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"Andries Pretorius"
Lockheed L18-08 Lodestar
c/n 2026

The Lockheed Lodestars were ordered by SAA just prior to World War II and once hostilities began they were impressed into the South African Air Force (SAAF). The aircraft were used on the South Africa-Egypt “shuttle” from 8 July 1941, most of them operating in a camouflage paint scheme, dark green/dark earth with a sky blue under-surface.


After World War II, ZS-ASN joined the SAA fleet. It operated its last SAA flight, on training under Captain Kenneth “Toddy” Bain, on 18 March 1955. It was sold to the Aircraft Operating Company (A.O.C.) in April 1955, converted to an aerial survey machine and used for aerial survey work throughout Africa until it was withdrawn from service. She was replaced by a Douglas DC-3 which took over the registration ZS-ASN.


This Lodestar aircraft was the first to be acquired for display in the proposed Railway Museum at Esselen Park, very near to the then Jan Smuts Airport, now Johannesburg International. The Aircraft Operating Company donated the aircraft to SAA and it was transported from Grand Central Airport near Halfway House on 3 December 1973 by a team from the SAA Apprentice School under Mr. A.P. Nel. It was stored in hangar four with its wings removed.


In 1974 the SAA Apprentice School started the restoration process. ZS-ASN is now resplendent in original post War SAA colours. The significance of this particular aircraft is that it is the oldest aircraft still in existence, in South Africa, which saw service with South African Airways.


The aircraft is part of the SAA Museum Society collection at Rand airport.


Lodestar “Andries Pretorius”


Handed over to SAA 24 09 1940

Shipped to SA on board “MV Tigre”

To SAAF as 1372 on 07 11 1940

Returned to SAA as ZS-ASN on 09 02 1946

Delivered to AOC (Aircraft Operating Company) on 22 04 1955 (TT 7372 hours)

Registration cancelled 02 1973


Technical details Lockheed L18 Lodestar


Wingspan 19.96 m (65.5 feet).
Length 15.19 m (49.86 feet).
Height 3.38 m (11.82 feet).
Weight loaded 7,938 kg (17,500 LB) max at take-off.
Weight empty 5,284 kg (11,500 LB).
Maximum speed 428 kph ( 266 mph).
Cruise speed 322 kph (200 mph).
Range 1,530km (950 miles).
Engines Fitted to L18-08 Lodestars, 2 x 895 watt (1200 hp) Pratt & Whitney R 1830 S1C3-G TWIN WASP 14 cylinder air-cooled radial engines.

Fitted to L18-07 Lodestars, 2 x 562 KW 875 HP Pratt & Whitney R 1690 S1E2-G HORNET 9 cylinder radial engines.

Ffitted to L18-56 Lodestars, 2 x 895 KW 1200 HP Wright R 1820-G205A CYCLONE 9 cylinder radial engines, as used by East African Airways Corporation.
Crew 2 or 3
Passengers Normal 12, maximum 19


Lodestar comes home

This article, written by Dave Bekker, appeared in the December 2004 issue of SA Flyer Magazine


On October 17, Lockheed 18-08 Lodestar, ZS-ASN, ‘Andries Pretorius’ arrived back at its original home base, Rand Airport. Now in the care of the SAA Museum Society, ZS-ASN is to be restored to its former splendour in 1940’s period SAA colours.


SAA was the largest civilian customer for the Lodestar, ordering a total of 29 at the beginning of WWII (ZS-ASJ-ATM) and taking over another two from the SAAF after WWII (ZS-AVS and ZS-AVT).


The Lodestar was developed from the Model 14 Super Electra, an attempt by Lockheed to produce a fast modern twin engined transport. The Model 14 was however uneconomical but went on to achieve success as the military Lockheed Hudson. The Model 18 Lodestar evolved from the Model 14 by stretching the fuselage by 5ft 6 inches allowing two more rows of seats to be carried. Three Model 14s were modified to this configuration before production started with s/n 18-2001, NX25604 which first flew on February 2, 1960. The longer fuselage caused an aerodynamic problem in that the changed airflow caused the elevators to ‘nibble’ - i.e. oscillate back and forth in flight and after trials, raising the tailplane and adding a trailing edge extension to the inner wing solved the problem.


The Lodestar was offered with the Pratt & Whitney Hornet, Twin Wasp or Wright Cyclone engines and with various interior configurations. SAA selected the 18-08 version with P&W-1830-SC3G motors and series 03 interior with provision for 12 passengers and a crew of four (two pilots, radio operator and stewardess). Aircraft type certificate 723 was received on March 30, 1940 and deliveries to SAA started soon after commencing from Lodestars 18-2015 in August 1940, arriving in September. By this time WWII was well under way and the Lodestars went straight into SAAF service with No 5 Wing at AFS Germiston. They operated on the shuttle service to Cairo and return as well as on internal routes. Some remained in civil markings for operations to the Belgian Congo and to Portuguese East Africa.


Dakotas replaced the Lodestars on the Shuttle Service from 1943 and by the following year it was decided to release ten of the Lodestars back to SAA to start commercial services. They were allotted on November 16, 1944 and were: 238 (ZS-ASW), 239 (ZS-ASX), 240 (ZS-ASY), 243 (ZS-ATD), 244 (ZS-ATE), 245 (ZS-ATF), 249 (ZS-ATI), 1370 (ZS-ASO), 1375 (ZS-ATC) and 1377 (ZS-ASV).


By the end of WWII seven had been written off in accidents and three passed on to the RAF. The survivors continued in service with SAA, augmented by two additional 18-07 models built with P&W Hornet motors and supplied to the SAAF as ambulances. In SAA service, they too were modified to 18-08 standard.


By 1952, eleven remained in service and DC-4s and DC-3s gradually replaced them on most routes the Lodestar not being a very profitable aircraft to run. 1954 was the final year of operation with Lodestar flights twice weekly from Johannesburg - Lourenco Marques (Moçambique).


Most were then sold in the USA with examples going to both Commercial Air Services and to the Aircraft Operating Company.


ZS-ASN was one of the latter. It arrived in South Africa on December 3, 1940, and though allocated SAF serial 1372, operated for most of the war years as ZS-ASN. On November 16, 1944 it went to 3AD for storage and was only registered to SAA on February 9, 1946 with the name ‘Andries Pretorius’. Sold to AOC on April 22, 1955, it survived an accident in September 1957. By 1972 its air service days were over and ASN was parked at Grand Central. It was cancelled on February 14, 1973 having flown 14,911hrs and was passed on to SAA for its new museum, moving to Jan Smuts Airport on December 3, 1973. After restoration by apprentices it was displayed at the SAA open day on October 10, 1975 but in 1999 moved to Swartkop.


Along with the DH.104 Dove, ZS-BCC it was now the property of Transnet Heritage but the Museum Society has taken the two aircraft under its wing and first the Dove and now the Lodestar have moved to Rand where they will join the 747-244B, ZS-SAN at the new museum site near the old Transvaal Aviation Club building.


We will re-visit the Lodestar in more detail at a later date with a progress report on ZS-ASN.


Only three ex SAA Lodestars survive.

Photo Graham Slough

Lockheed Lodestar ZS-ASN, ex SAA, in Aircraft Operating Company (AOC) livery.
With Dakota ZS-DJK also in AOC livery.
Photo Chris Tanner

 ZS-ASN post restoration by the SAA Apprentice School.


Lodestar ZS ASN parked next to the Rand Airport Terminal building.

Photo: Michal Petrykowski




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