· NEPTUNE 0708/2-P-112

MALVINAS WAR VETERANS

May 4, 1982 will remain in history as the day for the first time a British ship was sunk by an air attack since the WWII. The impact was tremendous, as the ship attacked were one of the most modern and especially AA British ships. The pair of Super Etendard that carried out the attack was guided by a lonely and old maritime exploration aircraft, the Neptune 0708/2-P-112, which then to detect the enemy fleet, remained in contact with it for several hours in order to maintain the position of vessels until came the missile attack.
This is a brief summary of the history of the Neptune, and our little tribute to the plane, his crew and mechanics, and for all who are dedicated to restore and preserve it for the future.

LOCKHEED SP-2H NEPTUNE 0708/2-P-112

This one was acquired by Argentine Naval Aviation in late 1977, being assigned to the Exploration Air Squad, where he received the traditional pattern of gray and white paint, in use at that time. On March 18 1978, 0708/2-P-112 performs a reconnaissance flight and exploration on the Malvinas Islands, even over the airstrip at Port Stanley. Later that year, took part in the Operation Tronador, during the most tense border conflict with Chile. During this campaign, the 2-P-112 receives a low-visibility camouflage blue and green for above areas and gray below, with a small flag on drift and black plate, disappearing “ARMADA” and the anchors of the wings.
In early 1982, only 2 Neptune remained in service at the edge of the end of its useful life, and with many technical problems, mainly in their electronic equipment. However, the Exploration Air Squad made intense activity during the escalating conflict with the British.
On March 23, 25, 26 and 28, 1982, performed missions of anti-surface exploration around the Malvinas Islands, trying to determine the presence of British ships in the area, as part of preparations for Operation Rosario, the recovery of our islands, to be held on April 2.
Following the sinking of the ARA C-4 "General Belgrano" cruiser on May 2, the "112” made the first search and rescue mission, flying at very low altitude and adverse weather conditions from 2330 until 6.30 pm Day 3, but without success.
The chance of revenge would be presented on May 4, when the "112" piloted by Lieutenant Commander Ernesto Leston Proni detected an English naval squadron sailing southeast of Puerto Argentino, consisting of three Type 42 destroyers: HMS Coventry, the Glasgow and Sheffield. Reported contact, Neptune remained in the area, updating the position of enemy ships until the successful attack of the Super Etendard, culminating with the sinking of HMS Sheffield.
However, the old "112" was nearing the end of its useful life, and remained out of service, despite the incredible efforts of all personnel of the Squad of Exploration.
In this way, the "112" made its final flight on August 30, 1982, being the last flight of the Argentine Navy Neptune.
For 1987, the "112" was left outdoors in a field of the Taller Aeronaval Central, and had lost their propellers, engines and many smaller pieces.
Thanks to the initiative of SIAG (RE) Jorge A. Nuñez, he and a group of friends made a wonderful job of restoration, which concluded on December 15, 1987, when Neptune was presented in a emotional ceremony, painted with a low visibility scheme in two shades of gray. The restoration work would lead to the creation of the Museum of Naval Aviation.
In 1996, it was decided to repaint the "112" with the colors used during the Malvinas War, which required the assistance of crew members and mechanics who had operated the aircraft at that time.
Currently, the "112" is exposed at the Comandante Espora Air Base, from where the airplanes that the Neptune guided in the harsh days of 1982 are still operating.
The following photos belong to the author of this article taken during his visits to the Comandante Espora Air Base and the Naval Aviation Museum, along with others that were supplied by Jorge Nunez Padín.

Technical specifications :
Build number:
726-7283
U.S.Navy:
150280
Build year:
1962
Dimensions:
Length:
27,10 m.
Wing span:
31,80 m.
Height:
8,60 m.
Max. takeoff weight:
32680 kg.
Engine:
Two 3500 hp. Wright Cyclone R-3350-32W
Two 3250 lbs. Westinghouse J-34-WE-36
Sergio Bellomo