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Lockheed 44 Excalibur
 
Loch-44-01
               
Around this time, the late 1930s Lockheed Aircraft Corporation was studying different airliner projects. The first was the Model 27, which had a canard configuration. The other two were the L-104 and L-105. The L-105 was smaller, with 1200 hp engines, and was more conventional than the L-104. These studies led Lockheed's Burbank facility to settle on a design dubbed Model 44, a four-engined airliner that was announced to the public in April 1939. Soon afterwards, the new airliner was dubbed Excalibur. The Excalibur resembled an enlarged Model 10 Electra. It would be powered by four Wright GR-1820 Cyclone 9 radial engines, rated at 1000 hp (746 kW), or four Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp radials. Its wingspan was 95 ft 9 in (29.18 m), its length was 82 ft 6 in (25.15 m), and its projected maximum speed was in the 250-280 mph range (402–451 km/h). Several variants were proposed, to accommodate different passenger loads.
 
The original Excalibur design envisioned a 21-passenger payload, with a 240 mph (386 km/h) cruising speed. This was revised to 36 passengers at 268 mph (431 km/h) cruise at 12,000 feet (3,660m) altitude. This change included increasing the fuselage diameter, making it comparable to the Model 18 Lodestar, and increasing the wingspan to 95 ft 9 in (25.19 m) with an area of 1,000 ft² (92.9 m²). A tricycle landing gear with steerable nosewheel was envisioned. With the revised specifications, the Excalibur could now effectively compete with the near monopoly Douglas had on the airliner market. Its projected performance was better (except in range) than the Boeing 307. The revision of specifications was partially due to a request from Pan American Airlines; their influence also caused the addition of the third tailfin. A variant designated the L-144, able to carry 40 passengers was planned, but was ultimately cancelled even though South African Airways had placed a potential order for two examples. Lockheed proceeded with a full-scale mockup of the proposed Excalibur, including most of the airliner except the right wing.
 
 Loch-44-02
 
The billionaire Howard Hughes, who had recently gained ownership of Transcontinental & Western Air (TWA), decided to provide funding for the new Excalibur. He had a plan in mind to vastly improve the characteristics of the Excalibur by increasing comfort, speed and profit of the aircraft. It was thus that Hughes invited three workers from Lockheed and Jack Frye (president of TWA) to a meeting at his Hancock Park residence. The Lockheed employees included Clarence "Kelly" Johnson and Robert E. Gross. Hughes expressed his requirements for the "airliner of the future": a payload of 36 passengers (or 20 sleeping berths), a six-person crew, a 3,600 mile (5,800 km) range, a 300 mph (483 km/h) cruise speed, and a weight of 23.5-25 metric tonnes. This meant that the Excalibur would have to get a 100 mph (161 km/h) increase in speed and be able to fly 1,000 ft (305 m) higher. It would need to cross the United States nonstop. The first decision was to re-engine the Excalibur with Wright R-2600 radials, which had not been tested yet. The next decision was to start from scratch while saving the overall shape and triple tail configuration of the original Excalibur.
 
The new design differed so much from the original Excalibur, that a different model designation was needed. It was first given the temporary designation L-104, then it was later officially designated the Model 49 or "Excalibur A". In time, the Model 49 would become a completely different aircraft from the original Model 44. Lockheed later dropped the name "Excalibur" as the new airliner had little to do with its predecessor. The end result was the Lockheed L-049 Constellation.
 
Powerplant: 4 × Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S4C-4-G, 1200 hp (895 kW) each
Wingspan: 95 ft 0 in (28.96 m)
Wing area: 1000 sq.ft (92.90 sq.m)
Aspect ratio: 9.025
Length: 74 ft 11½ in (22.85 m)
Empty weight: 26,424 lb (11,986 kg)
Gross weight: 40,000 lb (18,144 kg)
Crew: two
Capacity: 32 passengers  
 
 
 
 


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