Cessna U-3A Blue Canoe
Twin-engine six-seat cantilevered low-wing tricycle-gear cabin military utility aircraft, U.S.A.

Archive Photos 1

Cessna U-3A "Blue Canoe" (AF 57-5869) c.2002 at the Hill Aerospace Museum, Hill AFB, Salt Lake City, UT (Photo by John Shupek

Cessna 310 2

The Cessna 310 is an American six-seat, low-wing, Twin-engine monoplane that was produced by Cessna between 1954 and 1980. It was the first Twin-engine aircraft that Cessna put into production after World War II.

Development 2

The 310 first flew on January 3, 1953 with deliveries starting in late 1954. The sleek modern lines of the new twin were backed up by innovative features such as engine exhaust thrust augmenter tubes and the storage of all fuel in tip tanks in early models. In 1964, the engine exhaust was changed to flow under the wing instead of the augmenter tubes, which were considered to be noisy.

Typical of Cessna model naming conventions, a letter was added after the model number to identify changes to the original design over the years. The first significant upgrade to the Cessna 310 series was the Cessna 310C in 1959, which introduced more powerful 260 hp (194 kW) Continental IO-470-D engines. In 1960 the Cessna 310D featured swept back vertical tail surfaces. An extra cabin window was added with the Cessna 310F.

The Cessna 320 Skyknight was developed from the Cessna 310F, which featured turbocharged TSIO-470-B engines and a fourth cabin side-window. The Cessna Skyknight was in production between 1961 and 1969 (the Cessna 320E was named the Executive Skyknight), when it was replaced by the similar Cessna Turbo 310.

The Cessna 310G was certified in 1961 and introduced the canted wingtip fuel tanks found on the majority of the Cessna Twin-engine product line, marketed as stabila-tip tanks by Cessna because they were meant to aid stability in flight. A single side window replaced the rear two windows on the Cessna 310K (certified in late 1965), with optional three-blade propellers being introduced as well. Subsequent developments included the Cessna 310Q and turbocharged Cessna T310Q with a redesigned rear cabin featuring a skylight window, and the final Cessna 310R and Cessna T310R, identifiable by a lengthened nose containing a baggage compartment. Production ended in 1980.

Over the years there were several modifications to the Cessna 310 to improve performance. Noted aircraft engineer Jack Riley produced two variants, The Riley Rocket 310 and the Riley Turbostream 310. Riley replaced the standard Continental 310 hp (230 kW) engines with Lycoming TIO-540 350 hp (261 kW) engines. These turbocharged inter-cooled engines were installed with three-blade Hartzell propellers in a counter-rotating configuration to further increase performance and single-engine safety. At 5,400 lb (2,400 kg). gross weight the aircraft had a weight to power ratio of 7.71 lb (3.50 kg). per horsepower. This resulted in a cruising speed of 260 knots (480 km/h) at 18,000 feet (5,500 m) and a 3,000 fpm rate of climb.

Operational History 2

Commercial Applications

The Cessna 310 was a common charter aircraft for the many air taxi firms that sprang up in the general aviation boom that followed World War II. The advantages of the Cessna 310 over its contemporaries, such as the Piper PA-23, were its speed, operating costs and after market modifications such as the Robertson STOL kits which made it popular worldwide for its bush flying characteristics. It could use short runways while at the same time carrying a large useful load of 2,000 lb (910 kg) or more, at high speeds for a twin engine piston aircraft.

Military Applications

In 1957, the United States Air Force (USAF) selected the Cessna 310 for service as a light utility aircraft for transport and administrative support. The USAF purchased 160 unmodified Cessna 310A aircraft with the designation Cessna L-27A and unofficially nicknamed Blue Canoe, later changed to Cessna U-3A in 1962. An additional 36 upgraded Cessna 310 designated Cessna L-27B (later U-3B) were delivered in 1960-61; these aircraft were essentially military Cessna 310Fs and as such equipped with the more powerful 260 hp (194 kW) engines and can be identified by their extra cabin windows, longer nose and swept vertical fin. A USAF study after one year of operational service found the Cessna U-3A had direct operating costs of less than $12 an hour. Some USAF aircraft were later transferred to the U.S. Army and US Navy and the type continued in U.S. military service into the mid-1970s.

Variants 2

Civil Operators 2

The aircraft is popular with air charter companies and small feeder airlines, and is operated by private individuals and companies.

Military Operators 2

Countries known to have operated the Cessna U-3/310 include.

Specifications (1956 Cessna model 310) 2

General Characteristics



  1. Shupek, John. Photos by John Shupek, Copyright © 2002 Skytamer Images (Skytamer.com). All Rights Reserved
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Cessna 310

search Skytamer.com

Skytamer Images (Skytamer.com)
Est. 1998