The "Connie" is a simply beautiful aircraft and Koike has done it great service in this painting, with the sun reflecting elegantly in the background. Every fuselage bulkhead in the Constellation was a different size, giving the plane its unique "dolphin" shape. Since then, airliners have generally used standardized bulkhead sizes to ease production and increase strength against pressurization. About 900 examples of this iconic airliner, complete with the unusual, triple tail fins, were built. The tail configuration was to accommodate the plane in the hangers of the era, which often didn't have the height that would be demanded by the single fin of a plane this big.
Development of the Connie was started by TWA under Howard Hughes, with the concept being a pressurized aircraft that fly coast-to-coast non-stop. But the war intervened and all examples built during the war were used a military transports. It wasn't until the war ended that TWA was finally able to take delivery of their planes.
Many different versions of the Constellation were produced, including military versions, the very first "Air Force One" used by president Eisenhower in 1953, and in airliner configurations for airlines all over the world. The plane was in wide use from 1943 to 1967, and a few examples are still flying today.
Portrayed here is the very first Constellation flown by TWA, "Star of Paris." Interestingly, in their first few years of operation, TWA was The Trans World Airline (singular). They didn't add the 's' until 1950.
"I painted her once for a magazine pinup some 25 years ago and the plane has been in my mind ever since. It was a TWA plane then, too. It's not so much that she looks best in TWA markings, but she looks best with a natural duralumin finish," says Koike as he explains his admiration of the Connie.
This original painting is acrylic on heavy art board. The board measures 54cm x 39cm, and the painted area is approximately 45cm x 33.7cm.