The Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar was a development of the model 14 Super Electra. It featured more power, larger cabin and higher payload. It was offered with several different engines. It did not sell well in the United States as most airlines wanted the larger Douglas DC-3, but a number were sold overseas in Africa, South America and Europe. There was little military interest until the outbreak of World War II.
This aircraft is one of 29 Model 18 Lodestars ordered by South African Airways in the late 1930's. War broke out before they were delivered in 1940-41 and all but one went straight to the South African Air Force where they were used as intermediate range personnel transports, carrying 14 passengers and a crew of 3. The Lodestars were assigned to 5 Wing based at Air Force Station Germiston. They were delivered with Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engines. This aircraft was returned to South African Airways in 1944, registered as ZS-ASU and named "Piet Retief". It was withdrawn from SAA service in October 1950 and sold to East African Airways.
The USAAF operated Lodestars during World War II; 102 were taken over from civil airlines as C-56, C-57, C-59 and C-60. Also 324 were purchased new as C-60's. The U. S. Navy also purchased 96 under the designation R-5O (the letter O). Our aircraft displays World War II markings of the South African Air Force. It would probably have been designated as a C-56D if it had served with the U. S. Army Air Forces. The Vega Ventura maritime patrol/light bomber aircraft was based on the Lodestar design. It was designated PV-1 by the Navy and B-34 by the USAAF.
Our thanks to the South African Air Force Museum and the South African Airways Museum for their assistance with the history and markings of this aircraft.
By kjfitz @ 2007-03-10 14:18:37