Tag Archives: Lockheed Aircraft Corporation

10 October 1956: Lockheed L-1649 Starliner

—Los Angeles Times, Vol. LXXV, Thursday, 11 October 1956, Part 1, Page 3.

10 October 1956: At 4:15 p.m., after a 20-second ground run, the prototype L-1649 Starliner lifted off from Lockheed Air Terminal, Burbank, California. On the flight deck were company test pilots Herman Richard (“Fish”) Salmon and Roy Edwin Wimmer. The flight engineer was Glenn Fisher, and John Stockdale served as the flight test engineer.

  “The ground shook as the big Connie climbed gracefully away. Its wings glistened in the late-afternoon sunlight like long, slender knife blades. They measure 150 feet, or 27 feet more than on previous Super Constellations. Gross takeoff weight is 156,000 pounds. The plane is powered by four 3400 h.p. turbo-compound engines.”

Los Angeles Times, Vol. LXXV, Thursday, 11 October 1956, Part 1, Page 5, Column 5

After a 50-minute flight, the new airliner returned to Burbank. When asked, one of the pilots said, “It handles real smooth.”

The prototype Lockheed L-1649 Starliner, c/n 1001, registered N60968, was a major improvement over the previous model the L-1049 Super Constellation. Using the fuselage of the L-1049G variant, a new low-drag wing was used. The wing was about 16% thinner than the previous design, and had a span increased to 150 feet. By designing the main landing gear to retract into the inner engine nacelles rather than into openings in the lower surface of the wing, the wing could be built much stronger. The wing tips were squared.

The airliner’s fuel capacity, 9,600 gallons (36,340 liters), was sufficient for it to stay aloft for 24 hours. It was designed to carry 58 passengers 6,300 miles (10,139 kilometers) at 350 miles per hour (563 kilometers per hour).

The first production L-1649A, c/n 1002, was built for Trans World Airlines and registered N7301C. TWA called its Starliners “Jetstreams.”

The first production aircraft, Trans World Airlines’ Lockheed L-1649A Starliner, N7301C, c/n 1002. (NACA Ames Imaging Library System A83-0499-18)

Lockheed and TWA had considered using turboprop engines (this would have been designated L-1549), but reliability, poor fuel efficiency and cost resulted in continuing to use Wright’s reciprocating Duplex-Cyclone radials.

The L-1649A was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged and fuel-injected 3,347.662-cubic-inch-displacement (54.858 liter) Wright Aeronautical Division Turbo Compound 988TC18EA2 18-cylinder radial engines. The engine’s high-velocity exhaust gases drove three “blow down” turbines which were geared to the engine’s crankshaft. (Gear reduction is 6.52:1.). Energy that would otherwise be wasted added as much as 600 horsepower to each engine. The Turbo Compound used the same nose section, power section and rear section as the standard Cyclone 18CB. The 988TC18EA2 was rated at 2,800 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m., and 3,400 horsepower at 2,900 r.p.m. for takeoff. It had a compression ratio of 6.7:1 and required 115/145-octane aviation gasoline. The Turbo Compound engine was 7 feet, 5.53 inches (2.274 meters) long, 4 feet, 8.59 inches (1.437 meters) in diameter, and weighed 3,745 pounds (1,699 kilograms). The engines drove three-bladed Hamilton Standard propellers with a diameter of 16 feet, 10 inches (5.131 meters) through a 0.355:1 gear reduction.

A Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1649A Starliner, c/n 1016, N7314C, at Los Angeles International Airport, 1964. (Photograph courtesy of Jon Proctor)

44 production L-1649A Starliners were built by Lockheed in 1957 and 1958. The original L-049 prototype, NC25600, having previously modified as the prototype L-749 Constellation, L-1049 Super Constellation and PO-1W Warning Star, was also converted to the L-1649A configuration.

The prototype L-1649 was retained by Lockheed until withdrawn from service in 1971. Sold to M-K Aerospace Industries, in January 1973, it was re-registered as a L-1649A-98, N1102, and exported to Japan. It is reported to have been scrapped in December 1982.

The second Lockheed L-1649A Starliner, delivered to Trans World Airlines in September 1957. (Lockheed Martin)

© 2020, Bryan R. Swopes

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9 October 1999

9 October 1999: At a Saturday air show at Edwards Air Force Base, California, NASA Research Pilot Rogers E. Smith and Flight Test Engineer Robert R. Meyer, Jr., flew Lockheed SR-71A-LO 61-7980, NASA 844, on what would be the very last flight of a Blackbird. Although it was scheduled to fly again for the Sunday air show, a serious fuel leak prevented that flight.

61-7980 (Lockheed serial number 2031) was the final SR-71A to be built.

NASA 844 was retired after the final flight and placed in flyable storage, but in 2002, it was placed on static display at the Dryden Flight Research Center,¹ Edwards Air Force Base, California.EC92-02273 

¹ In 2014, DFRC was renamed the NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC).

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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5 October 1954

Lockheed XF-104 Starfighter 083-1002, serial number 53-7787, the second prototype, in flight near Edwards AFB. (U.S. Air Force)

5 October 1954: Chief Engineering Test Pilot Tony LeVier made the first flight in the second prototype Lockheed XF-104 Starfighter, 53-7787, at Edwards Air Force Base in the high desert of southern California. This was the armament test aircraft and was equipped with a General Electric T171 Vulcan 20mm Gatling gun. This six-barreled gun was capable of firing at a rate of 6,000 rounds per minute.

The XF-104 was 49 feet, 2 inches (14.986 meters) long with a wingspan of 21 feet, 11 inches (6.680 meters) and overall height of 13 feet, 6 inches (4.115 meters). The prototypes had an empty weight of 11,500 pounds (5,216 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 15,700 pounds (7,121 kilograms).

While the first prototype, 53-7776, was equipped with a Buick J65-B-3 turbojet engine, the second used a Wright Aeronautical Division J65-W-6 with afterburner. Both were improved derivatives of the Armstrong Siddely Sa.6 Sapphire, built under license. The J65 was a single-shaft axial-flow turbojet with a 13-stage compressor and 2-stage turbine. The J65-B-3 was rated at 7,330 pounds of thrust, and the J65-W-6, rated at 7,800 pounds (34.70 kilonewtons), and 10,500 pounds (46.71 kilonewtons) with afterburner.

The XF-104 had a maximum speed of 1,324 miles per hour (2,131 kilometers per hour), a range of 800 miles (1,287 kilometers) and a service ceiling of 50,500 feet (15,392 meters).

53-7787 was lost 19 April 1955 when it suffered explosive decompression at 47,000 feet (14,326 meters) during a test of the T171 Vulcan gun system. The lower escape hatch had come loose due to an inadequate latching mechanism. Lockheed test pilot Herman R. (“Fish”) Salmon was unable to find a suitable landing area and ejected at 250 knots (288 miles per hour/463 kilometers per hour) and 15,000 feet (4,572 meters). The XF-104 crashed 72 miles (117 kilometers) east-northeast of Edwards Air Force Base. Salmon was found two hours later, uninjured, about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from the crash site.

Tony LeVier with the XF-104 armament test prototype, 53-7787, at Edwards AFB, 1954. LeVier is wearing a David Clark Co. T-1 capstan-type partial-pressure suit with K-1 helmet. (U.S. Air Force)

The YF-104A pre-production aircraft and subsequent F-104A production aircraft had many improvements over the two XF-104 prototypes. The fuselage was lengthened 5 feet, 6 inches (1.68 meters). The J65 engine was replaced with a more powerful General Electric J79-GE-3 turbojet. There were fixed inlet cones added to control airflow into the engines. A ventral fin was added to improve stability.

Lockheed F-104A-15-LO Starfighters 56-0769 and 56-0781. (Lockheed Martin)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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1 September 1974

Lockheed SR-71A-LO 61-7972 at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. (NASM)

1 September 1974: Major James V. Sullivan, USAF, Pilot and Major Noel F. Widdifield, USAF, Reconnaissance Systems Officer, set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over A Known Course when they flew a Lockheed SR-71A-LO, serial number 61-7972, from New York to London in 1 hour, 54 minutes, 56.4 seconds. They averaged 2,908.026 kilometers per hour (1,806.964 miles per hour).

Lockheed SR-71A-LO 61-7972 FAI speed record certificate

This same SR-71 set numerous speed and altitude records during its career. It is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum.

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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23 August 1954

The first prototype Lockheed YC-130 Hercules takes of fromm the Lockheed Air terminal, Burbank, California, 23 August 1954. (Lockheed Martin)
The first prototype Lockheed YC-130 Hercules, 53-3397, takes of from the Lockheed Air Terminal, Burbank, California, 23 August 1954. (Lockheed Martin)

23 August 1954: The first of two Lockheed YC-130 Hercules four-engine transport prototypes, 53-3397, made its first flight from the Lockheed Air Terminal at Burbank, California, to Edwards Air Force Base. The flight crew consisted of test pilots Stanley Beltz and Roy Wimmer, with Jack G. Real (a future Lockheed vice president) and Dick Stanton as flight engineers. From a standing start, the YC-130 was airborne in 855 feet (261 meters), The flight lasted 1 hour, 1 minute.

The C-130 was designed as a basic tactical transport, capable of carrying 72 soldiers or 64 paratroopers. All production aircraft have been built at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia, plant.

Lockheed YC-130 53-3397 during its first flight, 23 August 1954. (Lockheed Martin)

The first production model, the C-130A Hercules, was 97.8 feet (29.81 meters) long with a wingspan of 132.6 feet (40.42 meters), and height of 38.1 feet (11.61 meters). Total wing area was 1,745.5 square feet (162.16 square meters). The transport’s empty weight was 59,164 pounds (26,836 kilograms) and takeoff weight, 122,245 pounds (55,449 kilograms).

The C 130 has a rear loading ramp for vehicles, and there is a large cargo door on the left side of the fuselage, forward of the wing, The transport’s cargo compartment volume is 3,708 cubic feet (105.0 cubic meters). It could carry 35,000 pounds (15,876 kilograms) of cargo.

Lockheed YC-130 53-3397 during its first flight, 23 August 1954. (Lockheed Martin)

The C-130A was equipped with four Allison T56-A-1A turboshaft engines, driving three-bladed propellers. The engines produced 3,094 shaft horsepower at 13,820 r.p.m. (continuous), and 3,460 horsepower, Military Power (30-minute limit) or Takeoff ( 5-minute limit).

The C-130A had a cruise speed of 286 knots (329 miles per hour/530 kilometers per hour) and maximum speed of 326 knots (375 miles per hour/604 kilometers per hour) at 24,200 feet (7,376 meters). Its range with a 35,000 pound ( kilogram) payload was 1,835 nautical miles (2,112 statute miles/3,398 kilometers). The initial rate of climb at Sea Level was 4,320 feet per minute (21.95 meters per second). The combat ceiling was 38,700 feet (11,796 meters).

Lockheed YC-130 Hercules prototype, 53-3397. (SDA&SM)
Lockheed C-130A-LM Hercules 55-031, circa 1957. The radome has been added and the tip of the vertical fin squared off. (U.S. Air Force)

In addition to its basic role as a transport, the C-130 has also been used as an aerial tanker, a command-and-control aircraft, weather reconnaissance, search and rescue and tactical gunship. It has even been used as a bomber, carrying huge “Daisy Cutters” to clear large areas of jungle for use as helicopter landing zones, or, more recently, the Massive Ordnance Air Blast “mother of all bombs.” The aircraft has been so versatile that it has served in every type of mission. Over 40 variants have been built by Lockheed, including civilian transports. It is in service worldwide.

The latest version is the Lockheed C-130J Hercules. After 67 years, the C-130 is still in production, longer than any other aircraft type.

YC-130 53-3397 was scrapped at Indianapolis in 1962.

Lockheed C-130J Hercules transports under construction at Lockheed's Marietta, Georgia plant. (Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed C-130J Hercules transports under construction at Lockheed Martin’s Marietta, Georgia plant. (Lockheed Martin)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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