Lockheed Lodestar in detail.

Discussion in 'Warbird Displays' started by nuuumannn, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Hi Folks, here is a detailed look at a rather weather worn Lodestar that has been sitting outdoors at an aviation museum for many years and has sadly suffered as a result, although the museum staff assure me that it is awaiting its turn in the queue for restoration. Lockheed L-18 Lodestar ZK-BVE was formerly used as a topdressing aircraft and as a result the superphosphate has already left parts of the aircraft looking like shavings of parmesan cheese. Nevertheless; the Lodestar - along with the other Lockheed twins of the era is a real beauty and despite its run down state, its former elegance is evident. Here is a brief history of the well travelled aircraft:

    Built as a Model 18-10-01, Construction Number 2020 and originally ordered for United Airlines registered as NC25630 on 7 August 1940, transferred to the USAAC as a C-56D-LO and listed as 42-53504 on 8 May 1941. Transferred via Lend Lease to the RAF as AX756 on 1 July 1941 and was allocated the UK civil registration G-AGCN with Atlantic Airways Ltd based in Miami, remaining in the USA as it was not taken up before being shipped to Capetown, SA. On 29 September the aircraft came into the property of BOAC named 'Lake Victoria' and serving in East Africa, it remained as such until 19 November 1947 where as a condition of Lend Lease it was sold through the US Foreign Liquidation Corp.

    On 27 January 1949 it went to the Campagnia Auxiliar de Navigacion Aerea in Spain and it was stored in Madrid and the civil registration EC-ADU was allotted, but not taken up. Transferred to the Ejercito del Aire as T-4-?? (unknown) some time in 1950 until 26 March 1954 when it was re-registered in the USA as N9933F with Minnesota Airmotive Inc. On 1 July 1958 it was sold to Fieldair, Gisborne, New Zealand and was ferried from the USA to Australia to Bankstown Airfield where it was modified by Fairey Aviation as a top dresser, arriving in New Zealand on 4 August that year. On 17 December 1969 it was damaged beyond repair in a wheels up landing as a result of hydraulic failure at Milson, Palmerston North. Its civil registration was cancelled in January 1970 and was transported to Whenuapai on 8 November and taken to its current location in Auckland.

    There are rumours that the aircraft was used in clandestine flights between Spain and the UK during the war, but these are thus far unsubstantiated.

    ZK-BVE in outside storage.

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    Taken in 1993, BVE with her Fieldair paint scheme.

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    Note the Fieldair strangled goose logo in the fin. This originated from one of those apocryphal stories that come from the days of yore in aviation when one of the company's pilots was flying along in a Tiger Moth, when he spotted a goose in flight. Being an adventurous type he decided to chase said bird, but the goose had other ideas and soon a lot of low level dodging of trees and local landscape ensued as the foolhardy pilot became even more determined to catch it as the goose became more elusive. Getting quite close to the bird by slideslipping and throttling back, the bird was then struck by the aircraft's rotating propeller, killing it outright. Force landing in a field, the pilot phoned his company and requested a new propeller.

    When it came to recounting the tale of how he ended up in the field, the pilot stated that he manoeuvred to avoid a goose in flight, when another flew into his prop. The management accepted this explanation, but six months later a fellow came into the office saying he wanted Fieldair to do his crop spraying as he had watched this guy in an aeroplane chase a goose about for ages at low level, demonstrating some of the best flying he had seen, before hitting the goose with his propeller and landing to pick it up!

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    A general walkaround of the aircraft.

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    Note the Lockheed Ventura in the background, which will be subject to a walkaround in future. This museum is unique as it has examples of a Lockheed 10 Electra, a Lockheed 12 fuselage, Lockheed 14 Hudson, Lockheed RB-34 Ventura and the Lodestar in its collection.

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    The Lodestar's ample nose.

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    Nose access door.

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    The super tank was located in the fuselage, exiting out the spreader in the belly. The corrosive nature of the fertiliser is plainly evident.

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    Six Lodestars were operated as top dressers in New Zealand in the 1950s, proving a worthy workhorse. These were supplimented by DC-3s that could carry a huge load and I remember as a child being amazed to see these enormous aeroplanes swooping over the ground at high speeds and extreme low level, dumping clouds of super onto local farmer's fields.

    More to come.
     
  2. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Good stuff, ya gotta love the Lockheed twins :cool:
     
  3. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    I do love the Lockheed twins. Nice shots Grant

    Geo
     
  4. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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  5. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Good shots!
     
  6. N4521U

    N4521U Well-Known Member

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    I got to fly in the right seat of a 10A...... nice ride I must say.

    Sad to see them out in the elements like that.
     
  7. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #7 nuuumannn, Oct 30, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2013
    More of ZK-BVE. Powered by two 1,200 hp Wright R-1820s, the exhaust manifold is visible here, while the engines remained steadfastly camera shy throughout my shoot. The heavily fastened outer wing join is visible as well as the undercarriage cutout in the lower nacelle.

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    Right hand undercarriage.

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    Left hand wheel.

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    Undercarriage bay looking forward.

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    The left hand wingtip showing severe corrosion from moisture ingress. Note the fixed leading edge slats characteristic of the family.

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    Left hand aileron and trim tab. The Lodestar had a creditable performance; maximum speed was over 250 mph, with a cruise speed of 200 mph. It had a service ceiling of 23,300 ft and a range of 1,600 miles.

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    A view of the underside of the wing; fowler flaps are missing. The protruding flap carriage rails aft of the trailing edge are also a characteristic of the family.

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    Close up of a flap carriage rail with the roller bearing channel plainly visible. Note the tent erected in the background to shelter the Sunderland whilst work is carried out on it.

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    Left hand wing to fuselage join. Note that the majority of the aircraft's skin was countersunk rivetted from the wing forward. The Lodestar had a rather generous 550 sq ft wing area.

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    The location of the passenger windows are visible covered by blanks, as well as air intake vents for passenger comfort. Even the overwing emergency exit has been blanked off. The after fuselage is largely dome rivetted.

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    The Lockheed Twins' distinctive vertical tail feathers. Note the protruding semi-circular surface outboard of the fin.

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    Elevators being used to cultivate some kind of alien growth.

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    Missing tailcone reveals tail wheel shock strut and elevator actuation push rod.

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    Rudder and trim tab visible, with cutout to enable movement over fixed portion of the hori stab. Small plates have been fixed to the rudders to prevent their movement.

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    Right hand rear fuselage showing one window remaining glased, with a jump seat for a loader on the other side of it, no doubt. With an empty weight of 11,650 lbs, the Lodestar had a maximum take-off weight of 17,500 lbs.

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    Finally, shrouded engine cowl with misspelt name and Hamilton Standard 23E50 Hydromatic propeller.

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    The opportunity to get aboard the aircraft and explore the interior did not present itself, such a thing would probably reveal much more corrosion, but a closer look at the hopper mounting would have been of interest. A curious museum staff member asked of my interest in the two Lockheeds sitting outside and he assured me of their future restoration; the rarity of the Ventura taking priority over the Lodestar, despite the latter being in far worse condition, having sat outdoors for twenty or more years. There is a discussion whether the aircraft will be restored in its former United Airways colours, highly polished with airline markings, which would make the old bird positively zing once restoration is completed, but that would also entail converting the aircraft back to passenger configuration, something the museum might not necessarily have funding or the inclination to do. The 'New Zealand' option of restoring the aircraft in its 'bumblebee' Fieldair scheme will most likely be carried out; the museum already possessing a couple of other top dressing aircraft in its collection. Owing to schedules and budgets, this work won't be done for a few years yet, but I eagerly await the results of the transformation of this beautiful bird back to a presentable standard.

    Thanks for looking.
     
  8. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Good stuff Grant, but a darned shame to see an aircraft turning to dust. I hope the museum are able to at least prevent further rot, and restore it to some semblance of at least one of its roles.
     
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