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Lockheed JetStar

From PlaneSpottingWorld, for aviation fans everywhere
NASA JetStar
Type Transport
Manufacturer Lockheed
Designed by Kelly Johnson
Primary user United States Air Force

The Lockheed L-1329 JetStar (C-140 in USAF service) is a business jet produced from the early 1960s through the 1970s. Although the Morane-Saulnier MS-760 flew earlier, the JetStar was the first dedicated business jet to enter service. It was also one of the largest aircraft in the class for many years, seating ten plus two crew. It is distinguishable from other small jets by its four engines, mounted on the rear of the fuselage in a similar layout to the Vickers VC-10 airliner, and the "slipper"-style fuel tanks fixed to the wings.


File:Lockheed VC-140B Jetstar USAF.jpg
Lockheed VC-140B. The bare metal on the fin at the trim hinge is easily visible here. The extensive de-icing system on the tail surfaces and wing leading edge is also prominent.

The JetStar originated as a private project within Lockheed, with an eye to winning a USAF requirement that was later dropped due to budget cuts. Lockheed decided to continue the project on their own for the business market.[1]

The first two prototypes were equipped with two Bristol-Siddeley Orpheus engines, the first of these flying on 4 September 1957. The second of these was also equipped with the wing-mounted "slipper tanks", which was originally going to be an optional fit. Lockheed attempted to arrange a contract to produce the Orpheus locally in the US, but when these negotiations failed they re-engined the second prototype, N329K, with four Pratt & Whitney JT12 in 1959. The slipper tanks were removed and placed on the first prototype, N329J. N329J served as Kelly Johnson's personal transport for some time. The JT12 fit proved successful and was selected for the production versions, the first of which flew in mid 1960.[2] These versions entered commercial service in 1961.

Sixteen JetStars were produced for the United States Air Force. Five C-140A Flight Inspection aircraft to perform airborne testing of airport navigational aids in 1962. They began service during the Vietnam War and remained in service until the early 1990s. The "Flight Check" C-140A were a combat-coded aircraft that could be distinguished from the VIP transport version by their distinctive camouflage paint scheme. The last C-140A to be retired was placed on static display at Scott AFB, Illinois, to honor its distinguished service.

An additional eleven airframes were designated C-140B, although the first of these predated the C-140As when it was delivered in 1961. The C-140Bs were used to transport personnel by the Military Airlift Command. Six of the aircraft were operated as VIP transports by the 89th Military Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base, near Washington DC. These VIP aircraft were designated as VC-140Bs. The VIP transport fleet occasionally served as Air Force One during the 1970s and 1980s. Several other countries, such as Germany and Canada, have used military JetStars as transports for their heads of state, heads of government, and other VIPs.

Noise regulations in the United States and high fuel consumption led to the development of the 731 JetStar, a modification program which added new Garrett AiResearch TFE731 turbofan engines and redesigned external fuel tanks to original JetStars. The 731 JetStar modification program was so successful that Lockheed produced 40 new JetStars, designated the JetStar II, from 1976 through 1979. The JetStar IIs were factory new aircraft with the turbofan engines and revised external fuel tanks. Both 731 JetStars and JetStar IIs have greatly increased range, reduced noise, and better runway performance compared to the original JetStars.

JetStar production totaled 204 aircraft by final delivery in 1978.[3] Most original JetStars have been retired, but many 731 JetStars and JetStar IIs are still flying in various roles. A JetStar that was owned by Elvis Presley in his later years, named Hound Dog II, is on display at Graceland.


The JetStar has a fairly typical business jet layout, with a swept wing and a cruciform tail. The wing has a 30° sweepback and features large fuel tanks at about half-span, extending some distance in front and behind the wing. The wing also includes slats along the front of the wing outboard of the tanks, while double-slotted trailing-edge flaps span the entire rear surface. The horizontal stabilizer is mounted about half way up the vertical stabilizer to keep it clear of the jetwash. One odd feature is that trim is provided by pivoting the entire vertical stabilizer, which leaves a distinctive unpainted area at that base of the fin that is noticeable in most pictures. A speed brake is located on the underside of the fuselage to help slow down for landing.The original prototypes used a tricycle landing gear with one wheel per leg, but after an accident in 1962 the nose gear was modified with two tires.[3]

The JetStar is a relatively heavy aircraft for its class, at 42,500 pounds. Maximum cruising speed is Mach 0.8, or 567 mph at 21,000 feet. Range is typically quoted as 2,500 miles with a 3,500 pound payload. Typically interiors feature seating for eight with a full-sized lavatory, or a slightly more dense arrangement for ten. The JetStar is one of the few aircraft of its class that allowed a person to walk upright in the cabin, although to do this the aisle was sunk slightly so that the seats were raised on either side.[4] The windows are relatively large.

The JetStar II is generally similar, with a number of detail changes. The cockpit area has somewhat more "modern" looking nose and window arrangement, larger engines, and most notably, the fuel tanks are larger and sit with their upper surfaces flush with the wing, rather than being centered on it.


Military operators


Specifications (JetStar II)

General characteristics


Popular culture

The JetStar has appeared in a number of films and television series, most notably in the James Bond film Goldfinger.


Related content

Comparable aircraft

Related lists
Template:USAF trainer aircraft Template:USAF transports