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Lockheed P2V "Truculent Turtle"

The 44th commemorative in our "Milestones of Flight" series honors the thirtieth anniversary of the record non-stop long distance flight made by the Lockheed P2V "Truculent Turtle," September 29-October 1, 1946.

The U.S. Navy crew for this flight included CMDR T. D. Davies, in charge, and CMDRs E. P. Rankin, W. S. Reid, and R. H. Tabeling. Although the normal gross load of a P2V is 58,500 pounds, the "Truculent Turtle" took off with a load of 85,000 pounds, believed to be the greatest load In proportion to area ever lifted up to that time - a wing loading of 85 pounds per square foot. The gasoline weighed 54,000 pounds - about 1 1/2 times the empty weight of the airplane. The takeoff from Perth, Australia, was made with the assistance of four JATO rocket units that added a thrust of 4000 pounds to that of the two 2300 horsepower Wright Duplex Cyclone engines. The crew had originally intended to fly a single-heading course using pressure-pattern navigation, which was based on the expectancy of locating and using tailwinds, but these favorable conditions did not develop. Instead, over the Pacific, they encountered rain, icing conditions, headwinds, and dense clouds.

Crossing the California coastline about one hundred miles north of San Francisco, they met severe headwinds over Utah, and, nearing Columbus, Ohio, decided to land because of a dwindling fuel supply. They had 119 gallons left They had flown 11,822 miles in 55 1/4 hours. Most of the flight was at altitudes from 8000 to 12,000 feet. Had the weather been more cooperative, they could have flown on to Bermuda. As it was, they surpassed the previous record, established by an Air Force Boeing B-29 from Guam to Washington, D.C., by more than 3000 miles. The high performance and durability of the engines were such that they did not require a checkover at Columbus, but after partial refueling the plane was flown on to Washington, D.C.

On May 9, 1949, in commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the first transatlantic flight which had been made by the Navy's Curtiss NC-4, the "Truculent Turtle," taking off from NAS Floyd Bennett Field, New York, flew over the course that the historic aircraft had pioneered and landed at Lisbon, Portugal in 16 1/2 hours. The NC-4, taking off on May 8, 1919, had reached that port on May 27.

The "Truculent Turtle" is in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum and is currently on loan to the* Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

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