Lockheed L-749 Constellation

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L-749 Constellation
A Trans World Airlines L-749A at London's Heathrow Airport. Note the "Speedpak" under fuselage freight container.
A Trans World Airlines L-749A at London's Heathrow Airport. Note the "Speedpak" under fuselage freight container.
Role Airliner
National origin United States
Manufacturer Lockheed
Designer Clarence "Kelly" Johnson
First flight March 14, 1947[1]
Introduction April 18, 1947
Retired 1993
Status Retired
Primary users Trans World Airlines
Air France
South African Airways
Air India
Eastern Air Lines
Airlinte Eireann
Produced 1947 - 1951[2][3]
Number built 119
Developed from L-649 Constellation
Variants C-121 Constellation
PO-1W/WV-1 Constellation

The Lockheed L-749 Constellation was the first Lockheed Constellation to regularly cross the Atlantic Ocean non-stop. Although similar in appearance to the L-649 before it, the L-749 had a larger fuel capacity, strengthened landing gear, and eventually weather radar.

Design and development[edit]

An L-749A of CAUSA.

In early 1947 the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation unveiled the L-749, a derivative of its L-649 Constellation with fuel tanks to increase its range by 1,000 miles. Due to the increased weight, the landing gear and tires had to be strengthened. Jet stacks were also introduced, increasing speed by 15 mph (24 km/h). These jet stacks increased the noise calling for more insulation. As with the L-649, ten different layouts of the internal cabin were possible. Airlines originally attracted to the L-649 changed their orders to the L-749. The L-749 was to become the standard version of the regular Constellation.[3][4][5]

The L-749 first flew on March 14, 1947,[1] and received certification that same month. The first L-749 was delivered to Air France on April 18, 1947. Pan American World Airways received its first L-749 in June. L-749 service began with Pan Am in June 1947 on their "Round The World" service. The L-749 also entered service with TWA and various other airlines, including KLM, Cubana de Aviación, Línea Aeropostal Venezolana, Avianca and Iberia. In March 1947, 1,200 jobs were lost at Lockheed, bringing production of the aircraft to a near stand-still. A large order from the United States Air Force for 10 L-749A aircraft designated the C-121 Constellation, saved the Constellation program from cancellation. The United States Navy followed in, ordering two L-749A aircraft designated the PO-1W Constellation (later WV-1). The first L-749A aircraft off the production lines were destined for the military.

The Aviadrome's C-121A Constellation in the colors of a KLM L-749.

Lockheed started producing the improved L-749A in 1949. It had a strengthened fuselage, further strengthened landing gear and a Plycor floor. This increased weight by over 4,000 pounds and increased the MTOW. A slightly redesigned engine cowling, and new Curtiss Electric propellers were also introduced. Lockheed also offered a L-749 to L-749A production kit. The first civil customer for the L-749A was South African Airways but its largest customer was Trans World Airlines which had 26 L-749A aircraft. The last of TWA's aircraft would not be retired until 1967. A cargo version of the L-749A based on the military C-121A was offered, but no airlines showed interest and it never left the drawing board. An L-749B turboprop version was envisaged, but this too never left the drawing board as no reliable engine was found. Production of the L-749A ended in 1951 to give way to its stretched successor, the L-1049 Super Constellation.

Iranian Airways L-749 on an Iranian 200 rial note from the 1950s



A Skyways of London L-749A at Manchester (Ringway) Airport on August 11, 1963.
An L-749A of Air Algerie at Paris Orly Airport on May 31, 1957.
Standard production version powered by four Wright R-3350-749C18BD-1 radial engines. 60 built.
Reinforced structure and an increased MTOW. 59 built.
Proposed turboprop version. None built.
Planned version of L-749 powered by Wright R-3350 TurboCompound engines.
Proposed Speedfreighter combi version of L-849 with an 18 ft 4 in fuselage stretch.

Specifications (L-749)[edit]

Constellation Silh.jpg
The cockpit of an L-749

Data from the American Museum of Aviation.[1]

General characteristics


  • Cruise speed: 345 mph (555.22 km/h)
  • Range: 4,995 mi w/maximum fuel load
    2,600 mi w/maximum payload (8,038.7 km w/maximum fuel load
    4,184.3 km w/maximum payload)
  • Service ceiling: 24,100 ft (7.34568 km)

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists



  1. ^ a b c The American Museum of Aviation - Lockheed L-749 Technical Specifications; Retrieved 9/6/11
  2. ^ US Warplanes - C-69/C-121; Retrieved 9/6/11
  3. ^ a b c Breffort, Dominique. Lockheed Constellation: from Excalibur to Starliner Civilian and Military Variants. Histoire and Collecions, 2006, pp. 40-45.
  4. ^ Lockheed Constellation Survivors - L649/L749 Constellation; Petersen, Ralph M.; Retrieved 9/6/11
  5. ^ California Classic Proliners - Lockheed Constellations; Gibson, Tom; Retrieved 9/6/11


  • Breffort, Dominique. Lockheed Constellation: from Excalibur to Starliner Civilian and Military Variants. Paris: Histoire and Collecions, 2006. Print. ISBN 2-915239-62-2

External links[edit]

  • Lockheed Constellation Survivors - A website that explains information and whereabouts of surviving Constellations of all variants, including the L-749 Constellation.