Manufacturer: Lockheed

Model: 48 (LeVier W-5)

Name: none (Starracer)


Date: 1948

Status: Experimental

Country: United States

Service: U.S. Air Force

Designation: XQ-6


Anthony W. "Tony" LeVier was an air racer and test pilot for the Lockheed Corporation from the 1940s to the 1970s. According to official lore, it was the creation of the Goodyear racing class which inspired LeVier in 1947 to create a new racer. Together with a team of professionals that included Fish Salmon and Glenn Fulkerson, later joined by Irving Culver, he is said to have created the Cosmic Wind, the final assembly of which is said to have been done at Maynard Guilford’s machine shop.

The truth behind the genesis of LeVier's Model W-5 is actually quite different. The US Army Air Force had issued a requirement in June 1945 for a pilotless aircraft of moderate size to be used for target training. As opposed to the current Culver Cadet drones, the Q-6 target was to be really fast and of metal fabrication. Douglas, Fairchild, Northrop, North American and Lockheed submitted design proposals. Northrop (through their Radioplane division) and Lockheed were selected to each build a set of two prototypes.

Lockheed's Skunk Works management considered that having a piloted prototype built beforehand was the safest approach to validate the concept, and therefore the new Model 48 was conceived under Tony LeVier's supervision as an optionally piloted aircraft. A company-funded article (Model 048-05-01) was test-flown successfully late in 1946 by Fish Salmon. However, by the time Lockheed was ready to submit the two unmanned articles, the Air Force's priorities had changed. With the war ended, there were plenty of surplus aircraft available for target conversion, including Lockheed's own Shooting Star. The Q-6 program was therefore terminated even before Northrop had test-flown their own submission, and Lockheed now found themselves with three unwanted airframes.

LeVier, an air racing enthusiast, suggested to convert the two drone prototypes to piloted configuration in the fashion of the initial article, and to fly the three aircraft under the name Starracer at various aviation events throughout the country. Lockheed's management, however, was not keen on diversifying the company's activities in that direction, and an agreement was reached that the three aircraft be turned over at no expense to LeVier for him to pursue the racing venture on his own. Thus was born the Model W-5 Cosmic Wind, whose main difference from the early configuration was the use of a more sophisticated landing gear. And the rest, as they say, is history...


The first paragraph of the story above is entirely true, the rest is fictitious. I believe this was my earliest fictitious aircraft story.

The XQ-6 plan was adapted straight from the three-view of the LeVier Cosmic Wind presented here on the right.

As the designation Q-6 was never really allocated by the U.S. Air Force, it was convenient to use it for this fantasy...

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