Lockheed Constellation

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Constellation
C-69.jpg
A USAF C-69, the military version of the Constellation
RoleAirliner
ManufacturerLockheed
First flightJanuary 9, 1943
Introduction1943 with USAAF
1945 with TWA
Retired1990s, airline service
1978, military
StatusVery limited use
Primary usersTrans World Airlines
Eastern Air Lines
Pan American World Airways
Air France
Produced1943–1958
Number built856
Developed fromL-044 Excalibur
VariantsL-049 Constellation
C-69 Constellation
L-649 Constellation
L-749 Constellation
L-1049 Super Constellation
C-121/R7V Constellation
R7V-2/YC-121F Constellation
EC-121 Warning Star
L-1649A Starliner
Developed intoLockheed XB-30 (Unbuilt)
 
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Constellation
C-69.jpg
A USAF C-69, the military version of the Constellation
RoleAirliner
ManufacturerLockheed
First flightJanuary 9, 1943
Introduction1943 with USAAF
1945 with TWA
Retired1990s, airline service
1978, military
StatusVery limited use
Primary usersTrans World Airlines
Eastern Air Lines
Pan American World Airways
Air France
Produced1943–1958
Number built856
Developed fromL-044 Excalibur
VariantsL-049 Constellation
C-69 Constellation
L-649 Constellation
L-749 Constellation
L-1049 Super Constellation
C-121/R7V Constellation
R7V-2/YC-121F Constellation
EC-121 Warning Star
L-1649A Starliner
Developed intoLockheed XB-30 (Unbuilt)

The Lockheed Constellation ("Connie") is a propeller-driven, four-engined airliner built by Lockheed Corporation between 1943 and 1958 at Burbank, California. 856 were built in numerous models, all with a triple-tail design and dolphin-shaped fuselage and most powered by four 18-cylinder Wright R-3350s. The Constellation was used as a civil airliner and as a military and civil air transport, seeing service in the Berlin Airlift and the Biafran airlift. It was the presidential aircraft for Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Design and development[edit]

Initial studies[edit]

Lockheed had been working on the L-044 Excalibur, a four-engine pressurized airliner, since 1937. In 1939 Trans World Airlines, at the instigation of major stockholder Howard Hughes, requested a 40-passenger transcontinental airliner with 3,500 mi (5,630 km) range[1]—well beyond the capabilities of the Excalibur design. TWA's requirements led to the L-049 Constellation, designed by Lockheed engineers including Kelly Johnson and Hall Hibbard.[2] Willis Hawkins, another Lockheed engineer, maintains that the Excalibur program was purely a cover for the Constellation.[3]

A preserved C-121C Super Constellation, registration N73544, in flight in 2004.

Development of the Constellation[edit]

The Constellation's wing design was close to that of the P-38 Lightning, differing mostly in size.[4] The triple-tail kept the aircraft's height low enough to fit in existing hangars,[3] while features included hydraulically boosted controls and a de-icing system used on wing and tail leading edges.[1] The aircraft had a top speed of over 375 mph (600 km/h), faster than that of a Japanese Zero fighter, a cruise speed of 340 mph (550 km/h), and a service ceiling of 24,000 ft (7,300 m).[5]

According to Anthony Sampson in Empires of the Sky, the intricate design may have been undertaken by Lockheed, but the concept, shape, capabilities, appearance and ethos of the Constellation were driven by Hughes' intercession during the design process.[6] These rumors were discredited by Johnson. Howard Hughes and Jack Frye confirmed that the rumors were not true in a letter in November 1941.[7]

The famous 1953-54 Studebaker coupe, generally considered one of the most beautiful American automobile designs, was inspired in part by the design of the Constellation, according to its principal designer, Robert Bourke.[citation needed]

Operational history[edit]

World War II[edit]

The first Lockheed Constellation on January 9, 1943.

With the onset of World War II, the TWA aircraft entering production were converted to an order for C-69 Constellation military transport aircraft, with 202 aircraft intended for the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). The first prototype (civil registration NX25600) flew on January 9, 1943, a short ferry hop from Burbank to Muroc Field for testing.[1] Edmund T. "Eddie" Allen, on loan from Boeing, flew left seat, with Lockheed's own Milo Burcham as copilot. Rudy Thoren and Kelly Johnson were also on board.

Lockheed proposed the model L-249 as a long-range bomber. It received the military designation XB-30 but the aircraft was not developed. A plan for a very long-range troop transport, the C-69B (L-349, ordered by Pan Am in 1940 as the L-149),[8] was canceled. A single C-69C (L-549), a 43-seat VIP transport, was built in 1945 at the Lockheed-Burbank plant.

The C-69 was mostly used as a high-speed, long-distance troop transport during the war.[9] A total of 22 C-69s were completed before the end of hostilities, but not all of these entered military service. The USAAF cancelled the remainder of the order in 1945. However some aircraft remained in USAF service into the 1960s, serving as passenger ferries for the airline which relocated military personnel, and carrying the livery of MATS (the Military Air Transport System). At least one of these airplanes had passenger seats installed backward, with occupants facing toward the rear of the interior compartment during flight.

Postwar use[edit]

TWA L-749A Constellation at Heathrow in 1954 with an under fuselage "Speedpack" freight container
Super Constellation (C-121C) during pilot training in Epinal - Mirecourt, France

After World War II the Constellation came into its own as a fast civil airliner. Aircraft already in production for the USAAF as C-69 transports were finished as civil airliners, with TWA receiving the first on 1 October 1945. TWA's first transatlantic proving flight departed Washington, DC, on December 3, 1945, arriving in Paris on December 4 via Gander and Shannon.[1]

Trans World Airlines transatlantic service started on February 6, 1946 with a New York-Paris flight in a Constellation. On June 17, 1947 Pan American World Airways opened the first ever scheduled round-the-world service with their L-749 Clipper America. The famous flight "Pan Am 1" operated until 1982.

As the first pressurized airliner in widespread use, the Constellation helped to usher in affordable and comfortable air travel. Operators of Constellations included TWA, Eastern Air Lines, Pan American World Airways, Air France, BOAC, KLM, Qantas, Lufthansa, Iberia Airlines, Panair do Brasil, TAP Portugal, Trans-Canada Air Lines (later renamed Air Canada), Aer Lingus, VARIG, Cubana de Aviación and Línea Aeropostal Venezolana.

Records[edit]

Sleek and powerful, Constellations set a number of records. On April 17, 1944, the second production C-69, piloted by Howard Hughes and TWA president Jack Frye, flew from Burbank, California, to Washington, D.C., in 6 hours and 57 minutes (c. 2,300 mi/3,701 km at an average 330.9 mph/532.5 km/h). On the return trip, the aircraft stopped at Wright Field to give Orville Wright his last flight, more than 40 years after his historic first flight. He commented that the Constellation's wingspan was longer than the distance of his first flight.[2]

On September 29, 1957 a TWA L-1649A flew from Los Angeles to London in 18 hours and 32 minutes (about 5,420 mi/8,723 km at 292.4 mph/470.6 km/h). The L-1649A holds the record for the longest-duration, non-stop passenger flight. On TWA's first London-to-San Francisco flight on October 1–2, 1957, the aircraft stayed aloft for 23 hours and 19 minutes (about 5,350 mi/8,610 km at 229.4 mph/369.2 km/h).

Obsolescence[edit]

L-1049H freighter of Nordair Canada at Manchester Airport in 1966

The advent of jet airliners such as the de Havilland Comet, Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8 and Convair 880, rendered the piston-engined Constellation obsolete. The first routes lost to jets were the long overseas routes, but Constellations continued to fly domestic routes. The last scheduled passenger flight in the 48 states was made by a TWA L749 on May 11, 1967, from Philadelphia to Kansas City, Missouri.[10] Constellations carried freight for years to come, and were used on backup sections of Eastern Airlines' shuttle service between New York, Washington, and Boston until 1968. Many old propeller airliners were used on overnight freight runs, even into the 1990s, as their low speed was not an impediment. An Eastern Constellation to date still holds the record for a New York to Washington flight from liftoff to touchdown in just over 30 minutes. The record was set prior to speed restrictions by the FAA below 10,000 ft.[11]

One of the reasons for the elegant appearance of the aircraft was the fuselage shape—a continuously variable profile with no two bulkheads the same shape. Unfortunately, this construction was very expensive and was replaced by the mostly tube-shape of modern airliners. The tube is more resistant to pressurization changes and cheaper to build.

With the shutdown of Constellation production, Lockheed elected not to develop a first-generation jetliner, instead sticking to its lucrative military business and production of the modest turboprop-powered Lockheed L-188 Electra airliner. Lockheed would not build a large civil passenger aircraft again until its L-1011 Tristar debuted in 1972. While a technological marvel, the L-1011 was a commercial failure, and Lockheed left the commercial airliner business permanently in 1983.[12]

Variants[edit]

Super Constellation at Charles Prince Airport, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1975. Used as a flying club headquarters.
A United States Navy R7V-2 (L-1249) in flight. The L-1249 used Pratt & Whitney T34 turboprop engines in place of the Wright R-3350 radials.[13]

The initial military versions carried the Lockheed designation of L-049; as World War II came to a close, some were completed as civil L-049 Constellations followed by the L-149 (L-049 modified to carry more fuel tanks). The first purpose-built passenger Constellation was the more powerful L-649 and L-749 (which had more fuel in the outer wings),[8][page needed] L-849 (an unbuilt model to use the R-3350 TurboCompound engines adopted for the L-1049 ), L-949 (an unbuilt, high-density seating-cum-freighter type, what would come to be called a "combi"),[8] followed by the L-1049 Super Constellation (with longer fuselage), L-1149 (proposal to use Allison turbine engines)[8] and L-1249 (similar to L-1149, built as R7V-2/YC-121F),[8] L-1449 (unbuilt proposal for L1049G, stretched 55 in (140 cm), with new wing and turbines)[8] and L-1549 (unbuilt project to stretch L-1449 95 in (240 cm)),[8] and L-1649 Starliner (all new wing and L1049G fuselage).[8] Military versions included the C-69 and C-121 for the Army Air Forces/Air Force and the R7O R7V-1 (L-1049B) EC-121 WV-1 (L-749A) WV-2 (L-1049B) (widely known as the Willie Victor) and many variant EC-121 designations for the Navy [14][15]

Operators[edit]

After TWA's initial order was filled following World War II, customers rapidly accumulated, with over 800 aircraft built. In military service, the U.S. Navy and Air Force operated the EC-121 Warning Star variant until 1978, nearly 40 years after work on the L-049 began. Cubana de Aviación was the first airline in Latin America to operate Super Constellations. Pakistan International Airlines was the first airline from an Asian country to fly the Super Constellation.

Survivors[edit]

An abandoned Constellation display in Florida. (1970s)
HARS Super Connie at Wollongong, 2004
Lockheed L-1049 G Super Constellation on display close to Munich International Airport

Commercial[edit]

L-749A restored at Aviodrome

Military[edit]

Dwight D. Eisenhower flew in three Constellations, named Columbine, Columbine II, and Columbine III.
N4257U on display at the Combat Air Museum in Topeka, Ks.

Specifications (L-1049G Super Constellation)[edit]

Lockheed Super Constellation of Lufthansa.
Lockheed C-121C (L-1049) Super Constellation.

Data from Great Aircraft of the World[47] and Quest for Performance[48]

General characteristics

Performance

Accidents and incidents[edit]

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Taylor 1993, pp. 606–607.
  2. ^ a b Yenne 1987, pp. 44–46.
  3. ^ a b Boyne 1998, pp. 135–137.
  4. ^ Johnson 1985, pp. 82
  5. ^ "Lockheed C-69 Constellation." militaryfactory.com, May 25, 2009. Retrieved: July 18, 2009.
  6. ^ Sampson 1985
  7. ^ Johnson 1985, pp. 92
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Stringfellow and Bowers 1992.
  9. ^ Pace 2003, p. 17.
  10. ^ Germain 1998, p. 89.
  11. ^ "Lockheed Constellation L749 N749NL Comeback." World News. Retrieved: February 22, 2011.
  12. ^ Birtles 1998, p. 56.
  13. ^ Alternate Wars.com - R7V-2 Standard Aircraft Characteristics; Retrieved 10/12/11
  14. ^ Swanborough, Gordon and Peter M. Bowers. United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1976. ISBN 0-87021-968-5.
  15. ^ Fahey, James C. The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, volumes 1–4, 1939–45. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1965.
  16. ^ Pettersen, Ralph M. "Breitling Super Constellation. After the discovery of corrosion, it was grounded for a time but is flying again after extensive repairs." conniesurvivors.com, May 2004. Retrieved: July 18, 2009.
  17. ^ "Historical Aircraft Restoration Society Super Constellation." hars.org.au. Retrieved: January 30, 2012.
  18. ^ "N6937C Lockheed Super Constellation "Star of America." Airline History Museum at Kansas City.Retrieved: July 18, 2009.
  19. ^ Denning, Larry. "Connie at the Movies." Airline History Museum at Kansas City. Retrieved: July 18, 2009.
  20. ^ "Lockheed L-1049 G Super Constellation" Munich Airport Retrieved: August 31, 2009.
  21. ^ Pettersen, Ralph M. "HI-542CT c/n 4825." Constellation Survivors, 2011. Retrieved: February 22, 2011.
  22. ^ "Lockheed L1649A Starliner, ZS-DVJ, c/n 1042." The South African Airways Museum Society via saamuseum.co.za. Retrieved: July 18, 2009.
  23. ^ Pettersen, Ralph M. "N494TW c/n 2601." Constellation Survivors, 2011. Retrieved: February 22, 2011.
  24. ^ The Stones Connie
  25. ^ Hayles, John. "Science Museum Swindon: Constellation N7777G." aeroflight.co.uk, July 4, 2009. Retrieved: July 18, 2009.
  26. ^ Pettersen, Ralph M. "N9412H c/n 2072." Constellation Survivors, 2011. Retrieved: February 22, 2011.
  27. ^ "Lockheed L-049 Constellation." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: July 18, 2009.
  28. ^ , "Lockheed Constellation, A majestade dos ares (in Portuguese). Museum Asas de um Sonho (Portugal). Retrieved: July 18, 2009.
  29. ^ "F-ZVMV c/n 2503." conniesurvivors.com. Retrieved: July 18, 2009.
  30. ^ Bogash, Robert "Super Constellation CF-TGE." rbogash.com. Retrieved: November 3, 2011.
  31. ^ Petersen, Ralph M. "CF-TGE c/n 4544." conniesurvivors.com. Retrieved: November 3, 2011.
  32. ^ "Story of F-BGNJ." Amicale du Super Constellation. Retrieved: March 23, 2010.
  33. ^ Pettersen, Ralph M. "N974R c/n 1040." Constellation Survivors, 2011. Retrieved: February 22, 2011.
  34. ^ Kinder, Steve. "AirlineFan: AeroSur Constellation N2520B in AeroSur Colors" "AirlineFan: AeroSur Constellation N2520B in AeroSur Colors", 2008. Retrieved: June 17, 2012.
  35. ^ "N4247K." conniesurvivors.com. Retrieved: November 23, 2010.
  36. ^ [1] Salina Connie. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  37. ^ Pima Air and Space Museum webpage. Retrieved 2013-11-05
  38. ^ http://www.nbcnews.com/news/other/first-air-force-one-plane-decaying-arizona-field-f6C10655363 First Air Force One plane decaying in Arizona field
  39. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dD8QiMlCk9U Video America's lost Air Force One
  40. ^ "Lockheed EC-121D Constellation." National Museum of the United States Air Force via nationalmuseum.af.mil. Retrieved: July 18, 2009.
  41. ^ "C-121A." National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved June 28, 2011.
  42. ^ "Lockheed EC-121A Constellation." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: July 18, 2009.
  43. ^ "EC-121D." Aerospace Museum of California. Retrieved: January 20, 2013.
  44. ^ "EC121T". petemuseum.org. Retrieved: November 21, 2010.
  45. ^ "Lockheed EC-121T Constellation." Pima Air & Space Museum. Retrieved: July 18, 2009.
  46. ^ "N4247K c/n 4144." conniesurvivors.com. Retrieved: November 21, 2010.
  47. ^ Cacutt 1989, pp. 314–322.
  48. ^ Loftin, L. K. Jr. Quest for Performance: The Evolution of Modern Aircraft. NASA SP-468. Retrieved: April 22, 2006.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Birtles, Phillip. Lockheed L-1011 TriStar (Airliner Color History). St. Paul: Minnesota: Motorbooks International, 1998. ISBN 978-0-7603-0582-9.
  • Boyne, Walter J. Beyond the Horizons: The Lockheed Story. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998. ISBN 0-312-24438-X.
  • Cacutt, Len, ed. "Lockheed Constellation". Great Aircraft of the World. London: Marshall Cavendish, 1989. ISBN 1-85435-250-4.
  • Germain, Scott E. Lockheed Constellation and Super Constellation. North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 1998. ISBN 1-58007-000-0.
  • Johnson, Clarence L. "Kelly" with Smith, Maggie. Kelly: More Than My Share of It All. Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1985. ISBN 0-87474-564-0.
  • Marson, Peter J. The Lockheed Constellation Series. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians), 1982. ISBN 0-85130-100-2.
  • Pace, Steve. X-Planes: Pushing the Envelope of Flight. Osceola, Wisconsin: Zenith Imprint, 2003. ISBN 978-0-7603-1584-2.
  • Sampson, Anthony. Empires of the Sky: The Politics, Contest and Cartels of World Airlines. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1985. ISBN 0-340-37668-6.
  • Smith, M.J. Jr. Passenger Airliners of the United States, 1926–1991. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1986. ISBN 0-933126-72-7.
  • Stringfellow, Curtis K. and Peter M. Bowers. Lockheed Constellation: A Pictorial History. St. Paul, Minnesota: Motorbooks, 1992. ISBN 0-87938-379-8.
  • Taylor, Michael J.H., ed. "Lockheed Constellation and Super Constellation". Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. New York: Crescent, 1993. ISBN 0-517-10316-8.
  • United States Air Force Museum Guidebook. Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio: Air Force Museum Foundation, 1975.
  • Yenne, Bill, Lockheed. Greenwich, Connecticut: Bison Books, 1987. ISBN 0-517-60471-X.

External links[edit]