This veteran aircraft served for decades in the French National Navy

A sadly abandoned Lockheed P-2 Neptune maritime patrol aircraft in northern France

Since a military aircraft is withdrawn from service until it is preserved in a museum, many years may pass. And many are lost along the way.

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The Lockheed P-2 Neptune maritime patrol aircraft made its maiden flight on May 17, 1945, a few days after the end of World War II in Europe, but while hostilities were still continuing in the Pacific. The Neptune was one of many products that emerged from the needs of the war but did not arrive in time to take part in it. Production began in 1946 and entered service with the US Navy in 1947.

The SP-2H Neptune with construction number 147563 in a photo taken at the airfield in northern France where it is abandoned (Photo: Tom van Dutch Urbex).

The French National Navy received its first P-2 Neptunes in 1953 from the P2V-6 version, making a total of 33 aircraft that were assigned to three air flotillas: two in Algeria and one in Morocco, as indicated by Later, the French Navy received 34 P2V-7s, making France one of the largest operators of this maritime patrol aircraft. The last P-2 Neptunes were withdrawn from service by the French Navy in 1984.

The interior of SP-2H Neptune 147563 as it was two years ago (Photo: Tom van Dutch Urbex).

The aircraft we are dealing with today is an SP-2H Neptune, an alternative name given to the P2V-7. Thus, it is one of the planes from the second batch of Neptunes that France received. Her construction number is 726-7177 and her serial number was 147563, sporting the number 563 on her drift. According to Aerial Visuals, in 1959 it was transferred by the Navy from the US to the French Navy.

A front view of the SP-2H Neptune (Photo: Tom van Dutch Urbex).

This aircraft was one of those used by the French Navy's Flottille 25F, serving from the Lann-Bihoué naval air base, in the French region of Brittany, and was later stationed at the Brienne military aerodrome -le-Château, in the north of France where it remains today. For years it was kept in good condition. In 1986 the military installations were abandoned and the place became an aerodrome for civilians to practice parachuting.

Another photo of the interior of the SP-2H Neptune. In the background we see the cabinet that was used to store the sonobuoys (Photo: Tom van Dutch Urbex).

Until 2010, an air museum was open in Brienne-le-Châteaur that used former USAF hangars. Since the museum closed, the five French planes that were at the airfield have been deteriorating more and more . It's a shame to see its current state.

Judging by this video posted a few days ago by Lost Places Discovery, the P- 2 Neptune is the only one of those planes that is still there. Unfortunately, it has been vandalized and covered in graffiti. In the video you can see two German urban explorers accessing the interior of the plane (the video is in German, you can activate the automatic subtitles in English in the bottom bar of the player):

A note: the device that these explorers attribute to "rockets" is actually the system by which the sonobuoys were launched, tubes that contain a sonar to detect submarines. On the Facebook page of Tom van Dutch Urbex you can see a series of photos (from there I have taken the ones that appear in this entry) from inside this plane. In one of them you can see the cabinet where the sonobuoys were transported before being launched.


Main photo: Tom van Dutch Urbex.

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