VH-USB Lady Southern Cross (Part 1)


This is Part 1 118W Sirius Times (pre-Smithy)
Link to Part 2 VH-USB On to the Australian Register
Link to Part 3 VH-USB The Air Race and the Pacific Flight
Link to Part 4 G-ADUS On to the British Register

Sirius 8A
MSN: 152

NR118W Sirius 8A Hutchinson
NC118W Sirius 8 Special Fleming
X118W Altair 8D Special Kingsford Smith
VH-USB Altair 8D Special Kingsford Smith
G-ADUS Altair 8D Special Kingsford Smith



21JUL30 Completed as a Sirius 8A under Approved Type Certificate #300 with a Pratt and Whitney Wasp (serial number 3104) for Captain George R. Hutchinson of Baltimore, Maryland for a New York to Paris record attempt. The aircraft featured reinforced spars and a special long-range fuel tank installed in place of the forward cockpit. The aircraft was named "Richmond, Virginia, U.S.A."
02AUG30 Lockheed wrote to the Department of Commerce advising that they have sold Sirius Serial No. 152 to George R. Hutchinson and applying for "reassignment of licence NR-118W". Lockheed also wrote to George R. Hutchinson enclosing Bill of Sale and a copy of the application for reassignment of licence No. NR-118W.
02AUG30 George R. Hutchinson wrote to Sperry Gyroscope Co. advising "Received the second Horizon and have installed same in my plane." He also advised of his intention to depart Mines Field, Los Angeles for New York on Sunday, August third.
02AUG30 Crashed at Los Angeles. As a result of the crash, Capt Hutchinson abandoned his planned flight to Paris.
04AUG30 A Lockheed Aircraft Corporation inter-departmental communication from Carl B. Squier (General Manager) advised that "this plane was damaged at Mines Field August 2nd on takeoff with Hutchinson as pilot. Ship can be repaired at nominal cost."
07AUG30 Lockheed wrote to the Dept of Commerce enclosing Bill of Sale executed by Hutchinson for Stinson SM-2 Junior Serial No. 1023 and requesting transfer of licence NC-7746 to Lockheed. Lockheed also wrote to Detroit Aircraft Corporation requesting that they take possession of Stinson NC-7746, currently at Richmond, Virginia, for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation.
10SEP30 The Dept of Commerce wrote to Lockheed and to Hutchinson advising that the licence of Sirius NR-118W had been suspended as a result of the accident at Los Angeles.
29SEP30 Carl B. Squier of Lockheed wrote to Sperry Gyroscope Company, evidently in response to a request for information on the disposition of the Horizon installed in Hutchinson's Sirius. "Regret to advise that immediately after his attempted takeoff and resultant damage, several sheriff's liens were placed on the plane, namely - by the owner of a Bellanca, by the owner of a motor, and a personal damage suit of $100,000.00 by a woman who was struck after the Bellanca's wing and the sedan were completely demolished. The plane is located at Mines Field, some twenty miles from our factory, and we are not allowed to repair or remove any parts thereof."
30SEP30 The Dept of Commerce wrote to George Hutchinson (copy to Lockheed) acknowledging receipt of "the necessary documents for the transfer of title on Lockheed plane, model Sirius, manufacturer's serial No. 152, Department of Commerce suspended licence No. NR-118W which you purchased from the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. Title to the subject plane is hereby transferred to your name (subject to liens held by the Lions Club, Richmond, Va. and Lockheed Aircraft Corporation) on the records of this office, but inasmuch as restricted licence number on the said plane has been suspended on account of accident of August 4, 1930, restricted licence in your name will not be issued." Note: accident date was August 2.
10OCT30 Chas. W. Growder, an attorney of Richmond, Virginia wrote to Lockheed: "The Lions Club of Richmond acted as trustees of the fund raised to pay purchase price of Lockheed plane George R. Hutchinson purchased from you, and I happened to be chairman of the committee of the Lions Club handling the matter. As you probably know, the Lions Club is trustee under a deed of trust for $15,000.00, which was given to secure the contributors and I understand that plane has been attached and you have a second lien on same. While the Lions Club has discharged its obligation to the contributors by seeing that the money was applied to the purchase price of the plane, we would very much like to know the status of affairs as they now exist and thought you could furnish us with this information. We would like to know what action has been taken by the attaching creditors, the amount of their claims, the value of the plane, the extent of equity and generally what can be done to protect the contributors so that if they decide to take action to protect their interest, we can advise them of the status of affairs."
17OCT30 Lockheed replied to Growder: "Regret extremely the necessity of a letter of this nature, but am writing in answer to your request of October 10th. We accepted in lieu of all cash for the complete purchase of the Lockheed Sirius a free and clear title on a Stinson Junior plane owned outright by Mr. Hutchinson. We also took back a second mortgage on our plane to not only protect our interest but to impress upon Hutchinson that what we desired was the balance of the purchase price rather than a used airplane. It was very unfortunate that the takeoff by Hutchinson resulted so disastrously. It is my understanding that the owner of a Bellanca plane has filed claim for damages and placed a lien upon the Lockheed to the extent of two or three thousand dollars; also a claim by an automobile concern of which Hutchinson was renting a car, to the extent of $1000.00; and a personal damage suit for $100,000.00 brought against him by a woman, struck by the plane at the time of the takeoff. The Lockheed has not been repaired and is stored at Mines Field where the accident occurred, more than 30 miles from our plant, and it is impossible for us at this time to proceed with the repairs, or remove any parts thereof inasmuch as the parties mentioned have put Sheriff's liens on the plane until satisfaction is gained."
22OCT30 Growder wrote to Lockheed advising that Hutchinson "hopes to raise sufficient money to compromise with the attaching creditors."
31OCT30 Growder wrote to Lockheed "Mr Hutchinson writes me that your second lien has been paid by his turning over to you his Stinson plane. Will you kindly advise if that is correct?"
06NOV30 Lockheed replied to Growder: "Be advised that the second lien placed on Mr. Hutchinson's plane was taken only, as previously outlined, to impress upon him that we did not want a Stinson but were primarily interested in full receipt of moneys due. However, we have taken over the Stinson, and will therefore cancel this lien. The Lockheed Aircraft Corporation has no remunerative interest in the plane."
10JUL31 Lockheed replied to an enquiry from Interstate Flying Corporation of Philadelphia that "Approximately $2,000.00 will repair the damage on this plane."
31 Sold to Victor Fleming and Douglas Fairbanks of Beverly Hills, California for sport flying.
16NOV31 An agreement was signed between Lockheed and Victor Fleming of MGM Studios, Culver City, California for the "reconstruction" of Sirius NR-118W. The agreement was brokered by Aero Brokerage Service Company of Inglewood, California. The agreement specifies the following work:
  • Install dual controls, to include two sticks, two sets rudder pedals, two throttle, spark, mixture regulator control assemblies, two stabilizer controls, etc.
  • Install new instrument board in front cockpit, removing all instruments in rear cockpit and placing them in instrument board in front cockpit.
  • Install new instrument board in rear cockpit, including compass, clock and altimeter.
  • Install baggage compartment, with as large opening door as practicable and install combination lock on same.
  • Cut down oil capacity on tank 4086 to an estimated correct capacity.
  • Install landing lights in wings and landing light controls in front cockpit, wiring to include all wiring necessary.
  • Install battery box in wing.
  • Install tail wheel, tail wheel shaft, and reinforce diaphragm #13, and any other parts necessary for the operation of the tail wheel.
  • Install four registering gauges in front cockpit hooked up to each wing tank.
  • Make all necessary repairs to entire ship caused by Hutchinson's crack up, new right aileron, new fin and rudder of the type used in the "Orion" model, repair wing, complete putting in new ribs, where necessary also new plywood, repair stabilizer, straighten fin fairing, repair fuselage shell on right side, repair NACA cowling, repair gas tanks and other necessary repairs to wing and fuselage.
  • Repaint only new parts of covering installed as depicted (in previous item).
  • To have ship test flown and licensed by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, with approved type certificate ("NC" license) having the airplane to have a capacity of 314 gallons of gasoline or as near this figure as possible.
  • Remove tank 4363 and tank 4477.
  • It is agreed between Victor Fleming and the Lockheed Aircraft Corp. that the above construction does not include electric starting equipment, storage battery, cockpit heaters, flares, propeller, wheels, tires, tubes, new NACA cowling, or any installations of these parts, but it does include installation of one-half of the present NACA cowling and the making and installing of the other half, and it is understood that no allowance will be made for salvage.
  • It is agreed that repairs or changes ordered by Victor Fleming in addition to the above will be charged for at list price.
  • It is agreed that Victor Fleming will have a Hamilton steel propeller and a set of 11x12 balloon tires installed on the plane previous to the completion of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation's construction so that these items will not interfere with relicensing of the ship.
  • It is agreed by Lockheed Aircraft Corp. to bring the ship to their factory at once to start work immediately, and to finish in approximately 30 days or as near that date as possible.
  • Delivery to be considered F.O.B. Lockheed Airport or any nearby airport preferred.
    The agreement was signed by Victor Fleming and Carl B. Squier.
21NOV31 A Lockheed Work Order specified the following:
  • Cut forward cockpit, making both cockpits standard Sirius.
  • Install standard Sirius dual controls - Combination Brake and Rudder Pedal as per drawing #4450.
  • Install R.H. Throttle in front cockpit as per Engineering Dept.
  • Install new instrument boards in both cockpits. All instruments in ship to be placed in front cockpit - Rear board to include Compass, Clock and Altimeter. Front board as per Engineering Dept.
  • Remove all fuselage tanks except gravity tank. Reduce Oil tank. To be reduced to 25 gallons as per Eaker ship.
  • Install standard Sirius baggage compartment and door.
  • Install Landing Lights in wing, controlled from front cockpit only. Install battery in nose of wing. Orion cutouts in Wing, straight reflectors. Check Ail. Act. Mech. For looseness.
  • Remove four outboard wing tanks.
  • Install standard Tail Wheel and all necessary reinforcing for same.
  • Install sight gauges for wing tank in front cockpit - Pioneer Hydrostatic gauge on gravity tank.
  • Make all necessary repairs to fuselage caused by crackup. Install aux. Firewall.
  • Install Orion Fin and Rudder #4285 and #4922. Repair stabilizer and elevators.
  • Install new Fin to Fuselage Fairings and metal leading edge on Stab.
  • Shorten NACA cowling to standard length - Repairs nose section. Install new skirt on right side - Repair cowling ring.
  • Repair streamline baffles.
  • Repair collector ring.
  • Paint only such parts as are involved in the repair - Remove lettering from side of ship.
  • Purchaser will furnish propeller - Set of Aircraft Prod. Wheels & Tires. Rework present axles to accommodate mounting of these wheels as per Engineers.
  • Install wing to fuselage Torque Bracing in nose of ship.
  • Assemble ship.
  • Have ship test flown and licensed with NC license.
32 Ownership passed to Victor Fleming of Culver City, California.
04FEB32 Modified to Sirius 8 Special under ATC Memo 2-400.


This is Part 1 118W Sirius Times (pre-Smithy)
Link to Part 2 VH-USB On to the Australian Register
Link to Part 3 VH-USB The Air Race and the Pacific Flight
Link to Part 4 G-ADUS On to the British Register


CCA Controller of Civil Aviation (Captain E.C. Johnston during this period)
CofA Certificate of Airworthiness
CofR Certificate of Registration
DSCA District Superintendent of Civil Aviation
ICAN International Commission on Aerial Navigation
IDC Inter-Departmental Communication (Lockheed memo)
KINGSMITH Telegraphic address for Kingsford Smith Air Service Ltd., Mascot
NACA National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (USA)
Smithy Although his full title is Air Commodore Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Kt, M.C., A.F.C., the popular name bestowed upon him by the Australian people is widely used throughout these pages, not only for brevity, but also with affection. Note that Kingsford Smith should not be hyphenated, although this variation does appear in some direct quotations appearing on these pages.


Pacific Flight
P.G. Taylor (Angus and Robertson 1935)
The Search for the Lady Southern Cross
E.P. (Ted) Wixted (Published privately 1991)
The Life and Times of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith
E.P. (Ted) Wixted (Published privately 1996)
The Civil Aircraft Registers of Great Britain 1919-1985
John Appleton (TAHS 1986)
The Historic Civil Aircraft Register of Australia (Pre War) G-AUAA to VH-UZZ
Bert Cookson (AustAirData 1996)
Revolution in the Sky
Richard Sanders Allen (The Stephen Greene Press 1967)
Lockheed Aircraft since 1913
Rene J. Francillon (Putnam 1987)
The Lady Southern Cross
Monty Tyrrell (Aviation Historical Society of Australia Journal October 1965)
Aviation Heritage - The Centenary Air Race Vol 24 No 1 & 2
(Aviation Historical Society of Australia 1985)
Lockheed Archives accessed by Birch Matthews
National Archives of Australia Series: MP 113/1 Item: VH/USB
accessed by Trevor Boughton
Oakland Airfield Register. https://oaklandairfield.org/index.php/register
California Digital Newspaper Collection - UCR Centre for Biographical Studies and Research


Issue Date Remarks
11 14DEC02
Added much new material extracted from Lockheed archives by Birch Matthews and from the National Archives of Australia by Trevor Boughton.

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