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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 (NASM), Washington, DC.


Your copy of the "Davis-Monthan Airfield Register" with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.


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This airplane is a Lockheed Vega 5 (S/N 18), manufactured August 27, 1928 by the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, CA. It left the factory with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp B engine of 420HP (S/N 826). It sold originally on August 12, 1928 to Erle P. Halliburton of Duncan, OK.

It was painted yellow and it was raced by Robert Cantwell in the 1928 National Air Races (NAR), plane #22. Please follow the link for more information on this interesting and accomplished pilot. He won the Class C race that year and won the Civilian Cabin ship race in the 1929 NAR. The Vega was named "The Tester" during those years. It was painted yellow. Below, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Archives, is a photograph of NX7429 wearing its race number. The person exiting the door looks like Cantwell.

Vega NX7429, Circa 1928, Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)
Vega NX7429, Circa 1928 (Source: SDAM)

Below, "The Tester" as a fairly new airplane. This photograph is shared with us by Mike Boss who says about it, "This is an interesting photo I rec'd from Halliburton Services in 1983.  The film, don't ask which one, seems to show the yellow scheme as black!  And the "red" lettering on the aft of the fuselage looks like a metallic gold.  I can tell the photo has been retouched, like the prop etc., for maybe newspaper publication."

NX/NC/NR7429, Ca. 1928, Location Unknown (Source: Boss)
NX/NC/NR7429, Ca. 1928, Location Unknown (Source: Boss)

The gentleman in the foreground is owner Erle P. Halliburton. The gentleman loading the airplane has a profile similar to pilot Robert Cantwell. The other gentleman is not identified. Note the gull-wing entry door, which was later changed to a left-hand hinge design as shown in the image below. Another photograph of this airplane is at this REFERENCE on page 45.

NX7429 landed four times at Tucson during 1928-29. The first time at Tucson was on Tuesday September 11, 1928 while competing in the NAR carrying passengers John and Erle Haliburton and Ed Schlee. The airplane was barely two weeks old.

As of June 25, 1929, this Vega had a NACA cowling installed. It was used as a standby airliner for Halliburton's Southwest Air Fast Express out of Tulsa, OK.

Of its four appearances in the Register, it was flown three times by Cantwell and once by Maurice Marrs. Note the difference in registration ID between that logged in the Register and that painted on the wing in the photograph below.

Lockheed Vega NR/NX7429. (Source: Klein Archive)
Lockheed Vega NX7429

On May 20, 1931, the airplane was sold (less engine) to R.L. Robbins of Ft. Worth, TX. Robbins installed a Wright Whirlwind 220HP engine for better fuel economy and cut a navigation hatch in the fuselage to the rear of the wing. It was painted pure white and named "Fort Worth."

The annotation on the original photograph, right, reads, "NR7429, Lockheed Vega 1, Wr R-790 220 HP, Reg Robbins’ trans-pacific attempt". Note the discrepancies in model number and engine horsepower. The "Fort Worth" did have a 220 HP engine installed by Robbins, and it was a model 5. The date of the image is not given, but it is probably sometime in 1931.

Below, three additional images of "Fort Worth". Photo owner Tim Kalina says, "The Vega in the photo is NR7429 the ‘Forth Worth’. Although the Vega is usually described as being all white you can clearly see that it carries the usual Lockheed style upper wing color panel. I would imagine this panel is International Orange as that color was widely used on the upper wings of airplanes used for flying over water. Navigator Harold Jones is sticking out of the navigator’s hatch [see below] at the trailing edge of the wing."

Reg Robbins (R) in Cockpit of "Ft. Worth", July 7, 1931, Fairbanks, AK (Source: Kalina)
Reg Robbins (R) in Cockpit of "Ft. Worth"

Note the sliding polygonal hatch cover visible just behind Robbins. Through the forward cabin window you can see part of the long-range fuel tank installed for the trans-Pacific attempt. Compare the details of the cockpit area with the film of NC898E available here (click on VEGAMOVIE to begin the film). Below, the annotation on the back of the image.

Robbins/Jones Image Annotation (Source: Kalina)
Robbins/Jones Image Annotation

As NR7429, Robbins in this Vega made two attempts to fly non-stop from Seattle, WA to Tokyo during the summer of 1931 accompanied by Jones. The "Fort Worth" was to be refueled from a Ford trimotor NR5493 piloted by Nick Greener and Register pilot James Mattern over Alaska. On their first attempt they refueled successfully, but were forced down at Solomon, AK on July 10, 1931. On the second attempt they missed the rendezvous with their refueling plane. An image of Robbins and Jones appears in a news article at the Charles Cooper Photograph and Document Collection available for view elsewhere on this Web site.

Below, an image from the port rear quarter of "Ft. Worth" showing the geometry of the navigator's hatch that was purposely cut into the airplane (a hatch like this did not come as a factory standard). . This image is from the City of Edmonton (Canada) Archives.

Vega "Ft. Worth" Navigator's Hatch
Vega "Ft. Worth" Navigator's Hatch

Below, yet another image of NR7429 with engine running from Mr. Kalina. He says there was no caption on the back except a date: July 8, 1931. The location is unknown for this classic news photo (San Francisco Examiner).

NR7429, Location Unknown, July 8, 1931 (Source: Kalina)
NR7429, Location Unknown, July 8, 1931

After the trans-Pacific record attempt, the airplane had less than two years to live. The Vega was reregistered "NC" in 1932 and suffered an accident at Ballinger, TX on May 26th. There is no mention of injuries or damage in the NASM record, except that it was repaired by Bowen Air Lines. It was equipped with a new NACA cowl and had a Wasp C engine (S/N 2869) installed. It sold on July 26, 1932 to W.N. Gregory, Jr. of Little Rock, AR. It suffered an accident near Valmeyer, IL on April 18, 1933. Pilot Gregory and four passengers were killed. The airplane was demolished. No further information.


THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 09/29/07 REVISED: 11/07/07, 01/15/08, 03/08/08, 11/18/08, 10/21/09, 01/13/10, 01/31/11

The Register
I'm looking for additional photographs of this airplane to include on this page. If you have one or more you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.

---o0o--- Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of and the 10th year of effort on a project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.


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