|Visitors have the opportunity to see another extremely rare aircraft, a Lockheed PV-2D Harpoon, at Oshkosh this year. (Photo courtesy of Roger Cain)
June 19, 2013 - One of the world's three remaining airworthy Lockheed PV-2 aircraft is coming to AirVenture Oshkosh 2013.
It's the only PV-2D Harpoon variant left out of 35 built, rescued from demolition about three years ago by Vintage Aircraft and Stockton Field Aviation Museum in Stockton, California (SCK). A group of volunteers and staff restored the aircraft to mint condition, according to Vintage Aircraft's Taigh Ramey.
The PV-2D Harpoon (Bureau No. 84062/N6657D) is a long-range patrol bomber with eight nose-mounted .50-caliber guns. It was to be used in the Allied invasion of Japan in 1945 but never saw combat because the atomic bombs hastened war's end in August that year.
It eventually was sold as surplus and converted into a fire bomber. In fact, before its acquisition, all but seven of its logged flight hours were for fighting fires or in support of firefighting.
The museum acquired the Harpoon in 2010 and crews have worked diligently over the past three years to restore the plane to original condition - as if it had just rolled off the line at the Lockheed plant in Burbank in 1944.
"You should have seen it before we started," Ramey said. "Our goal has always been to have a veteran who flew them say, 'It's just like it was back then.'" Indeed, the interior and exterior before-and-after shots appear to indicate they've succeeded.
The plane's original deep blue paint scheme is in accordance with the period specs from the Navy SR-2, which calls for horizontal surfaces of the wings and horizontal stabilizer to be semigloss and the other surfaces to be painted lusterless or flat. The scheme also includes the original "062" on the nose from the bureau number.
Inside, the original paint looked "pretty good" according to Ramey, but rebuilding the various crew stations required a lot of painstaking work. The pilot and copilot, radio operator, navigator, and radar operator as well as top turret gunner are now restored and mostly operational. Eventually the museum aims to acquire original wing-mounted drop tanks and rockets.
The airplane has remarkably low operational hours. The airframe has about 800 total hours to date, while the two 2,000-hp Pratt and Whitney R-2800 31 Double Wasp engines, manufactured under license by Ford Motor Company, only have about 40 hours on them.
The airplane is scheduled to arrive in Oshkosh on Sunday, July 28, and stay through August 2. On Friday, August 1, the PV-2D will be featured in a Warbirds in Review presentation at 10 a.m., and Ramey is asking any PV-2 veterans to participate.
"We would like to find anyone who may have built, flew, or maintained the PV-2 that might want to share their experiences or just simply come out and visit the old gal," he said. "We have restored our Harpoon with almost all of its original crew positions and equipment just like it had at the factory. We hope to have as many veterans as possible to come and see their old patrol bomber."
Interested vets are asked to contact Ramey at email@example.com or 209-534-4466. He also notes that there is limited space on plane for its flight to AirVenture, which will include Oshkosh housing. Contact him for details.
Upon departing Oshkosh, N6657D will fly to Topeka, Kansas, to participate in the Warbirds and Legends show at Forbes Field. Hopes are to rendezvous with and fly a three-ship formation with the other two remaining PV-2s, Hot Stuff and Attu Warrior (which attended AirVenture Oshkosh 2012).