Retired Navy captain Frank P. Brown, 74, whose career in the Navy as an officer and civilian worker spanned more than 40 years, died of cancer Saturday at the Besthesda Naval Hospital.

During World War II Capt. Brown served in the Pacific Theater as a naval aviator. During a part of 1944 and 1945 he was in charge of the operation and maintainence of advance naval air bases in the Philippines.

After the war his assignments included that of flight instructor at Pensacola, Fla., and executive officer of the Naval Air Development Center in Johnsville, Pa.

Capt. Brown moved to Washington in 1950 and became head of the technical services branch of the guided missile division of the bureau of aeronautics.

From 1953 to 1957 he served as assistant inspector general of the Navy, as head of the industrial group in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

He retired from active duty in 1958 but remained with the Navy for 10 years as a civilian employe. He worked, until his retirement in 1969, as director of the industrial methods division, Navy management office, office of chief of navy material and con-currently as a member of the Navy's shipyard appraisal study group.

Capt. Brown was born in Philadelphia and earned an engineering degree at Drexel University. He received his naval commission and became a naval aviator in 1927.

During his training period Capt. Brown became one of the first Navy pilots to fly a rigid rotor helicopter.

He is survived by his wife, Mikel-Helene, of the home in McLean, and a son, Frank Jr., of Los Angeles.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Washington National Cathedral Building Fund, or the Vienna, Va., chapter of the American Cancer Society.