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Lockheed L-242

Carrierborne Supersonic Navy Interceptor Proposal

United States | 1953

"The Lockheed L-242 was a simple, proposed navalized conversion of the land-based supersonic F-104 Starfighter eventually taken on by the USAF."

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Lockheed L-242 Carrierborne Supersonic Navy Interceptor Proposal.
1 x Wright TJ31B3 (J65, Armstrong-Siideley "Sapphire") afterburning turbojet engine developing 7,600lb of thrust dry and up to 11,000lb of thrust with reaheat.
786 mph
1,265 kph | 683 kts
Max Speed
52,001 ft
15,850 m | 10 miles
Service Ceiling
488 miles
785 km | 424 nm
Operational Range
39,500 ft/min
12,040 m/min
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Lockheed L-242 Carrierborne Supersonic Navy Interceptor Proposal.
48.2 ft
14.70 m
O/A Length
22.1 ft
(6.75 m)
O/A Width
16,667 lb
(7,560 kg)
Empty Weight
18,783 lb
(8,520 kg)
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Lockheed L-242 Carrierborne Supersonic Navy Interceptor Proposal provided across 4 hardpoints.
4 x 20mm internal automatic cannons in lower nose assembly.

Also support for 50mm air-to-air rockets and early-form ait-to-air missiles.

Hardpoints Key:

Not Used
Notable series variants as part of the Lockheed L-242 family line.
L-242 - Base Project Designation.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/03/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

The Lockheed L-242 project fighter was a proposed navalized version of the classic Lockheed F-104 "Starfighter" supersonic interceptor (detailed elsewhere on this site) intended for the United States Navy (USN). The design emerged in 1953 in an effort to provide the service with its first true supersonic performer (concerning straightline performance, not just in a diving action) and was developed alongside the land-based form which was eventually taken into United States Air Force (USAF) service as the Starfighter in February of 1958.

Like its Air Force counterpart, the L-242 retained the iconic ultra-thin and stubby wing mainplanes. These were of straight general design, fitted midway along the sides of the fuselage, and sported tapering at both the leading and trailing edges along with clipped tips. The wings emanated from the intake housings which straddled the fuselage and were used to aspirate the air-breathing engine within. The cockpit remained along the dorsal line of the well-pointed nose assembly and the tail unit utilized a high-mounted "T-style" arrangement with all-moving planes for enhanced agility. For ground-running, the same retractable (wheeled) tricycle undercarriage would remain in play.

Due to the inherently short nature of the mainplanes, no wing-folding would be needed aboard American carriers for storage. As a carrierborne aircraft, however, the design as to carry the requisite launching equipment for deck-based take-offs and an arrestor hook for carrier landings.

Standard armament would center on 4 x 20mm internal automatic cannons seated under the cockpit floor with two gun ports positioned to a fuselage side. Beyond this, the aircraft would have had provision for new-generation Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) as well as aerial rockets of the 50mm variety. As in the F-104, the L-242 would have carried wingtip fuel tanks for extended operational ranges. Internally, the fighter would be equipped with the APG-34 series radar system to enhance air-to-air capability over water.

Several high-profile engine options were available with engineers eventually settling on the Wright TJ31B3 afterburning turbojet offering between 7,500lb (dry) and 11,000lb (with reheat) of thrust. This was the American local-production version of the British Armstrong-Siddeley "Sapphire" used in the Gloster Javelin, Handley Page Victory, and Hawker Hunter designs. Wright produced this engine under license as the "J65" which went on to power such Navy fighters as the Douglas A-4 "Skyhawk" and Grumman F-11 "Tiger".

With room to grow in the design, the aircraft could later be fitted with uprated, more efficient and higher-performance powerplants as technology and mission need dictated.

As finalized, the fighter had an overall length of 48.2 feet with a wingspan of just 22 feet. Take-off weight was to reach 18,800lb. Performance-wise, this supersonic performer was rated with a maximum speed of Mach 1.75 on full afterburner. Rate-of-climb was just short of 40,000 feet-per-minute reaching altitudes beyond 50,000 feet. Operational combat radius was 485 miles.

At any rate, the L-242 was not selected for further work.

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Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Lockheed L-242. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 0 Units

Contractor(s): Lockheed Corporation - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (cancelled) ]
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Image of the Lockheed L-242
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted; USAF version pictured.

Going Further...
The Lockheed L-242 Carrierborne Supersonic Navy Interceptor Proposal appears in the following collections:
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