Aermacchi/Lockheed AL.60 Conestoga
|UTILITY TRANSPORT||Virtual Aircraft Museum / USA / Lockheed|
During the late 1950s the Lockheed Georgia Company, Marietta, Georgia made a rare venture into the general aviation market with a design for a four to six-seat light utility transport aircraft aimed specifically at South American operators. The one and only American-built prototype Lockheed AL.60 made its maiden flight on September 15, 1959. It was a boxy, robust, all-metal high-wing monoplane with a wide square cabin which could quickly be changed from passenger to all-cargo configuration, and tricycle landing gear which could be replaced with skis or floats for bush flying. The standard seating arrangement is for four to six passengers but these can be replaced by seats without backrests for use by parachutists. The ambulance version could carry two stretchers, one seated patient and one attendant.
It was never Lockheed's intention to manufacture the aircraft in the United States. Instead a subsidiary company - Lockheed/Azcarate SA -was established in Mexico. This plant produced only 18 LAS A 60s before all manufacturing and sales rights were sold to Aeronautica Macchi.
The first Italian-built LASA 60 was flown on April 19, 1961, and was subsequently developed and produced in several models which included the AL.60B1 with a 250hp Continental IO-470-R engine, the B2 variant with a 260hp supercharged Continental TSIO-470-B powerplant, and the C4 with a conventional tailwheel undercarriage replacing the standard tricycle landing gear. A 340hp Piaggio-built Lycoming-engined version known as the AL.60C was developed to meet an Italian army requirement for a liaison/utility transport. The final civil versions of the Aermacchi aircraft were the 400hp AL.60F5 Conestoga, and a tail-wheel version of the same aircraft for Canadian operators. Some 100 examples of all models were built in Italy before production terminated in 1972.
The basic AL.60C5 design, with a 340hp engine, has been produced by the Atlas Corporation in South Africa as the Atlas C4M Kudu which first flew in 1974 and serves with units of the South African air force. A three/four-seat forward air-control aircraft known as the Aermacchi AM-3C was also developed from the basic AL.60 airframe, though modified substantially, and is serving with the air forces of Rwanda and South Africa, under the name of Bosbok.
Bill Gunston "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Commercial Aircraft", 1980