Forum logo Isn’t there a photo of Earhart’s plane in Japanese custody?

Among the many unfounded allegations featured in Randal Brink’s book Lost Star – the Search for Amelia Earhart is an aerial photo of a Japanese airfield taken during World War II. A greatly enlarged, fuzzy blow-up of an airplane on the ground shows what the author describes as a “distinctive twin-tailed monoplane.” Brink states that “the Japanese built no twin-tailed monoplanes.” The left wing of the airplane appears to be missing and the the author implies that this could be Earhart’s Electra which, according to anecdotal accounts, was recovered by the Japanese with a “broken wing.”

In fact, the photo shows a monoplane that looks like it is probably twin-engined, but there is nothing to indicate that it is necessarily twin-tailed. Even so, the author’s allegation that “the Japanese built no twin-tailed monoplanes” is nonsense.

Could the airplane in Brink’s photo be a Lockheed 10 with the left wing missing? Not likely. The wing on the plane appears to be missing from very close to the fuselage. An Electra’s wing literally can’t come off that way. The Model 10’s “main beam” (a structure that looks like part of the Brooklyn Bridge) runs from engine to engine right through the cabin. It’s just about indestructible. The wings of a Model 10 only “come off” from outboard of the engines where the main beam stops.

The airplane in the photo could be any of a number of common Japanese types, but it’s hard to imagine how it could be a Lockheed Electra. Even if it was, that would not make it Amelia’s Electra. The Imperial Japanese Navy purchased a Model 10 (cn 1017) from Lockheed in March 1935 and shipped it home to Japan.

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