The Lockheed Constellation series of aircraft was a successful design that initially began as a militarized transport, appearing in limited numbers towards the end of World War 2, that gained more fame in the civilian transport airliner role soon after. The system was based on the military concept of long-range transport and refined design, incorporating various elements into the fold that would produce one of Lockheed's most memorable models. Initial models were flown as early as 1943 though the end of the war saw just 22 examples delivered for military use. It must be said that the Constellation's performance was up to expectations, the plane reached a speed of 347mph... the same as the best fighters of the period. An order for 150 C-69C given by the USAF at the beginning of 1945 was canceled with the end of the war in the Pacific in September of the same year. At their height the orders had reached 260 Connies, a figure which was reduced first to 73 before in the end the supply contracts were all canceled. In all 22 examples of C-69 were made for the USAF in two batches; the last seven aircraft were directly sold to civilian operators.
The P-2V operated as a land-based patrol bomber in the 1940s by the U.S. Navy and was the predecessor to the P3. The P-2V is known for its versatility and long flight range of up to 2,000 miles. The Lockheed Neptune served as a search and reconnaissance patrol plane, its presence heralding the ultimate demise of the traditional flying boat in that role. Powered by two Wright R-3350 engines, the Neptune had a remarkable range and carried a wide variety of ordnance. The Neptune enjoys the distinction of being the only designed-for-the-purpose, land based patrol plane to see wide, general Navy service. All others to see general Navy service, including today's P-3s, were derived from other types designed for other purposes. Both the P2V's predecessors, the PVs and successors (today's P-3s), were derived from commercial transport designs. The Neptune traces its origins to Lockheed/Vega design studies starting in 1941 when the Navy first acquired land-based patrol aircraft. First flight of the initial XP2V-1 occurred on 12 May 1945. For the following 17 years, Lockheed's flight line was never without new P2V/P-2 aircraft. Powered by two 2,300-hp Wright R-3350 engines, and featuring nose, dorsal and tail turrets, the XP2V-1 featured clean lines that were to continue throughout the P2V series, even though the aircraft was to grow all manner of electronic and other bumps, and the armament changed regularly. The -1s were followed by -2s with longer noses and no nose turrets, and subsequent -3s with improved engines. Both these models had variants, initiating a practice that continued throughout the P2V/P-2 series, which continues in the P-3s today. With the -7, the P2V reached its ultimate design. Westinghouse J-34s in wing pods added needed power, a MAD boom replaced the tail turret, nose armament was eliminated, and the pilot's cabin redesigned. By the time the last of 1,036 Neptunes were delivered in 1962, the designation of the P2V-7s had changed to SP-2H, and all guns were deleted. By the mid-Seventies the P-2s were being rapidly phased out.
1946 - Lockheed 86 RV6 Constitution
The Lockheed R6V Constitution began as a proposal to Pan Am for an airliner with greater range and passenger capacity than the Lockheed L-049 Constellation. Development continued during World War II under the auspices of the Navy, which ordered two prototypes as R6Os. By the end of the war, Pan Am had decided that the Constitution and the Convair 37 were too big. The first flight of the XR6O-1 Constitution, BuNo 85163 was flown from Burbank to Muroc Army Air Base on November 9, 1946. The second XR6O-1, BuNo 85164 flew in June 1948. The two Constitutions served initially with VR-44 at NAS Alameda, California. When VR-44 was disestablished in 1950, the Constitutions were transferred to VR-5 at NAS Moffett.
and L-749 were the first true commercial Constellations and received their type
certificate in March 1947. Essentially an iterative development of the L049
with more than 50% re-designed parts, the type certificate was an “add-on” to
the L049 certificate. Delivery of the first L-649 went to Eastern Airlines in
May 1947 with Air France receiving the first L-749 a month earlier in April
1947. Pan American operated the first L749 service in June 1947 when
it inaugurated its 'Round the World' service using a leased L-749
(NC86520 c/n 2503). The L749 was essentially a L-649 with an additional 1,130 gallons of fuel for longer range. Only fourteen L-649’s and six L-649A’s were produced for Eastern and Chicago and Southern. Most aircraft were upgraded to L749A standards sometime during their lifetime. A total of 89 L-649s & 749's were built.
During 1947 Lockheed was experiencing one of its darkest periods. Due to increased competition from it rival Douglas, and sluggish sales for the civil 749 model, Lockheed even considered closing down the production line. Then, in February 1948, a life saving order was awarded to Lockheed to built 9 C-121A and 1 C-121B cargo-configured Constellations for the USAF. Based on the 749 model, these new aircraft received the type designation: C-121A. They were modified by having reinforced floors and a large aft cargo door. The interiors could be quickly arranged to suit various missions, cargo carrying, or passengers. These C-121As were powered by four 2,500-hp Wright Cyclone R-3350 BD1s radial engines. A distinct new feature was the all-new nose modification (radome) which housed the new APS-10 radar.
Lockheed's P-80 Shooting Star has its own special niche in USAAF/USAF history. From it evolved a lengthened-fuselage two-seat trainer version, designated originally TF-80C. The first of these flew on 22 March 1948. In addition to the fuselage 'stretch', a second cockpit in tandem was provided with dual controls, the transparent canopy was extended to cover both cockpits and the armament of the F-80 was deleted. A total of 128 TF-80C were built before the designation was changed to T-33A in May 1949. Adopted as the USAF's standard jet trainer, it remained in production for a further ten years. A total of 649 were also built for service with the US Navy and Marine Corps under the designation TV-2, later T-33B. Total production amounted to 5,691 aircraft (including those for the Navy): 1,058 for supply to friendly nations under the Military Assistance Program and the balance to the USAF. T-33A were also license-built in Canada (656 as the Silver Star, with Rolls-Royce Nene engine) and Japan (210). Variants included small numbers modified as DT-33A drone directors and AT-33A armed close-support aircraft.
The US Navy ordered two L-749A BuNos 124437 and 124438 for use as a Combat Intelligence Centre CIC - or flying command post. They were equipped with radomes and radar similar to the WV-2s later. Delivery of 12438 to the US Navy was in August 1949 followed by 12437 in December 1950. In 1952 they were redesigned to WV-1 and in 1958 and 1959 the Connies were transferred to the FAA after their radars and radoms were removed and their cabins refitted. Later they transferred to the USAF bearing the civil registration N1192 and N1206.
In order to speed up development, the first Constellation, c/n 1961, was
purchased from Howard Hughes in May 1950 for $100,000 and modified as the Super
Constellation prototype with the fuselage lengthened by 18ft 7 by the addition
of two sections, the first in front of the wing spar, and the second part
behind the wing. Still powered by the Pratt and Whitney R-2800 engines installed
in 1945, the prototype made its first flight on October 13, 1950. After
twenty-two hours of flight testing, R-3350 engines were installed and the
vertical stabilizers were enlarged by eighteen inches to increase directional
Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation in TWA colors over the Grand Canyon,
The type entered service on the New York Miami route with Eastern on 15 December 1951, followed by TWA in September the following year. Total number of L-1049 built 24.