In the mid-1950s the USAF initiated a competition to purchase "off-the-shelf" twin-engine aircraft for light cargo and personnel transport duties. Cessna's new model 310 was selected and 160 aircraft were acquired and designated L-27A (L for liaison). In 1962 when all the U.S. military services re-aligned their aircraft identification system, the designation was changed to U-3A (U for utility).
From 1958 to 1971, the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) and later the Military Airlift Command (MAC) operated a fleet of 12 to 16 U-3 to transport high-priority passengers. The museum's aircraft is painted as a MATS U-3.
This aircraft was assigned to USAF Headquarters at Bolling AFB in Washington D.C. from 1958-1959 and then to various bases before being dropped from the Air Force inventory in 1972. It was transferred to the Air Force Aero Club program to serve as a twin-engine trainer and rental aircraft. It was retired from the Dover AFB Aero Club and transferred to the AMC Museum in 2009.
Manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft Company
Type: Light cargo and personnel transport
Powerplant: Two 240-hp Continental 0-470-B engines
Maximum Speed: 238 mph
Range: 850 mi.
Service Ceiling: 22,000 ft
Takeoff Weight: 5,500 lb
Payload: Four passengers
Wing Span: 36 ft 11 in
Length: 27 ft 0 in
Height: 10 ft 8 in
Above: The U-3's civilian counterpart, the Cessna 310, became famous for its appearance as a star in the 1950s televeision Sky King. The plane was named Songbird.
All U-3s had a 50-gallon wingtip tanks permanently attached.
The U-3 got its nickname "Blue Canoe," because of its distinctive fuselage and blue color.
The first three models had a vertical tail. D-models and later have a swept tail.