Neptune donates Tanker 12 to National Museum of Forest Service History in Missoula
(Missoula Current) The National Museum of Forest Service History in Missoula will get a new addition to its collection – that being Neptune Aviation's fabled Tanker 12.
T12 was initially used by the Navy for anti-submarine warfare before it was converted to a firefighting aircraft. Neptune operated a fleet of Lockheed Martin P2V aircraft from 1993 to 2017.
Neptune’s P2V fleet performed 47,000 firefighting missions and dropped 97 million gallons of fire retardant.
“The National Museum of Forest Service History is a perfect home for Neptune’s T12,” said Jennifer Draughon, president of Neptune Aviation Services. “The Forest Service has a long history of aerial firefighting operations and Neptune’s T12 will help the museum tell the story of how aircraft play a roll in protecting our communities.”
Draughon said Neptune's mechanics were preparing the aircraft for museum display.
The National Museum of Forest Service History has also been preparing for Tanker 12’s arrival. The plane will be on exhibit along the museum's Forest Discovery Trail near the planned National Conservation Legacy Center.
“Moving the aircraft is no simple task – we need to remove fences, shore up bridges, and make sure the soil is dry enough to handle the weight of the 49,500 pound plane,” Tate said. “The team at the Missoula airport has been instrumental in making sure that T12’s journey is safe.”
Back in 2017, Neptune donated Tanker 10 to the Missoula Montana Airport. The aircraft now sits on display at the airport entry.
“Adding an aerial firefighting aircraft to the permanent display at the museum is a great way to showcase how aircraft are used as a tool for wildland fire fighting,” Tate said of Tanker 12.