The propeller-driven, four-engine airliner built by Lockheed Corporation between 1943 and 1958 at Burbank, California. Lockheed built 856 in numerous models—all with the same triple-tail design and dolphin-shaped fuselage. Most were powered by four 18-cylinder Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclones.
Lockheed Constellation created in response to a requirement issued by the flamboyant owner of TWA, Howard Hughes, in late 1939. Lockheed had been working on the L-044 Excalibur, a four-engine, pressurized airliner, since 1937. In 1939, TWA, at the instigation of major stockholder Howard Hughes, requested a 40-passenger transcontinental airliner with a range of 3,500 mi – well beyond the capabilities of the Excalibur design. TWA’s requirements led to the L-049 Constellation, designed by Lockheed engineers including Kelly Johnson and Hall Hibbard.
The Constellation was soon ordered by other airlines due to its unmatched ability to fly non-stop from the East Coast to the West Coast at a constant 300 miles per hour. The Constellation was used as a civil airliner and as a military and civilian air transport. The Constellation series was the first pressurized-cabin civil airliner series to go into widespread use. Its pressurized cabin enabled large numbers of commercial passengers to fly well above most bad weather for the first time, thus significantly improving the general safety and ease of air travel.
Featured Image: Lockheed Super G Constellation / Image: Wikimedia Commons