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Author Topic: FAQ: Airframe switch conspiracy theory?  (Read 10966 times)

Ryan Bollig

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FAQ: Airframe switch conspiracy theory?
« on: June 24, 2010, 11:40:03 PM »

The following was posted on a modeling forum.  I hadn't heard of Brink before (he subscribes to the Amelia-as-spy theory), and the whole airframe-switch thing sounds very tinfoil hat to me.  Anyone care to pick it apart?

For what it is worth, Earhart's plane was a Lockheed Model 12 Electra, but it differed in some significant ways from a standard Model 12.

At the time, the Electra came in two basic versions -- the Model 10, and the Model 12 Electra Junior. The Electra Junior was slightly smaller, lighter and faster than the Model 10.

Technically speaking, Earhart's plane was a hybrid between the two, as Randall Brink explains in "Lost Star." It had the size and outward appearance of the Model 10, and it had the larger 550 hp P&W Wasp Senior engines. It had the Model 12's advanced constant-speed propellers. Her Model 12 was capable of faster climbs and higher cruising speeds (220 mph vs. 140 mph) than the Model 10.

Earhart flew the Model 10E on her first around-the-world attempt. The change to the Model 12 was made, in secret, after her ground loop in Hawaii. The press and public was told her airplane was being rebuilt when, in fact, she was getting a whole new aircraft. The new plane was even given the same N number -- NR16020 -- as the original plane.

One of the things that I (and others) have always found interesting is the fact that after the Hawaii accident, Paul Mantz was removed as her trainer and technical adviser with Kelly Johnson. And I think we all know what aircraft he went on to design....
« Last Edit: July 16, 2012, 08:59:43 PM by J. Nevill »

Ric Gillespie

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Re: Airframe switch conspiracy theory?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2010, 07:56:27 AM »

This is a classic example of the kind of equine fertilizer that passes for fact among many Earhart "researchers."  There is abundant documentary and photographic proof that there was no airframe switch.  Earhart's machine was Lockheed Model 10E Special constructor's number 1055, registration number NR16020. The Model 12 "Electra Junior" is a completely different Lockheed product and has nothing in common with Earhart's aircraft. NR16020 was damaged in the Luke Field accident and was repaired at the Lockheed plant in Burbank.  The engines, before and after the repairs, were 550hp Pratt & Whitney R1340 S3H1 Wasps (there is no such thing as a "Wasp Senior") with constant speed Hamilton Standard props. The engines were not changed but the props and hubs were, of course, replaced. There was also an approved modification that beefed up the landing gear attach points.

Paul Mantz was not removed as Earhart's technical advisor following the accident in Hawaii but he was not told that Earhart's "test flight" from California to Miami in late May was, in fact, the start of the second world flight attempt.  Kelly Johnson was never employed by Earhart as a technical advisor.  As a Lockheed engineer who helped design the Model 10, he worked with Mantz and Earhart prior to the first world flight attempt to develop fuel management protocols for AE to use on the flight.

Randal Brink's "Lost Star" (Norton, 1994) is perhaps the worst of the conspiracy books - quite an accomplishment.
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