Many changes were made to the P2V-5 during production, the most major including replacing the nose turret with a clear glass observation nose and swapping the tail turret for a ‘stinger’ magnetometer tail boom to house the ASQ-8 MAD system. In addition, as seen here on this VP-31 example, a large number were modified under the designation P2V-5F with the addition of a pair of Westinghouse J34-WE-34 turbojets podded underwing which meant the deletion of four rocket launch stubs under each wing.
Another variant of the ‘Dash 5‘ was the PV2-5FD (later DP-2E) which was modified for carriage of Ryan Firebee drones as seen on this Naval Missile Center example which wears the high visibility red and yellow markings traditionally used on drone carriers. All armament is deleted on this model, including remaining rocket launch stubs, together with the wingtip tanks, astrodome and much of the avionics equipment to make way for other electronics associated with its drone control role.
The start of it all - first prototype Lockheed XP2V-1 BuNo 48237 with ‘Lockheed P2V' inscribed on the nose seen during an early test flight near Burbank, California, in 1945. 'Neptune' titles were also later added. Note the dorsal fillet behind the upper gun turret, which was deleted on subsequent P2V-1 production models, and the unique Perspex-shielded nose gun position which was only retained on the first 15 production P2V-1s, being replaced by a solid nose on the P2V-2.
The P2V-4 was the first variant to introduce wingtip fuel tanks, increasing range to 6,760km, and the starboard tank also housed a powerful searchlight in its forward portion. Here, the fifth production example, 124215, is seen on a pre-delivery test flight along the California coast. Just visible is the enlarged radome housing the APS-20 search radar which was first introduced on the P2V-3W and became standard on the P2V-4.
During early trials a US Navy P2V-2 spectacularly demonstrates the improvement in take-off performance provided with the assistance of a ten-second ‘blast’ from eight 14.4kN thrust JATO bottles on the rear fuselage, giving a useful boost to a heavily-loaded Neptune.
Considerable publicity for the Neptune was gained by much modified P2V-1 89082, the third production example, which was dubbed the Truculent Turtle and used for a record-breaking unrefuelled non-stop flight from Perth, Australia, to Columbus, Ohio which it completed on September 29, 1946. This record stood until January 1962 when it was broken by a SAC B-52H.
A P2V-3C, the carrier-borne, nuclear bomber version of the Neptune, demonstrates a JATO take-off during tests at NATC Patuxent River, Maryland in January 1951. JATO was used during carrier trials on the USS Coral Sea with P2V-3C 122968 on March 7, 1949 to demonstrate the long-range nuclear bombing concept.
Lockheed P2 Neptune Variants: 1 P2V-1 2 P2V-2 3 Scrap view OP-2E nose section 4 Scrap view OP-2E tail section 5 P2V-5F 6 P2V-6, nose section 7 P2V-7 8 AP-2H, nose section 9 P-2J.