Lockheed Constellation, Connie or just Constellation, is a four-engine piston aircraft, built by the American Lockheed between 1943 and 1958, in Burbank.

A total of 856 devices were built in 4 models, all with the same characteristic design whose dolphin shape has a triple empennage. It was a widely used aircraft for passenger transport and as a military transport aircraft. It was the presidential plane of Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States.

Design and development


Lockheed has worked since 1937 on the design of the L-044 Excalibur, a pressurized four-engine plane. In 1939, Trans World Airlines ordered a 40-passenger aircraft with a range of 5,630 km. 

Constellation Development

The Constellation wing design was from the P-38 Lightning, differing only in scale.[2] The triple empennage, with lower height, allowed the aircraft to park in any hangar, even with all the hydraulic accessories and anti-icing systems.

The plane had a maximum speed of 547 km/h (340 mph), a cruise speed of 483 km/h (300 mph), and operating ceiling of 24,000 feet (7 315 ​​m).

According to Anthony Sampson in Empires of the Sky magazine, the intricate design was done by Lockheed, but the Constellation's concept, shape, utility, appearance and ethos were produced through the intercession of pilot Howard Hughes during the process.

Operational History

World War II

With the onset of World War II, the TWA aircraft was converted to the C-69 Constellation, a military transport aircraft. There was also interest in another 202 planes by the American Air Force (USAAF). The first aircraft, aeronautical prefix NX25600, made a test flight on January 9, 1943, from Burbank to Muroc Field.[note 2]

Lockheed proposed the L-249 model to be a long-range bomber. Despite having received the military designation XB-30, the project did not go ahead. The C-69B's long-range troop transport plan was also cancelled. A model C-69C, with 43 seats for VIP transport, was built in 1945 at Lockheed's Burbank factory.

The C-69 was mostly used for fast, long-range transport during the war.[note 5] 22 C-69s were built before the end of the war and none entered military service. The USAAF canceled its acquisitions in 1945.

A TWA Constellation L-749A at Heathrow, 1954, with a container under the fuselage.

After World War II, Constellation quickly became very popular with airlines. The USAAF production model for troop transport ended up as passenger transport planes, with the TWA receiving the first on October 1, 1945. The first transatlantic flight departed Washington DC on December 3, 1945, and arrived in Paris on December 4th.

Trans World Airlines began post-war commercial intercontinental air services on February 6, 1946, with regular flight between New York and Paris in a Constellation. On June 17, 1947 Pan American World Airways began regular operations around the world with its L749 Clipper America. The famous Pan Am 101 flight has operated for 40 years.

As the first pressurized cabin plane in use, Constellation helped make air travel affordable and much more comfortable. Among the operators were TWA, Eastern Air Lines, Pan American World Airways, Air France, BOAC, KLM, Qantas, Lufthansa, Iberia Airlines, Panair do Brasil, TAP Portugal, Trans-Canada Airlines, Aer Lingus, Real Aerovias and VARIG.

Sleek and powerful (for its time), Lockheed Constellation set some records in world aviation.

April 17, 1944: flew between Burbank and Washington DC in 6 hours and 57 minutes, developing an average of 532.2 km/h.

September 29, 1957: An L1649A Starliner flew from Los Angeles to London in 18 hours and 32 minutes, an average speed of 470.6 km/h.
October 1, 1957: An L1649A flew from London to San Francisco in 23 hours and 19 minutes, an average speed of 369.2 km/h. This is the record to date in flight time. The current Boeing 777 managed to fly for 22 hours and 42 minutes.

With the advent of jet planes such as the de Havilland Comet, Boeing 707, Douglas DC-8 and Convair 880, the Constellation piston engine became obsolete. The first routes to leave old Connie were the longest, intercontinental. The plane continued to fly domestic routes in the United States, and its last commercial flight with paying passengers was on May 11, 1967, from Philadelphia to Kansas City, by TWA.

However, it remained in service as a freighter, mainly. by Eastern Airlines, between New York, Washington and Boston, until 1968.

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