A single Lockheed Vega Model DL-1 was bought in 1931 by the Air Corps for evaluation of light fast transports. The basic Vega was the first aircraft designed and built by the Lockheed Aircraft Company in 1926. The designer of the plane was Jack Northrop, a man who would later form his own company and continue designing ground breaking aircraft including several flying wings (e.g. YB-35). The Vega had several innovations designed to make it fast. The most effective was the lack of drag-producing external bracing. The fully cantilevered wing (internal bracing only) was fitted to a monococque (stressed skin bears the load) fuselage. The Y1C-12 could carry up to five passengers and, for the early 1930's, was quite fast and stable in flight thanks to its streamlining and oversized tail surfaces.
In 1929, the Lockheed Aircraft Co. was acquired by the Detroit Aircraft Corp. The Lockheed Vega 5C design was updated by the new company and assigned the DL-1 (Detroit Lockheed Model One) designation. The Detroit-Lockheed Aircraft Corp. went bankrupt in 1932, but the Lockheed Aircraft Co. was acquired and reorganized later in 1932.
Interestingly, several executives and designers of the Detroit Aircraft Corp. formed the Consolidated Aircraft Co. after the former went bankrupt. One of the first aircraft developed was the Y1C-11, which is very similar to the Vega and had equivalent performance.
The Y1C-12 remained in service until 1935 when it was scrapped. The Air Corps acquired two more Vega's under different designations. The first, Y1C-17, was a specially modified Vega intended for an attempt on the transcontinental speed record. The second was impressed during the early part of World War II and assigned the UC-101 designation.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-1340-7 Wasp of 420 hp Maximum speed: Approx. 175 mph Cruising speed: 150 mph Range: 670 miles Service ceiling: 19,750 ft. Span: 41 ft. 0 in. Length: 27 ft. 6 in. Height: 8 ft. 2 in. Weight: 4,720 lbs. loaded Crew: One (pilot) Cargo/passenger capacity: 4-5 passengers (approx. 1,100 lbs. of cargo) Serial number: 31-405 (Vega DL-1 used as a light fast transport)