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Your copy of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available here. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.

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This information comes from the listings of Non-Prefixed and Non-Suffixed aircraft reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC. Please click here to download (PDF 207KB) a copy of the data card for NC13W from the Museum.

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The definitive reference for early Lockheed aircraft is:

Allen, Richard S. 1988. Revolution in the Sky: The Lockheeds of Aviation's Golden Age. Orion Books, NY. 253 pp.

 
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LOCKHEED SIRIUS 8A (later ALTAIR 8D) NC13W

LOCKHEED SIRIUS 8A (later ALTAIR 8D) NC13W

A LOCAL

This airplane is a Lockheed Sirius 8A (S/N 143; ATC #300) manufactured March 13, 1930 by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, CA.  It left the factory with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp C engine (S/N 2854) of 450 HP.  It was a two-place airplane.  An affidavit from Lockheed changed the serial number of this aircraft to 143 as of March 15, 1930.

It sold on April 3, 1930 to C.E. “Dutch” Shankle, Boston, MA.  Shankle was a lieutenant in the USAAC.  His wife, Joan Fay, was also a pilot and air racer.  She flew this airplane in the 1930 National Air Races.  They moved from Boston to Ft. Sill, OK as of April 15, 1931, and changed their address again to Tubac, AZ in 1933. They used the airplane for cross-country trips and, later, for travel to their ranch near Tucson at Tubac.

We find NC13W at Tucson three times, each time flown by Joan Fay.  See this link to Joan Fay Shankle’s page for her log entries recording two of her 1930 flights (while they lived in Ft. Sill) to Tucson in NC13W. Image, below is of Joan flying the airplane. Note that it does not have engine cowling installed.

Joan Shankle Flying NC13W (Source: Shankle)
NC13W

They had the airplane remodeled by Lockheed at the factory to an Altair 8D as of September 24, 1932 under ATC Gr. 2-423.  The gross weight was increased to 5,200 pounds.  The Shankles sold NC13W to Louise E. Ashby, Fort Fairfield, ME on May 21, 1936.  Louise Ashby was Mrs. Clarence A. Chamberlin. Chamberlin, a pioneer aviator in his own right, flew the plane out of Jersey City, NJ. Image, below, of the airplane when it was under Chamberlin's ownership. Inscription on the rear of the image says,

"FOR MRS. DAVIS - KEEP"

"A RATHER POOR PHOTO OF NC-13W
UNDER CLARENCE CHAMBERLIN'S OWNERSHIP.
MID 1930'S
LOCALE THOUGHT TO BE LONG ISLAND"

 

NC13W mid-1930s (Source: Shankle)
NC13W

Below, from August 6,1936, a news photo of the airplane in the same paint scheme as the photo above (but slightly different from the one at top), with Clarence Chamberlin in the front cockpit and his wife in the rear. "Miss Stratosphere" is clearly readable on the front cowling.

NC13W, August 6, 1936 (Source: Kalina)
NC13W, August 6, 1936 (Source: Kalina)

Below, the caption from the back of the photo above. Mr. Kalina says about his photograph, "I have also scanned the caption on the back of the photo as it's interesting (especially that part about 500mph). ... Note the small one-piece curved windscreens and what appears to be a non-standard cover to the baggage compartment. I especially like the pinstriping around the edge of the fin and rudder. Don't know what that rectangular object is on the wingtip, resting against the nav light. Maybe a book someone left there?"

NC13W, August 6, 1936 (Source: Kalina)
NC13W, August 6, 1936 (Source: Kalina)

We can deduce that the Chamberlins were married sometime between May 21, 1936, when she bought the airplane under her maiden name, and August 9, 1936 when the photograph was taken.

Sirius NC13W date unk.

It is not clear from the record exactly when the razorback canopy was lashed to the top of the airplane, above, but it was sometime between 1936 and 1940 while Chamberlin owned it. Does anyone know? There is no record of this modification in the NASM data sheets on this airplane The canopy was installed for a planned trans-Atlantic flight by Chamberlin that did not materialize. Note that it does have engine cowling installed, and a different paint scheme. A late 30s model plan for the airplane specifies a color scheme of black for the fuselage, numerals and fillets, yellow for the wings, tail surfaces, body stripe and landing gear doors, and silver for the propeller, wheels and landing gear.

Ashby/Chamberlin sold NC13W for $30,600 to aircraft broker Charles H. Babb Company, New York, NY on July 16, 1940.  Babb sold it ca. 1941 to the U.S. Army Engineers Office, San Francisco, CA.  It must have been late in 1941, because the airplane was said to be for use outside the continental United States, apparently to test special equipment of a secret nature during WWII.

Meantime, the CAA file was closed as of October 15, 1940 because the airplane had not been inspected for an airworthiness certificate.  No problem, since it was reportedly wrecked by an Army pilot during special equipment testing during WWII in the vicinity of Bakersfield, CA.  No further information.

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As an interesting aside related to this airplane, below is a copy of a two-page letter from Richard Sanders Allen (see reference to his book about Lockheed aircraft in the left sidebar). The letter is to "Mrs. J.F. Davis" who is Joan Fay Shankle after she divorced her husband near the beginning of WWII and remarried. This correspondence preceded her death in Honolulu by about a year.

The letter mirrors nicely the information above. As well, it represents the level of detail and effort Allen put into his research for his book, including correspondence with past aircraft owners! His book was first published in 1964, with a revision (cited left) coming along in 1988.

You'll note, too, if you download the NASM PDF cited in the left sidebar, that there are initials "RSA" in the lower right corner. These are Allen's initials and he is the researcher who documented the Lockheed aircraft for the National Air & Space Museum. It's little wonder the NASM datacard and this letter agree with each other so closely!

Allen Letter to J.F. Shankle (Davis) page 1
Allen Letter 2/27/63

I don't know what the stamp is doing on the bottom of the first page, unless Allen included postage (8-cents for airmail at the time!) for a response.

Allen Letter to J.F. Shankle (Davis) page 2
Allen Letter 2/27/63

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Additional images from Mr. Shankle. Below, photos with Shankle friend Tol Pendelton at the Shankle's
ranch north of Tubac. Tol was a rancher and ex oil man from Texas.

NC13W & Tol Pendleton
NC13W

John Shankle says of these images, "During the depression, mother gave Tol money to help keep him from losing the Baca Float Ranch. In exchange for this help he gave her half interest in the ranch. But after the depression, she just asked for her money back with interest like a loan and returned her half to him. In the background you will see a Stearman. This plane also belonged to the Shankles. It was the plane she flew around the country before she got the Sirius. I would think that this plane also went in and out of Davis-Monthan flown either by mother or dad." A Stearman flown to Tucson by Joan Shankle was NC5491. We can't tell from the image if this is the same airplane. It looks more like a Douglas aircraft.

NC13W With T. Pendleton and Joan Shankle
NC13W

Below, a portrait of NC13W. Notice the difference in the exhaust pipes between this image and the one above.

NC13W
NC13W

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The two images below come from friend of dmairfield. org, Tim Kalina. They show the airplane as Altair 13W during the time it was owned by Chamberlin (notice the razorback canopy, and the fingerprints!).

Lockheed Altair NC13W
Lockheed Altair NC13W

 

Lockheed Altair NC13W
Lockheed Altair NC13W

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The following two photos are shared with us by Zane Adams (see also NC21M to see another image taken by his father). He says abut the photographs, "These photos could have been taken in California. My dad spent a few summers in Long Beach from 1926-1930. On the hangar in the background you can read what looks like 'S-A-S Wright Authorized Service and Parts S-A-S'." Below, NC13W on the ramp, engine turning and pilot either exiting or taking position in the cockpit. The fuel bowsers in the foreground have what looks like the Texaco star logo on the lids.

Lockheed Sirius NC13W, Date & Location Unidentified (Source: Adams)
Lockheed Sirius NC13W, Date & Location Unidentified

Below, NC13W during a takeoff or landing roll. Note the dusty conditions. Does anyone recognize the location of these images, or know anything about the company logo "S-A-S Wright Authorized Service and Parts S-A-S"?

Lockheed Sirius NC13W, Date & Location Unidentified (Source: Adams)
Lockheed Sirius NC13W, Date & Location Unidentified

John Shankle says about these images, "These must have been taken when mother and dad had the plane since it is pictured in pre-Altair Sirius trim.  They owned it new from Lockheed and had it converted to an Altair in 1932, it was sold in 1936 [see above]."

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Below, another image of NC13W, probably when it was owned by Clarence Chamberlin. The name "Miss Stratosphere" appears on the engine cowl, which was the name given the airplane by Chamberlin. A Stinson A trimotor sits on the ramp in the background. The logo on the hangar is not recognizable.

NC13W, Ca. Late 1930s-Early 1940s(?) (source: Kalina)
NC13W, Ca. Early 1940s(?)

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UPLOADED: 06/06/06 REVISED: 06/12/06, 11/21/06, 12/04/06, 02/01/07, 02/12/07, 06/11/08, 09/30/10, 02/20/12

 
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The image of Joan Shankle flying 13W was provided by her son, John, as was the other in-flight image.

Images toward the bottom of the page also provided by John, and by site visitor Zane Adams.

The image of the airplane with razorback canopy installed courtesy of visitor Tim Kalina, who has provided many images you'll see on this site. He says about the image, "...attached is a photo of Altair NC13W when owned by Clarence Chamberlain. It was named 'Miss Stratosphere' and carried the motto 'She's the tops'. That home-made canopy has to be the ugliest ever fitted to a Lockheed! Both photos [see also NC117W] are from my collection and were obtained from Lockheed/Martin."

If you have other images you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.

 
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