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Vega DL-1


Jack Northrop, with assistance from Gerard F. Vultee, was working on a project of his own while working for Douglas. It was an airplane design incorporating new structural and aerodynamic thinking that would make his airplane the most advanced of its time. Since Douglas was tied up with his World Cruiser project, Northrop took his design to Lockheed, where the airplane became known as the Lockheed Vega, with fully cantilevered wooden wings and finely streamlined monocoque, wooden stressed skin fuselage, made in two halves and glued together.
The two half-shells of plywood had been pressure-formed to shape in a concrete mould. Low-drag landing gear was of fixed tailwheel type (but Vegas were used frequently with floats or skis), enclosed cabin for a pilot and four passengers, and powerplant for the initial version of the Vega, later identified as the Vega 1, was a 168kW Wright J-5 Whirlwind radial engine.
The initial aircraft was flown for the first time on 4 July 1927 and was acquired by newspaper-owner George Hearst to compete in the Oakland to Hawaii Dole Race, sponsored by James D. Dole, which began on 16 August 1927. The Vega, by then named Golden Eagle and flown by Jack Forst and Gordon Scott, disappeared without a trace en route.

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The unexplained loss of this aircraft did not prohibit further sales. A host of achievements brought fame. These included the first trans-Arctic flight and the first exploratory flight over Antarctica (Wilkins and Eielson in the Vega 1 X3903); the first solo transatlantic flight by a woman from Newfoundland to Ireland (Amelia Earhart in the Vega 5B NC7952); and the first solo round-the-world flight (Wiley Post in the Vega 5B The Winnie Mae). In 1931 Wiley Post flew around the world in 8 days, 15 hours and 51 minutes in a Vega with a jettisonable undercarriage. Wiley Post his navigator, Harold Gatty, and the Winnie Mae left New York on June 23, 1931, flying east. Fourteen stops later, after only eight days, 15 hours and 51 minutes, it was back in New York. The actual flying time was four days, 10 hours, and 8 minutes.

The Vega DL-1 was fitted with a metal fuselage.
At least one Vega 5C was sold to the AAF and designated UC-101.

When production ended a total of 128 Vegas had been built: 115 by Lockheed, nine by Detroit Aircraft Corporation (of which Lockheed was a division from 1929-31) and four by others.

 

Gallery

 

Vega 1
Engine: 168kW Wright J-5 Whirlwind radial

Engine: P&W Wasp, 750hp.

Vega
Engine: One 425 h.p. Pratt & Whitney Wasp.
Length 27.5 ft (8.37 m).
Wing span 41 ft (12.5 m).
Weight empty 2,050 lb (930 kg).
Seats: 7.
Cruise speed: 135 mph (218 kph).
Max speed: 204 mph.
Ceiling: 17,250 ft (5,250 m) fully loaded.
Range: 900 miles (1,450 km).

Vega 5C (landplane)
Engine: 1 x Pratt & Whitney Wasp SC-1 radial, 336kW / 550hp
Max take-off weight: 2155 kg / 4751 lb
Empty weight: 1163 kg / 2564 lb
Wingspan: 12.5 m / 41 ft 0 in
Length: 8.38 m / 27 ft 6 in
Height: 2.59 m / 8 ft 6 in
Wing area: 25.55 sq.m / 275.02 sq ft
Max. speed: 298 km/h / 185 mph
Ceiling: 5485 m / 18000 ft
Range: 885 km / 550 miles

Vega 5
Engine: Wright J-5, 220hp.
Seats: 5.

Vega DL-1
Engine: Pratt & Whitney Wasp SC-1, 450 hp.

 

 

 


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