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1

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter

When it first appeared in 1954, the super-fast, lightweight F-104 Starfighter was dubbed “the missile with a man in it”. Designed by Lockheed’s Kelly Johnson, it was both small and simple – indeed, F-104s were memorably described by journalist Tom Wolfe as “chimneys with little razor-blade wings”. The first combat aircraft capable of sustaining speeds above Mach 2, the Starfighter had an […]

2

Lockheed Vega

The stylish Lockheed Vega was a charismatic aircraft that scored high on both looks and performance. Designed by Jack Northrop for the Lockheed Aircraft Company, it was a fast, high-winged monoplane with room for six passengers. The Vega owed its exceptionally clean lines to its smooth semi monococque plywood fuselage, built in two halves in a concrete mould, and its cantilever wing free […]

3

Lockheed Constellation

Known affectionately as the “Connie”, the Lockheed Constellation was the most graceful of the great four-engine propliners that opened up intercontinental air routes in the immediate postwar years. With its flowing contours and distinctive triple tail, it had a supremely elegant exterior to match its stylish passenger accommodation. Designed by Kelly Johnson, the Constellation originated in 1939 with a request from TWA for a […]

4

Lockheed SR-71A

One of the most amazing aeroplanes ever built, the SR-71A Blackbird originated from the CIA’s request for a replacement for the U-2 spyplane. Like many top-secret projects, it was entrusted to Lockheed’s famous “Skunk Works” team, headed by Kelly Johnson. They came up with the A-12 first, in 1962, and then the slightly larger SR-71, in December 1964. The fastest air-breathing, manned […]

5

Lockheed C-5 Galaxy

The gargantuan Lockheed Galaxy transport aircraft is incredible for its sheer size. Ever since the four-engine C-5A was first delivered to the US Air Forces Military Airlift Command in December 1969 it has dwarfed just about every other aeroplane around. Its vast cargo bay can accommodate two main battle tanks, six attack helicopters, or around 260,000lb of supplies. Access is through huge doors that […]

6

Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk

With its menacing demeanour and black, futuristic design, the distinctive F-117 A Nighthawk was the first operational aircraft entirely designed around stealth technology. Dubbed the “Bat Plane”, its extraordinary appearance results from the use of “faceting” – critically angled flat surfaces – to minimize its radar signature: it is also almost entirely covered by matt black radar-absorbent material. Interestingly, the Nighthawk gains its lift from […]

7

Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon

Originally developed by General Dynamics, the F-16 became one of the most important fighters of the 2oth century. It was the first fighter to use “fly by – wire” technology, whereby the flight controls are operated via electric signaling through a sidestick in the cockpit. This led to pilots saying, “You don’t fly an F-16, it flies you.” Smaller and cheaper than […]

8

Planes for travel and fun

Commercial airliners underwent huge changes during the late 1960s and early 70s. The year 1969 saw the introduction of the world’s first wide-body jet, the Boeing 747, as well as the maiden flight of the supersonic Concorde. One proved much more influential than the other: Although few supersonic jets have been builtt wide-body carriers have become extremely popular. They include the Douglas […]

9

The influence of war

From 1914 to 1918, World War I resulted in the transformation of aircraft from slow, frail vehicles into agile, capable fighting machines. The governments of the world began to see the military potential of air power, leading to tremendous progress, particularly in the fields of engine technology  and aerodynamics. Although Wright Aircraft had produced the first military airplanes in 1908, […]