Aéronavale Neptunes


Aéronavale Neptunes were regular visitors to Brisbane during the seventies and eighties. The aircraft were usually en route to bases in Tahiti (Papeete) and New Caledonia (Tontouta) or returning to France for heavy maintenance. Units operating Neptunes in the South Pacific were 12 Escadrille de Servitude based at Papeete and 9 Escadrille de Servitude based at Tontouta.

Whenever New Caledonia was threatened by a cyclone it was common practice to ferry aircraft to safety in Brisbane. Not only the Neptunes but also Douglas C-47s and the sole DC-4 (9148) would regularly shelter in Brisbane. While the aircraft were safe at Brisbane Airport, the crews were often even safer at one of the resorts on the Gold Coast south of Brisbane! After the Neptunes were withdrawn from service, 144687, 146432, 146433, 148331 were burned in Tahiti but one aircraft
, 147566, escaped to Australia where it is now part of the HARS fleet as VH-LRR. Another Neptune, 144689 was burned at Tontouta.


Lockheed SP-2H 148330 running up at Brisbane on 2 March 1984.
Picture: Ron Cuskelly (X306)
Lockheed SP-2H 148330 at Brisbane on 10 August 1981.
Picture: Ron Cuskelly (U279)
Lockheed SP-2H 148330 at Brisbane on 10 August 1981.
Picture: Ron Cuskelly (U288)
Lockheed SP-2H 144687 at Brisbane on 21 February 1978.
Picture: Ron Cuskelly (M369)
Lockheed SP-2H 146433 at Brisbane on 3 February 1975.
Picture: Ron Cuskelly (H190)
Lockheed SP-2H 146433 at Brisbane on 8 March 1975.
Picture: Ron Cuskelly (H238)
Lockheed SP-2H 147566 at Brisbane on 28 June 1983. (Later VH-LRR)
Picture: Ron Cuskelly (W340)
The badge of Escadrille 9S on Lockheed SP-2H 148330.
Picture: Ron Cuskelly (X291)
The badge of Escadrille 12S on Lockheed SP-2H 144687.
Picture: Ron Cuskelly (M367)
The emblem on the fin of Lockheed SP-2H 146433of Escadrille 12S was applied in 1974 when the aircraft was based at Tontouta in New Caledonia. The emblem represents the Cagou, a bird found in the forests of New Caledonia. The same emblem was applied to Neptune 147570 of Flotille 25F which 146433 replaced at Tontouta. Before the application of this emblem, Neptune 146433 supported the nuclear tests at Muroroa from June to September 1974 from a support base on Hao atoll.
Picture: Ron Cuskelly (H238)

 

 

Issue
Date
Remarks
2
31JUL19
Added an explanation of the Cagou emblem on the tail of 146433. With thanks to Alain Bourret, Dominique Masset and Tim Kalina.
1
19JUL19
Original issue.



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