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[NNAM.1977.009.001] Aircraft - 'P5M-2S/SP-5B Marlin Acquired'
P5M-2S (SP-5B) on Display
P5M-2S/SP-5B Marlin Acquired
Accession Number NNAM.1977.009.001
Accession Date 17/03/1977
Creator Creator Role
Date Created 1956
Object Desciption One of the first batch of P5M-2s, the display aircraft was accepted by the Navy in May 1956 and joined its first squadron, Air Development Squadron (VX) 1, the following month. During its ensuing eleven year career with the fleet, this aircraft served in a number of patrol squadrons, finishing its active career with Patrol Squadron (VP) 40, which in 1967 became the last squadron in the U.S. Navy to make an operational deployment with flying boats. Despite its routine service career, the museum's aircraft was destined to be special. At the conclusion of the last seaplane deployment, during which VP-40 flew patrol missions off the coast of South Vietnam as part of Operation Market Time, the squadron's SP-5Bs flew from the Philippines to Japan, where most were scrapped. Some of their number survived and, as destiny would have it, one of them was the aircraft on display. As the end of 1967 approached and the phasing out of the Marlins continued, the Navy decided to have one final curtain call for Navy flying boat operations. Because at the time they were the only big boat crew in the Navy to possess "Alpha" status signifying their complete qualification in all phases of antisubmarine warfare, the crew of the museum's aircraft was chosen to fly the ceremonial last flight. Thus, on 6 November 1967, in a final tribute to flying boat operations in the U.S. Navy, the aircraft made one last pass over Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island and splashed down in the waters of San Diego Bay.

Little did the crew know that they would have one more flight in their aircraft's aging airframe, a flight into history. Just eight days after the final touchdown in San Diego, the Smithsonian Institution requested that one of the Navy's fast disappearing SP-5Bs be earmarked for use in the institution's proposed National Armed Forces Museum Park. Chosen for this honor was none other than the aircraft that had made the "last" flight over San Diego. On 6 July 1968, it departed North Island bound for Naval Air Test Center (NATC) Patuxent River, Maryland. Following a stop at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, the aircraft concluded its final flight with a water landing at Patuxent River. On 12 July 1968, she was formally turned over to the Smithsonian Institution.

For the next several years, nothing was done with the historic Marlin. However, on 14 March 1975, with the concept of a National Armed Forces Museum Park having failed to materialize, the Smithsonian Institution transferred the aircraft to the Naval Air Systems Command. That same day, seeing an opportunity for a rare jewel, then Naval Aviation Museum Director Captain Grover Walker requested that it be assigned to the Naval Aviation Museum. Transferred by barge to NAS Pensacola, the last of the big boats was accessioned into the museum's aircraft collection in 1977.
SP-5B Taking Off in San Diego
SP-5B Following Last Flight
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