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C-56 Lodestar - Castle Air Museum

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C-56 Lodestar Passenger Transport

C-56 Loadstar Castle Air Museum

Built by Lockheed as a passenger transport, U.S. sales of the the Model 18 Lodestar in the late 1930s did not meet expectations, and foreign airline markets were sought. South African Airways ordered 29 Lodestars but these were soon placed into the service of the South African Air Force (SAAF) as the South African Union took an active part in World War II. This Lodestar was one of those serving with the SAAF during WWII.

In addition, the South African government was divided on the eve of WWII, between pro-British and pro-Afrikaner factions. The United Party caucus, who sided with Great Britain, seized power from pro-Afrikaner Prime Minister Barry Herzog, returning leadership to the former Prime Minister, Jan Smuts. Because of the pro-German sentiments among the Afrikaners, the South African armed forces were manned with all volunteers as conscription was not feasible. The Union South Africa declared war on Germany on September 6, 1939, and on Japan on December 8, 1941.

SAAF roundel

According to the information from the South African Airways Museum, the impressed Lodestars of the SAAF "were used on the South Africa-Egypt 'shuttle', most of them operating in a camouflage paint scheme, dark green/dark earth with a sky blue under-surface" and were assigned to the Number 5 Wing based at Germiston in South Africa. The shuttle service had been initiated by the East African Campaign and transported troops and supplies to the war front (Cairo and beyond) and brought back wounded. Photo to the right shows close up of two versions of the SAAF roundel (like the British but with with an orange center instead of red), displayed on the underside of the wings and rear fuselage.

Other Loadstars on this site

C-60 Lodestar - Planes of Fame
C-60A Lodestar - American aircraft