Lockheed R6V Constitution


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Lockheed R6V Constitution line drawing The Lockheed R6V Constitution began as a proposal to Pan Am for an airliner with greater range and passenger capacity than the Lockheed 049 Constellation. Development continued during World War II under the auspices of the Navy, which ordered two prototypes as R6Os.

By the end of the war, Pan Am had decided that the Constitution and the Convair 37 were too big. The Constitution was underpowered. Engine cooling problems required that the cowl flaps had to be left partly open during cruise flight, which reduced the already inadequate range.

At the same time, Douglas gave up marketing the Globemaster I (C-74) as the DC-7. The final design for the DC-7 was considerably smaller.

The Boeing 377 Stratocruiser got the bulk of the post-war transatlantic airliner production contracts after the war. Even so, Boeing made only fifty-five 377 Stratocruisers. Convair made more 880s than Boeing made 377s.

The failure to develop the 5,500 hp Wright Typhoon turboprop was the final blow to the prospect of a giant lockheed turboprop airliner variant of the Constitution.

One novel feature of the Constitution was the main landing gear, which was composed of two struts on each side of the fuselage with two wheels mounted on each strut. Electric motors were used to spin the wheels up to landing speed before touchdown. This feature seriously impaired the pilot's ability to feel when the airplane had touched down on the runway.

The first flight of the XR6O-1 Constitution, BuNo 85163 was flown from Burbank to Muroc Army Air Base on November 9, 1946. The second XR6O-1, BuNo 85164 flew in June 1948. The two Constitutions served initially with VR-44 at NAS Alameda, California. When VR-44 was disestablished in 1950, the Constitutions were transeferred to VR-5 at NAS Moffett.

Lockheed R6V Constitution, BuNo 85163 rollout at Burbank, California Lockheed R6O Constitution, BuNo 85163 at Burbank, California. It was posed next to a Lockheed 12A Electra Junior to provide a sense of its scale. Lockheed photo via Nico Braas of the Netherlands.

Lockheed R6V Constitution, BuNo 85163 rollout at Burbank, California The first Lockheed R6O Constitution, BuNo 85163 at Burbank, California. This time the smaller airplane is a Beech C-45 . Lockheed photo via Nico Braas of the Netherlands.

Lockheed R6V Constitution, BuNo 85163 in flight over Rogers Dry Lake, California R6O Constitution, BuNo 85163 in flight over Rogers Dry Lake, California. Lockheed photo via Nico Braas of the Netherlands.

Postal cover carried by the Lockheed R6O Constitution on it's first official flight Postal cover carried by the second Lockheed R6O Constitution on its first "official" flight from Burbank, California to Washington, D.C. on July 25, 1948.

Lockheed R6V Constitution landing at NAS Moffett, California in 1948. Photo by Bill Larkins Bill Larkins, one of the founders of the American Aviation Historical Society, took this picture of Lockheed Constitution, BuNo 85164 on approach to land at Moffett Naval Air Station in 1948.

Check out the Northern California Chapter of the American Aviation Historical Society.

Lockheed promotional artwork for the R6V Constitution Lockheed promotional artwork for the R6V Constitution over Catalina Island.

Lockheed R6V Constitution, BuNo 85164 takes off from Burbank, California The second R6O Constitution, BuNo 85164 takes off from Burbank, California.

The two Constitutions were redesignated R6V in 1950. The Navy retired them in 1953.

Lockheed R6V Constitution, BuNo 85163 at las Vegas The first R6V Constitution, BuNo 85163 was stored at Litchfield Park, Arizona following its retirement. It was purchased and flown to Las Vegas, but was never put into civilian service. It was used as a billboard to advertise Alamo Gasoline and eventually scrapped.

The second Constitution, BuNo 85164 was flown to Opa Locka, Florida. It was disassembled, moved off the airport and was reassembled on Northwest 135th Street not far from the field. It was scrapped in 1978. Some of its propeller blades have been preserved by the family of its last owner.

Giant Airplanes of the 1940s

  First Flight Wing Span Length Wing Area Gross Weight Engines
Bristol Brabazon

1949

230ft,00in

177ft,00in

5,317

290,000

8 x 2,650hp Bristol Centaurus
Hughes Flying Boat (Spruce Goose)

1947

320ft,00in

218ft,06in

11,430

300,000

8 x 3,500hp R4360
Convair XC-99

1947

230ft,00in

185ft,00in

4,772

320,000

6 x 3,500hp R4360
Northrop YB-49 Flying Wing

1947

172ft,00in

53ft,01in

4,000

194,000

8 x 3,700 lb J-35
Convair B-36

1946

230ft,00in

162ft,01in

4,772

370,000

6 x 3,500hp R4360, 4 x 5,200 lb J-47
Lockheed R6V Constitution

1946

189ft,01in

156ft,01in

3,610

184,000

4 x 3,000hp R4360
Douglas DC-6

1946

117ft,06in

100ft,07in

1,463

97,200

4 x 2,100 hp R2800
Douglas C-74 Globemaster

1945

173ft,03in

124ft,02in

2,506

145,000

4 x 3,000hp R4360
Blohm und Voss BV-238

1945

197ft,05in

142ft,8in

3,930

176,400

6 x BMW 801
Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter/Stratotanker

1945

141ft,03in

110ft,04in

1,738

120,000

4 x 3,000hp R4360
Lockheed 049 Constellation

1943

123ft,00in

95ft,02in

1,650

86,200

4 x 2,000 hp R3350
Martin JRM Mars

1942

200ft,00in

117ft,00in

3,683

144,000

4 x 2,000 hp R3350
Douglas DC-4

1942

117ft,06in

93ft,10in

1,460

73,000

4 x 1,350 hp R2000
Douglas XB-19

1941

212ft,00in

132ft,00in

4,492

164,000

4 x 2,000 hp R3350
Tupolev Ant-20bis

1940

206ft,08in

111ft,11in

5,231

99,200

6 x 1,200 hp M-34FRNV
Blohm und Voss BV-222

1940

150ft,11in

120ft

2,744

108,000

6 x 1,000 hp BMW-Bramo Fafnir 323R

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