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 Service history of the Lockheed Neptune with the MLD

The P2V-5 was the most numerous Neptune variant produced and would serve as the basis for the largest number of sub-type modifications developed of any of the Neptune series.

On the 21 off August 1961, it was decided by the Dutch Ministry of Defence that the Royal Netherlands Navy (MLD , Marine Luchtvaart Dienst) was to acquire 15 Lockheed Neptune air frames type P2V-7B.

The reason for this acquisition was a large conflict with Indonesia over the Dutch colony Papua New Guinea. To strengthen the presence of the Dutch armed Forces in the region, the choice fell on the Lockheed Neptune


Helicopter Force

Delivery to the Royal Netherlands Navy (MLD)

Built by Lockheed at Burbank as a P2V-7B, the P2V-7 being the last Neptune variant produced. The -7B was specific to the Dutch and initially had a solid nose mounting four 20mm cannon, plus ventral nose radar radome, underwing booster jets, five bomb racks under each wing and extended MAD tail

The Fifteen P2V-7Bs (serials 200 to 214) were delivered to No. 321 Squadron between September 1961 and February 1962. Eventually eleven aircraft were flown from Lockheed Burbank to Naval Air station Biak in Netherlands New Guinea. The chosen route was: Burbank-NAS Alameda-NAS barbers Point-NAF Kwajalein to Biak, a flight from more than 6000 miles..

Four Neptune’s (Serial 209 to 210) were flown directly from the factory to the Netherlands for crew training and evaluation.




Operational history

In August 1962, the conflict came to an end. In that same year the Neptune’s flew back from NAS Biak via Tan-Son-Nhut-Katunayake-Karachi-Basra-Athens and finally to NAS Valkenburg. Only ten aircraft were to return. Neptune registration number 200, crashed on the 11th of May 1962 at the airport of Mokmer, after fire in the starboard jet-engine. On landing, it lost all hydraulic pressure and ended in a ditch and was written off.

After the return to the Netherlands, the strength of the Neptune fleet was fourteen aircraft. All were posted to the 320 squadron at NAS Valkenburg. Joining the other P2V-7Bs of 320 squadron as replacements for Grumman Tracker aircraft.

On the 23 of January 1965, Neptune 212 crashed in the North Sea. In the same year it was decided to increase the squadron with four ex- French Navy Neptune aircraft. Ad they came available with the introduction of the Atlantic in the French navy, these were numbered 215 to 218.

The Neptune’s were given a major up-date programme by Aviolanda, at Woensdrecht. The up-date included rebuilding of the antisubmarine systems with improved ASW/ECM equipment and removal of the 20mm nose cannon, and their replacement with a clear nose cone. Becoming a P2V-7S or SP-2H after the up-date.

The Neptune's were gradually withdrawn from service from 1969. From the 1970s Dutch Neptune’s carried an overall dark sea grey colour scheme, with search and rescue and pollution surveillance amongst their tasks.

From 1974 onwards three Neptune’s  were based at the Hato airbase at Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles north of Venezuela in the Caribbean sea, mainly for SAR duties. Joining other aircraft that flew in the Caribbean on search missions in support of the US Coast Guard Station at Puerto Rico and others flew medium-range maritime patrols.

Squadrons equipped with the SP-2H Neptune
320 Squadron

320 Squadron

After the war 320 squadron was temporarily disbanded on May 1, 1946. On March 22, 1949 it was re-activated again at NAS Valkenburg. In the first post war years 320s main task was Search and Rescue, for this several aircraft types were used.

The squadron proved very effective during the 1953 flooding of the Dutch province of Zeeland. From that year on 320 concentrated on maritime patrol tasks. For this purpose the Harpoons were replaced by long range aircraft, the Lockheed P2V-5, or SP-2E. These were better equipped for anti submarine warfare. In 1960 the faithful Neptune was, in its turn, replaced by the Grumman S-2A Tracker.

After the disbandment of the Dutch New Guinea based 321 Squadron, their P2V-7, or SP-2H Neptune's, went to 320 Squadron to replace the Trackers. When the Neptune's reached the end of their service life, a replacement was found in 1982, in the form of the Lockheed P-3C Orion. The end of the Cold War meant that there was no longer any direct soviet submarine threat, and the political decision was made to cease all fixed wing aircraft operations. The unit was disbanded on 14 January 2005 and its Orion's sold to Germany and Portugal.

321 Squadron

321 Squadron

This squadron was founded during the war as a part of the British Fleet Air Arm. The AVRO Anson was used by the Dutch personnel, usually people who had fled for the German occupation of their country. The tasks of 321 squadron were coastal patrol and anti-submarine warfare. Due to lack of personnel the squadron had to be temporarily disbanded on January 18, 1941.

As many airmen had fled the Japanese occupied Dutch East Indies, and had gathered in Ceylon, the squadron was re-activated at Trincomalee in March 1942. With Catalina flying boats and amphibians anti-submarine missions were flown, also during detachments in Port Elisabeth and Aden. From 1944 the Catalina's were supplemented by Consolidated B-24H Liberators.
After VJ day 321 squadron dropped supplies for the thousands of internees in the POW camps in the Dutch East Indies. Later the squadron provided aerial reconnaissance and transport for the Government. For this task a number of Dakotas were used in addition to the Catalina's.

After the independence of Indonesia the squadron moved to Dutch New Guinea, at Biak air base. During the hostilities in New Guinea, 321s Neptune's were operated in anti shipping missions. On December 28, 1962 the squadron was disbanded and its SP-2Hs went to Holland to serve there as the new nucleus for 320 Squadron.

In 1969 after the procurement of nine Brequet SP-13a Atlantic's was activated again. During its period whit the SP-13A Atlantic the squadron lost three aircraft due to engine fire and problems with the rudder. The last was also the reason for the early retirement of the SP-13A Atlantic in 1984. From there the squadron transited to the Lockheed P-3 Orion. First in the active role and from 1993 in the training role after the disbandment of VAQ2 until the end of the Lockheed P-3 service with the MLD in 2005 at witch point the squadron was disbanded.

Vliegtuig squadron 2

Vliegtuigsquadron 2

Vliegtuigsquadron 2 was established in 1949 at NAS Valkenburg and received Fairey Firefly's. The tasks for the squadron were Convoy protection, reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare, which they performed together with sister squadron Vliegtuigsquadron 4, alternating their deployments. At sea they operated from HNLMS Karel Doorman, the aircraft carrier of the Royal Netherlands Navy, and at land they operated from their home base NAS Valkenburg.

In 1954 the Fireflys were replaced by Grumman TBM Avengers. The squadron was temporarily disbanded in 1961, to become active again at the end of 1962, this time with the Grumman S-2 Tracker. When the Royal Netherlands Navy decided to retire the ageing carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman in 1968, the squadron was disbanded again.

For over two years the squadron was inactive, but it was reactivated again in 1970 as a training unit, to keep the readiness and training of the flight crews at the highest level. The first courses were performed for Atlantic crews and later the Neptune crews were also trained. The squadron did not have aircraft of their own and loaned these from 320 Squadron and 321 Squadron. From 1981 onwards, the squadron trained flight crews for the P-3 Orion until its disbandment. 

End of the line

End of the line

320 Squadron retired its last seven Neptune’s in March 1982 as they were being replaced by the Lockheed Orion. For thirty years, this beautiful aircraft did sterling service with the MLD. Taking part in many military exercises and patrolling the oceans in the cold war period

Of the 19 Neptune's delivered two were destroyed in accidents and from the remaining aircraft four were saved from the chopper.

A interesting one is 210 this Lockheed P-2 Neptune was used as an instructional airframe and was hardly ever taken out of the hangar. Former Royal Netherlands Navy (Marine Luchtvaart Dienst-MLD) 210/V, it was donated to KLM in December 1983 for use as an instructional airframe and was resprayed in KLM c/s during 1985. It is now on display at the "Aviodrome" in Lelystad in its old cs.

200             Crashed at Biak  
201         Preserved   At MLM Soesterberg  
202             demolished  
203         Dumped   Dumped at Hato  
204         Preserved   At Cosford UK  
205             demolished  
206             demolished  
207             demolished, Cockpit at de Kooy  
208             demolished  
209             demolished  
210         Preserved   First instructional with KLM, now at Aviodrome  
211             demolished  
212             Crashed  
213             demolished  
214             demolished  
215       ex 144691 FN     demolished  
216       ex 144692 FN Preserved   gate guard at NAS de Kooy  
217       ex 146434 FN     demolished  
218       ex 146438 FN     demolished, cockpit at MLM Soesterberg  

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