Hobby Master HL9012 USAF Lockheed EC-121D Warning Star Aircraft - Serial No. 53-0555, Det 1. 552nd Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing, Korat RTAB, 1967 (1:200 Scale)
"...[he exemplified] steadfast loyalty, sustained courage, and gallantry despite cajolery, trickery, insults and threats of death."
- A December 16th, 2011, report by the Associated Press indicating that the U.S. Air Force plans to award Francis Gary Powers, famed pilot of the U-2 Spy Plane, a Silver Star
The Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star was a United States Navy and United States Air Force airborne early warning radar surveillance aircraft. A military version of the Lockheed Constellation, it was designed to serve as an airborne early warning system to supplement the Distant Early Warning Line, using two large radomes, a vertical dome above and a horizontal one below the fuselage. EC-121s were also used for intelligence gathering (SIGINT).
It was introduced in 1954 and retired from service in 1978, although a single specially modified EW aircraft remained in service with the U.S. Navy until 1982. The U.S. Navy versions when initially procured were designated WV-1 (PO-1W), WV-2, and WV-3. Warning Stars of the U.S. Air Force served during the Vietnam War as both electronic sensor monitors and as a forerunner to the Boeing E-3 Sentry AWACS. U.S. Air Force aircrews adopted the civil nickname, "Connie" (diminutive of Constellation) as reference, while naval aircrews used the term "Willie Victor" based on a slang version of the phonetic alphabet and the naval version of the aircraft's pre-1962 designation of WV-1, WV-2 or WV-3.
Pictured here is a 1:200 scale replica of a USAF Lockheed EC-121D Warning Star Aircraft that was attached to the 552nd AEWCW, then deployed to Korat RTAB during 1967.
Wingspan: 7-1/2 inches
Length: 7 inches
Release Date: October 2013
Historical Account: "Connie" - The United States Air Force operated three wings of EC-121s between 1954 and 1978, and three separate squadrons. Until the Vietnam War, the primary mission of EC-121s was to provide complementary early warning radar coverage to the Pacific and Atlantic barriers by flying orbits 300 miles offshore of the continental United States in what was termed "Contiguous Barriers". Their coverage orbits overlapped those of land-based early warning radars.
Initial deployment of EC-121Cs began with the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing, based at Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts. Operational on December 21st, 1954, the 551st AEWCW subsequently upgraded to EC-121D and later EC-121H Warning Stars. Its Pacific counterpart was the 552nd AEWCW, based at McClellan Air Force Base, California, which became operational on 1 July 1955. After the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the 552nd AEWCW also had administrative control of the 966th AEWCS, based at McCoy Air Force Base, Florida. The 966th had a dual mission: monitoring activity in Cuban airspace and flying Gold Digger missions (continuous tracks of U-2 surveillance missions).
The third Wing to operate EC-121s was the 553rd Reconnaissance Wing, a Vietnam war organization activated in October 1967 and based in Thailand until its inactivation in December 1970 (See BatCat below). In 1966 Lockheed modified 30 ex-USN Super Constellations (2 EC-121P/WV-3 and 28 EC-121K/WV-2) aircraft to EC-121R for the specialized reconnaissance mission flown by the 553rd. Aircraft were delivered to the wing during the course of 1967. The 553rd RW flew over land and off the coast of Vietnam, over Laos and Cambodia, monitoring and retransmitting low-power signals. Usually they orbited the Ho Chi Minh Trail in eight-hour shifts. As it was expensive to operate and it exposed a large crew to enemy fire it was replaced by a smaller airplane.