The first plane from the L-l049 Super Constellation family to be ordered officially by the USAF was the RC-121C but contrary to appearances, these were not specific aircraft but R7V-1/WV-2s originally intended for the Navy which were part of the contract it signed with Lockheed but were transferred to the USAF during production and to which it gave the designation RC-121D Airborne Early Warning (AEW), an updated version of the RC-121C, with wingtip tanks, additional internal fuel capacity and a crew of 31 personnel. Engines were 3,400hp Wright Cyclone R-3350 75DA1 Turbo Compounds.
Two of the R7V-2’s, BuNos. 131660/131661 were turned over to the USAF as YC-121F’s, s/ns 53-8157/8158. The latter was leased back to Lockheed to become the test bed for the Allison 501D turboprop, the civil version of the T-56 that already powered the YC-130 Hercules. The 501D was the intended power plant for the Lockheed 188 Electra, hence the YC-121F was nicknamed Elation. After the trails the aircraft was fitted with 6,000 eshp T-34-P-6 engines and returned to the USAF.
1954 - Lockheed C-130 Hercules
Lockheed's G. L. "Kelly" Johnson has designed some really exciting aircraft, but the company's Model 83 (which originated in late 1952) must qualify as outstanding when the state of the art at that time is taken into account. Lockheed were aware that USAF experience in Korea had shown the need for an air-superiority fighter able to operate from forward airfields and climb rapidly from the ground to engage in high-level combat. The Model 83 was designed to fulfill these roles, and in formulating his design "Kelly" Johnson attempted to keep it as cheap, small and readily maintainable as possible. Tendered to the USAF as an unsolicited proposal, it was necessary for competitive bids to be received and the USAF notified a formal requirement for such an aircraft in late 1952.
Submissions were received from North American and Republic; but as both of these companies were already heavily involved in fighter development and production, Lockheed's proposal was selected cautiously: two XF-104 prototypes being ordered for development and testing. The first of these flew on 28 February 1954, followed by test and evaluation aircraft. It was not until 26 January 1958 that the first production F-104A began to enter service - as interceptors - with Air Defense Command's 83rd Fighter Interceptor Squadron. These production aircraft appeared quite revolutionary to those seeing them for the first time: with but a token monoplane wing mid-set on the fuselage - this latter assembly wrapped tightly round a powerful turbojet engine - needle-nosed and T-tailed. Able to demonstrate a level speed of around 2,250km/h and to climb to a height of 25km in about 4.5 minutes, it is not surprising that the Press dubbed the Starfighter the "missile with a man in it". F-104A (170) and multi-mission F-104G (77) served with the USAF, as well as F-104B (26) and F-104D (21) two-seat operational-trainer counterparts of the A and C respectively. Major construction, however, was in Europe: following development by Lockheed of the multi-mission F-104G, more than 1,000 came from production lines in Belgium, Germany, Holland and Italy to equip the air forces of those nations. Similar versions were built under license in Canada and Japan. Lockheed also built 179 F-104G for export or for supply to friendly nations through the Military Assistance Program.
Final production line was that of Aeritalia SpA in Turin, Italy which built 205 Starfighters for the Italian Air Force and 40 for Turkey. These multi-role combat aircraft have the designation F-104S and have extended production of this out-standing (and sometimes controversial) aircraft for a period of 20 years.
Development of the U-2 began in the spring of 1954 to meet a joint CIA/USAF requirement for a high-altitude strategic reconnaissance and special-purpose research aircraft. It took place in the Lockheed 'Skunk Works' at Burbank, California, where - after acceptance of the design in late 1954 - two prototypes were hand-built in great secrecy by a small team of engineers. The aircraft's true purpose was cloaked under the USAF U-for-Utility designation U-2, and the first flight took place on or about 1 August 1955.
At about the same time US President Dwight D. Eisenhower was proposing his 'Open Skies' policy, one of mutual East/West aerial reconnaissance of territories. President Eisenhower hoped that his policy would reduce tension between East and West, thus preventing the growth of the nuclear arms race. Unfortunately the Soviet Union would have nothing to do with this proposal. Consequently 'Kelly' Johnson's new 'spy plane' assumed greater importance. The prototypes were followed by production of about 48 single-seat U-2A and U-2B with differing power plant, and five two-seat U-2D. Some U-2B were converted later to U-2D standard. An additional batch of 12 U-2R was ordered in 1967. The requirement for high altitude and long range posed enormous problems: the former needed an aircraft with low wing loading, the latter large quantities of heavy fuel to confer the necessary range. Therefore the U-2 is of very lightweight construction, dispensing with conventional landing gear and pressurization to save extra weight, and having wings of large area. Landing gear is of bicycle type with single wheels fore and aft, and balanced on the ground by wing-tip 'pogos' - a strut and wheel device which drops away when the U-2 becomes airborne - was selected. The pilot is accommodated on a light-weight seat, dressed in a semi-pressure suit with his head enclosed in an astronaut-type helmet, and forced to breathe pure oxygen for his survival. A medium-powered turbojet is adequate to lift this lightweight aircraft, and long range is possible by shutting it down and gliding for long periods.
In addition to photo and
electronic reconnaissance, U-2 were used for weather reconnaissance,
high-altitude research, measurement of radiation levels, and for the
tracking and recovery of space capsules. They were used for
reconnaissance during the Cuban crisis, in Vietnam and during the israeli-arab conflict.
Lockheed L-1649A Starliner - Jetstream TWA, Lockheed Archives
The Jetstar originated as a private project within Lockheed, with an eye to winning a USAF requirement that was later dropped due to budget cuts. Lockheed decided to continue the project on their own for the business market. The first two prototypes were equipped with two Bristol Siddeley Orpheus engines, the first of these flying on 4 September 1957. Lockheed attempted to arrange a contract to produce the Orpheus locally in the US, but when these negotiations failed they re-engined the second prototype, N329K, with four P&W JT12 in 1959. The JT12 fit proved successful and was selected for the production versions, the first of which flew in mid 1960.These versions entered commercial service in 1961. Sixteen Jetstars were produced for the USAF Five C-140A Flight Inspection aircraft to perform airborne testing of airport navigational aids in 1962. They began service during the Vietnam War and remained in service until the early 1990s. The "Flight Check" C-140A were a combat-coded aircraft that could be distinguished from the VIP transport version by their distinctive camouflage paint scheme. The last C-140A to be retired was placed on static display at Scott AFB, Illinois, to honor its distinguished service. In additional 11 airframes were designated C-140B, although the first of these predated the C-140As when it was delivered in 1961. The C-140Bs were used to transport personnel by the Military Airlift Command. Six of the aircraft were operated as VIP transports by the 89th Military Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington DC. These VIP aircraft were designated as VC-140Bs. The VIP transport fleet occasionally served as Aircraft One during the 1970s and 1980s. Several other countries, have used military Jetstars as transports for their VIP persons. Noise regulations in the US and high fuel consumption led to the development of the 731 Jetstar, a modification program which added new Garrett AirResearch TFE731 Turbofan engines and redesigned external fuel tanks to original Jetstars. The 731 Jetstar modification program was so successful that Lockheed produced 40 new Jetstars, designated the Jetstar II, from 1976 through 1979. The Jetstar IIs were factory new aircraft with the turbofan engines and revised external fuel tanks. Both 731 Jetstars and Jetstar IIs have greatly increased range, reduced noise, and better runway performance compared to the original Jetstars. Jetstar production totaled 204 aircraft by final delivery in 1978.
In February 1959, the Navy awarded Lockheed a contract to develop a replacement for the aging P2V Neptune. The P3V Orion, derived from Lockheed's successful L188 Electra airliner, entered the inventory in July 1962, and more than 30 years later it remains the Navy's sole land-based antisubmarine warfare aircraft. It has gone through one designation change (P3V to P-3) and three major models: P-3A, P-3B, and P-3C, the latter being the only one now in active service. The last Navy P-3 came off the production line at the Lockheed plant in April 1990. The P-3C is a land-based, long-range, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft. It has advanced submarine detection sensors such as directional frequency and ranging (DIFAR) sonobuoys and magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment. The avionics system is integrated by a general purpose digital computer that supports all of the tactical displays, monitors and automatically launches ordnance and provides flight information to the pilots. In addition, the system coordinates navigation information and accepts sensor data inputs for tactical display and storage. The P-3C can carry a mixed payload of weapons internally and on wing pylons. The last Navy P-3 came off the production line at the Lockheed plant in April 1990.