The RAF in Asia: To war with a vengeance

Former air gunner Bob Harvey spent much of the war in the back seat of a Vultee Vengeance dive bomber fighting the Japanese. Sean Feast hears his story

Bob Harvey had always been fascinated by aeroplanes. As the world was gripped by war in 1939, he was holding down a job as a bank clerk but volunteered for flying training as soon as he could. His hopes of becoming an aviator, however, were dashed almost immediately, when he was told there were already too many fledgling pilots on the waiting list. He was given two options – serve as groundcrew or learn another aircrew trade.

A rare airto-air image of a 110 Squadron Vengeance Mk.I – B Flight’s EZ804/T in early 1943. The aircraft was involved in a collision on April 21, 1943 over Ranchi during gunnery training., ‘The Horrible Twins’: Bob Harvey (left) and his regular pilot Reg Duncan pose while operating from RAF Mauripur near Karachi, in late 1942.

Slow start

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