|Lockheed Neptune N80232 sits in storage under the Arizona sun at Avra Valley.|
|The story of the Lockheed Neptune in civil service begins
with the retirement of large numbers of the maritime patrol and
submarine hunter aircraft by the United States and Canada in the early
The aircraft, particularly the later P-2H, became popular with several fire bomber companies in the western states, many with an external tank added under the fuselage to disperse the fire retardant.
One operator, Aero Union, extensively modified its Neptunes by removing the wingtip Westinghouse J34 jet engines to lighten the airframe. These aircraft also lack the external tank, with chemicals released from doors flush to the fuselage.
The first Neptune, the XP2V-1, first flew on May 17, 1945 and over the next 15 years Lockheed at Burbank delivered more than 1,000, including several hundred to overseas air arms including the Fleet Air Arm.
The twin 2,300hp Wright R3350 Cyclone engines gave the aircraft tremendous performance with two jet engines being to improve take-off performance on the P-2E. Kawasaki extensively modified the airframe for the country's naval air arm as the P-2J, with a longer fuselage and turboprop engines.