Navy use of land-based patrol planes began before the Pearl Harbor attack and our entry into WWII. With the need for longer ranges and increased use of land-based types, particularly for Arctic and other northern wintertime operations, the Navy acquired Army B24's, redesignated as PB4y-1's, beginning in September 1942. Operation of these aircraft dictated several changes to meet most Navy patrol-bomber needs: high altitude capability pf the B-24 was not necessary, additional crew space and electronics installation were required, and the single plane operations in the Pacific theater necessitated increased armament.
To meet these requirements a much modified version of the Liberator evolved as the PB4Y-2 Privateer. With a longer nose, an additional top turret and new waist-powered turrets, the new model was also designed with a single vertical tail in place of the B-24's twin tails, The first XPY4Y-2 flights were made in late 1943 with the twin tail configuration prior to single tails being installed. The Liberators turbo superchargers were deleted, and mechanically supercharged P&WR-1830s installed with higher power ratings at the lower altitudes at which Navy patrol missions were flown. While initial PB4Y-2s had a Liberator-type nose-turret, most were modified as were PB4Y-1s, to have an Erco ball turret installed in the nose.
Production PB4Y-2s were delivered to Navy squadrons beginning in May 1944 with VPBs 118 and 119 taking their Privateers into Pacific theater combat operations in January 1945. From this time on, PB4Y-2s, augmented and gradually replaced the Navy's Liberators in VPB squadrons. Some Privateers were equipped to carry and launch two Bat-guided glide bombs as PB4Y-2Bs, and these were also in operation service in the spring of 1945. When Privateer production was terminated at war's end, 840 had been built including the three prototypes. With some modified for weather flying as PB4Y-2Ms, the Privateers were the mainstays of the Navy VP squadrons in the post-war period. Some were modified with improved AWS systems as -2S's before they were finally replaced by P2V's and placed in desert storage.
The build-up for the Korean War brought them back into service with recalled reserve and newly formed regular VP squadrons. Some were also delivered to the French in Southeast Asia. As the P4Y-2 series, they served with both fleet and reserve squadrons; through much of the Fifties with the latter. A few served the Coast Guard as P4Y2Gs and the final Navy use saw them flying as P4Y-2K target drones into the early Sixties.
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