Manufacturer: Avions Caudron (Lockheed)

Model: C.900 (Model 9)

Name: Orion

Type: Passenger transport

Date: 1938

Status: Prototype

Country: France

Service: Commercial

Designation: none


The Lockheed Model 9D Orion registered F-AKHC was purchased in 1934 by Michel Détroyat who intended to fly it in the London-Melbourne race. It was then transfered to the state-owned Centre d’essais du matériel aérien (Test Center for Air Materiel) for evaluation, being one of the very earliest commercial aircraft with retractable landing gear. The aircraft was then flown Edouarrd Corniglion-Molinier, and it was used notably for the transport to and from Spain of writer/philosopher André Malraux as he met with various political personalities before the Spanish War broke out. The Lockheed Orion later returned to Spain eventually crashed on August 12, 1936 near Muniesa, in the province of Teruel, as its pilot Georges Cornez was flying French journalists from Barcelona to Madrid.

The remains of the crashed aircraft were salvaged by Republicans during the War and shipped to France for repair, with the hope that it would be impressed for service. However the aircraft was so heavily damaged that both the engine and tail unit couldn't be salvaged. French company Avions Caudron was asked by the Government if they could do something about the airframe so that it could be restored to flying condition. Caudron fitted a new tail, inspired by that of the successful Simoun small transport, and an inline engine, which was the norm at Caudron. The French government sought and secured Lockheed's clearance for the modification. While retaining its original registration, the aircraft was redesignated as the Caudron C.900 (the numeral "9" being probably an evocation of Lockheed's model number for the original type) and christened, quite naturally, the Caudron Orion.

The C.900 arrived too late to take part in the Spanish War. Instead it was used as a personal transport aircraft by French officials until the Germans seized it in 1940 and impressed it in the Luftwaffe. It was then flown to Denmark in 1942 by a group of Luftwaffe defectors and was re-registered there as OY-DOQ. Its final disposition was unknown.

NOTE: paragraph #1 consists of REAL information;
only paragraphs #2 and #3 are fictional.
Original Lockheed Orion artwork and authentic historical text once available from the Amitiés Internationales André Malraux website.


This improbable aircraft was a lot of fun to conceive (not to mention the story that went with it!). I used an existing color profile of the Lockheed Orion (see right) and one of the Caudron Simoun, mashed them up, and... voilà!

Trouble is, the two profiles were not in the same scale, and in real life a Simoun engine would have been much too small for an Orion... Also, after flipping the Simoun horizontally, I should have erased the air intake, which was on one side only and ought therefore to have be on the starboard side...

Sorry to all scale modelers for often not being accurate enough on this sort of things!

Viewers' comments:
  • Can I have some of what you're taking at the moment Stéphane...... (Caravellarella)

My comments: