|Model 18 Lodestar |
C-56 / C-57 / C-60 / R5O
|Lockheed Lodestar flying skydivers at Goderich, 1977|
|National origin||United States|
|First flight||September 21, 1939|
|Introduction||March 30, 1940|
|Primary user||United States Army Air Corps|
|Developed from||Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra|
The Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar is a passenger transport aircraft of the World War II era.
Sales of the 10–14 passenger Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra, which first flew in 1937, had proved disappointing, despite the aircraft's excellent performance, as it was more expensive to operate than the larger Douglas DC-3, already in widespread use. In order to improve the type's economics, Lockheed decided to stretch the aircraft's fuselage by 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m), allowing an extra two rows of seats to be fitted.
The prototype for the revised airliner, designated Model 18 by Lockheed, was converted from the fourth Model 14, one of a batch which had been returned to the manufacturer by Northwest Airlines after a series of crashes. The modified aircraft first flew in this form on September 21, 1939, another two prototypes being converted from Model 14s, with the first newly built Model 18 flying on February 2, 1940.
A total of 625 Lodestars of all variants were built.
The Lodestar received its Type certificate on March 30, 1940, allowing it to enter service with the first customer, Mid-Continent Airlines that month. As hoped, the extra seats greatly improved the Model 18's economics, reducing its seat-mile costs to a similar level to that of the DC-3, while retaining superior performance. Despite this, sales to US domestic customers were relatively slow as most US airlines were already committed to the DC-3, with only 31 Lodestars going to US airlines. Overseas sales were a little better, with the biggest airline customers being South African Airways (21), New Zealand National Airways Corporation (13), Trans-Canada Air Lines (12) and BOAC (9); another 29 were bought by the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force. Various Pratt & Whitney and Wright Cyclone powerplants were installed.
When the United States started to build up its military air strength in 1940–41, many American-operated Lodestars were impressed as the C-56. This was followed by the construction of many new-build Lodestars which were flown by the U.S. Army Air Forces as the C-60 and by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps as the R5O. Lend-lease aircraft were used by the RNZAF as transports.
One was purchased in 1942 to serve as Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas' personal aircraft. This aircraft was specially designed for that purpose and had 11 seats.
After the war many Lodestars were overhauled and returned to civilian service, mostly as executive transports such as Dallas Aero Service's DAS Dalaero conversion, Bill Lear's Learstar (produced by PacAero), and Howard Aero's Howard 250. A few of the latter were converted to tricycle landing gear.
While the surviving New Zealand NZNAC aircraft were sold back overseas in 1951/52, six more were later imported and converted for aerial topdressing.
A single Lodestar served with the Israeli Air Force during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
A number of skydiving operations in the United States used Lodestars during the 1970s and 1980s.
Main article: Panair_do_Brasil § Accidents
Between 1941-1944, the Panair do Brasil airline suffered 4 accidents involving the Lodestar which resulted in a total of 57 fatalities.
In January 1943, Lockheed Lodestar Mk.II EW986, c/n 2154, in the service of the Royal Air Force, overshot and crashed 3 km south of Heliopolis, Egypt. At least 12 crew members and passengers died in the crash. A cause of the accident was not determined. Among those killed were Air Vice-Marshal Wilfred Ashton McClaughry, CB, DSO, MC, DFC and Lady Rosalinde Tedder née MacLardy, wife of Marshal of the Royal Air Force Arthur William Tedder, 1st Baron Tedder, GCB.
Main article: 1949 Queensland Airlines Lockheed Lodestar crash
In 1949, a Lockheed Lodestar in airline service in Australia crashed immediately after takeoff. All 21 occupants died in the crash or the ensuing conflagration. The cause of the accident was determined to be that the center of gravity was behind the rear limit. It is also likely the elevator trim tab was set for landing rather than takeoff.
On March 22, 1958, Mike Todd's private plane Lucky Liz, named after his wife Elizabeth Taylor, crashed near Grants, New Mexico. The plane, a twin-engine Lockheed Lodestar, suffered engine failure while being flown overloaded, in icing conditions at too-high an altitude for the loading. The plane went out of control and crashed, killing all four on board.
On September 4, 1962, a Lockheed 18-56-24 Lodestar operated by the Ashland Oil and Refining Company crashed near Lake Milton, Ohio. The flight was in-route to Ashland Regional Airport (KDWU) from Buffalo Airport, NY. Eleven passengers and two crew-members were killed. Investigation determined the crash a result of a malfunction of the electric elevator trim tab, which caused the loss of the plane's right wing during flight.
On August 21, 1983, a Lockheed L-18 LEARStar operated by Landry Aviation, Inc. crashed near Silvana, Washington. The flight was a planned parachute drop carrying two pilots and 22 parachutists. Nine parachutists and two crew-members were killed while 13 were able to parachute to safety after the pilots lost control and entered a vertical descent from 12,500 feet. Investigation determined the crash a result of a failure of the operator and pilot-in-command to assure proper load distribution during the parachute drop.
Data from Lockheed Aircraft since 1913.