The Info List - C-121 Constellation

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The Lockheed C-121 Constellation
Lockheed C-121 Constellation
is a military transport version of the Lockheed Constellation. A total of 332 aircraft were constructed for both the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
and United States Navy
United States Navy
for various purposes. Numerous airborne early warning versions were also constructed. The C-121 later saw service with smaller civilian operators until 1993.


1 Design and development 2 Variants

2.1 Air Force 2.2 Navy

3 Specifications

3.1 C-121A (L-749A) 3.2 R7V-1/C-121J (L-1049B)

4 See also 5 References

5.1 Notes 5.2 Bibliography

6 External links

Design and development[edit]

VC-121A 48-0614 Columbine, the personal transport of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum

A C-121C aircraft, formerly USAF 54-0153, operated by the Super Constellation Flyers Association in Switzerland

Lockheed's first attempt at a military version of the Constellation airliner had been unsuccessful. This was largely due to the problems encountered by the Wright R-3350
Wright R-3350
engines that powered the aircraft. After the war, the few military Constellations built (designated C-69) were retrofitted by Lockheed for use in the post-war airline industry as the L-049. In 1947, Lockheed unveiled a more economical Constellation. The L-749 as it was known, had extra fuel capacity and a more economical version of the R-3350. However, Lockheed had lost 1200 workers that same year. By 1948, production of the L-749
was at a near halt. It was then that the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
(USAF) signed a contract with Lockheed for ten L-749A aircraft designated the C-121A. The United States Navy (USN) had also placed an order for two AWACS versions of the L-749A designated the PO-1W (later WV-1). The first L-749A variants off the production line were for the US military. The C-121A versions differed from the L-749
only through having a reinforced floor to handle cargo, and a large aft loading door. Although originally intended for cargo transport duties, they were usually fitted out with 44-seat passenger transport interiors. The aircraft also consisted of a five-man crew with four relief crew members on standby. All C-121As were assigned to the Atlantic division of the Military Air Transport Service
Military Air Transport Service
(MATS). The aircraft would later see service in the Berlin Airlift. Dwight Eisenhower
Dwight Eisenhower
and General Douglas MacArthur both used the C-121A as their personal VIP transports. In 1950, six of the C-121A Constellations were modified as VIP transports and redesignated VC-121A. The last C-121As were retired in 1968. In August 1950, the USN ordered eleven passenger/cargo convertible versions of Lockheed's stretched L-1049B Super Constellation (which it had already ordered as the WV-2 AWACS platform). These aircraft, originally designated R7O, were delivered before the WV-2 aircraft due to the R7O being more simple to produce. The R7O (now R7V-1) first flew in 1952. The R7V-1 was able to be quickly converted between a passenger transport for 97-107 individuals or a cargo carrying transport in two hours. The Navy reduced the number of available seats to fit room for life rafts on overseas flights. 73 stretchers could also be used for medical evacuation flights. The R7V-1s saw service over the Atlantic and Pacific in squadrons VR-1 (the oldest transport squadron in the Navy), VR-7 and VR-8. Two modified R7V-1 aircraft were used on Antarctic supply missions while conducting tests and observations at the same time. One crashed on landing in 1970 and remains at the spot to the present day; the other was retired in 1971. In 1962, 32 of the 50 R7V-1 aircraft in Naval service were transferred to the Air Force, being re-designated the C-121G. The remaining 18 in Naval service were redesignated C-121J. One C-121J was later used by the Blue Angels
Blue Angels
until it was replaced by a Lockheed C-130 Hercules
Lockheed C-130 Hercules
in 1971.

The former USAF 54-0154, a C-121C operated by the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society fitted with non-standard wingtip fuel tanks, starts one of its engines

The USAF had also ordered 33 L-1049F Super Constellations in 1951, designated the C-121C. Unlike its Naval equivalent, the C-121C featured square cabin windows instead of round ones. Otherwise, the C-121C resembled the USN R7V-1 aircraft. The C-121C also featured a reinforced structure to handle turboprop engines if necessary. Other features of the C-121C included an Auxiliary Power Unit
Auxiliary Power Unit
Turbo-compound R-3350s and the ability to carry 75 passengers, 72 fully equipped troops, or 47 stretchers. The seats could be stored under the floor of the aircraft when needed for cargo use. The first flight of a C-121C was in 1955. Deliveries began in August 1955, with aircraft being assigned to the MATS Atlantic division. The aircraft were later in service with the Air National Guard
Air National Guard
(ANG) and were retired in 1973. Four were later refitted as VC-121C VIP aircraft, six as EC-121S TV and radio broadcast relay systems, two became EC-121C Microwave Airborne Radio Communications (MARCOM) systems and one was converted to a DC-121C observation aircraft.

Play media

A video of the Super Constellation Flyers Association's C-121C in flight.

After military service, some C-121s and R7V-1s were used by civilian operators as cargo aircraft. The last operators were small Dominican Republic cargo airlines that operated to Miami with surplus military Constellations bought from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The operations stopped in 1993 after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned these operators from flying into the United States due to safety concerns. Two former C-121Cs fly today with the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society of Australia
and the Super Constellation Flyers Association of Switzerland.[1][2]

Variants[edit] Main article: Lockheed Constellation
Lockheed Constellation
variants Air Force[edit]

C-121A Initial variant, based on the civil L-749
Constellation. Nine built. VC-121A Six C-121A transports converted to VIP use. Originally designated PC-121A. VC-121B Similar to the VC-121A, but with the cargo door replaced by a smaller passenger door. One built. C-121C Initial variant based on the L-1049 Super Constellation. 33 built. VC-121C VIP conversion of four C-121C aircraft.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower's personal VC-121E, called Columbine III.

VC-121E Ordered by the United States Navy
United States Navy
as a R7V-1 but modified before delivery as a presidential transport for the United States Air Force. YC-121F Two former United States Navy
United States Navy
R7V-2s with Pratt & Whitney T34 turboprop engines transferred to the United States Air Force. Designated L-1249A by Lockheed.[3] C-121G Redesignation of 32 R7V-1 transports transferred from the USN to the Air Force. TC-121G Three C-121Gs converted to AWACS crew trainers. VC-121G One C-121G converted to a VIP transport.


R7V-1 Initial Navy version based on the L-1049. 50 built. Originally designated R7O. R7V-1P One R7V-1 modified for Antarctic service. R7V-2 Two transport aircraft similar to the YC-121F. Also designated L-1249A. Two built. C-121J 18 remaining R7V-1s redesignated. TC-121J Electronic testbed. One converted. NC-121J Four C-121J aircraft converted to television broadcasting aircraft for use in Vietnam. Project Jenny ( Blue Eagles ) VXN-8 VC-121J Four C-121J aircraft converted for VIP use. One operated with the Blue Angels.

[3][4] Specifications[edit]

C-121A (L-749A)[edit] Data from Lockheed Constellation:From Excalibur to Starliner.[5] General characteristics

Crew: 5 Capacity: 44 Passengers (Passenger configuration) Length: 95 ft 2 in (29.007 m) Wingspan: 123 ft (37.49 m) Height: 22 ft 5 in (6.8326 m) Wing area: 1,650 sq ft (153.29 sq m) Empty weight: 61,325 lbs (27,816.6 kg) Max. takeoff weight: 107,000 lbs (48,534.4 kg) Powerplant: 4 × Wright R-3350-75 radial engines, 2,500 bhp (1,866 kW) each Propellers: 4 propeller, 1 per engine


Maximum speed: 334 mph (537.52 km/h) Cruise speed: 324 mph (521.43 km/h) Service ceiling: 24,442 ft (7,450 m)

R7V-1/C-121J (L-1049B)[edit]

Data from Lockheed Constellation:From Excalibur to Starliner.[6] General characteristics

Crew: 4 Capacity: 97-107 Passengers (Passenger configuration) Length: 116 ft 2 in (35.408 m) Wingspan: 123 ft (37.49 m) Height: 24 ft 9 in (7.5438 m) Wing area: 1,650 sq ft (153.29 sq m) Empty weight: 72,815 lbs (33,028.3 kg) Max. takeoff weight: 145,000 lb (65,770.9 kg) Powerplant: 4 × Wright R-3350-34 radial engines, 3250 bhp (2,240 kW) each Propellers: 4 propeller, 1 per engine


Maximum speed: 368 mph at 20,000 ft (592.24 km/h at 6.096 km) Cruise speed: 259 mph at 10,000 ft (416.82 km/h at 3.048 km) Service ceiling: 24,442 ft (7,449 m)

See also[edit]

Related development

Lockheed C-69 Constellation Lockheed Constellation Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star Lockheed L-049
Constellation Lockheed L-649 Constellation Lockheed L-749
Constellation Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation Lockheed L-1249 Super Constellation
Lockheed L-1249 Super Constellation
(R7V-2/YC-121F) Lockheed L-1649 Starliner

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Boeing 377 Stratocruiser Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter Bristol Britannia Canadair CC-109 Cosmopolitan Convair
C-131 Samaritan Douglas C-54 Skymaster Douglas DC-6/C-118 Liftmaster Douglas DC-7 Ilyushin Il-18

Related lists

List of Lockheed aircraft List of Lockheed Constellation
Lockheed Constellation
operators Lockheed Constellation
Lockheed Constellation

References[edit] Notes[edit]

^ L1049 Super Constellation - Lockheed Constellation
Lockheed Constellation
Survivors; Petersen, Ralph M.; Retrieved 8/4/11 ^ Breffort, 2006, pp.146-159. ^ a b C-69/C-121 - US Warplanes.net; Retrieved 11/6/11 ^ Breffort, 2006, pp.166-169. ^ Breffort, 2006, p.175. ^ Breffort, 2006


Breffort, Dominique. Lockheed Constellation: from Excalibur to Starliner Civilian and Military Variants. Paris: Histoire and Collecions, 2006. Print. ISBN 2-915239-62-2. Winchester, Jim. Lockheed Constellation
Lockheed Constellation
(Classic Airliners). St Paul, MN:MBI Publishing 2001. ISBN 0-7603-1198-6.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lockheed Constellation.

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

v t e

Lockheed and Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin
aircraft and spacecraft


Constellation family

Constellation L-049 L-649 L-749 L-1049 L-1249 Starliner C-69 C-121 EC-121 R6V XB-30

Hercules family

C-130 C-130J AC-130 DC-130 HC-130 EC-130


KC-130 LC-130 MC-130 WC-130 L-100

Model 10 Electra family

Model 10 Electra Junior Lodestar Hudson Super Electra Ventura

L-188 Electra family

L-188 P-3 EP-3 CP-140 P-7

Other types

Air Express Altair C-5 C-141 Excalibur JetStar Orion Saturn Sirius TriStar




Lightning family

P-38 XP-49 XP-58

Shooting Star family

F-80 F-94 T-33 T2V

Starfighter famiily

XF-104 F-104 NF-104A CL-1200

Raptor family

YF-22 F-22 FB-22 X-44

Other types

A-4AR A-9 F-16 F-35 F-117 XFM-2 XF-90 YP-24


Blackbird family

A-12 SR-71 Blackbird YF-12 D-21

Maritime patrol

P-2 Neptune S-3 Viking

Other manned

U-2 YO-3 TR-X SR-72

Other UAVs

Aequare AQM-60 Desert Hawk Desert Hawk III Fury MQM-105 Polecat RQ-3 RQ-170


CL-475 XH-51 AH-56 Cheyenne VH-71 Kestrel


Have Blue L-133 L-301 QueSST Senior Peg Senior Prom Star Clipper XC-35 X-7 X-17 X-24C X-26B X-33 X-35 X-55 X-56 XFV XV-4

Light aircraft

Big Dipper Explorer L-402 Little Dipper


Agena High Virgo Perseus Ping-Pong Polaris Poseidon Trident I Trident II

v t e

Lockheed Constellation
Lockheed Constellation


(C-69) L-149 L-549 (C-69C) L-649 L-749
(C-121A/B PO-1W/WV-1)

Super Constellation

L-1049 (C-121C/G/J EC-121 R7O-1/R7V-1 WV-2/WV-3) L-1249 (YC-121F * R7V-2)



See also List of models of the Lockheed Constellation List of Lockheed Constellation
Lockheed Constellation
operators List of accidents and incidents involving the Lockheed Constellation

v t e

United States military transport aircraft designations, Army/Air Force and Tri-Service systems

Army/Air Force sequence (1925-1962)

C-1 C-2 C-3 C-4 C-5 C-6 C-7 C-8 C-9 C-10 C-11 C-12 C-131 C-14 C-15 C-16 C-17 C-18 C-19 C-20 C-21 C-22 C-23 C-24 C-25 C-26 C-27 C-28 C-29 C-30 C-31 C-32 C-33 C-34 C-35 C-36 C-37 C-38 C-39 C-40 C-41/A C-42 C-43 C-44 C-45 C-46 C-47/T C-48 C-49 C-50 C-51 C-52 C-53 C-54 C-55 C-56 C-57 C-58 C-59 C-60 C-61 C-62 C-63 C-64 C-65 C-66 C-67 C-68 C-69 C-70/A/B/C/D C-71 C-72 C-73 C-74 C-75 C-76 C-77/B-D C-78 C-79 C-80 C-81 C-82 C-83 C-84 C-85 C-86 C-87 C-88 C-89 C-90 C-91 C-92 C-93 C-94 C-95 C-96 C-97/KC-97 C-98 C-99 C-100 C-101 C-102 C-103 C-104 C-105 C-106 C-107 C-108 C-109 C-110 C-111 C-112 C-113 C-114 C-115 C-116 C-117 C-118 C-119 C-120 C-121/F C-122 C-123/A C-124 C-125 C-126 C-127 (I) C-127 (II) C-128 C-129 C-130/J C-131 C-132 C-133 C-134 C-135/KC-135 C-136 C-137 C-1381 C-1391 C-140 C-141 C-142

Tri-service sequence (1962-present)

C-1 C-2 C-3 C-4 C-5 C-6 C-7/B C-8 C-9 C-10 C-11 C-12 C-131 C-14 C-15 C-161 C-17 C-18 C-19 C-20A-D/F-H C-21 C-22 C-23 C-24 C-25 C-26 C-27/J C-28 C-29 C-301 C-31 C-32 C-33 C-341 C-35 C-36 C-37A/B C-38 C-391 C-40 C-41 C-421 C-431 C-441 C-45 C-46

Revived original sequence (2005-present)

C-143 C-144 C-145 C-146

Non-sequential designations

C-767 C-880

1 Not assigned See also: AC-47  • AC-119  • AC-130  • DC-130  • EC-130  • HC-130  • KC-130  • LC-130  • MC-130  • WC-130  • CT-39  • CT-43

v t e

USN/USMC transport designations 1931–1962

Atlantic Aircraft





RC R2C4 R3C4 R4C R5C












RO R2O R3O R4O R5O R6O R7O-1/-2 to "V" (see below, at "Lockheed")












from "O" (see above, at "Lockheed") R6V R7V-1/-2 R8V



1 Not assigned 2 Assigned to a different manufacturer's type 3 Sequence restarted 4 Assigned to a different