Harpoon is "Hot Stuff"
The American Military Heritage Foundation (AMHF) is working hard
to return a Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon to flight. After 22 months of
hard work, challenges, and discouragement, the group installed and
ran up a "new" 50-year-old engine on May 7th. They expect to be
airborne in the next few weeks.
July 26th 2003 was an exciting day for the crew, as they
prepared to take the PV-2 to Oshkosh where it had been promised a
spot at show center, Aeroshell Square. Unfortunately, a backfiring
number two engine forced the aircraft to be grounded. Until May 7th
2005, the aircraft sat at Mount Comfort Airport, just east of
Indianapolis, while the organization battled numerous logistical
and financial challenges.
"I've been flying the Harpoon for 10 fun years. After 39 years
of docile, thankfully, airline flying it is exciting to fly this
airplane. Just the act of firing up those big engines and listening
to all that power is thrilling," said Dave Smith, Chief Pilot of
Unfortunately, Smith had to wait a long time. After months of
diagnostics and trial runs, the difficult decision was made to
replace the engine. The old engine was worn and damaged
beyond repair, so it was removed from the aircraft. It was
disassembled and reworked into various pieces of artwork and
furniture. Skilled members crafted lamps out of the cylinder heads
and pistons for fundraising purposes. Members have been working
hard to raise the funds and do the work necessary to get "Hot
Stuff" back to flying status.
Incredibly, they were able to locate a complete engine that had
been preserved 50 years ago. It was purchased and shipped with the
help of a generous anonymous donation. Weeks turned into months as
the engine was cleaned, prepared and finally mounted on the
"When the opportunity to get involved with an operating warbird
came up, I jumped at the chance. Helping to keep history alive and
sharing this rare bird with the public continues to be an extremely
rewarding experience," said Mark Leslie, of the AMHF board of
The AMHF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in
Indianapolis, Indiana. The dynamic group of volunteers is dedicated
to preserving vintage military aircraft in flying condition in
memory of all who fought in the air on behalf of the United
The jewel of the foundation is "Hot Stuff," a Lockheed PV-2
Harpoon that is maintained at Mount Comfort Airport, just east of
Indianapolis. This Harpoon entered military service with the Navy
in March 1945. It was featured in a NOVA documentary on the PV-1
and its role in WWII. The foundation's PV-2 is the only one of its
type still flying in military configuration and has flown at air
shows through out the country.
PV-2s were used as bombers, patrol bombers and attack aircraft
in WWII. They normally operated without fighter escort due to their
ability to adequately defend themselves. In the Atlantic, their
mission was primarily antisubmarine patrol and interdiction.
In the Pacific, they were used as a close air support plane.
With up to eight (8) 50 cal. machine guns mounted in the nose,
under wing rockets, and up to 2,000 lbs. in bombs, the PV-2 proved
a powerful weapon against the enemy.
They were designed as an extended range replacement for the
PV-1. It was a Lockheed PV-1, predecessor of the extended range
PV-2, flying a routine patrol that discovered the survivors of the
"USS Indianapolis" on Aug. 2, 1945.
The heart of the AMHF is the members who receive no compensation
for the work they do to bring the aircraft to life for thousands of
air show spectators each season. The volunteers are serious about
safety and preserving the memory of those who served our
They're also serious about having a good time. Whenever there's
a work project going on, you can bet there will be food cooking on
the grill shortly.
Doug Cross, the president of the AMHF, sent out the word on the
May 7th that the number two aircraft engine was finally brought to
life successfully about 0920. After a shutting down, and checking
the engine over carefully, it was restarted at about 1100, along
with the number one engine for the first time since last fall.
They put both engines were put through their paces, checking the
magnetos, the props, and running up to mid-high power. The runs
were very clean and successful for both engines.
"We're very excited by the events unfolding," Cross said. "Our
crews are preparing themselves to operate the aircraft again after
a one-year hiatus from the air-show circuit. I cannot stress enough
that the events of today would not have been possible with the
dedicated effort of all involved."(2003 photo below)
Smith says he expects the Harpoon to be flying within a few
weeks once the final maintenance items and the paperwork is taken
care of. The AMHF is looking forward to an exciting airshow