When the United States was suddenly thrust into the Second World War in December of 1941, the Navy soon realized the need for long-range land-based bombers to support offensive and defensive operations throughout the vast expanses of the Pacific.
This need was based on the fact that land-based aircraft were superior to seaplanes in anti-shipping and anti-submarine roles due to their greater speed, heavier bomb-load, and amount of defensive armament. These land-based bombers could also be used to support future offensive actions and to further isolate bypassed Japanese forces.
As a result of the need to procure long-range land-based aircraft, the Navy requested Consolidated B-24 Liberators from the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF). Due to their own need for long-range heavy bombers, the USAAF was initially reluctant to provide the Navy with them. However, an agreement was finally reached on July 7, 1942. This agreement called for the transfer a specified number of USAAF Consolidated B-24 Liberators, North American B-25 Mitchells, and Lockheed B-34 Venturas to the Navy. In return, the Navy agreed to cancel production of its newest seaplane, being built at Boeing's Renton, Washington production facility, the Boeing PBB-1 Sea Ranger. The Navy's cancellation of this program would permit earlier production and delivery to the USAAF of the B-29 Superfortress.
In February 1943 when the first B-25s became available for transfer to the Navy, the Navy no longer required them. The Navy had already begun to receive the B-24s (designated PB4Y-1) and B-34s (designated PV-1) and they had no need for the B-25s. The Marine Corps however, was looking for a bomber that had a greater range than the single-engine types they were currently using. Having been accustomed to receiving obsolete or surplus equipment from the Navy and Army, the Marine Corps gladly accepted these B-25s to fill this need. Designating them as PBJ-1s, they were to be employed for close air support in conjunction with amphibious operations.
The Navy ordered a total of 706 PBJ-1s: 188 in 1943; 395 in 1944, and; 123 in 1945. Nineteen of these aircraft were never delivered due to the sudden end to the war. Of the aircraft ordered: 50 were PBJ-1Cs; 152 were PBJ-1Ds; 1 was a PBJ-1G; 248 were PBJ-1Hs, and; 255 were PBJ-1Js. Virtually all of the aircraft that were received were subsequently transferred to the Marine Corps were they equipped a total of 16 bombing squadrons (VMBs). Of these, seven squadrons served in the Pacific (VMB-413, VMB-423, VMB-433, VMB-443, VMB-611, VMB-612, and VMB-613) while an eighth (VMB-614) arrived during the middle of August 1945 just prior to the end of the war. Four other squadrons were commissioned in 1945 without having left the United States (VMB-453, VMB-463, VMB-473 and VMB-483), while the remaining four squadrons (VMB-621, VMB-622, VMB-623, and VMB-624) were re-designated torpedo bomber squadrons (VMTBs) and re-equipped with the Eastern Aircraft TBM Avengers.
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