P-2 Neptune

Missing image
P2V-7 Neptune of Patrol Squadron SEVEN (VP-7) over the Atlantic in 1954

The Lockheed P-2 Neptune (until 1963 the P2V Neptune) was a naval patrol bomber and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft for the United States Navy between 1947 and 1978, replacing the PV-1 Ventura and PV-2 Harpoon and being replaced in turn with the P-3 Orion. A land-based aircraft, the Neptune never made a carrier landing. The type was successful in export, seeing service with the armed forces of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Britain, Japan, the Netherlands and Portugal. The Neptune shares the P-2 designation (albeit under a different designation system) with the Curtiss P-2 Hawk, a much earlier biplane.

Missing image
P2V-2 Neptune over NAS Jacksonville, 1953

Development began early in World War II, but was considered a low priority and it was not until 1944 that things really got going. A major factor in the design was ease of manufacture and maintenance, and this can be said to have been a major factor in the type's long life and worldwide success. The first aircraft flew in 1945. Production began in 1946, and the aircraft was accepted into service in 1947.

The third-built production P2V-1 was chosen for a record-setting mission, ostensibly to test crew endurance and long-range navigation but just as much for purely publicity reasons, to show off the Navy's latest expensive plane. Loaded with fuel in extra tanks fitted in practically every spare space in the aircraft, Truculent Turtle (as the airplane was named) set out from Perth, Australia to the United States. With a crew of four (and a nine month old gray kangaroo, a gift from Australia for the Washington, D.C zoo) the plane set off on September 9, 1946, with a JATO rocket-assisted takeoff. Two and a half days' flying later, the Turtle touched down in Columbus, Ohio, 11,236.6 miles (18,083.6 km) from its starting point - the longest unrefuelled flight ever made, and 4,000 miles (6,400 km) longer than the USAF's B-29 record. This would stand as the absolute unrefuelled distance record until 1962, and would remain as a piston-engined record until 1986 when Dick Rutan's Voyager would break it in the process of circumnavigating the globe.

Its combat uses included the Vietnam War, in which it was used by the US Navy as a gunship and patrol airplane, and by Argentina in the Falklands War for reconnaissance and aiding Dassault Etendards. It was one of the first aircraft to be fitted in operational service with both piston and jet engines, several Boeing C-97 and Avro Shackleton aircraft also achieved that distinction; it leads naturally to an unusual sound during overflight.

In Australia, Canada, the Netherlands and the US Navy its tasks were taken over by the much larger and more capable P-3 Orion and by the 1970s it was only in use by US reserve units. The USN naval reserve abandoned its last Neptunes in 1978. By the 1980s, it had fallen out of use in most purchasing nations, replaced by newer aircraft. A number still serve as fire-fighters in the United States. In Japan, the Neptune was license-built from 1966 by Kawasaki as the P-2J, with the piston engines replaced by IHI turboprops. Kawasaki continued their manufacture much later than Lockheed did; the P-2J remained in service until 1984.


General characteristics

  • Crew: 7-9
  • Length: 91 ft 8 in (27.9 m)
  • Wingspan: 101 ft 4 in (30.9 m)
  • Height: 29 ft 4 in (8.9 m)
  • Wing area: 1,000 ft² (93 m²)
  • Empty: 49,548 lb (22,475 kg)
  • Loaded: 73,139 lb (33,175 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff: 79,895 lb (36,240 kg)
  • Powerplant:Wright R-3350-32W Cyclone Radials; 3,700 hp (2,800 kW). 2× Westinghouse J-34-WE-36 turbojets; 3,400 lbf (15 kN) thrust


  • Maximum speed: 403 mph (649 km/h)
  • Combat range: 2,200 miles (3,500 km)
  • Ferry range: 4,350 miles (7,000 km)
  • Service ceiling: 22,000 ft (6,700 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,760 ft/min (540 m/min)
  • Wing loading: 73 lb/ft² (360 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight ratio: 0.093 lbf/lb (0.9 N/kg)
  • Power/mass: 0.1 hp/lb (170 W/kg)


  • 10,000 lb (450 kg) of bombs

External links

Related content

Related development: PV-1 Ventura - PV-2 Harpoon - P-3 Orion

Comparable aircraft: Avro Shackleton - PB4Y-2 Privateer - P-3 Orion - P4M Mercator

Designation sequence: Lockheed PV - P2V Neptune - P3V Orion

Designation sequence: B-66 - GAM-67 - XB-68/SM-68 - RB-69 - XB-70 - SR-71 - XGAM-72

Related lists: List of military aircraft of the United States

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation


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