|Privateer N2871G rests between fire fighting contracts at its Greybull, Wyoming, base. The type faced retirement by Hawkins and Powers after far-reaching changes to the industry in 2004|
|Consolidated's PB4Y-2 Privateer originated in May 1942 as a
development of the PB4Y-1 Liberator bomber.
The most noticeable change was the replacement of the earlier design's twin tail layout with a single tall fin. The fuselage was also lengthened and different engine nacelles fitted. Inside them were Pratt and Whitney R1830-94 radial piston engines of 1,350hp. Unlike the high altitude Liberator, the Privateer's engines had no turbo superchargers fitted since the type was intended as a maritime patrol bomber which would spend its career at low altitudes.
The total production run reached 736 and the US Navy used the type in the Korean War to drop flares on targets. The French Navy also used the aircraft in Indo-China during the 1950s. The Privateer ended its days in US military service as the QP-4B target drone, the last being destroyed in 1964.
The Privateer's civilian career began in the early 1960s when its large capacity and low hours were recognised as idela ingredients for a water bomber to fight forest fires. The bomb bay tank held 2,400 gallons of retardant.
Hawkins and Powers was the major operator and the Greybull, Wyoming, company continued to operate several into the 21st century. All were re-engined with Wright Cyclone R2600 1,700hp radial pistons to give better performance when fighting high altitude fires.
The type proved ideal for the role but Hawkins and Powers retired its fleet following a fatal crash in 2002. One aircraft continues to fly with a historical operator in Arizona.
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