAF as FD652 then on to the RNZAF as NZ4597. Apparently the B-34s were "well-used" by the time they arrived in New Zealand, but I have never seen any record of what or where that use may have been.
NZ4597 served with 11 Servicing Unit and/or 14 Servicing Unit at Whenuapai Air Base, Auckland, as a coast patrol bomber with the British Mk.II ASV surface search radar. The B-34s were also fitted with a German-designed Lorenz ILS system, as shown by the L - R steering indicator at top left. The crudely painted "Radio Call 138104", ugly though it looks, is genuine WW2. An attached photo shows RB-34A NZ4592 on the Whenuapai flight line with other B-34s, a Vildebeest, a PV-1, a Hudson, and a C-47."
As an aside, most operational RNZAF aircraft in WW2 were assigned to Servicing Units, not to Squadrons as in other Allied air forces. RNZAF Squadrons consisted only of aircrew and their admin support staff. They had no vehicles of any type, including aircraft. When a squadron commander required aircraft for a mission, he would request the commander of the Servicing Unit upon which his Squadron was based at the time to supply that number of aircraft. At the end of the mission, the aircraft would be returned to their SU. Next time the squadron commander asked for aircraft, he may or may not get the same airframes.
That is why there were so few individual markings or squadron code letters on RNZAF aircraft in WW2, the main exception being for some of the early types that were operational before the SU system was introduced, the only exceptions being the Catalina flying boat squadrons and the two Servicing Units equipped with coast-patrol B-34s at Whenuapai. That is why it is impossible to say that a particular P-40, F4U, or PV-1 was from "xy Squadron". It couldn't have been. It was on charge to an SU, and it could have been operated by dozens of aircrew from any of several squadrons in the course of its combat career."