The JetStar became the first business jet to enter market service when it was introduced in the early-1960s. The relatively compact luxury-minded aircraft, originally drawn up to satisfy a United States Air Force (USAF) requirement, saw production begin in 1957 and the type went on to see considerable public interest thanks to such high-profile passengers as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. It also served the primary villain in the James Bond movie "Goldfinger".
The JetStar began life as a private venture by Lockheed to secure a standing USAF requirement for a versatile, high-speed, all-weather utility-minded platform - covering such roles as VIP transport, cargo hauling, target towing, high-speed reconnaissance, and navigator-bombardier training. Two prototypes were constructed to meet these demands and the pair originally fitted 2 x Bristol Siddeley "Orpheus" turbojet engines for power, these engines originating from Britain. The initial flight involving the first prototype took place on September 4th, 1957 and proved the design sound while the second prototype introduced optional streamlined "slipper" tanks at the wings for improved operational ranges.
Issues with securing license production of the British engine led Lockheed to select the Pratt & Whitney JT12 turbojet in its place. Unlike the twin Orpheus engines, it would take a total of four PW engines to drive the aircraft at the expected performance specs. The revised aircraft emerged in 1959 with two engines assigned to each side of the fuselage (paired nacelles). In time, budgetary limitations led to the USAF to axing its larger-scale requirement and this left Lockheed to push its in-development jet platform in the potentially lucrative civilian market.
As designed, the aircraft incorporated a short nosecone assembly with good vision out of the side-by-side cockpit. The fuselage was tubular in the typical way and lined with rectangular windows. The wing mainplanes were low-mounted along the fuselage sides and well-swept rearwards for aerodynamic efficiency. The tail unit held the sole vertical tail fin and low-mounted horizontal planes. At the section was also fitted the engines in outboard-held nacelles. The undercarriage was a conventional tricycle arrangement and wholly retractable. Dimensions included an overall length of 60.4 feet, a wingspan of 54.4 feet, and a height of 20.4 feet. Empty weight was 25,000lb against a considerable MTOW of 44,500lb. Internally, a crew of two with one flight attendant carried for optimal operation. The passenger cabin could be arranged to carry eight to ten persons in comfort.
The original production model was branded the "JetStar I" and this form carried the aforementioned Pratt & Whitney JT12A-8 turbojet engines of 3,300lb thrust each. The intended USAF marks began with the "C-140A" to be used for official flight inspection and this was based largely on the JetStar I production model - five being built for the service. Then followed the "C-140B" which was the passenger-cargo transport form based on the earlier A-model. Five were constructed to the standard. The "VC-140B" was intended as the dedicated VIP passenger model for high-level USAF personnel and based in the B-model series; six being built. The "C-140C" were a pair of JetStars ordered under the United States Navy budget portion (as the "UV-1") but never delivered to the service. The "T-40" was a proposed all-purpose training platform based in the C-140 design - though none were built.
Due to civil airspace noise restrictions, the model "731 JetStar" was formulated by Lockheed as a counter and this involved switching out the 2 x PW engines with 4 x Garret TFE731 turbofan engines - larger external fuel tanks also being introduced at this time as well as more subtle changes being brought along. With the 4 x Garret engine configuration in place, the aircraft reached speeds of 550 miles per hour, cruised at over 500 miles per hour, ranged out to 3,000 miles, and hit a service ceiling up to 43,000 feet. Rate-of-climb was 4,150 feet-per-minute.
The "JetStar II" was another market offering by Lockheed and this variant appeared in 1976 through new-build airframes and carried Garret TFE731-3 turbofan engines with modified external fuel tanks. Production of this mark totaled 40 units.
The AAI FanStar versatile conversion prototype was brought about by American Aviation Industries and was set to offer 2 x General Electric CF34 engines OR the 4 x PW JT12 turbojets OR Garrett TFE731 turbofan engines as need. This offering did not proceed beyond the sole example.
Total production of the JetStar ended in 1979 at which point 204 had been built in all. Global civilian market operators became Canada, Iraq, Mexico, and the United States. In the military sphere, operators went on to include West Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.