The Museum's new P2V Neptune "Tanker 43"
The San Diego Air & Space Museum recently added an iconic P2V Neptune “Tanker 43” to its collection at its Gillespie Field Annex in El Cajon.
Lockheed submitted a design proposal to the Navy for a new Land Based Patrol Airplane on January 1, 1943. The first flight was May 17, 1945. The Neptune was developed for the U.S. Navy by Lockheed to replace the Lockheed PV-1 Ventura and PV-2 Harpoon, and was replaced in turn by the Lockheed P-3 Orion.
A P2V in its military configuration
Designed as a land-based aircraft, the Neptune never made a carrier landing, but a small number were converted and deployed as carrier-launched, stop-gap nuclear bombers that would have to land on shore or ditch. The type was successful in export, and saw service with several armed forces, including the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Japan Maritime Defense Force.
Following military service, many Neptunes, including the Museum’s new aircraft, were converted for aerial firefighting roles. Neptune Aviation Services in Missoula, Montana operated the Museum’s new aircraft for many years, fighting fires throughout the Western United States, before eventually retiring the plane about a year ago.
If you want to see the Museum’s new P2V “Tanker 43”, the Museum’s Gillespie Field Annex is free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The Annex is located at 335 Kenney Street in El Cajon, CA 92020, next to a big Atlas rocket.