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LOCKHEED RB-69A
Lockheed RB-69A Neptune
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The USAF acquired (on loan) seven U.S. Navy P2V-7U Neptune maritime patrol aircraft for conversion as reconnaissance bombers. These aircraft were redesignated RB-69A as USAF aircraft. The RB-69A was powered by two Wright R-3350-32W Turbo Compound radials and two Westinghouse J34-WE-34 axial-flow turbojets. The Wright Turbo Compound engine (TC18) is essentially a standard Wright R-3350 18-cylinder double row radial with three exhaust driven "blow down" turbines. The "blow down" turbines convert approximately 20 percent of the exhaust gas heat energy into useful power. The turbines drive a gearing mechanism which, in turn, adds power to the engine crankshaft. The J34 turbojets were primarily used to improve take-off performance and were shutdown for long duration missions, but could be restarted in flight for maximum speed dashes of about 350 mph.

The electronic equipment of the basic P2V-7U was modified for USAF use in reconnaissance and ECM training missions. Externally, the most obvious difference was an additional radome mounted on the Magnetic Anomaly Detection (MAD) tail boom (last "bump" at the lower aft section of the plane pictured above).

As more capable electronic reconnaissance aircraft became available, the RB-69As were returned to the U.S. Navy. The Navy modified them back to maritime patrol standards and redesignated them as SP-2H.


Type Number built/
converted
Remarks
RB-69A 7 (cv) Modified Navy P2V-7U


TECHNICAL NOTES (performance data are approximations):
Armament: Bomb bay with 8,000 lbs. capacity and eight outboard wing hardpoints capable of mounting two 5-in. rockets each (whether or not the RB-69A ever actually flew armed is under investigation); dorsal turret with two .50-cal. machine guns or two 20mm cannons on the P2V-7 was replaced by an observation dome
Engines: Two Wright R-3350-32W Turbo Compound Cyclones of 3,400 hp each and two Westinghouse J34-WE-34 axial-flow turbojets of 3,400 lbs. each
Maximum speed: 360 mph
Cruising speed: 300 mph
Range: 4,000 miles (with bomb bay mounted fuel tank)
Service ceiling: 35,000 ft.
Span: 103 ft. 10 in. (with wingtip pods; approx. 103. ft. without pods)
Length: 91 ft. 8 in.
Height: 29 ft. 4 in.
Weight: Approx. 80,000 lbs. maximum takeoff weight
Crew: Five (typically) (pilot, copilot, navigator, two electronics/reconnaissance equipment operators)
Serial numbers: Seven U.S. Navy P2V-7U Neptune maritime patrol aircraft (BuNo 135612, 140438, 140440, 140442, 141233, 141244, ?) reserialed as USAF RB-69A 54-4037 to 54-4043

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