The P2V Neptune became one of the first aircraft in operational service to be fitted with both piston and jet engines designed to increase attack speed when required via the jet pods before throttling back to patrol speed via the piston driven propellers. To save weight and complexity of two separate fuel systems, the Westinghouse J34 jet engines on P2Vs burned the 115–145 Avgas fuel of the piston engines, instead of jet fuel.
To compliment the Neptune's AN/ASQ-8 Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) unit, which monitored minute disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field caused by the transit of submarines across it, the Neptune was equipped with a belly-mounted AN/APS-20 surface-search radar enabled detection of surfaced and snorkelling submarines at considerable distances.
During the Vietnam War, the Neptune was used by the US Navy as a gunship, an overland reconnaissance and sensor deployment aircraft, and in its traditional role as a maritime patrol aircraft.
It was used again to great effect during the Falklands War in 1982, where the last two airframes in service (2-P-111 and 2-P-112) played a key role of reconnaissance and aiding the Argentine Dassault Super Étendards, particularly on 4 May attack against HMS Sheffield.
The RAAF took delivery of the first P2V-5 Neptunes in 1952 with the 11 Squadron moving from their West Australian base to Richmond NSW. It was here that the only loss of a Neptune occurred when on 4 February 1959, during an air-test a Neptune crashed after an engine caught fire and eventually burned through the wing spar before the aircraft could land back at the base. All crew were lost and the the outcome of this accident was that the next variant of the Neptune (the P2V-7) to be ordered by the RAAF had fire extinguishing systems installed, the only twelve of this aircraft type so fitted.
The first P2V-7 aircraft arrived at RAAF Townsville in 1962 and served around Australia as a maritime patrol and sub-hunter until their eventual replacement by the Lockheed P3 aircraft in late 1977.
All Lockheed Neptune Instruments listed below come complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
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