Photo (c) Roy Blewett

Air Tanker Identification & Photos

U.S. airtankers

00 Aero Union Corp P-3A N900AU 5104   PHOTO
01 Aero Union Corp SP-2H N701AU 726-7190   PHOTO
02 Aero Union Corp C-54A N11712 3088; became C-FBAJ   PHOTO
03 Aero Union Corp - - not assigned   NO PHOTO
04 Neptune, Inc - - not assigned   NO PHOTO
05 Neptune, Inc P-2E N96278 426-5340   PHOTO , 2, 3
06 Neptune, Inc P-2E N9855F 426-5326   PHOTO
07 Estrella Warbirds Museum P-2E N807NA 426-5305 Ex/N1386K PHOTO
09 Neptune, Inc P-2H N4235T 726-7285 Crashed 01Sep08 PHOTO
10 Neptune, Inc P-2H N4235N 726-7158 Preserved @Missoula PHOTO
11 Neptune, Inc P-2H N14447 826-8010 Crashed 03Jun12 PHOTO
12 Neptune, Inc P-2H N96264 426-5192   PHOTO
13 Aero Union Corp C-54D N62342 10613; became C-FBAK   PHOTO
14 Aero Union Corp C-54E N62297 27328   PHOTO
15 Aero Union Corp C-54G N2742G 36089   PHOTO
16 Aero Union Corp SP-2H N716AU 726-7065   PHOTO #2
17 Aero Union Corp P-3A N917AU 5036   PHOTO
18 Aero Union Corp SP-2H N718AU 726-7214   PHOTO
20 Aero Union Corp P-3A N920AU 5039   PHOTO
21 Aero Union Corp P-3A N921AU 5098   PHOTO
22 Aero Union Corp P-3A N922AU 5100 2018: opb Buffalo Aws PHOTO
23 Aero Union Corp P-3A N923AU 5085 2018: opb Airstrike PHOTO
25 Aero Union Corp P-3A N925AU 5074 2018: opb Airstrike PHOTO
26 Aero Union Corp P-3B N926AU 5171; cr. 20Apr05   PHOTO
27 Aero Union Corp P-3A N927AU 5082   PHOTO
30 International Air Response, Inc. C-130A N116TG 3086; cr. 06Sep00 Crash report on ASN PHOTO
31 International Air Response, Inc. C-130A N117TG 3018   PHOTO
32 International Air Response, Inc. C-130 N118TG 3219   PHOTO
33 International Air Response, Inc. DC-7B N4887C 45351   PHOTO
37 Hirth Air Tankers PV-2 N7458C 15-1200; stored   PHOTO
38 Hirth Air Tankers PV-2 N6856C 15-1156; cr. 20Apr97   PHOTO
39 Hirth Air Tankers PV-2 N7080C 15-1465; for sale   PHOTO
42 Neptune Inc P-2H N442NA 7286 Ex Bu 150283, N712AU
crashed 25Apr09
43 Neptune Inc P-2H N443NA 7168 Ex H&P, T139 PHOTO
44 Neptune, Inc P-2E N1386C 426-5268   PHOTO
45 Neptune Inc P-2H N445NA 7102
2018 to Yankee Air Museum
Ex H&P, T140.
In 2006 it was allocated T45.
48 Minden Air SP-2H N4692A 726-7247 Scrapped at Fresno
in 2016
49 SLAFCO Inc PBY-6A N2886D 2104   PHOTO
53 SLAFCO Inc PBY-5A N9505C 34027   PHOTO
55 Minden Air Inc P-2V N355MA 726-7229   PHOTO
60 Erickson Aero Air DC-7B N838D 45347 see note below PHOTO
62 Erickson Aero Air DC-7 N401US 45145 see note below PHOTO
63 TBM, Inc C-130A N473TM 3081 To Castle Air Museum, reported Nov.2015 PHOTO
64 TBM, Inc C-130A N466TM 3173   PHOTO
65 TBM, Inc C-54E N8502R 27367 Ferried 02Aug08 to Fairbanks for Brooks PHOTO
66 Erickson Aero Air DC-7 N6353C 45486 see note below PHOTO
67 Butler Aircraft Svcs DC-7 N6318C 44282 Scrapped 2007, pics PHOTO
67 TBM, Inc C-130A N531BA 3139   PHOTO
68 TBM, Inc DC-6 N90739 43044 Scrapped 2007, pics PHOTO
70 Cal Fire S-2T N427DF 326C   PHOTO
71 CDF S-2A N443DF 195 replaced PHOTO
71 Cal Fire S-2T N432DF 112C   PHOTO
72 Cal Fire S-2T N435DF 329C   PHOTO
73 Cal Fire S-2T N437DF 123C   PHOTO
74 CDF S-2A N411DF 476 Wheels up landing 20Jul01,
preserved Paso Robles museum
74 Cal Fire S-2T N439DF 129C   PHOTO
75 CDF S-2 N420DF 388 replaced;fate? PHOTO 1
75 Cal Fire S-2T N444DF 187C   PHOTO
76 CDF S-2 N417DF 061   PHOTO
77 CDF S-2 N423DF 246   PHOTO
78 CDF S-2 N412DF 222   PHOTO
79 CDF S-2   c/n??? Identity? PHOTO?
80 CDF S-2A N404DF 455   PHOTO
81 CDF S-2A N447DF 417   PHOTO
82 Cal Fire S-2T N422DF 286C   PHOTO
83 Cal Fire S-2T N424DF 289C   PHOTO
84 CDF S-2A N443DF 195   PHOTO
85 Flying Firemen PBY-5A N85U 64041   PHOTO
86 Cal Fire S-2T N433DF 0865-011/?   PHOTO
88 Cal Fire S-2T N426DF 293C   PHOTO
89 Cal Fire S-2T N425DF 294C   PHOTO
90 CDF S-2A N450DF 421; cr 27Aug01   PHOTO
90 Cal Fire S-2T N434DF 0382-034/?   PHOTO
91 Cal Fire S-2T N428DF 137C   PHOTO
92 CDF S-2A N428DF 255 crashed 27Aug01 PHOTO
93 Cal Fire S-2T N450DF (2) 228C   PHOTO
94 CDF S-2A N404DF 175 preserved @Weed Apr,CA since Aug05 PHOTO
94 Cal Fire S-2T N442DF 259C   PHOTO
95 CDF S-2A N448DF 684   PHOTO
96 CDF S-2A N443DF 195   PHOTO
97 Hawkins & Powers KC-97 N1365N 16729   PHOTO
98 SLAFCO PBY-5A N31235 1788   PHOTO
99 Minden Air Inc P-2H N299MA 726-7211; cr. 03Oct03   PHOTO
100 CDF S-2A N436DF 445   PHOTO
100 Cal Fire S-2T N441DF 277c ex/ S-2G 152808 PHOTO
102 Central Air Service C-54E N816D 27376   PHOTO
105 Central Air Service C-54D N96454 10864   PHOTO
109 Central Air Service C-54D N6816D 27368   PHOTO
111 Central Air Service C-54E N96541 10592   PHOTO
115 Airborne Fire Attack PBY-6A N324FA 2162   PHOTO
117 Central Air Service DC-4 N31356 42914; sold   PHOTO
119 ARDCO C-54G N406WA 35944; for sale   PHOTO
121 Hawkins & Powers PB4Y-2 N2871G 66302; for sale   PHOTO
123 Hawkins & Powers PB4Y-2 N7620C 66260; cr. 18Jul02   PHOTO
124 Hawkins & Powers PB4Y-2 N2872G 66300; for sale   PHOTO
126 Hawkins & Powers PB4Y-2 N7962C 59882; for sale   PHOTO
127 Hawkins & Powers PB4Y-2 N6884C 59701; for sale   PHOTO
131 Hawkins & Powers C-130A N131HP 3142   PHOTO
133 Hawkins & Powers C-130A N133HP 3189   PHOTO
134 Coulson EC-130Q N134CG 4904 Cvtd 2017, reg'd on 18Jan18. BuN.161496 PHOTO
138 Hawkins & Powers P-2T N138HP 7223; turbo conversion not completed   PHOTO
139 Hawkins & Powers P-2H N139HP 7168 To Neptune Inc, 2006,
became T43
140 Hawkins & Powers P-2H N140HP 7102 To Neptune Inc, 2006,
became T45
141 Evergreen Helicopters P2V-5 N202EV 526-5383   PHOTO
142 Evergreen Helicopters P2V-5 N203EV 5228 To Neptune Inc,
143 Evergreen Helicopters P2V-5 N204EV 10665; not tanked? ex BuN.: 128378
preserved at Travis
144 Evergreen Helicopters P2V-5 N205EV 5212; not tanked?   PHOTO?
145 Neptune Inc P2V-5 N410NA 5367 ex N206EV T145 Evergreen PHOTO
146 Central Air Service C-54E N67061 10560   PHOTO
147 Central Air Service C-54D N67040 27232   PHOTO
148 Central Air Service C-54E N67062 10741   PHOTO
149 Central Air Service C-54D N67041 10665; not tanked   PHOTO?
150 Central Air Service C-54D N67034 22202   PHOTO
151 ARDCO C-54E N460WA 27359   PHOTO
152 ARDCO C-54D N9015Q 22178   PHOTO
154 Marsh Aviation S-2.. N736MA 645   PHOTO
155 Marsh Aviation S-2T N746MA 655   PHOTO
158 SLAFCO PBY-6A N9825Z 2177; for sale   PHOTO
160 Aero Flite C-54E N96358 27284   PHOTO
161 Aero Flite C-54G N82FA 35960   PHOTO
166 Hemet Valley Flying Srvc C-54G N90203 35934   PHOTO
215 North Carolina CL-215 N215NC ????   PHOTO
262 Aero Flite CL-215 N262NR 1081 Opb Minnesota Dept of Natural Resources PHOTO
263 Minnesota Dept of Natural Resources CL-215 N263NR 1082   PHOTO
264 Aero Flite CL-215 C-GFBP 1090 Ex/N264V, conv by Longview Act to
266 Minnesota Dept of
Natural Resources
CL-215 N266NR 1102   PHOTO

Federal Air Tanker List - 2007


To illustrate the tie and identification of airtanker numbers and tailnumber are not always straightforward, see this email on airtanker numbers used by H&P by a former crewmember:

"I have some insight on some of these aircraft, as I flew for H & P for some time. To solve the mystery of the various numbers, you will need to get with the USFS and/or USDA. For a few years, they had the practice of assigning tanker numbers.
There wasn't much logic involved in these numbers. As the various operators around the country would send in the paper work to register their aircraft for the up-coming fire season it would be given a number. If it already had a number, it stayed. But if you swapped an aircraft one year that didn't have a number, they would give it a number that was not used on the list.
As a result an operator might operate 6 aircraft and have tanker numbers 06, 123, 86, 29, 101, 137. If one became un-flyable before the next year, it did not pick up the number of the one it replaced. It might be 22, or any other of number you can think of.
In the case of N-numbers, they have nothing to do with serial number of the aircraft and can at best possible aid you in tracking the aircraft from year to year-sadly, however, may not have anything to do with a particular aircraft. I have seen some aircraft with a different tanker number every other year. Even some had a different N number every few years...
As you may have noticed, many of Gene's aircraft had N-numbers which ended in HP. At one time, he got a block of these numbers from the FAA. Those numbers were swapped around on various aircraft almost yearly!
It was simply a matter a writing the FAA a letter and officially moving the 'registration number' to a different aircraft.
I flew the C97 (B377), C-119 and PB4Y as well as other 'stuff' he might have around."


Hawkins & Powers, PB4Y - Tanker 125

Ed Brewer sent me, alongside some photos, a request for information on Campbell Airstrip, in Anchorage, Alaska:
"We are greatly interested in any information on Campbell Airstrip, in Anchorage, Alaska, that your readers may have.
The strip was built as a supplemental airstrip during WW2 and had a fairly large tent city during those years. We don't know what if any aircraft were actual on site (rather than at Elmendorf AFB).
The tract now has a recreational trail, named P38, on the old east side taxiway, as a memorial to the war years. It is used exclusively by dog mushers during the winter.
The tract was transferred to BLM who had support aircraft and water bombers on site during the 1960's - 1980's, until these functions were moved to Fairbanks.
Smoke jumpers were based here for a while and the Campbell Creek Science Center is built in one of their Drop Zones.
The airstrip proper is still active."
More photos on Photos by Friends & Guests, Page 12.



John Vogel noticed my interest in vintage aircraft and airtankers, so he sent some images along.
N446DF Tanker 94 CDF
N446DF was taken at Mather Field,CA in May 1996.
From my files I have that this is Grumman S-2A Tracket, c/n 175 ex/ BuNo 133204.

N447DF Tanker 95 - twice! John wrote about this image: "There should be some S-2 aircraft preserved at Weed Airport, California since August 2005, but I am not really sure which aircraft might be there.
There might be a Tanker 94, but this is possibly not N446DF, but a different S-2 painted as tanker such...
I have noticed that the CDF has, from time to time, changed some of the tanker numbers on the S-2's: e.g. this photo shows 2 aircraft with tanker number 95!!
One of the aircraft is N447DF, the other is N406DF.
And I have pictures of N406DF as tanker 73, tanker 74, and tanker 95. And N447DF as tanker 93.
These are all the older S-2's, not the S-2T's (which is the only model the CDF now uses)."

Photo taken at McClellan Park in August 2007.
[N446DF c/n 175 was preserved at Weeds Airport, CDF had it replaced by BuNo 152826 - Webmaster]

Here are some more air tanker pictures, this time of N443DF (c/n 195).
Picture N443DF-1 is a scan from a slide, taken at Mather Field in February 1996. The tanker number is 71.
Picture N443DF-2 is a digital picture taken at McClellan Park - the former McClellan AFB, and now the home of the CDF air tanker fleet (during the winter months) - taken August 2006. The tanker number is now 84.
Pictures N443DF-3 and -4 are digital pictures taken in May 2007, and show the tanker at the Pacific Coast Air Museum, Santa Rosa, California. It was flown to the Museum in November 2006.

N443DF T71
N443DF T84
N443DF T84 CDF
N443DF Tanker 84
N436DF S-2 airtanker 100
Top picture of Grumman S-2A N436DF (c/n 445) was taken at Rancho Murietta, California in July 91. Note that the tanker is in the old CDF yellow/green color.
Below pictures of N436DF was taken at Mather in August 2007. It appears the doors in the bottom of the aircraft have been removed. The registration had been painted over.

Tanker 100 CDF

See also my photos of a 2008 visit to CDF airtanker base at Hemet-Ryan,CA

Jim Long sent this photo of a Grumman F7F Tigercat, reconfigured as an airtanker...
F7F Tigercat

Jim wrote": I have been going through some of my aircraft slides from the late 1970's.  I was looking for one particular slide, but came across some air tankers slides I took from at our airport here in Santa Rosa (Charles M. Schulz). Here is one of the F7F's that operated out of here."
I don't know what tailnumber belongs to Airtanker E43; anyone?

The Grumman F7F Tigercat was the first twin-engined fighter aircraft to enter service with the United States Navy. Designed for the new Midway-class aircraft carriers, the aircraft were too large to operate from earlier decks. Although delivered to United States Marine Corps (USMC) combat units before the end of World War II, the Tigercat did not see combat service in that war. Most F7Fs ended up in land-based service, as attack aircraft or night fighters; only the later F7F-4N was certified for carrier service. They saw service in the Korean War and were withdrawn from service in 1954.

Jim continued with more photos...
Tanker 34 on a mission
Tanker 34 on a mission...
Tanker 9s laning at Santa Rosa
Tanker 92 over the threshold at Santa Rosa.
Tanker 65 at Sta Rosa on standby

b-17 tanker

Information from the Goleta Air & Space Museum ('virtual'), which offers a generous selection of photos and individual B-17 tanker histories:
B-17G-95-DL, N5237V tanker 65. It was delivered to the U. S. Army Air Corps as 44-83868 and was transferred to the U. S. Navy as PB-1W, BuNo 77233.
American Compressed Steel Corporation of Dallas, Texas acquired it in December 1957 and gave it its current registration. It sat unconverted at the Dallas-Love Airport for two years.
Carstedt Air of Long Beach,CA made an unsuccessful bid to purchase it, reserving the registration N6466D for it, but never taking it up.
Aero Union Corporation of Chico,CA bought it in 1960. Butler Farm Air (later Butler Aircraft Company) of Redmond, Oregon acquired it in 1963 and flew it as tanker E15, F15, and #65.
TBM Incorporated of Sequoia,CA bought it in 1979.
It was restored to stock configuration at Sequoia and flown to RAF Brize Norton, UK in 1983. It arrived at the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon,England on 09Dec83.
While now named Mary Alice, wearing serial 44-83868, it is on static display at the American Air Museum in England at Duxford.

Tanker 90 over the threshold


Canadian airtankers

No. Operator Aircraft Type Registration C/n Remarks Photo
1 Prov of Saskatchewan CS2F-2 C-GEHP DH-97   PHOTO
2 Prov of Saskatchewan Conair Firecat C-GWHK 16 (DH-37)   PHOTO
3 Prov of Saskatchewan CS2F-2 C-GEHR DH-51   PHOTO REQ'D
4 Prov. of Saskatchewan CS2F-2 C-GEQC DH-53   PHOTO
5 Prov. of Saskatchewan CS2F-2 C-GEQD DH-98   PHOTO
6 Prov. of Saskatchewan CS2F-3 C-GEQE DH-92   PHOTO
43 Conair DC-6B C-GHCB 44893/647   PHOTO
44 Conair Convair 580 C-FFKF 179   PHOTO
45 Conair Convair 580 C-FEKF 80   PHOTO
46 Conair DC-6B C-GHLY 45501/953   PHOTO
47 Conair Convair 580 C-FKFB 57   PHOTO
48 Conair Convair 580 C-FKFY 129   PHOTO
49 Conair Convair 580 F/SCD C-FKFL 465   PHOTO
50 Conair DC-6A C-GKUG 45177/859 N501XY PHOTO
51 Conair DC-6A/C C-GIBS 45531/1015 N501YP PHOTO
52 Conair Convair 580 C-FKFA 100   PHOTO
53 Conair Convair 580 C-GKFO 78   PHOTO
54 Conair Convair 580 C-FKFM 70   PHOTO
55 Conair Convair 580 C-FHKF 374   PHOTO
60 Conair L.188A C-FYYJ 60   PHOTO
63 Conair Conair Firecat C-GWUO 63   PHOTO
64 Conair Conair Firecat C-FOPU 64   PHOTO
66 Conair Conair Firecat C-FOPV 66   PHOTO
67 Conair Conair Firecat C-GABC 011   PHOTO
68 Conair Conair Firecat C-GWUP 012   PHOTO
69 Conair Conair Firecat C-FOPY 019   PHOTO
70 Conair Conair Firecat C-GYQI 030   PHOTO
71 Conair Conair Firecat C-GHPJ 022   PHOTO
73 Conair Conair Firecat C-GHDY 029   PHOTO
74 Conair Conair Firecat C-FEFK 014   PHOTO
75 Conair Conair Firecat C-FEFX 031   PHOTO
76 Conair Conair Firecat C-FJOH 034   PHOTO
201 Conair CL-215-1A10 C-GFSK 1085   PHOTO
202 Conair CL-215-1A10 C-GFSL 1086   PHOTO ?
203 Conair CL-215-1A10 C-GFSM 1098   PHOTO ?-
204 Conair CL-215-1A10 C-GFSN 1099   PHOTO ?
214 (35) Prov. of Saskatchewan CL-215-1A10 C-FYWO 1003   PHOTO REQ'D
215 Prov. of Saskatchewan CL-215-1A10 C-FYXG 1009   PHOTO
216 Prov. of Saskatchewan CL-215-1A10 C-FAFN 1093   PHOTO REQ'D
217 Prov.of Saskatchewan CL-215-1A10 C-FAFO 1094   PHOTO REQ'D
218 Prov. of Saskatchewan CL-215-1A10 C-FAFP 1100   PHOTO
219 Prov.of Saskatchewan CL-215-1A10 C-FAFQ 1101   PHOTO REQ'D
290 Buffalo Aws CL-215-1A10 C-GBYU 1083   PHOTO
291 Buffalo Aws CL-215-1A10 C-GBPD 1084   PHOTO
295 Buffalo Aws CL-215-1A10 C-GCSX 1088   PHOTO
296 Viking Air CL-215-1A10 C-GDHN 1089   PHOTO
298 Buffalo Aws CL-215-1A10 C-FTXB 1007   PHOTO
299 Buffalo Aws CL-215-1A10 C-GFNF 1027   PHOTO ?
703 Buffalo Aws PBY-5A Canso C-FOFI CV-343   PHOTO
708 Buffalo Aws PBY-5A Canso C-FUAW CV-201   PHOTO
714 Buffalo Aws PBY-5A Canso C-FPQM CV-425   PHOTO
776 Buffalo Aws PBY-5A Canso C-GFFC CV-483   PHOTO

Kit Robinson ('Kitzky992002') wrote a nice explanation on the 'Airtanker Yahoo forum (June 2013):
"The Canadian numbering system is as follows:
Canadair CL-215, 215T, 415 are all in the 200 series.; e.g. ex/ Alberta #201, Ontario #277, Quebec #238.
300-series numbers were assigned to the A-26's of Air Spray and Conair, e.g. ex/Airspray #314, Conair #321. Both Airspray and Conair only displayed two numbers on the aircraft during there firefighting careers.

Heavy Tankers Convair 580's, DC-4's, DC-6's, Lockheed L-188's are numbered in the 400's; e.g. ex/ Convair 580 #445, #471, L-188's #460, #482, DC-6 #452, DC-4 #457.
S-2 Trackers and Firecats were numbered in the 500's, e.g. ex/ Conair #562, Saskatchewan #505, Ontario #559. Conair and Ontario only displayed two numbers on there aircraft.

AT-802's and Fireboss aircraft are numbered in the 600's (ex #699) again Conair and FPL only carried two numbers on the aircraft.

The 700 series of numbers is no longer used I believe as those numbers were assigned to PBY's or Cansos (ex- Buffalo #714). Conair or Skyway TBM's as well as FPL TBM's were also numbered in the 600's (ex-#612). Conair displayed just two numbers on the engine cowling but had the entire number on the top of the tail.

The Hawaiian Mars warrants an extra word: the number #223 on Hawaii was first used on the aircraft in 2009, while operating in Southern California; the number was mainly used while operating in the USA.
She has kept this number while operating in Canada as well, as it does fit with the Canadairs which also operate in the 200 series.
2013 will be the last year for the Mars in operations with the B.C. Forest Service. She is operating as Tanker #823 this year but I don't know if the number was painted on the aircraft or not.
I photographed her in 2008 at Shasta Lake and she was looking sharp with the big USFS logo on the nose of the aircraft but still no Tanker number! It wasn't until the following year that she started wearing Tanker #223 on the rear fuselage."
Thanks to Kit for this explanation!
(See my report on a 2010 visit to Sproat Lake and the Martin Mars).


Ken Kula wrote me: "I just passed through your airborne tanker web pages and I saw you needed some Conair Firecat photos. I saw 4 in action during the Abbotsford BC Canada air show in August 2009."
Firecats by Ken 'K-air' Kula
Conair (Firecat) Tanker 69 is C-FOPY (c/n 019), Tanker 74 is C-FEFK (c/n 014),
Tanker 75 is C-FEFX (c/n 031) and Tanker 76 is C-FJOH (c/n 34)

North American Survivors, by Roy Blewett "North American Survivors" by Roy Blewett (Gatwick Aviation Society, 2005) is an excellent handbook to take out on the road or use at home as a reference guide.
It offers status and information on vintage transports (both propellor and jets) and are listed by Canadian and US States; there are three appendixes covering aircraft in Mexico, a listing of extant Beech 18s and “US Army Air Force Skytrains and Skytroopers; where are they now?”.
The book is in easy to use A5 format and fits easy in any size of bag. The 358 pages offer a huge amount of information and is of great use in planning a trip to N.America.
I hope others will follow in the example set by this book.

Helpful links:
Iwan Bogel's comprehensive list on
Airtanker Photo Pages
P-3 Referential

Photothread on WIX by mr Stein, a treasure trove of historic images:
Click on photo for link to WIX forum

South America

Daniel Arispe sent me these photos of Chilean P-2 CH-CHU, Tanker 03

Click to enlarge

Click on thumbnail
"Tanker 03 was brought to AUC in 1999 and is currently (2005) in Chile. Its registration is CC-CHU and belongs to Heliworks Ltda., a Chilean company.
The photos are from Feb.2000."
A photo was sent to me, showing Tanker 03 pre-2000, which I added on my Photos by Friends & Guests (14)

New kids on the block..

Matt James wrote me in Feb.2012:
"I just wanted to let you know that there is now a Tanker 40, it is a BAe 146-200A and it is being operated by Neptune Aviation. The N Number is N146FF. The construction number E2049.
There is a second BAE 146 being transformed into an airtanker, but there is no information on it as of yet."

The following was published on (25May2017)-
"Neptune Aviation's latest BAe-146 Tanker #15 N477NA became operational and is reported at Cedar City,UT tonight (5-25).
This makes it the 8th BAe-146 operated by Neptune; current fleet consists of the following aircraft:
#01 N473NA
#02 N474NA
#03 N475NA
#10 N472NA
#12 N476NA
#15 N477NA
#40 N146FF
#41 N471NA
Neptune should have at least one more aircraft converted soon, this should be Tanker #16 N478NA.
Sadly with this number of jets the company can finally retire their P2V Neptunes. The Jet Age is truly here and with the retirement of the remaining Neptune aircraft at the end of this season only the DC-7 will remain as the only large reciprocal Tanker... but whose days are numbered as well."


On 12Dec12 this website published the takeover of Butler by Erickson Aero Air:
--Aero Air buys Butler, intends to convert 7 MD-87s into air tankers--
Aero Air of Hillsboro, Oregon, has purchased the air tanker operations of Butler Aircraft from Travis Garnick.
Aero Air acquired Butler’s three DC-7 air tankers ( (N401US, N838D, N6353C; reg'd to 'Corsair Two LLC' -Webmaster) , support equipment, and spare parts in Madras, Oregon.
They will take over the lease of Butler’s new city-owned hangar at the Madras Municipal Airport (map) as well as the contracts with the state of Oregon for the three air tankers. The company did not have a contract with the US Forest Service for the DC-7s.
Kevin McCullough, now the President of Aero Air, and Jack Erickson, founder and former owner of Erickson Air-Crane, became co-owners of Aero Air in 1998 and since then have been growing the company.
After Mr. Erickson sold Erickson Air-Crane to ZM Private Equity Fund in 2007, they began talking about getting into the air tanker business. A couple of years ago they decided to go with MD-87s and pulled together teams to develop a tank design and to handle obtaining the supplemental type certificate (STC) from the FAA.
(N756Z was registered that same date (27Dec12) to another part of the group, Aero Air LLC; photo on my USA 2012 Report. -Webmaster)

Added some photos taken at Madras by Larry Kraus on my page Photos by Friends & Guests (36)


The following insight was provided by Ken Swartz, on the status of airtankers in Canada & USA:
Fire fighting aircraft in Canada are primarily contracted by the provinces and territories who are responsible for natural resources.

Canada had always had long term aircraft contracts - 5 or 10 years - whereas the US used to have 1 or 2 year contracts. Longer contracts help support more R&D and more comprehensive engineering and maintenance programs.
In the US, the Federal Government owns a lot of land in the States, such as National Forests, and is the primary contracting agency for large fire fighting air tankers and helicopters. Only a few states like Alaska and Oregon contract large tankers.

In the USA, large air tankers are contracted by the US Forest Service, which cut its fleet from 44 aircraft to nine aircraft between the time the wings broke off the C-130 and PB4Y and about 2012 when just the P2V remained in service.
The USFS eliminated a lot of older airliner and military tanker aircraft from its tanker list in the 2000 to 2012 list.

The 'new generation' tanker program was launched about 5 years ago, which was originally limited to jets only, but Coulson contested the bid and was able to win a contract for the C-130Q - a turboprop.
The USFS fleet now includes Neptune Aviation and Minden P2Vs, Neptune BAE146, Erickson MD-83, Conair/Aeroflite RJ85 and Coulson C-130. Another contract for more aircraft was expected soon, but the USFS had its operating budget cut by 10%.

The USFS is also getting 8 C-130s from the US Coast Guard to operate as air tankers and now has at least 2 of Aeroflite's 4 CL.415 on contract, as well as 1 or 2 DC-10 heavy airtankers.
The Bureau of Land Management contracts Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT) including Air Tractors.
CALFIRE has its own tanker fleet and contracts some additional helicopters and sometimes a large tanker.
Washington and Oregon contract SEATS including Fireboss and Oregon also uses two DC-7.

Air Spray of Red Deer, Alberta (Canada) expanded into the USA to grow their company. They took over the Chico base, abandoned after the demise of Aero Union, about 5 years ago (2012) and now use it as a maintenance base for about 8 Air Tractor AT-801F and FireBoss aircraft, for deployment in Washington and Oregon.
They have also used it for their BAe 146-200 conversion program, which has progressed very slowly because of a change in certification requirements for new air tankers.
One L.188 Electra of AirSpray, based in the NWT, was used in Oregon a couple years ago and another Electra in Chico has been used by California.
The Fort McMurray in Alberta last year fire proved the value of the Electra. While their days in the USA may be numbered as airtankers, they will continue to serve in Canada.
Buffalo are now operating 2 Electras. Last year was the last time the DC-4 crews of Buffalo trained, but they did not respond to any fires.

Ken Swartz wrote me in April 2020 a 'sit-rep' on Air Tanker organisation in parts of Canada.
"The Government of Manitoba established a provincial air service in the late 1920s … which shut down in 2018.
In 2018, the Provincial Air Service was closed (after a change in government) which was operated Cessna Citation air ambulances, DHC-3Ts and CL215/415 water bombers.
Babcock got the contract and subcontracted Air Spray (1967) to operate the waterbombers.
I don’t think there have been any sightings on Manitoba CL-215/415s at Red Deer, so Air Spray probably maintains the aircraft in Manitoba.
This is similar to Conair operating Alberta’s CL-215Ts (maintained in Abbotsford) and Buffalo Airways operating the NWT’s Air Tractor 802F Fireboss fleets."
Ken provided this list (pdf): Air Spray (1967) Ltd_Fleet List_20200425


This was published on Yahoo's Airtanker forum in April 2017: change continues...
"Here are a few new Tankers that are scheduled to make their debut for the 2017 season.
Neptune Aviations BAE-146 Tanker #15 (N477NA ), Air Spray BAE-146 Tanker #170 (N907AS) will begin testing in the next few weeks.
There are currently three BAE-146's at Chico for Air Spray, Tanker #170 and #171 are currently in the hanger while the third 146 outside the hanger will become Tanker #172.
Airspray will convert an additional three aircraft for a total of six aircraft, they will be numbered from 170-175, they will eventually replace the L-188 fleet at Airspray and will operate with numbers in the 400 series while operating in Canada 470-475.
Coulson should have their second L-100 completed and ready to go very soon; this aircraft will be Tanker #133. Remember this is the last year for the venerable P2 Neptune so put them on your priority list for photos this season.
Posted by: fire.bombers (yahoo dotcom)

More 'new kids on the block': Coulson Flying Tankers with Lockheed C-130/L-100-30 aircraft!
This is what Randie Coulter sent me 18Apr2017 after he noted Coulson's Tankers 131, 132 and, introducing, tanker 133 at Reno-Tahoe Int'l Airport early april 2017:
"I just talked with Bryan Baker, a friend of mine. He informed me that both of the 382G's are leased from Lynden Air Cargo.
I asked if he knew of any future plans regarding them and he stated that he did not know if they were going to try and purchase them at a future date or not.
As to Coulson's tanker 134? She is another EC-130Q and is being converted at the moment in Arizona.
So, when all is said and done COULSON will have two EC-130Q's (shorties) and two 382G's (stretched).
As a side note, Neptune will be keeping 2 P2V's in tanker configuration for possible air show demo flights.
They are looking at applications from museums for the remainder of the fleet, except for P2V tanker 10; they are keeping her as a gate guard at Missoula!"

A bit of background here:
T131 is N130FF - T132 is N405LC (per ATDB) and new kid on the block (not yet listed T133 is N402LC.
FAA's N-inquiry has N402LC still reg’d to Lynden Air Cargo (reg 24Mar2016), so this is a lease.
Perhaps until T134 (see is converted and operational..?
The identity (N-number) of Coulson’s T134 is welcomed, btw...

And an update (2017) on
"Coulson's two L-100's arrived at Reno/Stead Sunday afternoon (april 23rd).
Tanker #133 (N402LC) was parked in reload pit 2 and did look like she was conducting loading operations
(water ?).
Tanker #132(N405LC) arrived and was parked near the tower; both aircraft were still on field as of 16:00 and looked like they were staying overnight.
C-130Q Tanker #131 did not arrive at Reno/Stead and was still at Reno/Tahoe international as of 12:30 on Sunday, april 23rd."
"Reno/Stead Tanker base is not open yet, but #132 & #133 are reloaded from a fire hydrant just to the South of pit 2. Coulson's C-130Q Tanker #131 (N130FF) is at Reno International Airport and has yet to fly." - April 25th.

Another update (25may17) on fire.bombers (atyahoo dot com):
"Coulson's first 737-300 was rolled out of the paint shop in Spokane,WA today and will now undergo tank conversion. Aircraft is N617SW (former Southwest 737) and will operate as Tanker #137.
Paint scheme sure looks a lot like Global Supertankers!
Coulson has purchased 6 ex-Southwest 737's for the transformation into Tankers."

And an update by July 2017: C-130Q BuNo. serial 161496 (c/n 4904) was transported from a salvage yard at Davis-Monthan AFB, it was transported by road to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway on 26May17.
This is to become Tanker 134!

I was stonewalled upon my visit in Oct.2017 here at KIWA.

That may be C-130Q BuNo.161496 hiding in there.


2018 developments (update 21Mar2018):
"Forest Service cuts air tankers by one-third
The agency also intends to abandon the project to convert Coast Guard HC-130H aircraft into air tankers." [February 16, 2018]

"Forest Service to abandon Coast Guard HC-130H program
Transfer and conversion of seven Coast Guard HC-130H aircraft into air tankers for the Forest Service is to be cancelled." [February 16, 2018]


(Originally published at 8:55 p.m. MDT March 23, 2018)
Following was published on
"In 1947 the first P2V Neptune flew for the U.S. Navy serving in the maritime patrol and anti-submarine role. In 2017, 70 years later, the last P2V’s to work as air tankers in the United States retired. As the U.S. Forest Service contract for what they called “legacy” air tankers expired, Neptune Aviation transtioned their fleet of war birds to aircraft several decades younger, jet-powered BAe-146 airliners. After working out some early bugs with the completely redesigned retardant delivery system, the newer quad-jets have performed admirably.

Neptune  announced today that it has found new homes for its venerable fleet of P2V’s.

"Over the last two years 14 different organizations submitted official proposals to Neptune Aviation to acquire our retiring P2V airtankers," according to Dan Snyder, Neptune Aviation Services’ Chief Operating Officer. "After a significate amount of coordination with museums and airports I’m happy to announce the locations for the retired P2V fleet."

–Alamogordo Airport/ALM (Alamogordo, New Mexico)
N203EV (former Evergreen Tanker 142)

–Estrella Warbirds Museum (Paso Robles, California)
Tanker 07 (P2V-5)

–Glendive Airport/GDV (Glendive, Montana)
Tanker 05 (P2V-5)

–T61 Memorial & Klamath Falls Air Base (Lakeview, Oregon)
Tanker 06 (P2V-5)

–Yankee Air Museum (Belleville, Michigan)
Tanker 45 (P2V-7)

–San Diego Air & Space Museum (San Diego California)
Tanker 43 (P2V-7)

The P2V began aerial firefighting services during the 1970’s, when the U.S. Navy began to phase the aircraft out of service. Missoula based Neptune Aviation Services has operated the P2V since 1993. In fact, Neptune had been the largest remaining civil or military operator of the aircraft, with as many as 10 under US Forest Service (USFS) contracts in a single year.



My 2018 visit to Sacramento-McClellan AP
OV-10 Bronco aircraft ready for the 2018 fire season in California. SEE MY REPORT

My 2018 visit to Sacramento-McClellan AP

'The U.S. Forest Service is cutting the number of large air tankers on exclusive use (EU) contracts this year from
20 to 13.
Operators include Aero Flite Inc (4x RJ85), 10 Tanker (2 DC10), Aero Air (2 MD87), Couslon Aircrane (1 C130) and
Neptune Aviation (4 BAe146).' Article link on


A new kid on the block! Airstrike Firefighters LLC has brought back some Lockheed P-3s (ex/ California's Aero Union) in operation to operate in the aerial firefighting business.

P-3 airtanker of Airstrike
P-3A Tanker #25 of Airstrike shared on a tweet. I am looking for a fleetlist of Airstrike Firefighters LLC.
I did see Tanker 21 at McClellan Airpark (near Sacramento,CA) recently; my 2018 report
Their website has images of T21 and T23. T21 was reg'd to Airstrike on 07Aug2018.
So we have resp. N925AU (c/n 5074; ex/ BuNo.151361), N921AU (c/n and N923AU (c/n 5085; ex/ BuNo.151372);
This Sacramento-based company is said to be refurbishing a fleet of six or seven airtankers to be used by
state and federal firefighting agencies. Good to see props remain in this business!
In August 2018 Airstrike Firefighters took on a contract with the State of Colorado to assign P-3 airtankers.
The FAA N-inquiry website still has N925AU T25 firmly registered to United Aeronautical Corporation.
N923AU T23 was reg'd 01Dec2017 to Airstrike Firefighters LLC, Kenmore,WA. Their Corporate HQ is in
Anchorage, AK according to their website, while their Maint'ce Facilities are at 3028 Peacekeeper Way, McClellan.

Compiled fleetlist on Photos by Friends & Guests #55; work in progress!
EMAIL subject '#airstrike'

State of affairs of piston-engined propliners in the US aerial firefighting industry per summer 2019!
Aero Air (Erickson Aero Tanker) has another year, maybe two on it's contract with the ODF (Oregon Department of Forestry) at Medford with DC-7 Tanker 62 (N401US). It is only a 75 day contract, so they normally wait until mid-July to begin standby at Medford.
Tanker 62 willprobably be on duty in Medford around July 15th.
DC-7B Tanker 60 (N838D) is also available for 'Call When Needed'-use by the ODF.
Both airplanes have flown a number of hours for crew training and check rides, most of which took place a few weeks ago. (Based on a quote I read on a forum somewhere, but forgot to copy the link...)


All French Turbo Firecats were grounded earlier this year (2020) due to a fault found in 2019 on the landing gear.
So the Sécurité Civile has taken the decision to ground their entire Turbo Firecat fleet with immediate effect.
This discovery has accelerated the gradual withdrawal of the type by a few years.
French Turbo Firecats grounded (2020)


This website is an excellent source of keeping abreast of air tanker news and opinions:
The basis of this page has been largely based on one of their pages.

Other helpful external links:
US Wildfire Air Tanker Base Directory 2019

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Last updated 25.Nov.2019