The Lockheed PO-1W was an airborne early warning system based on the Lockheed Constellation airliner.
The PO-1W was build using Model 749A Constellation airframes. This was the last version of the Constellation to be produced, following on from the Model 049 (C-69), Model 649 and Model 749 (C-121). The Model 049 had been developed just before the US entry into the Second World War, and ordered by Pan-American and TWA, but the contract was taken over the USAAF. After the war incomplete C-69s were finished as civil airlines. Work then moved onto the improved Model 649, and after that to the longer range Model 749, which had extra fuel tanks in the outer wing panels and a stronger undercarriage. The Model 749A had a stronger structure and could operate at a maximum take-off weight of 107,000lb.
Work on the PO-1W began in June 1948, using the airframe from a Model 749A. It was given two radomes, one above and one below the fuselage, to carry the radar equipment (the upper radome was larger than the lower one and contained the height finding equipment). A total of 140 antenna of various types were scattered across the aircraft. The aircraft carried a crew of ten, as well as a combat information centre officer and four operators. There was also space for a ten man relief crew.
The first PO-1W made its maiden flight on 9 June 1949, and it was followed by December 1950. The two aircraft were used in the NATO manoeuvres of 1951-52, Operation Mainbrace and Operation Mariner. Both performed well, and led to the development of the Lockheed PO-2W (later the WV-2), which was based on the Super Constellation. The PO-1W was redesignated as the WV-1 in 1952.
After the development of the PO-2W, the two PO-1s had their electronic equipment removed. They were then sold to the Federal Aviation Agency, before being given to the USAF in 1966 to be used as test aircraft.
Engine: Four Wright 749C-18BD-1 engines
Wing span: 123ft
Length: 95ft 2in
Height: 23ft 8in