NR16059: "Daily Express" Electra 10E Special

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"Heat Shields: Detective Story."
Besides Earhart's Electra, NR16020, the only other 10E Special [was] the “Daily Express.” Although today largely forgotten, the “Daily Express” is credited with the first commercial, round-trip crossing of the North Atlantic. The aircraft had been delivered to millionaire Harold Vanderbilt as a standard 10E on August 26, 1936. On December 10th England’s King Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry “the woman I love,” and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst let it be known that he would pay handsomely for timely high-quality photographs of George VI’s coronation to be held the following May. In response, Wall Street brokers Ben “Sell ’em short” Smith and Jack Bergen bought Vanderbilt’s 10E and had Lockheed modify it similarly to Amelia Earhart’s long-range Electra, although in this case the fuel capacity would total a whopping 1270 gallons. The ship, registered as NR16059, was christened “Daily Express” after a British newspaper owned by Smith’s friend Lord Beaverbrook. The name also carried the implication of daily express service across the Atlantic. ...


After its epic transatlantic flight, the Daily Express was sold to the Soviet Union and used in the search for the lost transpolar aviator Sigizmund Levanevski.

TIGHAR member Leonid Sagalovsky successfully researched the fate of Lockheed 10E Special NR-16059 "Daily Express" after it was sold to the Soviet Union.[1]

This Electra was registered as CCCP-H214 on 17 June 1938, and in August skis for this aircraft were shipped from the USA. It was dismantled by Factory No 156 (TsAGI) in 1939 and was then delivered to Aeroflot as spare parts." The plane was cancelled from the Polar Aviation register on April 15, 1940 (source: Lennart Andersson's 2010 book "Aeroflot Origins - Red Stars Vol. 6"; the Model 10E Electra, NR16059, c/n 1065, gets a half-page in the section on "Imported Minor Types").
Factory No. 156 is the famous Tupolev Design Bureau, now a government-owned Tupolev Corp, in Moscow. A historian on Tupolev's staff provided information that the factory made detailed drawings during the Electra's disassembly. We followed it up and traced the Tupolev report on the "Daily Express" to Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI). An inquiry to MAI confirmed that the report exists in their library and contains photographs taken in 1939. I was able to obtain copies of some photos, but the full report remains inaccessible due to (irony of ironies) the US State Department sanctions on MAI in connection with "WMD proliferation activities."


  1. Ric Gillespie, Forum 30 October 2011.