Lockheed PO-2W/ WV-2 'Warning Star'

The Lockheed PO-2W/ WV-2 was an early warning aircraft based on the Super Constellation airliner.

The Navy took delivery of the first Lockheed PO-1W early warning aircraft on 9 June 1949, and on 14 July 1950 it placed an order for six PO-2W airborne early warning aircraft, which would be based on the Super Constellation. This was a stretched version of the earlier Lockheed Constellation, using Wright R-3350-91 Turbo-Compound engines to increase fuel efficiency. They were soon redesignated as the WV-2.

The WV-2 carried similar radomes to the PO-1W, with a large but shallow radome below the fuselage and a tall but narrow radome above the fuselage. Both were carried level with the wings. They were powered by 3,400hp Wright R-3350-34 or -42 Turbo-Compound engines and carried 600 US gallon fuel tanks on each wing tip.

The Navy ordered a total of 244 WV-2s, but only 142 were actually delivered. 72 went to the USAF before completion, where they became the RC-121D. 22 were cancelled. One was modified to become the WV-2E. Eight were completed as the WV-3.

Most of the WV-2s carried a crew of 32, but the last 65 had improvements that allowed the crew to be reduced to 28.

Under the 1962 tri-system designation system the WV-2 became the EC-121K, the WV-2E became the EC-121L and the WV-3 became the WC-121N.
The WV-2 entered Naval service in October 1955, and by 1958 the Navy had four squadrons equipped with the type (VW-2, VW-3, VW-11 and VW-13). They remained in service until 1965, by which time they had been superseded by more powerful ground based radar. The last sortie in their original role came on 26 August 1965.


The WV-2E was an experimental aircraft, used to test out the rotating radome (rotodome) intended for use on the W2V-1, an airborne early warning aircraft that was to have been based on the Lockheed Model 1649 Starliner. The WV-2E made its maiden flight on 8 August 1956 and was accepted on 1 March 1958. It went to the Naval Air Development Unit at NAS South Weymouth, Mass, but the W2V project was cancelled, so it remained a purely experimental aircraft.


Eight aircraft were completed as weather reconnaissance aircraft, with the designation WV-3, and a ninth was converted from a standard WV-2. They had a crew of 26, including a aerographer and an aerologist. They were used by the hurricane hunters of squadron Airborne Early Warning Four (WV-4). Two went to the USAF in the late 1960s, where they became the WC-121N. The WV-3 remained in use with WV-4 until the early 1970s.

Engine: Four Wright R-3350-34 or -42
Power: 3,400hp each
Crew: 26
Wing span: 126ft 2in
Length: 116ft 2in
Height: 27ft
Empty weight: 80,611lb
Maximum weight: 143,600lb
Maximum speed: 321mph at 20,000ft
Service ceiling: 20,600ft
Normal range: 4,600 miles

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 February 2018), Lockheed PO-2W/ WV-2 'Warning Star' , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_lockheed_PO-2W_WV-2.html

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