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C-56 “Lodestar”
SERIAL NUMBER:  41-19729 

SPECIFICATIONS:

  • Wing Span — 65'8"

  • Length — 49'10"

  • Height — 11'1"

  • Maximum Speed — 253 M.P.H. at Sea Level

  • Ceiling — 23,300 Ft.

  • Range — 1,600 Miles

  • Crew — 3 plus 17 passengers

  • Engines — 2 x 1,200 H.P. Wright R-1820-71 "Cyclone" radial engines

This aircraft, a Lockheed civilian Model 18-56, was delivered on 2 April 1941 in El Paso, TX, to New York publisher, Arthur Kudner at a cost of $102,000. Originally ordered by Pan Am as a 17-passenger airliner, it was instead plushed out as a 12-passenger luxury ship with a 7-foot davenport along one side, five reclining Model 14 seats, two writing tables and a Lackawanna Blue leather interior. It was powered by more powerful engines allowing a higher gross weight and bore registration number NC2333. 

After owning the aircraft for just nine days, the USAAC pressured Kudner to sell it to them. Returned to the Lockheed Burbank plant, it was fitted out with military radios and was designated C-56 s/n 41-19729, the only C-56, destined for VIP transport duties. Her first assignment was to Bolling Field, Washington. Eventually she was removed from the VIP role and relegated to training Navy R5O pilots. Later she transferred to the National Guard Bureau and served with the armed forces until 1945. 

After the war, 41-19729 was re-registered as NC2333 and sold to a broker for $39,000, who turned it around in three days into a sale for $69,000 to Continental Oil. By 1947 she was owned by Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Co. Penn Central Airlines took over ownership for a short period after 1963. In 1978, Joe Brenner of Flying Tiger Airlines found the derelict aircraft, with N61M civil registration, at Grand Prairie Municipal Airport, TX, in very bad shape. He bought it for $10,000, restored it, added it to the Flying Tigers aircraft inventory and returned the registration number to NC2333. In January 1985, she was donated to the Travis Air Museum