Sunday, April 1, 2012

In The Beginning.........

Photos by Matt Ottosen
Attu Warrior

The story of 'Attu Warrior' has multiple chapters.

The first chapter started in 1945 when this particular airplane, Lockheed PV-2 'Harpoon', Serial Number 15-1438, Bureau Number 37472, came off the production line.

The second chapter tells of the aircraft in various civilian roles, including spraying mosquitoes.

The third chapter started in 2006 when it was a derelict aircraft that was purchased by Dave Hansen, an experienced and exceptional warbird restorer.

So, like any good story, we will start at the beginning and endeavor to present a complete history of this great airplane.

'Attu Warrior' makes a low pass
First, lets quickly look at a little of the development of the PV-2 Harpoon. Lockheed's familiar family of aircraft share many design features that might confuse the un-informed, so a little enlightenment might not go astray. The British needed a replacement for their aging Hudsons, and so Lockheed developed the PV-1 'Ventura' from the commercial Model 18 'Lodestar'. This allowed Lockheed to use most of the existing tooling and production facilities to get the Ventura into production quickly, and by early 1943 it was soon patrolling across the Pacific from the Aleutians to Australia, as well as flying in the service of many of our allies. As the service of the PV-1 is an entire story on it's own, we are not going to go into that, as we have enough to tell just concentrating on the PV-2's and in particular, "Attu Warrior'.

These 2 aircraft are very similar in appearance, so I will give you some clues on how to tell them apart.
  1. The PV-2 Harpoon has a much larger wingspan (PV-1 is 65'6", PV-2 is 75'). Hard to judge without a tape measure.
  2. The horizontal stabilizer on the PV-2 is rectangular, while the leading edge of the PV-1 is tapered. Great if you are looking at the plane as it is flying overhead.
  3. The vertical stabilizer on the PV-1 is egg shaped, while the base of the PV-2 is much broader and rounded on top and overall much larger. This one feature makes positive identification much easier if you are viewing the planes from the ground and side on.
  4. Also from side on you will notice that the bomb bay doors are bulged on the PV-2 while the PV-1 has straight doors.

Other design changes were also incorporated to allow for bigger loads and better performance.

As soon as the PV-1 Ventura was in production, Lockheed began design work on the PV-2. The US Navy needed longer range, bigger payload and better handling, so with these (and other) changes the Harpoon was born. The first Harpoon rolled out of the Burbank, California plant on 8 November 1943, so it is obvious that during the war, little time was wasted when the aircraft were sorely needed.

No comments:

Post a Comment