The Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon was the final production version of the Ventura bomber, modified to make it a better maritime patrol aircraft. The main aim of this project was to improve the range of the aircraft, and so the fuel capacity was increased from 1,607 US gallons in the PV-1 to 1,863 US gallons by the installation of integrated fuel tanks in the wing outer panels. To compensate for the increase in weight at take-off, the wing span was increased by 9ft 6in and the vertical tail surfaces were also enlarged.
The PV-2 carried five 0.50in machine guns in the nose (three in a gun pack), two 0.50in guns in the dorsal turret and two in the ventral position. It could carry 4,000lb of bombs or depth charges in the bomb bay, and eight 5in HVAR rockets under the wings. The rockets could be replaced by 1,000lb bombs.
The US Navy placed an order for 500 PV-2s on 30 June 1943. The first flight came on 3 December 1943, and deliveries of the new aircraft began in March 1944. A serious problem was soon discovered with the integrated wing fuel tanks – the wings wrinkled and the tanks leaked. The first 30 aircraft had these fuel tanks seals off, were redesignated as the PV-2C and used as training machines. The remaining 470 aircraft were produced with standard self-sealing tanks inside the wings.
Lockheed also received an order of 908 PV-2D Harpoons, with eight 0.50in machine guns, but only thirty five of these aircraft were completed before production was cancelled at the end of the war.
Although it was a successful design, the PV-2 Harpoon entered service too late to make a major contribution to the war in the Pacific. The first unit to receive it was VPB-139, which converted from the VP-1 in time for a tour of duty in the Aleutians from March 1945. It was retained for some time after the war, serving with the Naval Reserve where at its peak it equipped eleven squadrons. The last squadron to use it, VP-3, phased it out in August 1948.
Span: 75ft 0in
Length: 52ft 1in
Empty weight: 21,028lb
Loaded weight: 33,668lb
Maximum weight: 36,000lb
Maximum Speed: 282mph at 13,700ft
Cruising Speed: 171 mph
Service ceiling: 23,900ft
Normal Range: 1,790 miles
Maximum Range: 2,880 miles
Guns: Nine 0.50in machine guns
Bomb load: 3,000lb plus 2,000lb under the wings