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A Look at the Lockheed Electra

The Beginning

In 1933-34, Lockheed unveiled its newest design, which looked similar to the Boeing 247. During wind tunnel tests at the University of Michigan, Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson (seen right with the original Electra design) reported to Lockheed that the design worked great but lacked stability. Kelly suggested adding two rudders, one behind each engine. The twin tail design would become a signature Lockheed trademark. Lockheed's new aircraft was christened the Electra, named after a star in the Pleiades, and designated the Model 10 as the next available number in the Lockheed line. The standard 10A model was powered by two 450hp Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp engines; subsequent models, the 10B, C, and E, were all similar to the 10A, just with different engine sizes. A 10D was proposed by the military but never built. 149 Lockheed Electra Model 10 were built between 1934 and 1941. 

Amelia Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, disappeared on July 2, 1937, while attempting to circumnavigate the globe in a highly modified Electra 10E. 

1934 - Present

The L-10 Electra would serve commercial airlines such as Northwest, Braniff, National, Eastern, and Pan Am for several years before being replaced by the larger and faster DC-3; during its service, the Electra served on every continent except for Antarctica! At the outbreak of the Second World War, several Electra 10s operated by European carriers were lost during the Nazi invasion of Europe, some managed to escape, and a number of others were commandeered by the U.S. Army and scrapped either following the war or following any crack-ups. By the 1970s, the Electra, if it was operated at all, was done so primarily in private hands; however, Naples Airlines & Provincetown-Boston Airline was the last commercial airline in the United States to retire their Electra in September 1973. Today, only fifteen Lockheed Electra 10s exist worldwide; some are airworthy, but most are static displays in museums.

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