Military Wiki
Model 10 Electra
Amelia Earhart's modified Electra 10E
Role Light airliner
Manufacturer Lockheed
Designer Hall Hibbard
First flight 23 February 1934
Introduction 1935
Number built 149
Variants Lockheed XC-35
Developed into Lockheed Model 12 Electra Junior
Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra

The Lockheed Model 10 Electra was a twin-engine, all-metal monoplane airliner developed by the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in the 1930s to compete with the Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-2. The aircraft gained considerable fame as it was flown by Amelia Earhart on her ill-fated around-the-world expedition in 1937.

Design and development

Clarence "Kelly" Johnson testing an Electra model with single vertical tail in the University of Michigan's wind tunnel.

Some of Lockheed's wooden designs, such as the Orion, had been built by Detroit Aircraft Corporation with metal fuselages. However, the Electra was Lockheed's first all-metal and twin-engine design by Lloyd Stearman[1][2] and Hall Hibbard. The name Electra came from a star in the Pleiades. The prototype made its first flight on February 23, 1934 with Marshall Headle at the controls.[3]

Wind tunnel work on the Electra was undertaken at the University of Michigan. Much of the work was performed by a student assistant, Clarence Johnson. He suggested two changes be made to the design: changing the single tail to double tails (later a Lockheed trademark), and deleting oversized wing fillets. Both of these suggestions were incorporated into production aircraft. Upon receiving his master's degree, Johnson joined Lockheed as a regular employee, ultimately leading the Skunk Works in developing advanced aircraft such as the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird.

The Lockheed Electra was one of the first commercial passenger aircraft to come equipped with mud guards as standard equipment. Before the Electra, only aircraft with fixed landing gear had mud guards.[4]

Operational history

Lockheed 10B of Marshall Airways (Australia) in 1970, had been initially delivered to Ansett Airways in 1937

After October 1934 when the US government banned single-engined aircraft for use in carrying passengers or in night flying, Lockheed was perfectly placed in the market with its new Model 10 Electra. In addition to deliveries to US based airlines, several European operators added Electras to their prewar fleets. In Latin America, the first airline to use Electras was Cubana de Aviación, starting in 1935, for its domestic routes.

Flight deck

Besides airline orders, a number of non-commercial civil operators also purchased the new Model 10.[5] In May 1937, H.T. "Dick" Merrill and J.S. Lambie accomplished a round-trip crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. The feat was declared the first round-trip commercial crossing of that ocean by any aircraft. It won them the Harmon Trophy. On the eastbound trip, they carried newsreels of the crash of the Hindenburg, and on the return trip from the United Kingdom, they brought photographs of the coronation of King George VI. Bata Shoes operated the Model 10 to ferry their executives between their European factories.

Probably the most famous use of the Electra was the highly modified Model 10E flown by aviatrix Amelia Earhart. In July 1937, she disappeared in her Electra during an attempted round-the-world flight.[5]

Many Electras and their design descendants (the Model 12 Electra Junior and Model 14 Super Electra) were pressed into military service during World War II, for instance the USAAF's C-36. By the end of the war, the Electra design was obsolete, although many smaller airlines and charter services continued to operate Electras into the 1970s.[5]


Lockheed Y1C-36

Lockheed Y1C-37

Lockheed XC-35

The Electra was produced in several variants, for both civilian and military customers. Lockheed built a total of 149 Electras.

Electra 10-A
Powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior SB, 450 hp (336 kW) each; 101 produced.
Electra 10-B
Powered by Wright R-975-E3 Whirlwind, 440 hp (340 kW) each; 18 produced
  • Seven impressed by the U.S. Army Air Forces as C-36C, re-designated as UC-36C in 1943.
  • One built as XR3O-1 for the U.S. Coast Guard for use by the Secretary of the Treasury.
Electra 10-C
Powered by Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp SC1, 450 hp (336 kW) each; eight produced for Pan American Airways.
Electra 10-D
Proposed military transport version; none built.
Electra 10-E
Powered by Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasp S3H1, 600 hp (450 kW) each; 15 produced. The version used by Amelia Earhart.
  • Five impressed by the U.S. Army Air Forces as C-36B, re-designated as UC-36B in 1943.
Experimental pressurized research model powered by turbocharged Pratt & Whitney XR-1340-43, 550 hp (410 kW) each. The one production model was tested for the War Department by Lieutenant Benjamin S. Kelsey. For this work, the Army Air Corps was awarded the 1937 Collier Trophy. The XC-35 is currently in storage in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum.[6]
Lockheed KXL1
A single Lockheed Model 10 Electra supplied to the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service for evaluation.


Civil operators

  • Ansett Airways
  • Guinea Airways, an Australian airline serving New Guinea.
  • MacRobertson-Miller Aviation
  • Marshall Airways
  • Qantas Empire Airways
  • Aeronorte
  • Cruzeiro do Sul
  • Panair do Brasil
  • Canadian Airways
  • Trans-Canada Air Lines
  • LAN Chile
  • Compañia Cubana de Aviación
 Czech Republic
  • Bata Shoes Corporation
  • Compañía Mexicana de Aviación
  • KLM West Indies Section
 New Zealand
  • Union Airways of New Zealand
  • National Airways Corporation
  • Trans-Island Airways
  • LOT Polish Airlines operated ten aircraft between 1936 and 1939.
  • British Airways Ltd. (not to be confused with the present-day British Airways)
 United States
  • Braniff Airways
  • Chicago and Southern Air Lines
  • Continental Air Lines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Eastern Air Lines
  • Mid-Continent Airlines (formerly Hanford Airlines)
  • National Airlines
  • Northeast Airlines (formerly Boston-Maine/Central Vermont Airways)
  • Northwest Airlines
  • Pacific Alaska Airways, which became the Alaska division of Pan American Airways
  • Wisconsin Central Airlines
  • Aerotecnica S.A. ATSA
  • Línea Aeropostal Venezolana
 Kingdom of Yugoslavia
  • Aeroput

Military operators

Lockheed 10A restored in wartime RCAF markings

Lockheed Electra 10A in Royal Air Force service

U.S. Navy XR2O-1

 United States


Electra 10A "CF-TCC" in Trans-Canada Air Lines livery at the Western Canada Aviation Museum.

Lockheed Electra at the Science Museum (London)

Canada is the home of two Model 10As. The first aircraft in the Air Canada (then called Trans-Canada Air Lines) fleet was an Electra 10A, "TCA." Two Electras were delivered to Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA) in 1937. They were based in Winnipeg and used for pilot training. Trans-Canada Air Lines ordered three more for transcontinental service; "CF-TCC" was one of those three. These former TCA machines and other 10As were acquired by the RCAF during Second World War, and later sold to private operators.

  • TCA survived into the 1960s when Ann Pellegreno between June 7 and July 10, 1967 flew TCA on a round-the-world flight to commemorate Amelia Earhart’s last flight in 1937. The Canada Aviation Museum acquired this aircraft after the commemorative flight. Manufactured in 1937, the Museum example was the first new aircraft purchased by Trans-Canada Air Lines and served with the company until transferred to the RCAF in 1939. Sold in 1941 to a private operator, it was flown until 1967 by various owners. Air Canada restored the aircraft in 1968 and donated it to the Museum.
  • TCC was another former Trans-Canada Air Lines original. CF-TCC was found in Florida by a vacationing Air Canada employee in the early 1980s. Arrangements were made for it to be brought back to Winnipeg where it was restored. It was flown across Canada in 1987 to commemorate Air Canada's 50th Anniversary. Air Canada maintains the aircraft and uses it to promote the airline. The aircraft was placed on display at Expo 86 after recreating the original TCA cross-country flight in 1937 and continues to be displayed at air shows and conferences. In 2006, it was flown from Toronto to Washington DC for the annual "Airliners International" Show.[7] For most of the year, TCC resides at the Western Canada Aviation Museum where it is one of the feature aircraft displayed.

Believed that TCC was formerly N239PB operated by Provincetown-Boston Airlines.

Two Model 10 Electras are also preserved in New Zealand's Museum of Transport and Technology at Auckland. Another Auckland-based Electra, owned by Kaipara Aviation Trust, is under restoration to flying condition.

A military version designated as UC-36A Electra (s/n 43-56638, civilian registration N4963C) is on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. Another military version designated AC-35 Electra is on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia.

Electra 10A, Serial no. 1037, built in 1935, is on display in the Science Museum (London) in the "Making the Modern World Gallery."

Electra 10A, Serial no. 1130, is on display in the National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, Florida.

Electra 10A, serial no. 1052 is undergoing final restoration while on display at the New England Air Museum[8] in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Although originally a USN XR20-1 (BuNo 0267), it is painted in Northwest Airlines colors. At one point it was intended to use this machine for a recreation of the Earhart flight but it required too much work.[9] N38BB is on display at Oakland Aviation Museum in Oakland, CA and is scheduled for restoration in the near future. This aircraft was originally supposed to be restored and cast for a role in the new Amelia Earhart movie but a deal could not be made with producers and a Lockheed 12 was used instead. N38BB was formerly N38PB operated by Provincetown-Boston Airlines.

Specifications (Electra 10A)

Lockheed Model 10 Electra.svg

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Capacity: 10 passengers
  • Length: 38 ft 7 inch (11.8 m)
  • Wingspan: 55 ft 0 in (16.8 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 1 in (3.1 m)
  • Wing area: 458 ft² (42.6 m²)
  • Empty weight: 6,454 lb (2,930 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 10,500 lb (4,760 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior SB, 450 hp (340 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 202 mph (325 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 190 mph (306 km/h)
  • Range: 713 mi (1,150 km)
  • Service ceiling: 19,400 ft (5,910 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,000 ft/min (300 m/min)
  • Wing loading: 22.9 lb/ft² (111.7 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 11.7 lb/hp (142 W/kg)

See also


  1. "Lloyd Stearman". National Aviation Hall of Fame. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  2. Phillips, Edward H (2006). Stearman Aircraft: A Detailed History. Specialty PressPub & Wholesalers. p. 26. 
  3. Gunston 1998, p. 8.
  4. "Mud Guards on Plane Wheels Protect Landing Gear." Popular Mechanics, April 1935, p. 523, (bottom-right).
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Winchester 2004, p. 188.
  6. "New Plane Ready For Stratosphere Test Flights." Popular Mechanics, August 1937.
  7. "New Horizons." Retrieved: February 3, 2010.
  9. "New England Air Museum." Retrieved: August 1, 2010.
  • Francillon, René J. Lockheed Aircraft since 1913. Annapolis, Maryland, USA: Naval Institute Press, 1987. ISBN 0-85177-835-6.
  • Garrison, Peter. "Head Skunk". Air & Space Magazine, March 2010.
  • Gunston, Bill. Lockheed Aircraft: The History of Lockheed Martin (Aircraft Cutaways). Oxford, UK: Osprey, 1998. ISBN 978-1-85532-775-7.
  • Winchester, Jim, ed. "Lockheed 10 Electra". Civil Aircraft (The Aviation Factfile). London: Grange Books plc, 2004. ISBN 1-84013-642-1.

External links

Lockheed Electra 10A Restoration project, New Zealand:

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