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Truculent Turtle

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Truculent Turtle
P2V-1 Truculent Turtle 1946.jpg
Other name(s) The Turtle
Type Lockheed P2V-1 Neptune
Manufacturer Lockheed Aircraft Corporation
Preserved at National Naval Aviation Museum
P2V-1 "The Turtle" in 1946
Truculent Turtle long distance record flight path
P2V-1 "The Turtle" in 2008 at the National Naval Aviation Museum
P2V-1 "The Turtle" in 2013 at the National Naval Aviation Museum
P2V-1 "The Turtle" in 2013 at the National Naval Aviation Museum

The Truculent Turtle is a Lockheed P2V-1 Neptune that was flown in 1946 by United States Navy crew on a record-setting from Perth, Australia, to Columbus, Ohio, that set an unrefueled long distance record.


The third production P2V-1 was chosen for a record-setting mission, ostensibly to test crew endurance and long-range navigation but also for publicity purposes: to display the capabilities of the US Navy's latest patrol bomber. Its nickname was The Turtle, which was painted on the aircraft's nose (along with a cartoon of a turtle smoking a pipe pedaling a device attached to a propeller). However, in press releases immediately before the flight, the US Navy referred to it as "The Truculent Turtle".[1]

Loaded with fuel in extra tanks fitted in practically every spare space in the aircraft, "The Turtle" set out from Perth, Australia to the United States. With a crew of four (and a nine-month-old gray kangaroo, a gift from Australia for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.) the aircraft set off on 9 September 1946, with a RATO (rocket-assisted takeoff). 2 1/2 days (55h, 18m) later, "The Turtle" touched down in Columbus, Ohio, 11,236.6 miles (18,083.6 kilometres) from its starting point. It was the longest unrefueled flight made to that point beating the unofficial record held by the Japanese who had made a 10,212 miles (16,435 kilometres) flight in a Tachikawa Ki-77. This would stand as the absolute unrefueled distance record until 1962 (beaten by a USAF Boeing B-52 Stratofortress), and would remain as a piston-engined record until 1986 when Dick Rutan's Voyager would break it in the process of circumnavigating the globe. "The Turtle" is preserved at the National Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola.

  • 29 September 1946: The Truculent Turtle the squadron’s first P2V-1 Neptune land-based patrol bomber, flew from Perth, Australia, to Columbus, Ohio, a distance of 11,236 miles (18,083 km) in 55 hours and 18 minutes. The aircraft (BuNo 89082) was manned by Commanders Thomas D. Davies, Eugene P. Rankin, Walter S. Reid and Lieutenant Commander Roy H. Tabeling.[citation needed] The flight was nonstop, without refueling, establishing a world record for nonstop flight. When the aircraft was taken out of service years later, it was placed on display at NAS Norfolk. This aircraft is now on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum, NAS Pensacola, Florida.[citation needed]
  • September 29 – The United States Navy Lockheed P2V Neptune Truculent Turtle, piloted by Commander Thomas D. Davies and aided by four JATO rockets, departs Perth, Australia, bound nonstop for Naval Air Station Anacostia in Washington, D.C. On take-off, it weighs 85,575 lbs (38,817 kg), the heaviest twin-engine aircraft ever to take off up to this time. Although bad weather forces the plane to land short of Washington in Columbus, Ohio, after 55 hours 17 minutes continuously in the air, the flight nonetheless sets a new nonstop, unrefueled world distance record of 11,235.6 nautical miles (20,807 km) which stands for 16 years until broken by a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress in 1962.[2]


  1. Sullivan 1985, pp. 7–9.
  2. Polmar, Norman, "Historic Aircraft: The God of the Sea's Namesake", Naval History, October 2011, p. 16.


  • Sullivan, Jim, P2V Neptune in action. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1985. ISBN 978-0-89747-160-2 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png..
  • Wilson, Stewart. Combat Aircraft since 1945. Fyshwick, ACT, Australia: Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd., 2000. ISBN 1-875671-50-1 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png..

External links[edit]

Category:Individual aircraft

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