Another recipient of the RAF's unwanted Vikings was the Soviet Union, the first aircraft arriving in the winter of 1941-42. The initial aircraft were Viking IIa variants. While the Viking II was basically a British SB4U, complete with naval gear, the Viking IIa was a switch to a land-based variant, cooler heads having prevailed regarding the aircraft's utility. It also didn't help that the FAA wasn't interested in any more of the RAF's aircraft, which meant there was little point in continuing the navalized aircraft charade. The delivered aircraft were roughly analagous to the USAAC's A-19B variant, incorporating many of the same upgrades that benefitted the SB4U-4, such as self-sealing fuel tanks and armor plating, yet lacking the folding wings. While not as heavily armored or as fast as the venerable Il-2 Sturmovik, it would really be unfair to make that comparison. The Vought Viking was closer to the Petlyakov Pe-2, a dive-bomber. Even then, however, the Pe-2 was a much larger and faster aircraft. As a result, the Viking was assigned to units as a replacement to the generally unpopular Sukhoi Su-2. The Viking ended up being a very popular aircraft in the right hands and quickly gained a reputation for being the most accurate bomber in the VVS inventory. It was tough, maneuverable, and long-ranged, the main issue being its dire need for escorting aircraft over the front lines. This aircraft is depicted in the colors of the 52nd BBAP (Blizhnebombardirovochniy Aviatsionniy Polk - Short-Range Bomber Air Regiment), the first unit to be fully equipped with the type and to take them into combat. Its bomb racks were modified to take Soviet bombs (seen here with two 50 kg bombs and a single 250 kg bomb), but the standard gun armament remained unchanged. Its original British markings have been crudely overpainted and replaced by the red stars and tactical number on the tail preferred at that time.
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