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 It was withdrawn from SAA service in October 1950 and sold to East African Airways.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.