Friday, May 22, 2009

“Hot Stuff” is Rare Stuff

An honor and distinction reserved primarily for historical neighborhoods, old homes and buildings worthy of preservation, has been given to “Hot Stuff” a rare WWII aircraft. The Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon, operated by the Indianapolis based American Military Heritage Foundation, Inc. on the national air show circuit is one of only two known to be in flying condition.

In March, 2009, the State of Indiana Historic Preservation Review Board moved to place the aircraft on the National and State of Indiana Historic Registers.

“This is a wonderful status for the plane and our all-volunteer organization,” said, Penny Litz, president. “We hope to keep this airplane flying for a long time, there’s no other fun and impressive way to get hands-on historical experience than with a project like this.

“We don't often get to assist in the designation of a historic aircraft”, said Paul Diebold, Team leader, Survey & Registration, Indiana DNR-Div. of Historic Preservation and Archaeology. “We’re much more used to working with homeowners and businesses in the listing of their historic properties. But it’s been a thrill to be a part of this designation. There are very few historic aircraft that are original enough to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.”

PV-1's and 2's were used by the U. S. Navy as submarine hunters along the eastern seaboard and in the South Pacific. Launched from Attu in the Aleutian Islands, they were used exclusively in the Empire Express bombing raids on the Japanese held Kurile Islands during WWII. The PV-2, the look-alike, bigger brother, was designed to be longer-ranged and heavier armed.

“Not many people are familiar with the Japanese occupation of the Aleutian Islands after the Pearl Harbor attack”, said Litz. “They were up there from spring 1942 – June 1943 – and up to no good; it took us a whole year to get rid of them. This was the first time since the War of 1812 that an enemy was on American soil and it got very little press.”

Once the Aleutians were back in the control of the United States, PV-1 Venturas were assigned to conduct photo and later bombing reconnaissance missions round-trip from Attu to the Kurile Islands, a distance of 1,500 miles. The missions were lengthy and the Harpoon with its capacity for carry more fuel and arms, was born. Delivery of PV-2’s began early 1945.

“It is firmly believed that these raids helped win WWII by tricking the Japanese into believing that they would be or could be attacked from the North – Just as they tried to do with us and it is estimated that they diverted one-sixth of their resources away from the South Pacific,” said Litz.

"Hot Stuff" was assigned to an Empire Express squadron, VPB #136 and was later used in the reserves but never saw combat because she was manufactured and delivered to the Navy (March 1945) too close to the end of the war “which accounts for her excellent structural condition,” says Litz.

In the 1950’s Indiana native and 1930 Purdue University graduate, Ralph Johnson, saved this aircraft and 21 others like it when he purchased the fleet as surplus from the Navy and put them into service as agricultural sprayers out west. “One can only guess what would have happened to this plane had it not been re-purposed,” said Litz.

“This plane could have found a home with a group in some other state,” says Diebold,
“fortunately they chose Indiana and we’re lucky that they’ve decided to stay here and provide this opportunity.’

The aircraft will be on display at the 13th annual Indianapolis Air Show June 5-7 at the Mt. Comfort Airport. PV-1 & 2 veterans will be at the aircraft to answer questions and sign autographs.

To become an AMHF supporter/ member and volunteer, contact Penny Litz at 760-835-7529 or go to

American Military Heritage Foundation
Mt. Comfort AirportP. O. Box 29061
Indianapolis, IN 46229
760-835-7529-cell* 317-883-4721-fax

Contact: Penny Litz, President

No comments: