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REVIEW: AeroClassics200 TWA L-1049G Super Constellation N6937C “Star of America”

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  • REVIEW: AeroClassics200 TWA L-1049G Super Constellation N6937C “Star of America”

    AeroClassics200/Western Models
    TWA Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1049G Super Constellation N6937C “Star of America”
    1/200 Scale (with GSE)

    March 2018 Release

    From the Lockheed Martin Website:

    How the Constellation Became the Star of the Skies

    In 1939, the top brass of the Lockheed Corporation—president Robert Gross, chief engineer Hall Hibbard, and chief research engineer Kelly Johnson—scheduled a key meeting with a VIP, a man with deep pockets who had recently shown an interest in buying not just one or a handful of new planes but a fleet of them.

    The customer’s request had been ambitious. He hoped to hire Lockheed to design a revolutionary aircraft capable of comfortably shuttling 20 passengers and 6,000 pounds of cargo across the United States, offering commercial aviation’s first coast-to-coast, non-stop service.

    But the Lockheed team had come to express even grander ambitions. They wanted to build the company’s first large transport, one that “would carry more people farther and faster than ever before, and economically enough to broaden the acceptance of flying as an alternative to train, ship and automobile,” said Johnson.

    In the years to come, the plane would be named the Constellation—Connie for short—and be flown by airlines around the world, as well as the U.S. military over the ensuing three decades. Eventually, it would be remembered as an enduring symbol, the epitome of grace in propeller-driven aircraft. But at that moment in 1939 in Los Angeles, the Lockheed Corporation was focused on winning over one customer and one customer only. His name was Howard Hughes.

    The Secret Weapon
    Having purchased a majority stake in TWA airlines earlier that year, Hughes saw the Constellation as his secret weapon in stealing market share from his competitors. He treated the project with all the subterfuge that secret weapons require. Not only did he demand total secrecy, but also specified that Lockheed could not sell the aircraft to any other transcontinental airline until TWA had received 35 of them.

    Hughes outlined the initial performance specifications, but it was Lockheed that would design the sleek, distinctive, now-iconic aircraft. It was a critical turning point for Lockheed. As Hibbard said, “Up to that time we were sort of ‘small-time guys,’ but when we got to the Constellation we had to be ‘big time guys’ … We had to be right and we had to be good.”

    Being good meant introducing new features previously unseen on passenger planes. The Constellation would offer the first hydraulically boosted power controls, aviation’s equivalent of power steering. It would be faster than most World War II fighters at 350 mph. And, using award-winning technology pioneered by Lockheed a few years earlier, it would feature a pressurized cabin for 44 passengers that allowed the plane to fly faster and above 90 percent of weather disturbances, what Constellation regulars would come to call smooth sailing.

    A Record Breaker
    In fact, Lockheed’s design was so good, the U.S. military, readying for war, saw its potential as a transport for troops and supplies in Europe and took over production in 1942.

    The first official flight test for a Constellation, sheathed in olive green paint and redesignated C-69, came early the next year. It was a plane equally beautiful in form as well as function. First flight went so well that five more flights were performed the first day. Hughes went about publicizing the Constellation the best way he knew how: by breaking a transcontinental speed record on a Burbank to Washington, D.C., flight in April 1944. The Connie averaged 331 mph, flying nonstop in six hours, 57 minutes, and 51 seconds on this flight. After setting the record, that aircraft was returned to the military and during service testing at Wright Field, Ohio, Orville Wright, who had made the first powered flight, made his last flight, serving as copilot on a test run.

    A New Age Beckons
    The final commercial Constellation was produced in 1959. By then, the planes had flown for most of the world’s major airlines and been used by militaries across the globe. And yet the versatile airframe would continue to be adapted for a variety of unforeseen roles, from chartered operations and freighters to agricultural crop sprayers. Over the years, its stature as one of the most graceful aircraft of early commercial flight would only intensify, as evidenced by the number of Connies found in aviation museums across the country.

    The Model

    The model by AeroClassics/Western Models represents aircraft N6937C “Star of America” which currently resides at the Airline History Museum (formerly “Save A Connie” Organization) located at the Kansas City Downtown Airport (MKC). During the fifties and sixties MKC was home to many Constellations, as it was TWA’s main base and technical facility for aircraft inspections and overhauls.

    The model itself is a very nice representation of Lockheed’s famous Super Connie. My model had no quality control issues and the paint was flawless. The polished metal finish on these models is also well done and is a nice touch by AeroClassics. As an added bonus, a complete metal diecast set of Ground Support Equipment in TWA markings is included.

    Overall an excellent model and one that will likely sell out completely very soon.

    Very highly recommended.


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