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BOAC L-049 Constellation Model


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BOAC- Lockheed L-049 Constellation Model

Fly in the classic BOAC- Lockheed L-049 Constellation Model in this hand crafted recreation. Each model is carved from wood and hand crafted to provide a piece you’ll love.

Length – 15 inches

Wingspan – 16 inches

The Lockheed L-049 Constellation was the first model of the Lockheed Constellation aircraft line. It entered service as the C-69 military transport aircraft during World War II for the United States Army Air Forces and was the first civilian version after the war. When production ended in 1946 it was replaced by the improved L-649 and L-749 Constellation.

Design and development
In June 1939, Howard Hughes, the owner of Transcontinental & Western Air (later called Trans World Airlines and abbreviated TWA for short), prepared a meeting at his Hancock Park residence in California. Jack Frye (then president of TWA) attended along with three executives from the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation which included designer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson. During the meeting Hughes expressed his concerns for what he called the “airliner of the future”. Lockheed’s airliner under development at the time, the L-044 Excalibur, did not meet the requirements.

When the meeting ended with Hughes and Frye, the executives immediately started on improving the Excalibur to meet Hughes’ expectations. One idea was to use the Wright R-2600 radials in place of the proposed Wright GR-1820 radials. It was decided instead to start from scratch using some original characteristics of the Excalibur. The design was lengthened from 74 ft 3 in to 95 ft 9 in and the wingspan was increased to 102 ft 4 in. Six different layouts of the cockpit envisaged, including a “Bug-Eye” proposal in which the pilot and co-pilot would sit in separate domes next to each other. In the end, it was decided to use a single curvature design with all-around glazing. Three weeks later, the new design was presented in a different meeting.

The design was given the designation L-049 or Excalibur A. The wings of the aircraft were similar to those used by the P-38 Lightning fighter. The aircraft was to be powered by four Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone radials with the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 as the back-up. Re-designed, the Excalibur was to be priced at $450,000, making it the most expensive airliner on the drawing board. Since TWA was unable to provide funding, Howard Hughes had his other company, the Hughes Tool Company, fund the construction of the airliner. Hughes ordered 40 Excaliburs on July 10, 1940, making the order the largest in airline history at the time. The development was to be kept a secret until the 35th aircraft was delivered to TWA. This was done in order to keep competitors such as Juan Trippe’s Pan American World Airways from ordering the aircraft and competing with TWA. The secret was apparently well kept.

When Hughes was brought in to look at a scale mock up of the Excalibur’s cabin, he was not pleased with the outcome and stated “It’s not what I expected”. Hughes later had Raymond Loewy redesign the cabin to his liking. A complete life sized mock up of the Excalibur was eventually constructed with battery operated retractable landing gear. The gear mechanisms were tested on the mock up for design validation before production began. The powerplant itself was tested on a PV-1 Ventura which was nicknamed “Vent-ellation” for the occasion. The name “Excalibur” was later dropped as the new aircraft had nothing in common with the original L-044 design. The name “Constellation” was picked up as an unofficial nickname until the intervention of the military.

The Constellation had several technological advancements such as electric de-icing, hydraulic assisted controls, reversible pitch propellers and pressurization, which allowed the Constellation to fly above the clouds. Lockheed had done pressurization in an aircraft before, with the Lockheed XC-35.