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Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar C-56/C-60

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Lodestar Originated as Civilian Luxury Airliner

Model 18 Lodestar WWII American transport aircraft

C-60A Lodestar (one of the military production versions) on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (Dayton, Ohio). USAF photo.

The Lockheed Model 18 Lodestar originated as a twin-engine civilian luxury airliner. First flown in 1939, it was smaller, but faster than its competitor, the C-47 Skytrain.

Military Service

Prior to the United States entering World War II, the military had shown little interest in acquiring the Lockheed Lodestar. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, civilian units were impressed into military service (those in use by the airlines or under constructed). The C-60A variant was ordered in February 1942 specifically for military use, but over 100 civilian Lodestars were impressed into the military and adapted for service during the war.

Lodestar Construction and Capacity

Information on Lodestar Variants
Designation Acquisition Engine
C-56 thru 56E R5O-1
Impressed Wright R-1820-97
(P & W R-1690-54
C-56A model only)
C-57B Impressed  
C-59 R5O-2 (USN) Impressed
Pratt & Whitney
R-1690-25 Hornet
C-60 R5O-5 (USN) Impressed
Wright R-1820-87
Wright R-1820-40
R5O-6 (USN)
Produced for
P & W R-1830
Twin Wasp
R5O-3 (USN)
R5O-4 (USN)
Impressed P & W R-1830-34A
Wright R-1820-40

C-60A reads as follows: C = Cargo or transport,

60 = Model number, A = Series letter

R5O-6 reads: R = transport, 5 = Type, O = Navy designation for Lockheed, 6 = Configuration

Chart is meant to be an overview of the variants and is not comprehensive.

The twin-engine aircraft was all-metal with a twin-tail and retractable landing gear, most accommodating a crew of three along with 14-18 passengers, although the C-56E seated 22 and and some executive versions seated only four passengers. The various versions differed mainly in the engines used (Pratt & Whitney Hornet or Wright Cyclone engine) and the number of passengers accommodated.

Although not used in as great of numbers as the Douglas C-47 Skytrain, it provided a valuable service during WWII as a fast, medium-range transport, serving the various roles of ambulance, paratroop transport, cargo carrier, VIP transport, and anti-submarine patrol aircraft.

Use by Other Countries

The versions of Lodestars received by the British (RAF) were designated Loadstar I, II, or III, and most were used for ambulance duty. The Lodestar was also used by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force (ML-KNIL), and South African Air Force (SAAF).

After WWII, the majority of the impressed aircraft were returned and many of these were converted for use as VIP transport.



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* Model 18 Lodestar facts

Category Transport plane
Manufacturer Lockheed
Introduced March 1940
Used in
US Army Air Corps
Number built 625
Cruising speed 200 mph
Max. speed 265 mph
Altitude 30,000 feet service ceiling
Range 1,660 miles
* Numbers are approximate