P-2 Neptune

infobox Aircraft
name = P-2 (P2V) Neptune
type = Maritime Patrol and Anti-Submarine Warfare
manufacturer = Lockheed

caption = P2V-7 Neptune, BuNo 135588, of Patrol Squadron Seven (VP-7) over the Atlantic in 1954
designer =
first flight = 17 May 1945
introduced = March 1947
retired = 1978
produced =
number built =
status =
unit cost =
primary user = United States Navy
more users = Republic of China Air Force
developed from =
variants with their own articles =

The Lockheed P-2 Neptune (until 18 September 1962 the P2V Neptune) was a naval patrol bomber and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft for the United States Navy between 1947 and 1978, replacing the PV-1 Ventura and PV-2 Harpoon and being replaced in turn with the P-3 Orion. Designed as a land-based aircraft, the Neptune never made a carrier landing, although a small number of aircraft were converted for carrier use and successfully launched. The type was successful in export, seeing service with several armed forces. The Neptune shares the P-2 designation (albeit under a different designation system) with the Curtiss P-2 Hawk, a much earlier biplane.

Design and development

Development began early in World War II, but in comparison to other aircraft in development at the time it was considered a low priority. So it was not until 1944 that the program went into full swing. A major factor in the design was ease of manufacture and maintenance, and this can be said to have been a major factor in the type's long life and worldwide success. The first aircraft flew in 1945. Production began in 1946, and the aircraft was accepted into service in 1947.

It was one of the first aircraft to be fitted in operational service with both piston and jet engines. The Convair B-36, several Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter, C-123 Provider, and Avro Shackleton aircraft also achieved that distinction; it leads naturally to an unusual sound during overflight.

Operational history

Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, the Neptune was used by the US Navy as a gunship and patrol airplane.The Neptune was also utilized by the U.S. Army's 1st Radio Research Company (Aviation) located at Cam Ranh Bay.

Falklands War

The Argentine Navy had received at least 16 Neptunes in different variants since 1958 including 8 ex-RAF for use in the Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Exploración ( _en. Naval exploration squadron). They were intensively used in 1978 during the Operation Soberania against Chile including over the Pacific Ocean. [ [http://www.histarmar.com.ar/Armada%20Argentina/AviacionNaval/AS-Neptune.htm Historia y Arqueologia Marítima] ]

During the Falklands War ( _es. Guerra de las Malvinas) in 1982, the last two airframes in service (2-P-111 and 2-P-112) played a key role of reconnaissance and aiding Dassault Super Étendards, particularly on the May 4 attack against HMS Sheffield. The lack of spare parts, caused by the US having enacted an arms embargo in 1977 due to the "Dirty War", led to the type being retired before the end of the war; Argentine Air Force C-130 Hercules took over the task of searching for targets for strike aircraft.

In 1983 the unit was reformed with Lockheed L-188 Electras modified for maritime surveillance and in 1994 these ones were replaced with P-3B Orions.

Other military operators

In Australia, the Netherlands, and the US Navy, its tasks were taken over by the much larger and more capable P-3 Orion, and by the 1970's, it was only in use by US reserve units. In Canada, its tasks were taken over by the CP-107 Argus, followed by the CP-140 Aurora. The US Naval Reserve abandoned its last Neptunes in 1978. By the 1980's, it had fallen out of use in most purchasing nations, replaced by newer aircraft.

In Japan, the Neptune was license-built from 1966 by Kawasaki as the P-2J, with the piston engines replaced by IHI turboprops. Kawasaki continued their manufacture much later than Lockheed did; the P-2J remained in service until 1984.

Civilian firefighting

P-2/P2Vs are currently employed in aerial firefighting roles by operators such as Aero Union and Neptune Aviation Services and can carry 2,400 gallons of retardant with a service life of 15,000 hours. Neptune proposes to replace them with Bombardier Q200 and Q300 aircraft which are estimated to have a service life of 80,000 hours.

"Truculent" Turtle

The third production P2V-1 was chosen for a record-setting mission, ostensibly to test crew endurance and long-range navigation but also for publicity purposes: to display the capabilities of the Navy's latest patrol bomber. Loaded with fuel in extra tanks fitted in practically every spare space in the aircraft, the "Turtle" set out from Perth, Australia to the United States. With time, the aircraft has come to be called "Truculent Turtle," but, in fact, its nickname was simply "The Turtle," which was painted on the aircraft's nose (along with a cartoon of a turtle smoking a pipe pedaling a device attached to a propeller). With a crew of four (and a nine-month-old gray kangaroo, a gift from Australia for the Washington, D.C zoo) the plane set off on September 9, 1946, with a RATO (rocket-assisted takeoff). Two and a half days later, the "Turtle" touched down in Columbus, Ohio, 11,236.6 miles (18,083.6 km) from its starting point. It was the longest unrefueled flight made to that point—4,000 miles (6,400 km) longer than the USAF's B-29 Superfortress record. This would stand as the absolute unrefueled distance record until 1962 (beaten by a USAF B-52 Stratofortress), and would remain as a piston-engined record until 1986 when Dick Rutan's Voyager would break it in the process of circumnavigating the globe.


Lockheed produced seven main variants of the P2V. In addition, Kawasaki built the turboprop-powered P-2J in Japan. Model names after the 1962 redesignation are given in parentheses.

;XP2V-1:Prototype, one produced.;P2V-1:First production model, 15 built.;P2V-2:Second production model, 81 built.;P2V-2N "Polar Bear":Modified Neptune with ski landing gear and early MAD gear, 1 built.;P2V-3:Upgraded powerplant, 83 built.;P2V-3C:Carrier-based Neptune, 11 built.;P2V-3B:Conversions from other P2V-3 models, including P2V-3C and -3W, fitted with the ASB-1 Low Level Radar Bombing System, 16 converted.;P2V-3W:Airborne Early Warning variant, APS-20 search radar, 30 built.;P2V-3Z:VIP combat transport, 2 built.;P2V-4 (P-2D):Upgraded powerplant and fuel capacity, 52 built.;P2V-5:Replaced solid nose with turret, APS-20 and APS-8 search radars standard, jettisonable wingtip fuel tanks. Late models featured solid nose and MAD gear in place of nose and tail turrets, 424 built.;P2V-5F (P-2E):Modification with J34 jet engines, deleted wing rocket stubs, increased bombload.;AP-2E:Designation applied to P2V-5F with special SIGINT/ELINT equipment used by the US Army's 1st Radio Research Company at Cam Ranh Bay.;P2V-5FD (DP-2E):P2V-5F with target towing or drone launch capability, various defensive equipment and all weaponry deleted.;P2V-5FE (EP-2E):P2V-5F with Julie/Julie ASW gear but without other changes of P2V-5FS (SP-2E). Assigned almost exclusively to USNR). ;P2V-5FS (SP-2E):P2V-5F with Julie/Jezebel ASW gear.;OP-2E:Modified for use as part of Operation Igloo White with Observation Squadron 67 (VO-67), only 12 converted.;P2V-6 (P-2F):Aerial mine delivery capability, APS-70 search radar, upgraded powerplant, 83 built.;P2V-6B:AUM-N-2 Petrel missile launch capability.;P2V-6M (MP-2F):Formerly P2V-6B, 16 produced; note that originally the M mission modifier prefix stood for missile carrier, but was eventually dropped, becoming the role-modifier for multi-mission aircraft.;P2V-6F (P-2G):P2V-6/P-2F refitted with J34 jet engines.;P2V-6T (TP-2F):Trainer version with armament deleted, wingtip tanks often deleted.;P2V-7 (P-2H):Last Neptune variant produced by Lockheed, upgraded powerplant, jet pods standard , improved wingtip tanks, APS-20 search radar, bulged cockpit canopy, early fitted with nose and tail turrets, but replaced with observation nose and MAD tail, dorsal turret also fitted early and replaced with observation bubble, 311 built.;P2V-7LP (LP-2J):Ski landing gear, JATO provisions, 4 built.;P2V-7S (SP-2H):Additional ASW/ECM equipment including Julie/Jezebel gear.;P2V-7U:Naval designation of the RB-69A variant.;AP-2H:Specialized ground attack variant for Heavy Attack Squadron 21 (VAH-21), only 4 converted.;RB-69A:Aerial reconnaissance, fitted with Side Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR) equipment, 5 built, two converted. Used by the CIA in USAF markings. Two operated in Europe were retired in 1961, all five operating in Asia were lost (1 crashed, 4 shot down by PR China) [ [http://www.vectorsite.net/avp2v.html The Lockheed P2V Neptune & Martin Mercator ] ] ;Neptune MR.1:British designation of P2V-5, 52 delivered.;CP-122 Neptune:RCAF designation of P2V-7.(jet pod not initially fitted to 25 P2V-7 aircraft delivered to RCAF, but subsequently retrofitted) [ [http://www.designation-systems.net/non-us/canada.html Canadian Military Aircraft Designations on Designation-systems.net] ] ;P2V-Kai (P-2J):Japanese variant produced by Kawasaki with T64 turboprop engines, J34 engine pods replaced by pods with similar license produced IHI-J3 engines, improved ASW/ECM gear, APS-80 search radar standard, increased fuel capacity, various other improvements, "Kai" short for "Kaizo" meaning modified, 82 built.


Military operators

*Argentine Navy
**Escuadrilla Aeronaval de Exploracion [ [http://www.histarmar.com.ar/Armada%20Argentina/AviacionNaval/AS-Neptune.htm "Lockheed SP-2H Neptune" entry at "Historia y Arqueologia Marítima" website (Spanish)] ] ;AUS
*Royal Australian Air Force
**No. 10 Squadron RAAF
**No. 11 Squadron RAAF;BRA;CAN
*Royal Canadian Air Force
**No. 404 Squadron RCAF
**No. 405 Squadron RCAF
**No. 407 Squadron RCAF;CHI;FRA
*Aviation Navale;JPN
*Japan Maritime Self Defense Force;NLD;POR;ROC
*Republic of China Air Force
**34th Black Bats Squadron;UK
*Royal Air Force
**No. 36 Squadron RAF
**No. 203 Squadron RAF
**No. 210 Squadron RAF
**No. 217 Squadron RAF;USA
*United States Navy
*Central Intelligence Agency operated 7 RB-69A in USAF colours.

Civilian operators

*Aero Union [ [http://www.aerounion.com/# Aero Union] ]
*Minden Air
*Neptune Aviation Services

pecifications (P2V)

aircraft specification

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=both
length main=91 ft 8 in
length alt=27.9 m
span main=101 ft 4 in
span alt=30.9 m
height main=29 ft 4 in
height alt=8.9 m
area main=1,000 ft²
area alt=93 m²
empty weight main=49,548 lb
empty weight alt=22,475 kg
loaded weight main=73,139 lb
loaded weight alt=33,175 kg
max takeoff weight main=79,895 lb
max takeoff weight alt=36,240 kg
more general=
engine (prop)=Wright R-3350-32W Cyclone Turbo-compound
type of prop=radial engines
number of props=2
power main=3,700 hp
power alt=2,800 kW
engine (jet)=Westinghouse J34-WE-36
type of jet=turbojets
number of jets=2
thrust main=3,400 lbf
thrust alt=15 kN
max speed main=403 mph
max speed alt=649 km/h
range main=
*Combat: 2,200 mi (3,500 km)
*Ferry: 4,350 mi
range alt=7,000 km
ceiling main=22,000 ft
ceiling alt=6,700 m
climb rate main=1,760 ft/min
climb rate alt=9 m/s
loading main=73 lb/ft²
loading alt=360 kg/m²
more performance=
bombs=10,000 lb (4,500 kg) including free-fall bombs, depth charges, and torpedoes
rockets=2.75" FFAR in removable wing-mounted pods


* [http://www.aero-web.org/locator/manufact/lockheed/p-2.htm AeroWeb: List of P-2 Neptunes on display.]


ee also

similar aircraft=
* Avro Shackleton
* PB4Y-2 Privateer
* P4M Mercator
* List of Lockheed aircraft
* List of military aircraft of the United States
* List of patrol aircraft


* Sullivan, Jim, "P2V Neptune in action". Squadron/Signal Publications: Carrollton, TX, 1985.

External links

* http://p2vneptune.com
* http://www.maam.org/neptune/p2_1.html
* http://frenchnavy.free.fr/aircraft/neptune/neptune.htm
* http://www.vpnavy.com/aircraft_p2_history.html
* http://www.vpnavy.com/turtle_01.html
* http://www.aerounion.com
* [http://missoulian.com/articles/2005/07/09/news/top/news01.txt Missoulian article on Neptune's P2V water bombers and their proposed replacement with Q300s]
* [http://skaneateles.org/navy/neptunes.html Listing of the carrier launch conversions]
* http://www.VO-67.org Observation Squadron Sixty-Seven
* https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/95unclass/Leary.html Robert Fulton's Skyhook and Operation Coldfeet, use of P2V aircraft
* http://www.vaq34.com/vxe6/p2v.htm Use of P2V aircraft for Operation Deep Freeze by the US Navy's squadron VX-6

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