Harpoon goes on display in Italy

The Lockheed Harpoon on show at Piana delle Orme on 5 October. The aircraft’s turret comes from a Martin Baltimore.
VIA GREGORY ALEGI

The only Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon exhibited publicly in Europe is the centrepiece of the outdoor aviation display inaugurated on 5 October at the Piana delle Orme centre at Borgo Faiti near Latina, central Italy. The Harpoon, which is on loan from the Italian Air Force Museum, has been restored by volunteers over the past year to represent serial MM80074 during its service with the 87° Gruppo at Catania- Fontanarossa airport.

The Italian Air Force operated 22 Harpoons between 1953-59 in its nascent anti-submarine warfare units, but all were scrapped following their replacement with Grumman Trackers. The Harpoon on display never served in Italy, but was obtained in 1993 from

”To make the bulky Lockheed look more aggressive, a nose gun pack, found on a minority of Italian Harpoons, has been built and fitted”

The Fighter Collection at Duxford in exchange for Canadair Sabre F4 XB812, which in turn was traded to the RAF Museum for Hawker Sea Fury FB11 VX653. This Harpoon was built by Lockheed for the US Navy in April 1945, and allotted BuNo 37419. Withdrawn from use in October 1953, it became N7486C on the civil register in 1957. Although used for agriculture and pest control work, it remained in overall stock condition.

Work concentrated on rectifying metalwork that was damaged in the long period of open storage and frequent moves. The bomb day doors were reskinned and a Martin Baltimore turret — not identical to that originally fitted — was installed. To make the bulky Lockheed look more aggressive, a nose gun pack, found on a minority of Italian Harpoons, has been built and fitted.

The new external display at Piana delle Orme also includes a North American T-6, a Fiat-built F-86K Sabre, Aermacchi MB326, SIAI Marchetti S211 and two examples of the Piaggio P166, an Italian Air Force pistonengined M variant and a Treasury Guard turboprop