by Tommy H. Thomason

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Lockheed P2V-3 Neptune

Lockheed designed and built P2V patrol bombers with seven different dash numbers, all powered by the Wright R-3350 engines. The XP2V-1 first flew in May 1945 as the war in the Pacific neared its end. Three more dash numbers, generally associated with ever increasing takeoff horsepower, followed in fairly short order but none were built in large numbers due to the austere military budgets that followed World War II. The P2V-5, with yet another more powerful R-3350, first flew in December 1950, just in time to benefit from the resumption of military spending engendered by the Korean War. Almost 500 P2V-5s and MR.1s were built. It was followed by a relatively small quantity of P2V-6s, theoretically capable of fighting its way in and out of shipping lanes and harbors where it was to lay mines, and 287 of the final dash number, the -7, which was soon optimized for antisubmarine warfare.

 For a pretty good summary of the various Neptunes, click HERE

Since the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force utilized the P2V-7, it was appropriate for a Japanese plastic model-kit manufacturer to produce one in this configuration. It was first released in 1972 and has been frequently reissued with different decals. While some of configuration details, notably the canopy, are unique to the -7, "cottage-industry" conversion kit manufacturers have provided the details necessary to backdate the -7 to the -5. See

However, my main interest in the Neptune is that the Navy optimized a handful for a very specific mission after World War II, the delivery of a nuclear weapon from an aircraft carrier. This was the P2V-3C. While the conversion to a -3 is more extensive than creating a -5 from the -7, it is not a significantly higher degree of difficulty. For a detailed -3 conversion build-article by Edward Ellickson, aka TheRealMrEd, click HERE. It is profusely illustrated. Even though you may not be interested in a P2V-3 model, it is entertaining and informative, with lots of modeling tips and descriptions of a few problems necessitating creative solutions. Moreover, unlike some of us (me for one), Ed completes his challenging projects.
Edward Ellickson model and photo

While the P2V bomb bay wasn't big enough for the Mk 4 atomic bomb, it could accommodate the original Mk 1 and carry it a long way, particularly after fuel tanks were added to the nose and aft crew compartment. As a result, it was a quickly created placeholder until the North American AJ Savage, which was literally designed around the Mk 4, was ready to deploy. To reduce drag, the radar was moved to the nose and the upper turret was removed, along with the tail bumper and every other external excrescence.
The P2V-3C was to be deck launched from the big Midway-class carriers by utilizing JATO.

The initial plan was to recover it back aboard by the usual means, but after an evaluation of the degree of difficulty during field-landing trials at Patuxent River, the tailhooks were removed and the operational concept was to crane the P2V-3Cs aboard when required. This picture was taken during the tailhook proof-load testing at Lockheed.

More later...

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