With its origins dating back to World War Two, the Lockheed Model 18 loadstar was an 18-passenger twin-engine airliner based on the Lockheed 14 Super Electra. During the late 1930s, Lockheed’s Model 14 Super Electra sales were not what the California aircraft manufacturer had envisioned. Despite the aircraft’s excellent performance, it cost more to operate than the larger Douglas DC-3.

To make the plane more economical to operate, Lockheed decided to stretch the fuselage by five feet six inches. By doing this, airlines could add two rows of seats. Designated as the Model 18, the prototype was a model 14 that had been returned to Lockheed by Northwest Airlines following several crashes.

Greg Hume via Wikimedia Commons.“” data-img-url=”https://static1.simpleflyingimages.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/LockheedLodestar.jpg” data-modal-container-id=”single-image-modal-container” data-modal-id=”single-image-modal”>


Mid-Continent Airlines was the launch customer

The Model 18 first flew on September 21, 1939, with another two prototypes derived from the Model 14 taking to the skies on February 2, 1940. On March 30, 1940, the Model 18 received its airworthiness certification and entered service with Mid-Continent Airlines.

Now fitted with the additional seats, the plane’s cost per mile to operate was on par with the Douglas DC-3 while at the same time keeping its better performance. Despite being faster and the exact cost to operate as the Douglas DC-3, US domestic sales were disappointing mainly because US airlines had already committed to DC-3 orders placed with Douglas. Because of this, Lockheed only manages to sell 31 Model 18s in the United States.

The plane sold well overseas

Overseas sales were slightly better with the following placing orders for the aircraft:

As the United States began to build up its military ahead of entering World War Two, the Lockheed Model 18 was designated as the C-56.

In 1942 the President of Brazil, Getúlio Vargas’ purchased a Model 18 fitted out with 11 seats for his own personal transport.

Winstonewolf via Wikimedia Commons.“” data-img-url=”https://static1.simpleflyingimages.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/NAC_ZK-AJM.jpg” data-modal-container-id=”single-image-modal-container” data-modal-id=”single-image-modal”>

New Zealand Uniuon Airwyas Loadstar

Following the end of hostilities in September 1945, when Japan surrendered, many Loadstars were converted back to be used as passenger planes and executive transports. The Loadstars that served in the war with the New Zealand NZNAC were sold back to Lockheed, who converted the planes to crop dusters.

A single Loadster flew with the Israeli Air Force during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Despite getting a little old, many surviving Loadstars were during the 1970s and 1980s used for skydiving operations in the United States.

In total, 625 Lockheed Model 18 Loadstars were built during its production run. Of the aircraft, nine were involved in fatal accidents. The most serious occurred in January 1943 when a Royal Air Force (RAF) Loadstar crashed south of Heliopolis, Egypt killing 12 passengers and crew.

US Navy via Wikimedia Commons.“” data-img-url=”https://static1.simpleflyingimages.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Lockheed_R5O-3_Lodestar_3-view_line_drawing.png” data-modal-container-id=”single-image-modal-container” data-modal-id=”single-image-modal”>

Lockheed Loadster drawing

Specifications and general characteristics

Crew: 3

Capacity: 18 passengers

Length: 49 feet 10 inches

Wingspan: 65 feet 6 inches

Height: 11 feet 10 inches

Wing area: 551 square feet

Empty weight: 12,500 lbs

Gross weight: 17,500 lbs

Max takeoff weight: 21,000 lbs

Powerplant: 2 × Wright R-1820-87 nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engines, 1,200 hp (890 kW) each

Maximum speed: 266 mph

Cruise speed: 200 mph

Range: 2,500 miles

Service ceiling: 30,100 feet

Source: simpleflying.com

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