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Lockheed P2V Neptune Land-Based Patrol Aircraft / VP Transport (1947)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 12/5/2011

The P2V Neptune series was an exceptional aircraft and a multi-faceted platform for the United States Navy and Air Force branches.

The P2V Neptune series of aircraft was one of the more successful post-war designs for America, with service that spanned decades for a handful of American-friendly countries. The system was designed by Lockheed Corporation from the outset as a land-based maritime patrol and reconnaissance platform. The system proved so versatile and effective, that the base production model spawned a large series of variants in specialized roles.

The P2V Neptune was a twin engine high-wing monoplane design. Sporting various Wright-brand powerplants throughout its production run, the aircraft featured outstanding range. A most identifiable feature being the single large rudder on the empennage, though the overall gangly design of the nose was another memorable feature. The Neptune split time between the United States Navy and the United States Air Force, though it is widely remembered for its service with the Navy branch.

The Neptune got its start as early as 1944, where two XP2V-1 prototypes are delivered with 15 production P2V-1 models. Initial models featured an impressive armament of cannons and heavy caliber machine guns of which 6 x 20mm cannons were mounted in a battery in the nose while 2 x 20mm cannon sat in a tail turret. 2 x 12.7mm machine guns are also part of the early arsenal though many of these weapons were later removed as needs for the platform changed. Internally, the Neptune was geared for military success with specialized equipment and anti-surface vessel weaponry. Chief among these weapons were the ability to carry torpedoes, mines, bombs of various weights and even externally-held high-explosive rockets (underwing).

Aircraft personnel amounted to ten in most versions. The P2V-2 was the first to do away with the nose turret armament, and instead, extended the nose assembly. The P2V-2S was an anti-submarine specialized variant while the P2V-2-2N was a cold weather derivative that was fielded with skis. The P2V-3 series brought about an early warning variant while the P2V-4 saw new and improved turbo-compound engines installed along with wingtip tanks and an APS-20 radar as standard. The P2V-5 was the first model offered up for export while the P2V-6 saw a revision to the series’ defensive armament. The P2V-7 proved to be the ultimate incarnation for the P2V series featuring the MAD boom installation in place of the rear tail turret. This variant proved to be the final production variant and saw many -5's and -6's brought up to this standard. Designation of the system was then changed to SP-2H after 1962.

The United States Air Force maintained the Neptune as the RB-69A while other designations existed for specialized Southeast Asia-operating systems. The Neptune was also license-produced in Japan. Over 75% of all produced Neptunes went into service with the United States Navy and would later be replaced by another Lockheed product - the P-3 - throughout the 1970's. relegating the P2V series to supporting roles until complete withdrawal from active service.

One of the more well known Neptune aircraft remains the P2V-1 Neptune known as the "Truculent Turtle" which set a world's distance record in 1946 by flying non-stop from Australia to Ohio (Columbus). The distance for this specially-modified aircraft covered some 11,236 miles.

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Specifications for the
Lockheed P2V Neptune
Land-Based Patrol Aircraft / VP Transport


Focus Model: Lockheed P2V-4 Neptune
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Lockheed - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1947
Production: 1,036


Crew: 7


Length: 77.00ft (23.47m)
Width: 100.00ft (30.48m)
Height: 27.99ft (8.53m)
Weight (Empty): 41,548lbs (18,846kg)
Weight (MTOW): 79,999lbs (36,287kg)


Powerplant: 2 x Wright R-3350-30W 1-stage, 2-speed superchargered piston engines generating 3,250hp each.


Maximum Speed: 314mph (505kmh; 273kts)
Maximum Range: 2,807miles (4,518km)
Service Ceiling: 24,698ft (7,528m; 4.7miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,100 feet per minute (335m/min)


Hardpoints: 16 (for underwing rockets)
Armament Suite:
6 x 20mm M-24 cannons in nose
2 x 12.7mm machine guns (on deck)
2 x 20mm M-24 cannons in tail

Mission-Specific Armament can include the following (all ordnance held in internal bay unless noted). Maximum bombload capacity of 4,800 lbs:

6 x 100lb bombs
6 x 500lb bombs
4 x 1,000lb bombs
2 x 2,000lb mines
2 x 1,600lb bombs
4 x Mk 24 mines
4 x Mk 34 mines
4 x 1,200lb torpedoes
2 x A.R. 11.75 inch
16 x HVAR 5 inch rockets (underwing)


Variants:
XP2V-1 - Prototype Model Designation of which two examples were ordered in 1944.


P2V-1 - Initial Production Model Designation

P2V-2 - Sans nose turret; extended nose assembly.

P2V-2S - Specialized ASW Variant

P2V-2-2N - Specialized Arctic Variant with skis.

P2V-3 - Improved engines.

P2V-3C - Specialized Carrier Variant

P2V-3Z - Command Transport Variant

P2V-3W - Early Warning Radar Search Variant

P2V-4 - Fitted with turbo-compound R-3350 engines; standard APS-20 radar; wingtip fuel tanks.

P2V-5 - First version offered for export

P2V-6 - Reduced capability radar; improved defensive armament positions.

P2V-7 - "Ultimate Neptune"; fitted with Westinghouse J-34 wingtip pods; tail turret replaced by MAD boom system; sans nose armament altogether; redesign cockpit; designation later changed to SP-2H; Many P2V-5's and P2V-6's retrofitted in this way; final production version.

SP-2H - New Designation replacing previous P2V designations; all defensive guns were now removed from the design.

RB-69A - Conversion Variants for USAF usage.

OP-2E - Specialized Variant for Southeast Asia usage.

AP-2H - Specialized Variant for Southeast Asia usage.


Operators:
Australia; Canada; France; Japan; Netherlands; Portugal; United Kingdom; United States