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  • Writer's pictureroy blewett

Lockheed 329 JetStar

JetStar 8 (3908) on display in front of the Mexican Air Force's new museum at Santa Lucia air base in September 2021. By the time of the museum's inauguration, in February 2022, the aircraft had been displaced by a DC-3.

The JetStar was developed by Lockheed as a private venture against the US Air Force’s UCX specification for a utility transport aircraft, in the knowledge that it would also likely be suitable as an executive aircraft. A rear-engined twin-jet configuration was selected, and the JetStar made its first flight a mere 241 after design got under way. Even though budget cuts meant the US Air Force was unable to commit to the UCX programme, Lockheed pressed ahead with the aircraft, offering it in both twin-engined and four-engined versions before settling on four.

The JetStar was the first business jet to achieve significant success in the market (though not the first to fly – the Morane Saulnier Paris made its first flight in 1954). As such, it was operated by the flight departments of many leading US companies but numbers were beginning to decline by the mid-1980s. Today, only a handful remain potentially active and even those are seldom flown. Its place in aviation history ensures a reasonable number can be found in museums.

First flight: 4 Sep 57 (c/n 1001, N329J)

Production: 204 built (2 at Burbank, CA, and 202 at Marietta, GA)

First delivery: 1961

Last delivery: 1980, to the Government of Iraq

Variants: 329 – prototype, powered by 2 Bristol Orpheus turbojets (2 built at Burbank).

1329-23A JetStar 6 – initial production version seating 10 passengers in typical executive layout, powered by 4 Pratt & Whitney JT12A-6 or -6A turobjets (96 built including 5 for the US Air Force as C-140A for navaid calibration and 11 as VC-140B for VIP transport).

1329-23E JetStar 8 – JetStar 6 powered by more powerful JT12A-8 turbojets (66 built, plus some JetStar 6s re-engined).

1329-25 JetStar II – Improved version powered by TFE731-3 tubofans, with increased fuel capacity in re-designed and re-positioned external tanks (40 built; first flight 18 Aug 75).

Conversions: JetStar 731 – JetStar 6/8 re-engined by AiResearch with Garrett TFE731-1 turbofans, featuring other aerodynamic and avionics changes (61 converted; ff 10 Jul 74); FanStar – JetStar 8 re-engined by American Aviation Industries with 2 General Electric CF34-1A high-bypass-ration turbofans (1 converted; first flight 5 Sep 86)

Lockheed Jetstar survivors
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