Plane of the Week #2: Lockheed Super Constellation

This week’s plane of the week is the Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation.

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The L-1049 was Lockheed’s response to the Douglas DC-6 airliner, which first flew in 1950. The aircraft was also produced for both the United States Navy and Air Force as transport and AWACS aircraft. The first production L-1049 flew in July 1951 and received certification in November 1951. The L-1049 was used until 1983.

Since 1943 Lockheed had been planning a stretched variant of the Constellation family. The first was an L-049 with a fuselage lengthened by 13 feet. The next was an L-749 lengthened by 18 feet. Neither was actually built. The idea was relaunched after Douglas launched a stretched version of its DC-6 airliner as a cargo transport, designated DC-6A. Douglas was soon going to launch a passenger version (the DC-6B) of this new aircraft. The DC-6B could carry 23 more passengers than Lockheed’s current production L-749 Constellation.

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The Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star was a United States Navy and United States Air Force Airborne early warning and control radar surveillance aircraft. A military version of the Lockheed Constellation, it was designed to serve as an airborne early warning system to supplement the Distant Early Warning Line, using two large radomes, a vertical dome above and a horizontal one below the fuselage. EC-121s were also used for intelligence gathering. It was introduced in 1954 and retired from service in 1978, although a single specially modified EW aircraft remained in service with the U.S. Navy until 1982. Warning Stars of the U.S. Air Force served during the Vietnam War as both electronic sensor monitors and as a forerunner to the Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS.

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Next week: A brand-new fighter that has a revolutionary trick…

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Plane of the Week #2: Lockheed Super Constellation

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