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Museum welcomes iconic P2V Neptune “Tanker 43”

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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.

The P2V Neptune was originally designed and built in the late 1940s as a maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft. 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.

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.

Click here to learn more about how to visit the Museum's Gillespie Field Annex.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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