Neptune Aviation Announces New Homes for its P2V Firebomber Fleet

Neptune Aviation Services' Lockheed P2V-5 'Tanker 44' taking off from Fox Field, Lancaster, CA, during the California Wildfires of October 2007. Neptune Aviation announced the final destinations for six of their remaining P2Vs yesterday. Interestingly, Tanker 44 and Tanker 14 will remain with the company for touring the airshow circuit. (image by Alan Redecki via wikipedia)
Aircorps Art Dec 2019

Last year, Neptune Aviation Services, retired the remainder of their fleet of Lockheed P2V Neptune fire bombers. The move came following a U.S. Forestry Service requirement to upgrade to younger airframes. The company has since transitioned to the BAe 146 airliner to meet its forest fire fighting contracts. Rather than simply scrapping their retired firebombers, Neptune Aviation wanted to find good homes for the charismatic aircraft which had served them so well for so long. They solicited petitions from institutions across the country, and received fourteen bids for the six available airframes. Yesterday, Neptune Aviation announced the locations where the historic aircraft will move to later this year, and they are as follows….

Alamogordo Airport/ALM – Alamogordo, New Mexico
Former Evergreen Tanker 142: P2V-5F Bu.128382/N203EV

Estrella Warbirds Museum – Paso Robles, California
Tanker 07:  P2V-5 Bu.131424/N807NA

Glendive Airport/GDV – Glendive, Montana
Tanker 05: (P2V-5 Bu.131459/N96278

T61 Memorial & Klamath Falls Air Base – Lakeview, Oregon
Tanker 06: P2V-5 Bu.131445/N985FF

Yankee Air Museum – Ypsilanti, Michigan
Tanker 45: P2V-7 Bu.140443/N445NA

San Diego Air & Space Museum – San Diego California
Tanker 43: P2V-7 Bu.131424/N443NA

In an announcement on their Facebook page, Neptune Aviation stated that it… “plans to deliver the aircraft starting in the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2018, depending on the nature of the fire season in 2018. The aircraft will be for display purposes only. Neptune will keep Tanker 14 [Ed. P2V-5F Bu.131482/N410NA] & Tanker 44 [Ed. P2V-5 Bu.128422/N1386C] operational for air shows around the country.”

Neptune Aviation Service’s Lockheed P2V Neptune ‘Tanker 05’ drops fire retardant on the 2007 WSA Complex fire. This aircraft will be heading for display Glendive Airport in Glendive, Montana. (image via wikipedia)

Neptune Aviation Service’s P2Vs were the last of the type to remain in service as active firebombers, so this transfer of airframes will likely represent the last time that we may see these magnificent aircraft performing in anger. They have made way for the jet age at Neptune Aviation Services now, with the conversion of nine BAe 146 airliners into air attack configuration.

A Neptune Aviation Service’s BAe 146 delivering retardant onto a forest fire. This aircraft type will form the backbone of Neptune Aviation’s firefighting fleet in the years to come, and has proven very effective so far. While it may not be as romantic in the air as a Neptune, it is good to see the company adapt smoothly to the transition. It is also important that they did their best to preserve their legacy fleet for many years to come, with deserving museums and locations across the country. (U.S. Forest Service photo via wikipedia)


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