The earliest commercial Constellations and B.O.A.C. Apr 9, 2019 7:30:39 GMT -5
Post by connieguy on Apr 9, 2019 7:30:39 GMT -5
With BOAC Constellations over the Atlantic 1946-c.1950.
As the Second World War was drawing to a close it was evident that the development of four-engined aircraft during it would facilitate post-war transatlantic and other long range passenger flights of a type that had not been possible previously. Consequently, a number of airlines were eager to be quick off the mark. The first Lockheed Constellation, Lockheed Construction Number 1961, had made its first flight on 9th January, 1943. The American Air Force ordered a number of the production models as the C-69, but by the end of May 1945 all but 69 had been cancelled and it only actually took delivery of 15, Construction Numbers 1961-74 and 1979. However, all of these were eventually declared surplus to requirements and ended up in civilian ownership, 1961 returning to Lockheed and being used for development of later types. This left Lockheed with a number of C-69s in the process of construction and the decision was taken to adapt these into commercial airliners as a temporary expedient pending the development of a fully commercial Constellation. These aircraft, which had begun life as C-69s or would-be C-69s, were construction numbers 1961-80 (see above) and 2021-44 (1981-2020 were never built). By November 1945 orders had been received from TWA, Pan Am, American Overseas Airlines, Eastern Air Lines and Panagra in the U.S., and from Air France and KLM in Europe, TWA receiving its first aircraft on 14th November and Pan Am on 5th January, 1946. A month later, on 5th February 1946, the first scheduled air service with the Constellation was inaugurated when T.W.A's Star of Paris took off from La Guardia at 14:21 Local Time and landed at Paris Orly at 15:57 Local Time the following day after stops at Gander and Shannon - elapsed time 19 hours 46 minutes, flying time 16 hours 38 minutes. On 11th February Star of Rome inaugurated the first US airline service to Italy. Pan Am and American Overseas followed suit, the latter having flown a Constellation to the official opening of London's Heathrow airport on 31st May, 1946 and putting the type into transatlantic service on 23rd June.
At this point the Constellation was the only game in town. The DC-4 was slower and unpressurized, the DC-6 not yet available and the Avro Tudor, the first pressurized British airliner, a failure despite its descent from the Lancaster and Lincoln bombers. Thus, B.O.A.C. had little choice but to order Constellations too, despite a considerable reluctance in some quarters to sanction the purchase of American aircraft, and was given permission to do so (it was a state airline) on 15th April, 1946. Thus, five former C-69s, construction numbers 1975-8 and 1980, were delivered to them at Montreal-Dorval, Canada in May-July 1946. The first of 10 proving flights was made on 16 June, 1946 and the final one on Sunday June 23rd, returning from New York a week later. Scheduled service began on 1st July, although interrupted by the grounding of all Constellations between 11th July and 30th August. The tenth proving flight is of particular interest because it was the subject of two extremely informative articles which appeared in Flight on July 11th and July 18th, 1946 and can be downloaded from the online Flight archive. The early Constellations produced from modified C-69s had a maximum take-off weight of 86,250 lbs, rather lighter than their successors, and a climb performance which no subsequent propliner (as far as I know) equalled, being able to climb straight to 20,000 feet with a full fuel load (edit: it can do so, but the best initial cruising height after take off with a full fuel load is FL180 - see later posts). According to the Flight article a full B.O.A.C, passenger load in 1946 was 42, although the accompanying plan shows 47 seats, and this was the standard for the type 26 (the number denoting the interior accommodation) with 7 crew and 445 cu ft for cargo. This may mean that B.O.A.C. chose to limit the number of passengers to 42, because it was not possible to carry any more with a full fuel load and a crew of 7 and stay within the limit for the maximum take-off weight of 86,250 lbs. The 049 made by the Connie Team can be adapted to these figures. They provide an aircraft.cfg which can easily be modified to 86,250 lbs and I have also altered it to represent a smaller full passenger load and a bigger crew as follows;
//For L049-46 early model (see manual for other subtypes)
station_load.0= "1623.000, -30.000, 0.000, 0.000, Pax-load rear" // from 1804
station_load.1= "1562.000, 22.000, 0.000, 0.000, Pax-load front" // from 1738
station_load.2= "1665.000, -8.000, 0.000, 0.000, Pax-load center" // from 1850
//For L149 with increased weight modifications and 6 tanks configuration
//station_load.0= "2134.000, -30.000, 0.000, 0.000, Pax-load rear"
//station_load.1= "1738.000, 22.000, 0.000, 0.000, Pax-load front"
//station_load.2= "2250.000, -8.000, 0.000, 0.000, Pax-load center"
station_load.3= "1000.000, 0.000, 0.000, 0.000, Cabin crew" //871.000
station_load.4= "0.000, -8.000, 0.000, 0.000, Cargo"
Not all will be interested in B.O.A.C., but there are good repaints of the 049 available for TWA, Pan Am, American Overseas, Air France and KLM, some of them by Frank Gonzalez. That being so, it will not be difficult for those who wish to fly along as this thread develops.
It remains to say that the earliest of these commercial aircraft had the Wright 739-C18BA-1 or 745-C18BA-1 engines, but that in the late summer of 1946 the 745-C18BA-3 engine became available, with two-speed superchargers and direct fuel injection. It was also possible to lean the engines below Auto-Lean. Once fitted with these engines the Constellation became the Lockheed type 049-46 (46 indicating this type of engine), and the B.O.A.C. machines seem to have been converted to the type 049-46-26 as quickly as possible, as were those of other airlines. Having established all this, it will soon be time for the results of proving flights before we attempt to cross the Atlantic properly ourselves...
Construction Number 1980, 'Baltimore', G-AHEN, in the fine repaint of the 1946 livery by Frank Gonzalez.
Construction Number 1976, 'Berwick', G-AHEK, in the later white top livery. Modified by myself using the 049 paint kit from a repaint of the Connie Team 749 Constellation by Tim Scharnhop.
Virtually all the information in this post derives from the second edition of Peter Marson's book on the Constellation, clearly the result of a lifetime's work.