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The Lockheed Corporation (originally Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company) was an Americanmarker aerospace company founded in 1912 which merged with Martin Marietta in 1995 to form Lockheed Martin.



The Alco Hydro-Aeroplane Company was established in 1912 by the brothers Allan and Malcolm Loughead. This company was renamed the Loughead Aircraft Manufacturing Company and located in Santa Barbara, Californiamarker.

In 1926, following the failure of Loughead, Allan Loughead formed the Lockheed Aircraft Company (the spelling was changed to match its phonetic pronunciation) in Hollywood, Californiamarker. In 1929 Lockheed sold out to Detroit Aircraft Corporation.

The Great Depression ruined the aircraft market, and Detroit Aircraft went bankrupt. A group of investors headed by brothers Robert and Courtland Gross, and including Walter Varney bought the company out of receivership in 1932. The syndicate bought the company for a mere $40,000. Ironically, Allan Loughead himself had planned to bid for his own company, but had raised "only" $50,000, which he felt was too small a sum for a serious bid.

In 1934, Robert E. Gross was named chairman of the new company, the Lockheed Corporation, which was headquartered at the airportmarker in Burbank, Californiamarker. His brother Courtlandt S. Gross was a co-founder and executive, succeeding Robert as Chairman following his death in 1961.

The first successful construction that was built in any number (141 aircraft) was the Vega, best known for its use to several first- and record setting flights by, among others, Amelia Earhart, Wiley Post and George Hubert Wilkins.

In the 1930s, Lockheed spent $139,400 to develop the L-10 Electra, a small twin-engine transport. The company sold 40 in the first year of production. Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, flew this plane on their failed attempt to circumnavigate the world in 1937. Follow-on designs, the Lockheed L-12 Electra Junior and the Lockheed 14 Super Electra expanded their market. The Lockheed 14 also formed the basis for the Hudson bomber, which was supplied to both the British Royal Air Force and the United States military before and during World War II. Its primary role was submarine hunting.

Production during World War II

P-38J Lightning YIPPEE

At the beginning of World War II, Lockheed — under the guidance of Clarence Johnson, who is considered one of the best known American aircraft designers — answered a specification for an interceptor by submitting the P-38 Lightning fighter plane, a somewhat unorthodox twin-engine, twin-boom design. The P-38 was the only U.S. fighter design to be built for the entire duration of the war. It filled ground attack, air-to-air, and even strategic bombing roles in all theaters of the war in which the United States operated. The P-38 was responsible for shooting down more Japanese aircraft than any other U.S. Army Air Force type during the war; and is particularly famous for being the airplane that shot down Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto's airplane.

All told, Lockheed and its subsidiary Vega produced 19,278 aircraft during World War II, representing 6% of those produced in the war. This included 2,600 Venturas, 2,750 B-17 Flying Fortresses (built under license from Boeing), 2,900 Hudsons, and 9,000 Lightnings.

Postwar production

During World War II, Lockheed, in cooperation with Trans-World Airlines (TWA), had developed the L049 Constellation, a radical new airliner capable of flying 43 passengers between New Yorkmarker and Londonmarker at a speed of 300 mph in 13 hours. Once the Constellation (affectionately called "Connie") went into the production, the military received the first production models. After the war, the airlines received their original orders of Constellations. This gave Lockheed more than a year's head-start over other aircraft manufacturers in what was easily foreseen as the post-war modernisation of civilian air travel. The Constellations performance set new standards which did in fact transform the civilian transportation market, but its signature tri-tail was the result of many of their initial customers not having hangars tall enough for a more conventional tail.

Lockheed produced a larger transport, the double-decked R6V Constitution, which was intended to make the Constellation obsolete. However, the design proved underpowered, and only two prototypes were ever built.

Skunk Works

In 1943, Lockheed began, in secrecy, development of a new jet fighter at its Burbank facility. This fighter, the P-80 Shooting Star, became the first American jet fighter to score a kill. It also recorded the first jet-to-jet aerial kill, downing a MiG-15 in Korea, although by this time the F-80 (as it came to be known in June 1948) was already considered obsolete.

Starting with the P-80, Lockheed's secret development work was conducted by its Advanced Development Division, more commonly known as the Skunk Worksmarker. The name was taken from Al Capp's comic strip Li'l Abner. This organization has become famous and has spawned many successful Lockheed designs, including the U-2 (late 1950s), SR-71 Blackbird (1962) and F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter (1970s). The Skunk Works often created high quality designs in a short time and sometimes with limited resources. Today the generic term "skunk works" implies a place for the development of secret projects.

Projects during the Cold War

In 1954, the C-130 Hercules, a durable four-engined transport, flew for the first time. The type remains in production in 2007.

In 1956, Lockheed received a contract for the development of the Polaris Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), this would be followed by the Poseidon and Trident nuclear missiles.

During the 1960s, Lockheed began development for two large aircraft: the C-5 Galaxy military transport and the L-1011 TriStar wide-body civil airliner. Both projects encountered delays and cost overruns. The C-5 was built to unclear initial requirements and suffered from structural weaknesses, which Lockheed was forced to correct with its own money. The Tristar competed for the same market as the Douglas DC-10; delays in Rolls-Royce engine development caused the Tristar to fall behind the DC-10. The C-5 and L-1011 projects, along with the (canceled) U. S. Army AH-56 Cheyenne Helicopter program and embroiled shipbuilding contracts, caused Lockheed to lose massive sums of money during the 1970s.

Already drowning in debt, Lockheed (then the number one U. S. defense contractor) asked the U. S. Government for a loan guarantee, to avoid certain insolvency. The measure was hotly debated in the U. S. Senate. The chief antagonist was Senator William Proxmire (D-Wis), the nemesis of Lockheed and its chairman, Daniel J. Haughton. Following a fierce debate, Vice President Spiro T. Agnew cast a dramatic tie-breaking vote in favor of the measure.

Other Lockheed designs included the F-104 Starfighter (late 1950s), the world's first Mach 2 fighter plane; jet transport; and the C-141 Starlifter and four-engined jet transports.

Bribery scandals

The Lockheed bribery scandals were a series of illegal bribes and contributions made by Lockheed officials from the late 1950s to the 1970s. In late 1975 and early 1976, a sub-committee of the U.S. Senate led by Senator Frank Church concluded that members of the Lockheed board had paid members of friendly governments to guarantee contracts for military aircraft. In 1976, it was publicly revealed that Lockheed had paid $22 million in bribes to foreign officials in the process of negotiating the sale of aircraft including the F-104 Starfighter, the so-called "Deal of the Century".

The scandal caused considerable political controversy in West Germanymarker, the Netherlandsmarker, Italymarker and Japanmarker. In the U.S. the scandal led to passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and nearly led to the ailing corporation's downfall (it was already struggling due to the poor sales of the L-1011 airliner). Haughton resigned his post as chairman of Lockheed.



Lockheed's operations are divided between several groups and divisions, many of which continue to operate within Lockheed Martin.

Aeronautical Systems Group

Missiles, Space, and Electronics Systems Group

Marine Systems Group

Information Systems Group

Product list

Lockheed's most advanced airliner, the L-1011 Tristar
Lockheed Trident II missile, introduced in 1990.

A partial listing of aircraft and other vehicles produced by Lockheed.

Airliners and civil transports

Military transports


Patrol and reconnaissance


  • CL-475, rigid-rotor helicopter
  • XH-51A/B (Lockheed CL-595/Model 286), compound helicopter testbed
  • AH-56 Cheyenne, prototype attack compound helicopter


Space technology

Sea vessels

See also


  1. TIME, January 14, 1946.
  2. Service History
  3. FJS (German language)
  4. Time magazine
  5. History of Burbank, The Changing Face of the City, City of Burbank Website
  6. Francillon, René J. Lockheed Aircraft since 1913. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1987, pp. 47-49.

Further reading

  • Boyne, Walter J. Beyond the Horizons: The Lockheed Story. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998. ISBN 0-312-19237-1.
  • Allen, Richard Sanders Revolution In The Sky Brattleboro, VT: The Stephen Greene Press, 1964. LOC 63-20452.

External links

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