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Lockheed Vega

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Lockheed Vega
Red Lockheed Vega 5b flown by Amelia Earhart in breaking two world records.
Type transport
Manufacturer Lockheed Aircraft Limited
Designed by John Knudsen Northrop and Gerrard Vultee
Maiden flight 4 July 1927
Introduced 1928
Status 6 (?) surviving examples
Primary users Commercial air carriers
Number built 132

The Lockheed Vega was a six-passenger monoplane built by the Lockheed company starting in 1927. It became famous for its use by a number of record breaking pilots who were attracted to the rugged and very long-ranged design. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo in one, and Wiley Post flew his around the world twice.

Design and Development

Designed by Jack Northrop and Gerrard Vultee, both of whom would later form their own companies, the plane was originally intended to serve with Lockheed's own airline routes. They set out to build a four-seat plane that was not only rugged, but the fastest plane as well. Utilizing the latest designs in monocoque fuselages, cantilever wings and the best engine available, the Vega delivered on the speed promises.

The fuselage was monocoque, built from sheets of plywood over wooden ribs. Using a large concrete mold, a single half of the fuselage shell was laminated in sections with glue and then a rubber bladder was lowered into the mold and inflated with air to compress the lamination into shape. Two fuselage halves were then nailed and glued over a previously made rib framework. With the fuselage constructed in this fashion, the wing spar had to be kept clear, so they decided to make a single spar cantilever mounted on the very top of the plane. The only part of the aircraft that wasn't particularly streamlined was the landing gear although production versions wore sleek "spats." For power they chose the Wright Whirlwind, which delivered 225 horsepower (168 kW).

In service

File:Detroit Y1C-12.JPG
US Air Corps Y1C-12. [1]

The first Vega 1, named the Golden Eagle, flew from Lockheed's Los Angeles plant on 4 July 1927. It could cruise at a then-fast 120 mph (193 km/h), and had a top speed of 135 mph (217 km/h). However. the four-passenger (plus one pilot) load was considered too small for airline use. A number of private owners placed orders for the design however, and by the end of 1928 they had produced 68 of this original design. In the 1928 National Air Races in Cleveland, Vegas won every speed award.

Looking to improve the design, Lockheed delivered the Vega 5 in 1929. Adding the Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp engine of 450 hp (336 kW) improved weights enough to allow two more seats to be added. A new NACA cowling increased cruise speed to 155 mph (249 km/h) and top speed to 165 mph (266 km/h). However, even the new six-seat configuration proved to be too small, and the 5 was purchased primarily for private aviation and executive transport. Sixty-four Vega 5s were built. In 1931, the US Air Corps bought two Vega 5s; one designated C-12 and one as the C-17. The C-17 differed by having an extra set of fuel tanks in the wings.


Both Wiley Post's Winnie Mae and Amelia Earhart's Vegas [1]are on display in the National Air and Space Museum. Four others are believed to exist, at least one of which is still in flying condition.

Specifications (Vega 5)

Template:Aircraft specification

See also

Related development

Related lists



  1. Lockheed 5B Vega Note: Amelia Earhart's Vega 5B, a company demonstrator was c/n 22 NC7952.


  • Boyne, Walter J. Beyond the Horizons: The Lockheed Story. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998. ISBN 0-312-19237-1.
  • Francillon, René J. Lockheed Aircraft since 1913. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-835-6.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

Template:USAF transports

cs:Lockheed Vega de:Lockheed Vega es:Lockheed Vega id:Lockheed Vega ms:Lockheed Vega ja:ロッキード ベガ no:Lockheed Vega pl:Lockheed Vega