Sunday, April 1, 2012

US Navy Service

US Navy Service

While we do have copies of the service record from the Smithsonian, the information is very basic. Anyone who has any additional information regarding this aircraft, we would love to have copies of logs, photos etc, or even just send us a record of your recollections.

Lockheed Harpoon PV-2, Bureau Number 37472, Serial Number 15-1438
Official Record (Verified)

Built at the Lockheed / Vega factory in Burbank, California. It was completed and accepted by the US Navy on April 4, 1945.

It was delivered to the Navy Aircraft Pool at NAAS Holtville (now Holtville Airport 125 miles east of San Diego CA, near El Centro) on November 19, 1945
As the war had ended, Holtville became home to 111 PV-2's that were no longer needed for combat patrol missions.

It was transferred from the pool to storage whilst still at Holtville and then moved to NAS Litchfield Park in Arizona in January 1947 when Holtville was transferred from Navy to County use.

Attu Warrior in 'period' photo. Matt Ottosen
(NAS Litchfield Park was closed in 1968 and then purchased by the city of Phoenix and became Phoenix Goodyear Airport).

While it was based at Litchfield Park storage facility, 37472 was flown several times each year until May 8th, 1953 when it was transferred to NAS Alameda on San Francisco Bay in California. 

(NAS Alameda has a great history that started as a civil airport in 1927, became Benton Field for the US Army Air Corps in 1930, had a terminal for the Pan Am China Clipper flights beginning in 1935, and in 1938 became Alameda NAS. It was renamed Nimitz Field in 1967 and became the home port of nuclear powered aircraft carriers well into the 1990's. After it was closed in April 1997, it became home for the USS Hornet to be used as a museum. Finally, it has been used for movies and for the TV series 'Mythbusters' for some of their more explosive episodes).  

5 PV-2's in formation. Notice some have the solid blue paint scheme
and others have the Tri-Color the way 'Attu Warrior' is painted today.
Photo from Joe Ross who flew 37472 a couple of times from Litchfield Park. 
During it's time at Alameda, 37472, flew a number of training missions over 3 months, plus a couple of flights back and forward to Litchfield Park before returning to storage at Litchfield Park in February 1954.

In December 1954 37472 was transferred to the Naval Reserve Training Facility at Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. As Willow Grove was used during WWII for training in anti-submarine warfare, and continued this role during the Cold War, we can only surmise that the training flights carried on whilst at Willow Grove were also anti-submarine training missions.

In January, 1956 the aircraft was assigned to NAS Anacostia in Washington DC. (This field became Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in 2005). It remained there until August 19, 1956 when it returned to Litchfield Park to be retired from service. It was officially struck from service on December 17, 1956 with a total of 387 hours flown.

Unofficial Record
In 2009, 'Attu Warrior' visited the Reno Air Races. A couple of old veteran gunners came to visit who swore that they had crewed in 37472 from Attu Island after WWII. If this is correct, it must have happened when the aircraft was a pool aircraft stationed at Holtville in 1946. It would possibly have operated with VPB 139.

Lt Joe Ross with his crew in front of a PV-2 Harpoon in 1946.
Notice the guns have been removed from the nose.

Joe Ross, who turned 96 in April 2012, flew 37472 on several occasions. See the post of latest updates for some more information about Joe Ross.

Here is an interesting story that highlights the capability of the PV-2 in action in WWII. On 22nd June 1945, Lt Marlin from VPB-139 was on patrol near Paramushiro, one of the Kuril Islands in the northwest Pacific. This highly unusual action found Marlin flying his PV-2 with a Japanese Hamp (Model 32 Zero) fighter flying below him.
Another Victory!
Marlin scored first with his bow guns, then he forced the Hamp right down on the water and kept it there by flying just above it. Marlin rocked the Harpoon over so that the turret guns could get a shot at it, but he could only stay in that position for a brief time and keep the Hamp trapped. Finally he put on the gas and pulled ahead of the fighter so that the tunnel gunner could bring his twin .50 cal machine guns to bear, and he delivered the fatal shot. 

This was not the only time that the twin-engined medium bomber took on the Japanese Zeros and, using superior speed and being almost as maneuverable, came out the victor. The nine .50 cal machine guns didn't hurt either - five in the nose, two in the top turret and two in the tunnel (tail).

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