The Cessna 310 is an American four-to-six-seat, low-wing, twin-engine monoplane produced by Cessna between 1954 and 1980. :

The Cessna 310 had a number of firsts:

  • It was the first twin-engine aircraft that Cessna put into production after World War II. 
  • It was the first airplane built by Cessna to have retractable tricycle landing gear.
  • It was also the first Cessna design to be tested in a wind tunnel.

Cessna 310B

The Cessna 310B’s fuselage was 26 feet, 3 inches (8.001 meters) long (27 feet, 0 inches/8.230 meters including the extended nose wheel). Its wingspan was 35 feet, 9 inches (10.897 meters) and overall height of 10 feet, 8 inches (3.251 meters). Its empty weight was approximately 2,850 pounds (1,293 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 4,700 pounds (2,132 kilograms).

Cessna 310B (Songbird from Sky King TV series)

The Cessna 310B was powered by two air-cooled, normally-aspirated, 471.239-cubic-inch-displacement (7.722 litres) Continental Motors O-470-M horizontally-opposed six-cylinder direct-drive engines with a compression ratio of 7:1. They were rated at 240 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m. for takeoff (5-minute limit), using 91/96 octane aviation gasoline. The O-470-M weighed 410 pounds (186 kilograms). The engines drove two-bladed Hartzell full-feathering propellers with a diameter of 7 feet, 0 inches (2.134 meters).

The 310B had a maximum structural cruise speed (VNO) of 200 miles per hour (322 kilometres per hour) and maximum speed (VNE) of 248 miles per hour (399 kilometres per hour). The light twin had a service ceiling of 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) and range of 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometres).

According to an aerodynamicist who worked for Cessna at the time, the 51-gallon (193 litres) wing-tip-mounted fuel tanks were the main design feature of the 310. Company management insisted on them as a safety measure, even though they caused some handling difficulties and slowed the airplane by nearly 10 miles per hour (16 kilometres per hour). In the early 310 models, the entire fuel load was carried in the tip tanks, with none in the wings. It was felt that keeping fuel as far from the passenger compartment was safer in the event of an accident.

In 1958, the only year in which the 310B variant was produced, the list price for a new airplane was $59,950, which was considered quite expensive at the time.

Cessna 310K

Cessna continued to upgrade the 310, with most people considering the short nosed 310P, 310Q and the long nosed 310R the best looking models built.

The last production model was the 310R, introduced in the 1975, with 285 hp (213 kW) Continental IO-520-M or IO-520-MB engines; three-blade propellers as standard; lengthened nose containing a baggage compartment; and 5,500 lb (2,500 kg) maximum takeoff weight.

A total of 6,321 of all variants were built.

Cessna 310G

Some well-known Cessna 310’s

A television series by the name of ‘Sky King’ which first aired in 16 September 1951 featured an aircraft called SONGBIRD.  The models used were always Cessna twins, culminating with a number of Cessna 310’s. The best known Flying Crown Ranch aircraft was a 1958 Cessna 310B, serial number 35548.

In the title sequence of later episodes, Songbird is clearly seen with FAA registration N5348A on the bottom of its left wing as it banks away from the camera plane.

After filming of the ‘Sky King’ series came to an end in 1959, Cessna sold N5348A. On 4 August 1962, it crashed near Delano, California, and its pilot was killed.

Some sequences filmed from inside the Songbird show a partial N-number of “-635B” on the upper surface of the right wing. This airplane was probably Cessna 310B 35735, registered N6635B. It was destroyed when it crashed while on approach to Van Nuys Airport (VNY) at 11:49 a.m., 17 December 1969. All three persons on board were killed.

A typical cockpit of a 310R

The third Cessna 310 was N5348A, and was painted white, yellow and gold. Cessna owned this aircraft and it was usually flown by the manufacturer’s pilot. A fuselage which had been used for static testing was also provided by Cessna for use in close-up and interior cockpit scenes.

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