By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – One of the stars at this weekend’s North Mississippi Aviation Expo is more than 75 years old with a rich history.
The “Attu Warrior” is a World War II-era long-range patrol bomber, one of about three dozen remaining. It will be on display and open for tours Saturday and Sunday at the expo next to the Tupelo Regional Airport.
Restored by Dave Hansen, the plane is operated and maintained by the Warbird Warriors Foundation in Heber City, Utah.
“We love showing it to people,” Hansen said, “because not many know about it.”
The Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon twin-engine plane was one of a series of aircraft that Lockheed designed and built during World War II that included the Hudson, Ventura and Lodestar.
It could carry up to 6,000 pounds of bombs, plus eight rockets under its wings.
“It had as much ordinance as a B-17,” Hansen said. “But the B-17 had about 800 horsepower (more).”
The “Attu Warrior” was named to honor those who served on her while stationed on the Aleutian Islands during the war.
The plane had a maximum speed of 282 mph, with a ceiling of about 24,000 feet.
But Hansen doesn’t fly the plane that fast or that high often, since it takes two 55-gallon drums of oil to fill up the plane and it burns about 120 gallons of aviation fuel an hour.
“It can cost up to $2,500 an hour to keep it flying,” he said.
Expo visitors will be able to climb into the plane and take a look at some of the authentic equipment Hansen has put in the plane, including a restored top gun turret. The plane carried as many as nine .50-caliber machine guns – including the two in the turret.
“It’s all original equipment in the plane,” Hansen said.
The plane also will fly as part of a “missing man” formation Saturday immediately following the 6 p.m. petal drop to honor Vietnam War veterans.
• When: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
• What: New and vintage aircraft on display. Helicopter rides also will be available. Petal drop Saturday at 6 p.m. to honor Vietnam War veterans
• More information on the Attu Warrior, visit www.warbirdwarriors.org
• More information on Expo: Leslie Pearman at (662) 489-8331