The Reluctant Raiders: The Story of U.S. Navy Bombing Squadron VB/VPB-109 During World War II, by Alan C. Carey, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., Atglen, Pa., 1999, $29.95.
Another type of unit that has hitherto received relatively little attention is the long-range patrol bomber squadrons of the U.S. Navy, which were equipped with the PB4Y Privateer, a variant of the B-24 modified to Navy requirements for covering the vast reaches of the Pacific. That oversight is compensated for in The Reluctant Raiders, in which Alan C. Carey draws on five years of research to provide a detailed history of VB-109 (later redesignated VPB-109), right down to the individual accomplishments of each PB4Y-1 and PB4Y-2 crew.
Equipped with radar, bombs and depth charges, Privateers were also formidably armed to defend themselves against Japanese fighters. The results are amply shown in Carey’s chronicle, in the form of warships, submarines and merchant shipping sunk or damaged by the “Reluctant Raiders,”as well as a remarkable number of enemy aircraft shot down–examples of which are included amid the wealth of photographs.
Although marred by some annoying misspellings, The Reluctant Raiders is recommended as an overdue look at the part played by Navy patrol bomber squadrons–and proof that their activities were anything but dull.