Peep Some Classic 1960s Maritime Patrol Action
Lockheed’s P2V Neptune was the nation’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft until well after the Lockheed P-3 Orion entered service. Naval Air Reserve squadrons operated the P2V/P-2 until 1984. Naval Air Reserve maritime patrol squadrons operated from the majority of Naval Air Stations (and many Air Force Bases when deployed) during the Cold War. The footage shot in this video is not of VP-8 ‘Tigers’ aircraft, nor does it depict Naval Air Station (NAS) Quonset Point in Rhode Island though. The Air Station locations are actually NAS Brunswick in Maine and Kindley Field Air Force Base (AFB) in Bermuda. We’ll present our compelling evidence after you enjoy this silent but magnificent film of P2V-5Fs in action uploaded to YouTube by Periscope Film.
Based at Anacostia and Andrews
The inflight footage of the P2V-5F firing rockets, practicing drops, and rigging the merchant shipping traffic (and the Lightship Portland off the coast of Maine) is of a VP-661 P2V-5F BuNo 128379. The tail code LV belonged to VP-661 at that time. VP-661 (later VP-66) was part of a Naval Air Reserve Training Unit (NARTU) along with VP-662. VP-663 was functioning as a Replacement Air Group (RAG) for VP-661 and VP-662. All were split-based at NAS Anacostia and Naval Air Facility (NAF) Andrews.
NAS Anacostia’s station tail code was 6A- seen on the tail of the Neptune (side number 204) being prepared for flight in the film. VP-661 remained a Naval Reserve squadron and eventually became VP-66 ‘Boxcars’ (1970-1971), ‘Flying Sixes’ (1971-1974), ‘Dicemen’ (1975-1980) and ‘Liberty Bells’ (1981-2006). VP-66 retained the LV tail code while flying from NAS Willow Grove in Pennsylvania. VP-662 and VP-663 were rolled into VP-66.
Who and Where
Also seen on the ground while the VP-661 P2V-5Fs are preparing for their flights are P2V-5Fs assigned to VP-10 ‘Red Lancers’ (tail code LD) and VP-11 ‘Proud Pegasus’ (tail code LE), both active-duty squadrons based at NAS Brunswick. On the first approach to land in the footage, NAS Brunswick runway 1L is the assigned runway (now Brunswick Executive Airport). On the second approach to land, Kindley AFB runway 12 is the assigned runway (NAS Bermuda between 1970 and 1995- now LF Wade International Airport). If you’re a VP alum you can recognize them easily enough.
Those Reservists Got Around
The most likely scenario for the footage is a couple of VP-661 crews on their active duty rotations fly from NAS Anacostia to NAS Brunswick, refuel and maybe remain overnight (RON), and then fly on to Kindley in Bermuda. This was a fairly commonplace occurrence for Reserve crews during the early 1960s. VP-661 P2V-5F BuNo 128345 is depicted after arrival at Kindley AFB. The sharp-eyed among you will recognize the C-124 Globemaster II airlifter landing at Kindley AFB along with the WB-50D Superfortress, C-119 Flying Boxcar, T-33 Shooting Star, C-54 Skymaster, and C-47 Skytrain sitting on the ramp near the end of runway 12. The Kindley Theater is also seen in the footage.