Lockheed 12A


Long-distance racer. The Bendix Trophy Race, a major cross-country race from Los Angeles, California, to Cleveland, Ohio—2,043 miles—was a big part of the National Air Races. Milo Burcham decided to enter a 12A, and to overcome his speed disadvantage, he intended to make the trip non-stop to save the time need for fuel stops by the other short-range competitors. He installed additional fuel tanks in the cabin; they put his plane—formerly NC18130—on a Restricted or "NR" license. With race plane number 20, he finished fifth in the 1937 Bendix. At l84mph, fifth place was a respectable showing, especially since he raced against the privately owned Seversky P-35 pursuit planes that placed first and fourth. He won $1,000.  

World flight attempt. Another 12A with distance modifications was NR869E; it was owned by the Republic Oil Co. but flown by famous distance pilot Jimmy Mattern. It was being readied for a record-setting flight around the world by having its cabin filled with fuel tanks. The cabin windows and passenger door were eliminated, and the crew entered through a hatch in the top of the cockpit. Named The Texan, this 12A had a good chance of beating Howard Hughes' around-the-world record of 91 hours, 14 minutes and 10 seconds that was set in July 1938 with a Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra.

Unfortunately for Mattern—and for Hughes, who was planning another dash—WW II got in the way.

The 12A—R18130 with race number 20—that was flown by Milo Burcham to fifth place in the 1937 Bendix Trophy race. What appear to be rubber de-icer boots on the leading edges of the horizontal stabilizer and lower fins are not such; they are rubber anti-abrasion strips that prevented gravel that had been kicked up by the wheels and propellers from denting the leading edges.