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The Lockheed Model 14 "Super Electra"

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The Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra made a record for circling the globe -- in 3 days, 19 hours and 14 minutes with eccentric millionaire Howard Hughes piloting. One thousand police officers were on hand at New York's Floyd Bennett Field to control the throngs of people who showed up to greet Hughes.

"Howard Hughes' Excellent Adventure"


The Lockheed PBO Hudson

By Joe Baugher


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Model 14 Super Electra

The Lockheed Hudson light bomber of World War 2 was a military development of the Model 14 Super Electra commercial airliner. Although the Hudson saw relatively little combat in American hands during World War 2, the aircraft was extensively used by British, Australian, and New Zealand air forces. The Hudson was actually the first American-designed combat aircraft to destroy an enemy aircraft in actual combat, although it was with a Royal Air Force crew that this was achieved. When Lend-Lease was introduced in 1941, the Hudson was assigned the designation A-28 and A-29 in the USAAF attack series. This was primarily for administrative purposes, since relatively few Hudsons served with USAAF units. However, an A-29 was the first Army Air Force aircraft to score a successful attack on a German U-boat.

The Model 14 Super Electra airliner first appeared in 1937. It was designed by a team headed by Hall Hibbard and Clarence "Kelly" Johnson to compete against the new Douglas DST/DC-3 commercial transport. The aircraft was of low-wing, twin-engine, twin-tailed format, and bore an obvious family resemblance to the earlier Model 10 Electra but was somewhat larger. The transport featured a highly-loaded wing of relatively small span and area, chosen so as to achieve a high cruising speed. Fowler flaps were adopted which were designed to reduce landing speeds but also augmented effective wing area to reduce the takeoff distance. This marked the first use of Fowler flaps on a production aircraft. The fuselage was deeper than that of previous Lockheed airliners, making it unnecessary for passengers to step over the wing truss as was necessary in the Lockheed Models 10 and 12. Cabin length could accommodate either 14 passengers in single seats on each side of the central aisle or ten to eleven passengers with a galley and a cabin attendant. The wing had optional fixed wing slots (later made standard), fully-feathering propellers, and integral fuel tanks.

The prototype (c/n 1401, civilian registry X17382) flow for the firat time on July 29, 1937 with Marshall Headle at the controls. It was powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Hornet S1E-G air-cooled radial engines, each rated at 875 hp for takeoff and 750 hp at 7000 feet.

To attract customers, Lockheed offered a broad choice of power plants, including two versions of the Pratt & Whitney Hornet, five versions of the Wright Cyclone, and one version of the Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp. On November 15, 1937, an Approved Type Certificate was awarded, covering the Hornet S1E-G-powered Model 14-H and the Hornet S1E2-G-powered Model 14-H2.

A total of 52 Hornet-powered Super Electra were built between July 1937 and June 1940. 20 of them were Model 14Hs (including the prototype, eight aircraft for Northwest Airlines, one for Guinea Airways, and ten for the Polish airline LOT. 32 were Model 14-H2s (18 for Trans-Canada Air Lines, with the remainder going to five other airlines and one to a private customer).

After being operated briefly by TACA, c/n 1401 was taken back by Lockheed and modified as a prototype for a proposed cargo version. A hunchbacked fuselage was fitted to make the aircraft capable of carrying bulkier loads, and a large loading door was provided. Re-designated Model C-14H-1, the aircraft was tested briefly by the the Army Air Corps at Wright Field. However, the Army found the Model C-14H-1 unsuitable for military service, and the aircraft was converted back to Model 14-H standard and was returned to passenger service in Brazil as PP-AVB and was later sold to an airline in Nicaragua as AN-TAB.

The Model 14-WF62 was produced for the export market. It was powered by a pair of Wright Cyclone SGR-1820-F62 radials, each rated at 900 hp for takeoff and 760 hp at 5800 feet. The rudders were modified with static balances to prevent tail flutter. 21 examples of this version were built, with 11 going to KLM and KNILM beginning in February of 1938, eight to British Airways, and the last two going to Aer Lingus in Ireland in May of 1939.

The Model 14-N was powered by Wright Cyclone engines of the G-series, which offered a takeoff rating of 1100 hp and a maximum rating of 900 hp between 6000 and 6700 feet. The four examples built were all sold to private owners. Two of them had GR-1820-G105 engines and one had -G105A engines. They were fitted with deluxe interiors for use as executive transports. The last one (c/n 1419, civil registry NX18973) was designated Model 14-N2 and was specially built for Howard Hughes. It was powered by GR-1820-G102 engines. This aircraft was fitted with extra fuselage tanks to supplement the four integral tanks in the wing, increasing total fuel tapacity to 1844 US gallons. Additional radio and navigational equipment, as well as flotation bags and extra supplies, were installed in the fuselage. Five crew members could be accommodated, three forward and two aft of the cabin fuel tanks. This aircraft was used by Howard Hughes to carry out a round-the-world flight in July of 1938. Hughes and his crew left Floyd Bennett Field in New York on July 10, 1938 and returned to the same field four days later via Paris, Moscow, Omsk, Yakutsk, Fairbanks, and Minneapolis. Total flying time for the 14,672 miles was 91 hours 14 minutes 10 seconds, with an average speed of 206.1 mph.

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The first launch customer for the Super Electra was Northwest Airlines, which first introduced it into service on the run between the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) and Chicago in October of 1937. There were early problems with tail flutter, which required that balanced tail surfaces be retrofitted. Unfortunately, there were three Super Electra crashes while in Northwest Airlines service, which caused the airline to dispose of its entire Super Electra fleet during the summer of 1939 and replace them with DC-3s. The only other US airlines to use the type were Santa Maria Airlines (just one aircraft) and Continental Airlines (two examples).

The Super Electra had somewhat greater success overseas, with six major carriers acquiring 21 Hornet-powered and 53 Cyclone-powered aircraft. The first overseas customer was the Dutch airline KLM and its East Indies subsidiary KNILM. The high performance of the Super Electra was especially useful on the long Amsterdam-Batavia route. British Airways also acquired four Super Electra's for use on its routes from the UK to West Africa and on to South America. British Airways also acquired the Super Electra, using one of its first examples to fly Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin to the Munich conference on September 15, 1938. The British Airways Super Electras were primarily used on European routes including services to Berlin and Warsaw. LOT, LARES, Aer Lingus, and Regie Air Afrique also ordered Super Electra. Trans-Canada Air Lines ordered 16 examples.

Japan turned out to be the largest user of the Super Electra. Thirty Super Electra's were sold to the Tachikawa Hikoki KK (Tachikawa Aeroplane Co Ltd of Japan, which acted as an agent for Nihon Koku KK (Japan Air Transport Co. Ltd.). This airline was later renamed Dai Nippon Koku KK (Greater Japan Air Lines), and became the largest commercial user of the Super Electra. This version of the Super Electra was known as Model 14-WG3B, and was powered by two Wright Cyclone GR-1820-G3B radials, rated at 900 hp for takeoff and 840 hp at 8000 feet. The Tachikawa company also obtained a license to build a version of the Super Electra in Japan. Production for the Imperial Japanese Army was undertaken both by Tachikawa and by Kawasaki Kokuki Kogyo KK (Kawasaki Aircraft Engineering Co. Ltd. These companies respectively built 64 and 55 aircraft between 1940 and 1942. They were powered by Mitsubishi Ha-26-I (900 hp Army Type 99 Radial Model 1) engines. In Japanese army service, they were designated Army Type LO Transports, and were operated as military transports during the Pacific War. The Allies assigned the code name Thelma to the Japanese-built version and the name Toby to the civilian versions purchased from Lockheed.

A single example was delivered to the US Navy as XR4O-1 in October of 1938. It was a staff transport version of the Model 14-H2 powered by two 850 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1690-52 radials Only one was built.

During the early days of the Pacific War, four Model 14-WF62s from the KNILM were flown to Australia to avoid capture by the Japanese. These planes were purchased by the USAAF for service with the ADAT (Allied Directorate of Air Transport). One crashed almost immediately, but the other three (c/ns 1414, 1442, and 1443) were assigned the USAAF designation of C-111 and assigned the US military serials 44-83233/83235 and the Australian civilian registration VH-CXI/VH/CXK

In many respects, the Super Electra was more advanced than the Douglas DC-2 which had a similar capacity. It had the advantage of being equipped with more powerful engines which gave it a twenty percent higher cruising speed. When compared to the DC-3, which had a 50 percent larger capacity and similar set of engines, the Super Electra had a similar speed advantage but was less economical. The wider cabin and larger capacity of the DC-3 made it a much more comfortable plane for passengers than was the relatively narrow cabin of the Super Electra. Consequently, except for those airlines which placed a high value on exceptional cruise performance, the Super Electra was at a distinct disadvantage when competing against the Douglas transports. Its belated entry into the commercial market turned out to be an additional problem that could never be overcome and only 112 Super Electras were built between July 1937 and June of 1940.

Specification of Lockheed Model 14-WF62 Super Electra:

Engines: Two Wright Cyclone SGR-1820-F62 radials, each rated at 900 hp for takeoff and 760 hp at 5800 feet.

Performance: Maximum speed 250 mph at 5800 feet, cruising speed 215 mph, initial climb rate 1520 feet per minute.

Normal range: 850 miles, Maximum range: 2125 miles. Service ceiling: 24,500 feet.

 Weights: 10,750 pounds empty, 15,650 pounds normal loaded, 17,500 pounds maximum.

Dimensions: Wingspan 65 feet 6 inches, length 44 feet 4 inches, height 11 feet 5 inches, wing area 551 square feet.

By Joe Baugher



  1. Lockheed's Made-Over Bomber, Freeman Westell, Wings, Vol 26, No. 6, p. 46 (1996).

  2.  Lockheed Aircraft Since 1913, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1987

  3. British Military Aircraft Serials, 1912-1969, Bruce Robertson, Ian Allen, 1969.



The Lockheed PBO Hudson

The Lockheed R40 Super Electra

by Jack McKill


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The Lockheed PBO Hudson

The Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra, built by the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation of Burbank, California, was a contemporary of the Douglas DC-2, designated R2D, q.v., in U.S. Navy (USN) service, but was a more advanced design with more powerful engines giving it a higher cruising speed. Lockheed had determined that an aircraft larger than the Model 10 Electra, designated R2O and R3O, q.v., in USN and U.S. Coast Guard service, was required to compete against the DC-2 and DC-3. (The DC-3 was designated R4D, q.v., in USN service.) The Models 10 and 12 had be designed as passenger transports but the Model 14 was designed to operate in either in either a passenger/cargo or all-cargo payloads. Like the Models 10 and 12, the Model 14 was an all-metal, twin-engined, twin-tail, monoplane with a retractable main landing gear and fixed tail wheel. However, unlike the Models 10 and 12, the Model 14 was a midwing monoplane equipped with Fowler flaps and a deep elliptical fuselage that could accommodate a pilot and copilot and either (1)14-passengers in seven rows or (2) ten to eleven passengers with a galley and a flight attendant. Construction of the first aircraft began in 1937 and it made it's first flight was on 29 July 1937. This aircraft was produced in five versions, the major difference being the engines.

A total of 112 Model 14's were built by Lockheed. The first U.S. commercial airline to operate the Model 14 was Northwest Airlines which placed it in service in September 1937; additional U.S. airline customers included Continental Airlines and Santa Maria Airlines. Non-U.S. commercial operators were in Australia (Guinea Airways), Canada (Trans-Canada Air Lines), France (Air Afrique), Ireland (Aer Lingus), Japan (Japan Air Transport Co.), Netherlands (KLM), Netherlands East Indies (KNILM), Poland (LOT), Portugese East Africa (DETA), Romania (LARES), UK (British Airways) and Venezuela (LAV).

Northwest Airlines purchased a total of eleven Model 14's and, in October 1937, became the first airline to operate the aircraft in commercial service. The public were impressed with the aircraft and praised it's high cruising speed but the Model 14 also had a high seat-mile cost. Problems began on 16 May 1938 when a Northwest Airlines Model 14-H2 crashed on landing. This crash was caused by tail flutter and this was corrected by retrofitting balanced control surfaces. This initial crash was quickly followed by two other crashes of Northwest Model 14's, one on 8 July 1938 and the second on 13 January 1939. These two crashes were not related to tail flutter but the overall result was that the public lost confidence in the Model 14 and Northwest sold all of their Model 14's during the summer of 1939 and purchased DC-3's. The Model 14 was Lockheed's largest aircraft at the time and in an attempt to produce another plane, Lockheed began work on the Model 18 Lodestar which was designated R5O, q.v., in USN service.

In 1938, the Japanese firm Tachikawa Aeroplane Co. Ltd. obtained the manufacturing licence rights and built 64 aircraft; an additional 55 were built by Kawasaki as the Army Type 1 Freight Transport or Kawasaki Ki-56, Allied Code Name Thalia.

The USN ordered one Model 14-H2 as a staff transport and designated it XR4O-1. In March 1942, four KNILM Model 14-WF62's were flown from Java to Australia to avoid capture by the Japanese. One crashed and the other three were purchased by the U.S. and assigned to the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) and designated C-111-LO's.

In the late 1930's the Royal Air Force (RAF) began looking for a replacement for the short-ranged Avro 652A Anson then in service with RAF Coastal Command. In February 1938, Lockheed began preliminary design studies for a bomber version of the Model 14 for the British Purchasing Commission (BPC). The proposed aircraft retained the wing, tail surfaces and engines of the Model 14 but the fuselage was modified to include a dorsal turret, and ventral hatch; a bomb bay; and navigator and bombardier positions in the nose. In April, the mock up was shown to the BPC and after discussions and modifications, an order was placed on 23 June 1938 for 200 Model B14L's as the new aircraft was designated. These aircraft went on to fame as the Lockheed Hudson Mark I; subsequent Hudson's had strengthened airframe components and were designated Model 414's and were designated Hudson Mk. II through VI by the RAF. The Hudson was the first U.S.-built aircraft to see operational service with the RAF in World War II. The order for 200 aircraft caused a storm in the U.K. because many people felt that all aircraft for the British military should be built in the U.K.

The finalized version of the B14L had a crew of five, i.e., (2) the navigator who sat in the nose, (2) the bombardier who lay prone on the floor behind the navigator and sighted through Plexiglas panels in the undersurface of the aircraft, (3) the pilot who sat in the cockpit, (4) the radio operator who sat behind the pilot and (5) the gunner who operated the rear turret. A jump seat was located next to the pilot and a crewman or second pilot could sit there. Armament consisted of five .303 caliber (7.7 mm) machine guns, two fixed guns in the nose, two in a Boulton Paul turret aft of the entrance door and one in a retractable prone position beneath the fuselage. Later models provided for two .303 caliber (7.7 mm) machine guns in the waist positions. The bomb bay could accommodate 1,400 pounds (635 kg) of bomb or depth charges.

On 11 March 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Bill and the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC), superseded by the USAAF on 20 June 1941, assumed responsibility for ordering all Model 414's for U.S. and Lend-Lease delivery. The Hudson's ordered by the USAAF were designated A-28-LO, A-28A-LO, A-29-LO, A-29A-LO, A-29B-LO, AT-18-LO and AT-18A-LO depending on the aircraft's mission and whether Wright or Pratt & Whitney engines were installed..

An order for 416 A-29-LO's was placed on 29 May 1941; these aircraft were designated Hudson Mk. IIIA's in RAF and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) service however, the first 20 aircraft from this order were diverted to the USN and designated PBO-1 becoming the USN's first land based patrol bomber. All were delivered in standard RAF camouflage, i.e., Dark Green and Dark Earth upper surfaces and light gray under surfaces however, they were equipped with .30-caliber (7.62 mm) machine guns.


Production History

PBO-1: Twenty A-29-LO's ordered by the USAAF for Lend-Lease to the RAF as Hudson Mk IIIA's were diverted to the USN. They were powered by two 1,200 hp (895 kW) Wright R-1820-87 nine-cylinder, single-row, air-cooled, radial engines driving three-bladed Hamilton-Standard Hydromantic constant-speed propellers.

XR4O-1: One Model 14-H2 ordered as a staff transport. The aircraft was powered by two 850 hp (633.8 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1690-52 nine-cylinder, single-row, air-cooled, radial engines driving two-bladed, feathering propellers.


Operational History

U.S. Navy

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The single XR4O-1 was delivered to the USN on 15 October 1938 and remained in the inventory until 1944. As a staff transport, it spent most, if not all, of that time, based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Anacostia, District of Columbia.

The first of twenty PBO-1's was delivered to Patrol Squadron Eighty Two (VP-82) at NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island on 29 October 1941. By the end of December 1941, there were 18 aircraft in the inventory, 14 assigned to VP-82, two assigned to the Transition Training Squadron (TTS) at NAS Norfolk and two others at NAS Norfolk as spares. On 1 January 1942, VP-82 deployed a twelve detachment of PBO-1s to NAS Argentia, Newfoundland under Patrol Wing Seven (PatWing-7) to provide convoy coverage, harbor patrol and antisubmarine sweeps. During this period, the aircrews were berthed aboard the Seaplane Tender USS Pocomoke (AV-9) and later the Seaplane Tender, Destroyer George E. Badger (AVD-3) and the Small Seaplane Tender USS Barnegat (AVP-10). By May 1942, the crews were move to barracks on the air station.

On 28 January 1942, the squadron claimed a U-boat sunk off Cape Race, Newfoundland but postwar examination of German records do not indicate any losses during this period. The first authenticated sinking of a U-boat by a PBO-1 occurred on 1 March 1942 when U-656, a Type VIIC U-boat, was sunk south of Cape Race at 46.15N, 53.15W by an aircraft flown by Ensign Tepuni; the aircraft had been flying support for convoy ON-72. This was the first German submarine sinking attributed to U.S. forces in World War II.

In May 1942, a three of the PBOs at NAS Argentina, Newfoundland returned to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island and the final six aircraft returned on 10 June 1942. On 13 and 15 August 1942, another detachment consisting of nine PBO-1s departed NAS Norfolk, Virginia for NAS Trinidad, British West Indies accompanied by the Royal Air Force's No. 53 Squadron equipped with Hudson Mk. IIIs. While in Trinidad, the detachment flew antisubmarine patrols under the operational control of PatWing-11. VP-82 began to transition from the PBO-1 to the Lockheed PV-1 Ventura, q.v., in September 1942 and the last PBO-1 were stricken from the inventory of VP-82 on 31 October 1942. The remaining PBO-1's were transferred to PV operational training units at NAS Deland and NAS Sanford, Florida.


U.S. Marine Corps (USMC)

The USMC received at least one PBO-1 in 1944.



Wing Span: 65 feet 6 inches (19.96 meters)

Length: 44 feet 4 inches (13.51 meters)

Height: 11 feet 10 inches (3.61 meters)

Wing Area: 556 square feet (51.65 square meters)

Empty Weight
  PBO: 12,680 pounds (5,752 kg)
  R4O: 10,300 pounds (4,672 kg)

Gross Weight
  PBO: 18,837 pounds (8,544 kg)
  R4O: 15,200 pounds (6,895 kg)

Maximum Speed
  PBO: 253 mph at 15,000 feet (407 km/h at 4,570 meters)
  R4O: 247 mph at 7,000 feet (397.5 km/h at 2,134 meters)

Cruising Speed
  PBO: 205 mph (329.9 km/h)
  R4O: 215 mph (346.0 km/h)

Service Ceiling
  PBO: 26,500 feet (8,075 meters)
  R4O: 24,300 feet (7,407 meters)

Normal Range
  PBO: 1,750 miles (2,816 km) with four depth charges
  R4O: 1,500 miles (2,414 km)

Maximum Range
  PBO: 2,160 miles (3,436 km)
  R4O: 2,060 miles (3,315 km)

  PBO: Five .30-caliber (7.62 mm) machine guns; two mounted in the nose in front of the cockpit; two in a Boulton Paul turret at the aft end of the fuselage near the tail surfaces; and one in a retractable prone position beneath the fuselage. A total of 1,400 pounds (635 kg) of bombs or depth charges could be carried internally in the bomb bay.




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