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Lockheed L-242


Carrierborne Supersonic Navy Interceptor Proposal [ 1953 ]



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



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/23/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

GO TO SPECIFICATIONS [+]
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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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Specifications



Service Year
1953

Origin
United States national flag graphic
United States

Status
CANCELLED
Development Ended.
Crew
1

Production
0
UNITS


National flag of the United States United States (cancelled)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Interception
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.


RADAR-CAPABLE
Houses, or can house (through specialized variants), radar equipment for searching, tracking, and engagement of enemy elements.
HIGH-SPEED PERFORMANCE
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
HIGH-ALTITUDE PERFORMANCE
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
MARITIME OPERATION
Ability to operate over ocean in addition to surviving the special rigors of the maritime environment.
PILOT / CREW EJECTION SYSTEM
Assisted process of allowing its pilot and / or crew to eject in the event of an airborne emergency.
ENCLOSED CREWSPACE(S)
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
RETRACTABLE UNDERCARRIAGE
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.


Length
48.2 ft
(14.70 m)
Width/Span
22.1 ft
(6.75 m)
Empty Wgt
16,667 lb
(7,560 kg)
MTOW
18,783 lb
(8,520 kg)
Wgt Diff
+2,116 lb
(+960 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Lockheed L-242 production variant)
monoplane / mid-mounted / straight
Monoplane
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mid-Mounted
Mainplanes are mounted along the midway point of the sides of the fuselage.
Straight
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the base Lockheed L-242 production variant)
Installed: 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.
Max Speed
786 mph
(1,265 kph | 683 kts)
Cruise Speed
590 mph
(950 kph | 513 kts)
Max. Speed Diff
+196 mph
(+315 kph | 170 kts)
Ceiling
52,001 ft
(15,850 m | 10 mi)
Range
488 mi
(785 km | 1,454 nm)
Rate-of-Climb
39,500 ft/min
(12,040 m/min)


♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Lockheed L-242 production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
PROPOSED:
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.


Supported Types


Graphical image of an aircraft automatic cannon
Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets


(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 4
Mounting Points




-
-
-
7
5
-
-
-
4
6
-
-
-
HARDPOINT(S) KEY:
X

15
13
11
9
7
5
3
1
2
4
6
8
10
12
14


COLOR KEY:
Fuselage Centerline
Fuselage Port/Wingroot
Fuselage Starboard/Wingroot
Wing/Underwing
Wingtip Mount(s)
Internal Bay(s)
Not Used

Note: Diagram above does not take into account inline hardpoints (mounting positions seated one-behind-the-other).


L-242 - Base Project Designation.


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