Six P2V air tankers’ last deployment — to retirement homes

The aircraft are going to their final resting place 71 years after the model was first introduced to the U.S. Navy.

P2V on the Whoopup Fire

Above: P2V on the Whoopup Fire southeast of Newcastle, Wyoming, 2011 — flying off into the sunset. Photo by Bill Gabbert

(Originally published at 8:55 p.m. MDT March 23, 2018)

In 1947 the first P2V Neptune flew for the U.S. Navy serving in the maritime patrol and anti-submarine role. In 2017, 70 years later, the last P2V’s to work as air tankers in the United States retired. As the U.S. Forest Service contract for what they called “legacy” air tankers expired, Neptune Aviation transtioned their fleet of war birds to aircraft several decades younger, jet-powered BAe-146 airliners. After working out some early bugs with the completely redesigned retardant delivery system, the newer quad-jets have performed admirably.

Neptune  announced today that it has found new homes for its venerable fleet of P2V’s.

Neptune P2V Fleet
Neptune’s P2V fleet at Alamogordo, New Mexico, March 2018. Photo by Dan Snyder.

“Over the last two years 14 different organizations submitted official proposals to Neptune Aviation to acquire our retiring P2V airtankers,” according to Dan Snyder, Neptune Aviation Services’ Chief Operating Officer. “After a significate amount of coordination with museums and airports I’m happy to announce the locations for the retired P2V fleet.”

–Alamogordo Airport/ALM (Alamogordo, New Mexico)
N203EV (former Evergreen Tanker 142)

–Estrella Warbirds Museum (Paso Robles, California)
Tanker 07 (P2V-5)

–Glendive Airport/GDV (Glendive, Montana)
Tanker 05 (P2V-5)

–T61 Memorial & Klamath Falls Air Base (Lakeview, Oregon)
Tanker 06 (P2V-5)

–Yankee Air Museum (Belleville, Michigan)
Tanker 45 (P2V-7)

–San Diego Air & Space Museum (San Diego California)
Tanker 43 (P2V-7)

The P2V began aerial firefighting services during the 1970’s, when the U.S. Navy began to phase the aircraft out of service. Missoula based Neptune Aviation Services has operated the P2V since 1993. In fact, Neptune had been the largest remaining civil or military operator of the aircraft, with as many as 10 under US Forest Service (USFS) contracts in a single year.

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11 thoughts on “Six P2V air tankers’ last deployment — to retirement homes”

  1. know that as the navy version they are important,but i wish one would be kept as a tanker for future generations as well,like i would have loved to see one,just one F7F kept as a tanker.

  2. I flew in them during my time in the navy in tbe 50s and early 60s. What a great aircraft

  3. Funny as Palm Springs air museum has largest tanker collection


    All five of these planes had dedicated tanker careers

  4. It also should be noted that T-10 will be on permanent static display at the entrance to Missoula airport.

  5. Should also be noted that 14 and 44 will maintain their colors and tanks so they can be flyable airshow birds.

  6. I will genuinely miss the sound of P2V approaching the line. I remember being on a small ridge watching 2 Neptune P2Vs save our bacon on a hot day near Lake Billy Chinook. I could see into the cockpit and saw the pilot wave just as he pulled up at the end of a drop. For some reason that is one of my favorite moments from years of fire. What a cool aircraft with great history!

  7. I flew the P2V-5 and P2V-7 from early 1960 through 1964. Logged a ton of hours ranging from Panama to northern parts of Norway. Grew to love that old bird. Jack Wiseley

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