DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Trans World Airlines (TWA) introduced the Lockheed L-1049 ‘Super Constellation’, or ‘Connie, into its fleet in 1952.
The original Constellation was commissioned in 1939 by TWA owner Howard Hughes. Hughes wanted a long-range airliner that offered unrivaled comfort, range, and economics. He believed that this would be his “secret weapon” against his competitors.
The TWA boss demanded the project be kept top secret. He also specified that Lockheed could not sell the aircraft to any other airline until TWA had received 35 examples.
TWA received its first Constellation on October 1, 1945, and introduced the Super Connie seven years later.
While Hughes was instrumental in Connie’s performance specifications, it was Lockheed that created the iconic, sleek, and elegant ‘art deco’ look.
Enter the Super Connie
With the success of the initial variant, Lockheed quickly set about building a bigger and better version. Over 550 design changes were implemented into the new aircraft, known as the L-1049 ‘Super Constellation.’
To speed up the entry into service, the original Constellation was purchased from Hughes for $100,000. It was then modified to become the Super Connie prototype.
First Connie Flights
This variant first flew on July 14, 1951. TWA had ordered ten in 1950. However, rival Eastern Airlines (EA) would put the type into revenue service first on December 17, 1951.
Featured image: Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation, Trans World Airlines at Los Angeles Int’l Airport – KLAX, USA – California. Photo: John Proctor Collection, used with permission