Lockheed 1951 - 1960
Lockheed 1951 - 1960

1952 - Lockheed C-121G / R7V-1 Super Constellation

Lockheed  R7V-1Super Constellation Transport Us Navy, Lockheed Archives

The first months of the Korean War showed that the United States needed to have a fleet of transport planes which could in particular counter the progress of Communist troops towards the south of the country, and with its 1951 budget the USAF bought 33 examples of a new version of the Super Constellation based on the L-1049F which it designated C-121C. These were in fact improved L-1049Bs whose wings and fuselage had been reinforced originally in order to take the turbo props. They closely resembled their US Navy R7V1/C-121J counterparts, the most obvious feature being their portholes which were square, instead of round as in the Navy, and which had been increased in number from eight to twenty. Moreover the deck had been reinforced to take cumbersome freight which was loaded through the two cargo doors located on the left-hand side. The cockpit housed the normal 5-man crew complement (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, radio operator and flight engineer) who could be relieved on the long distance flights by three extra men. Weighing 61 tonnes all-up, the C-121J was powered by an improved version of the Wright Turbo Compound, the R-3350-34 and had its own auxiliary generator (APU), a Solar Gas turbine rated at 50 bhp which made it completely autonomous. Finally, this version was capable of carrying 75 passengers, 72 fully-equipped troops, 47 stretcher cases with two medical persons, or 14.35 tonnes of freight.

Lockheed  C-121C Super Constellation Transport USAF, Zoggavia Collection

1953 - Lockheed RC-121C / EC-121D Super Constellation

Lockheed RC-121C Super Constellation USAF, Lockheed Archives

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.

1953 - Lockheed L-1049C Super Constellation

Lockheed L-1049C Super Constellation KLM, Zoggavia Collection

Development of 1049 as commercial airliner, with improvements in the area of inner wing reinforcements, changed fuselage structure, new main landing gear, and relocation of passenger doors. First civil Super Connie with Wright 3'250 hp 972-TC18DA-1 Turbo Compound engines. C/n's 4501 - 4522, 4539 - 4548.

1954 - Lockheed PO-2 / WV-2  Super Constellation

Lockheed WV-2 Super Constellation US Navy, Lockheed Archives


The US Navy which had bought two examples of the WV-1 was based on the L-749 at the end of the forties, considered that the experience was conclusive after using these machines to test new combat tactics. Confronted with the new situation caused by the Korean War, it decided to put to best advantage the advances made by the L-1049 being developed at the time at Burbank in order to obtain a tailor made machine with even better performances. The Wright Turbo Compound was recently available and was an economical power plant, particularly at low altitude, and also had the advantage of being used on another type in the Navy's arsenal, the P2V Neptune. Using the same power plants enabled maintenance and spare parts inventory to be facilitated in the future. With this in mind, the US Navy signed a first contract with Lockheed on 14 July 1950, a little more than a year after the first flight of the PO-1W. This was for the delivery of six Connies based on the L-l049A and designated PO-2W, later changed to WV-2 before the plane was even put in service. The first order was followed by further orders so that all in all 142 'Warning Stars' were supplied to the US Navy.

1954 / 1955 - Lockheed L-1249 / R7V-2 / YF-121F Super Constellation Transport

Lockheed R7V-2 Super Constellation Transport US Navy, Lockheed Archives

In 1951 Lockheed started design of the R7V-2 powered by the YT-34-P-12A turboprop rated at 5,500 eshp
driving three-bladed Hamilton Standard Turbo Hydromatic propellers. 22,000 eshp is some serious horsepower for a Connie, compared to the 13,000 hp from the reciprocating engines that powered the R7V-1. The T-34 was to power the Douglas C-133 Cargomaster. Four R7V-1’s (BuNos. 131630/131631/131660/131661, c/n 1249A-4131/4132/4161/4162) under construction were modified to R7V-2’s, the first to fly
was 131630 on September 1, 1954. With 440 mph (708 kmh) the R7V-2 was the fastest prop-driven transport in the world at that time.

Lockheed YC-121F Super Constellation Transport USAF,  Zoggavia Collection

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 C-130 Hercules US Navy Blue Angels, Zoggavia  Collection

Five decades have elapsed since the Air Force issued its original design specification, yet the remarkable C-130 remains in production. The initial production model was the C-130A, with four Allison T56-A-11 or -9 turboprops. A total of 219 were ordered and deliveries began in December 1956. The C-130B introduced Allison T56-A-7 turboprops and the first of 134 entered Air Force service in May 1959. Introduced in August of 1962, the 389 C-130E's that were ordered used the same Allison T56-A-7 engine, but added two 1,290 gallon external fuel tanks and an increased maximum takeoff weight capability. June 1974 introduced the first of 308 C-130H's with the more powerful Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engine. Nearly identical to the C-130E externally, the new engine brought major performance improvements to the aircraft.

Lockheed C-130J Hercules RAF, Zoggavia  Collection

The latest C-130 to be produced, the C-130J entered the inventory in February 1999. With the noticeable difference of a six-bladed composite propeller coupled to a Rolls-Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engine, the C-130J brings substantial performance improvements over all previous models, and has allowed the introduction of the C-130J-30, a stretch version with a 15-foot fuselage extension.  To date, the Air Force has taken delivery of 68 C-130J aircraft from Lockheed Martin. Total built to date 2300+ Hercules.

1954 - Lockheed  F-104 Starfighter

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter JSDAF, Zoggavia  Collection

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.

1955 - Lockheed U-2

Lockheed U-2 USAF, Zoggavia  Collection

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.

1956 - Lockheed L-1649 Starliner

Lockheed L-1649A Starliner - Jetstream TWA,  Lockheed Archives

The L1649A Starliner was the outgrowth of the L1469/L1569 turboprop designs studied by Lockheed but never produced. Development of the L1649A began in May 1955 and was Lockheed’s response to the long range Douglas DC-7C that went into service in June 1956. The Starliner incorporated a totally new wing design, 3,400 hp –EA2 turbo compound engines and a fuel capacity of 9,000 gallons giving it a range of over 5,000 miles. The first flight of the prototype was October 10, 1956 with TWA introducing the L1649A on its North Atlantic service on June 1, 1957. Sadly, this superb aircraft was developed too late and was quickly overshadowed by the early jets with only forty-four being produced. TWA was the largest operator with twenty-nine aircraft with Lufthansa and Air France also taking delivery of new aircraft. Most were out of front-line passenger service in the beginning of the 60s with a number being converted to freighters and many going to second-tier operators and travel clubs. C/n 1018 is under restoration at Auburn-Lewiston Airport by Lufthansa. Expected completion date is 2011.

1957 - Lockheed  C-140 Jetstar

Lockheed C-140 Jetstar USAF,  Zoggavia Collection

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.

1957 - Lockheed L-188 Electra

Lockheed L-188 Electra II KLM,  Zoggavia Collection

The design of the Lockheed L-188 Electra began in 1954, and in the following year the company received a launching order from American Airlines. The prototype, first flown on 6 December 1957, was a low-wing monoplane of conventional configuration with retractable tricycle landing gear and powered by four Allison 501D-13, 501D-13A or 501D-15 turboprop engines. Standard accommodation was for 66 to 80 passengers, but a high-density arrangement was available optionally to seat 98. Built initially as the L-188 A the Electra became available also as the longer-range L-188C with increased fuel capacity and operating at a higher gross weight. A total of 170 had been built when production ended unexpectedly early as a result of passenger loss of confidence in the type after two had disintegrated in flight, and by the time remedial modifications had been, incorporated customer airlines were interested in turbojet- rather than turboprop-powered aircraft. Many of them where converted by Lockheed Aircraft Service for convertible passenger/cargo or all-cargo use.

1958 - Lockheed P-3 Orion

Lockheed P-3J US Navy,  Philippe Lipka Collection

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.