Tag Archives: Roy Edwin Wimmer

6 December 1957

Lockheed’s Model L-188A Electra prototype, N1881, passes over Lockheed Air Terminal during its first flight, 6 December 1957. (SDASM Archives)

6 December 1957: At 10:28 a.m., Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s Chief Engineering Test Pilot Herman Richard (“Fish”) Salmon, and co-pilot Roy Edwin Wimmer started the Number 4 engine (outboard, right wing, of the new prototype Model L-188A Electra, c/n 1001, registered N1881. Also on board were flight engineers Louis Holland and William Spreuer. In rapid succession, the flight crew started engines 1, 2, on the left wing, and 3, inboard on the right. The prototype then taxied to the eastern end of Lockheed Air Terminal’s Runway 27.¹ At 10:44, Salmon released the brakes and the Electra rapidly accelerated down the runway. It was airborne in just 1,800 feet (549 meters).

Lockheed Model L-188 Electra N1881 flying along the Southern California coastline. (SDASM Archives)

Fish Salmon took the prototype to the U.S. Navy’s restricted missile test ranges off the southern California coastline, flying between Naval Air Station Point Mugu and San Diego. During the flight, the Electra reached 400 miles per hour (644 kilometers per hour) and 14,000 feet (4,267 meters). Salmon radioed, “She controls beautifully. No sweat.”

The Electra was followed by two chase planes, a Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star, and a Super Constellation airliner. After the initial flight test, Salmon returned to LAT, landing after a flight of 1 hour, 27 minutes. The test flight was made 56 days ahead of schedule.

The prototype Lockheed Electra. N1881, crosses the threshold at Lockheed Air Terminal’s Runway 15, 6 December 1957. (SDASM Archives)

The Lockheed Model 188A Electra is a four-engine, low-wing, commercial airliner with retractable tricycle landing gear, and powered by four turboprop engines. It was operated by a pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer, and could carry a maximum of 98 passengers. The L-188A was the first production variant. It is 104 feet, 6.5 inches (31.864 meters) long, with a wingspan of 99 feet, 0.00 inches (30.175 meters), and overall height of 32 feet, 11.6 inches (10.048 meters).

The L-188A was powered by four Allison Model 501-D13 (T56-A-1) turboprop engines. The -D13 is a single-shaft axial-flow gas turbine engine. It had a 14-stage compressor, 6-tube combustor, a 4-stage turbine. It was rated at 3,750 shaft horsepower at 13,820 r.p.m. The engines drove four-blade, square-tip Aeroproducts propellers with a diameter of 13 feet, 6 inches (4.115 meters), at 1,020 r.p.m. The D13 is 12 feet, 1.0 inches (3.683 meters) long, 2 feet, 3.0 inches (0.686 meters) wide and 3 feet, 0.0 inches (0.914 meters) high. It weighs 1,750 pounds (794 kilograms).

Lockheed Model L-188A Electra N1881 at Lockheed Air Terminal, Burbank, California. (SDASM  Archives)
Lockheed Model L-188A Electra N1881 at Lockheed Air Terminal, Burbank, California. left profile (SDASM Archives)
Lockheed Model L-188A Electra N1881 at Lockheed Air Terminal, Burbank, California. (SDASM Archives)
Lockheed Model L-188A Electra N1881 at Lockheed Air Terminal, Burbank, California. (SDASM Archives)

Critical Mach Number (Mcr) = 0.711

¹ In 1967, the name of the Lockheed Air Terminal was changed to Hollywood-Burbank Airport. After several more name changes, including Bob Hope Airport, it is once again known as Hollywood-Burbank. Its FAA identifier is BUR.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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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.”

Compare the wing of the Lockheed L-1649 Starliner prototype to that of Qantas’ L-1049H-82-133 Super Constellation, Southern Spray (VH-EAM), circa October 1956.

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.”

MTOW 156,000#

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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