Warbirds Online was recently at Caloundra, Queensland to visit the Queensland Air Museum to view the progress on their Lockheed P2V-7 Neptune SP-2H ex RAAF A89-277. This aircraft was delivered to the RAAF in March 1962 and served most of its time at RAAF Townsville and had an extensive service history in Australia and on foreign deployments. In 1977 the aircraft was disposed of by tender and was acquired by Sid Beck and was transported to his collection Museum at Townsville. Later it moved to Mareeba, QLD with the Beck collection and remained there until Sid’s death and then the Neptune was disposed of and sold to Queensland Air Museum in 2015.
A mammoth dismantling and transporting exercise was undertaken from Feb 2016 until March 2016 to move the aircraft from Mareeba to Caloundra Qld. Moving an aircraft the size is no easy task and it took several moves to relocate the sections of the airframe, particularly the bulky center section and the forward fuselage. Even the bomb bay doors on the Neptune are so large they required a trip in their own right.
Once the aircraft arrived the project to reassemble and restore the aircraft began in earnest. On the day of our visit the aircraft had made great progress towards reassembly and work on restoring the appearance of the airframe was also being undertaken as part of the process including a cleanup and tidy of the interior.
The fuselage sections have all been rejoined and the Horizontal stabilizer has been refitted. In addition the center section has been fitted as well as the engines and cowlings and the aircraft is once again sitting on its landing gear. The final components to make the aircraft structurally complete are the outer wing panels and these are already laid out next to the aircraft for refitting in the near future.
The remaining work on the aircraft will see the Neptune refinished in her operational scheme and on display. There is no decision yet as to operating the aircrafts 2,300 horsepower (1,700 kW) Wright R-3350-8 engines.
Queensland Air Museum is to be congratulated for rescuing and preserving this historic RAAF aircraft and it will make a magnificent exhibit in the QAM collection.
Warbirds Online will visit this aircraft again and continue to report on its progress and completion.
© John Parker 2017