|Model 2 Starliner|
|The Vega Starliner at Union Air Terminal, circa 1940|
|National origin||United States of America|
|Manufacturer||Vega Aircraft Corporation|
|First flight||22 April 1939|
The Vega Model 2 Starliner was a prototype five-seat feeder airliner produced by the Vega Airplane Company, a subsidiary of Lockheed. It was designed to be powered by an unusual powerplant, consisting of two Menasco piston engines coupled together to drive a single propeller. A single example was built, flying in 1939, but no production followed.
In 1935 Lockheed chief engineer Hall Hibbard discussed with Al Menasco the coupling of two Menasco C6S-4 engines mounted side-by side, driving a single propeller. In 1937, a Lockheed subsidiary, the AiRover Company, designed the Model 2 Starliner, to be powered by the new 520 hp (388 kW) Menasco U2-544 Unitwin engine. The Starliner was a low-wing monoplane constructed with a light-alloy semi-monocoque structure conventional tail and rearward retracting undercarriage which remained exposed when retracted. The enclosed cabin was available in two cabin layouts: a custom luxury setup for private owners or a "Starliner" five seat configuration with a smaller baggage compartment for airline use. The twin engine design was intended to provide a margin of safety in the event of a failure of one engine half, with the airplane continuing to fly on the other engine half.
The AiRover Company undertook to build the Starliner and was re-organised as the Vega Airplane Company in 1938, with Jack Wassall as project engineer. The sole Starliner emerged in early 1939 and was marketed as a small feeder-liner and custom executive transport. The first flight from Burbank on 22 April 1939 ended with an emergency landing, after the propeller slipped into fine-pitch. During the repairs the single tail unit was replaced with a Lockheed trademark twin tail.
Found to be too small for airline use, the Starliner was discontinued with the need for Lockheed and Vega to concentrate on military contracts, but the Starliner name would later be reused on the Lockheed L-1649 Starliner.
The prototype was first flown by Harry Downs at Plant B-1 in Burbank, California on 22 April 1939, making an emergency landing when the propeller entered fine-pitch. Flight testing continued after repairs, but another forced-landing occurred after the undercarriage failed to extend. Repaired again, the Starliner completed its flight test program, flying a total of 85 hours before the aircraft was sold to a movie studio for use as a non-flying prop.
Data from Vega Airplane Company Brochure
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|Vega company brochure for the Model 2|
|Film from British Pathé of the Model 2 being tested|