Cessna 310

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Cessna 310 / 320
N364NY Cessna 310 CVT 12-08-15 (20333207180).jpg
Cessna 310R
Role Twin-engined cabin monoplane
Manufacturer Cessna
First flight January 3, 1953
Introduction 1954
Primary users General Aviation
United States Air Force
Produced 1954–1980
Number built 5449 (310)
577 (320)
Unit cost
US$48,500 (310A, 1955)[1]
US$147,750 (310R, 1978)[2]
US$228,000 (T310R, 1981)[3]

The Cessna 310 is an American four-to-six-seat, low-wing, twin-engined monoplane produced by Cessna between 1954 and 1980. It was the first twin-engined aircraft that Cessna put into production after World War II.[4]


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.[4]

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 310 series was the 310C in 1959, which introduced more powerful 260 hp (194 kW) Continental IO-470-D engines. In 1960 the 310D featured swept back vertical tail surfaces. An extra cabin window was added with the 310F.[4]

An ex-USAF U-3A on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona
1957 Cessna 310B, with straight fin and overwing augmentor tube exhaust system
Cessna 310D with early rounded nose and 'tuna' style wingtip fuel tanks
US Army U-3B Blue Canoe utility communications aircraft delivered in 1961
Austrian-registered Cessna 320 Skyknight at the 1966 Hanover Air Show, displaying this variant's fourth side window
Cessna 310J
1968 Cessna 310N
Cessna T310P equipped with a nose-mounted IR detection system for forest fire detection
Cessna 310Q
1977 Cessna T310R

The turbocharged 320 Skyknight was developed from the 310F. Equipped with TSIO-470-B engines and featuring an extra cabin window on each side, it was in production between 1961 and 1969 (the 320E was named the Executive Skyknight), when it was replaced by the similar Turbo 310.[4][5]

The 310G was certified in 1961[6] and introduced the canted wingtip fuel tanks found on the majority of the Cessna twin-engined 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 310K (certified in late 1965), with optional three-blade propellers being introduced as well.[7] Subsequent developments included the 310Q and turbocharged T310Q with a redesigned rear cabin featuring a skylight window, and the final 310R and T310R, identifiable by a lengthened nose containing a baggage compartment. Production ended in 1980.[4]

Over the years there were several modifications to the 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 350 hp (261 kW) Lycoming TIO-540 engines. These turbocharged intercooled 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 3,000fpm rate of climb.

Operational history[edit]

Commercial applications[edit]

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[edit]

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 310A aircraft with the designation L-27A and unofficially nicknamed Blue Canoe,[8] later changed to U-3A in 1962. An additional 36 upgraded 310 designated L-27B (later U-3B) were delivered in 1960–61; these aircraft were essentially military 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 U-3A had direct operating costs of less than $12 an hour.[9] The U-3 saw active service in a support role when the USAF deployed aircraft to South Vietnam during the Vietnam War, where they were used on courier flights between air bases.[10][11] Some USAF aircraft were later transferred to the US Army and US Navy and the type continued in US military service into the mid-1970s.


Initial production variant, powered by two 240 hp (180 kW) Continental O-470-B or O-470-M engines with carburetors, with maximum takeoff weight of 4,600 pounds (2,100 kg);[12] in production for 1955-1957 model years, 547 built.[13]
Military version of the 310 for the United States Air Force, designated L-27A and later U-3A; with Continental O-470-M engines and maximum takeoff weight of 4,830 pounds (2,190 kg);[14] 161 built.[15]
Model produced in 1958,[13] with new instrument panel,[citation needed] O-470-M engines and maximum takeoff weight of 4,700 pounds (2,100 kg);[16] 225 built.[13][17]
Model produced in 1959,[13] with 260 hp (190 kW) Continental IO-470-D fuel-injected engines and maximum takeoff weight increased to 4,830 pounds (2,190 kg);[18] and minor changes; 260 built.[19] Unit cost $59,950 in 1959[20]
First model with swept vertical tail,[21] other minor detail changes;[citation needed] 268 built for 1960 model year.[13]
Military version of the 310F,[citation needed] designated the L-27B and later U-3B; with maximum takeoff weight of 4,990 pounds (2,260 kg);[22] 36 built.[23]
Model produced in 1961,[13] with extra cabin window each side, pointed nose and other minor changes;[citation needed] maximum takeoff weight of 4,830 pounds (2,190 kg); 155 built.[24]
First model with canted slimline tip tanks and optional six-seat cabin,[citation needed] with maximum takeoff weight increased to 4,990 pounds (2,260 kg)[25] and detail changes,[citation needed] 156 built in 1962.[13]
Model produced in 1963 with maximum takeoff weight increased to 5,100 pounds (2,300 kg)[13][26] and enlarged cabin interior.[citation needed]
Version of 310H with the 4,990-pound (2,260 kg) maximum takeoff weight of the 310G;[27] combined total of 148 310H and E310H built.[13]
First model with baggage compartments in rear of engine nacelles, Continental IO-470-U engines[28] and minor detail changes;[citation needed] 200 built in 1964.[13]
Model produced in 1965[13] with minor detailed changes[citation needed] and maximum takeoff weight of 5,100 pounds (2,300 kg).[28]
Version of 310J type-certified in the Utility Category; with maximum takeoff weight increased to 5,150 pounds (2,340 kg); seating limited to four people instead of the 310J's six; and reduced baggage weight limit.[29]
Version of 310J with maximum takeoff weight reduced to 4,990 pounds (2,260 kg);[30] combined total of 200 310J, 310J-1 and E310J built.[13][31]
First model with optional three-blade propellers[32] and long 'vista view' side windows;[citation needed] also increased maximum takeoff weight of 5,200 pounds (2,400 kg) with IO-470-V or IO-470-VO engines;[33] 245 built in 1966.[13]
First model with increased fuel capacity via fuel tanks inside wings and optional fuel tanks in engine nacelles,[34] also single-piece windshield, redesigned landing gear, and minor changes;[citation needed] 207 built in 1967.[13]
Revised designation for the 310E.[citation needed]
Model produced in 1968,[13] with revised instrument panel and minor changes;[citation needed] 198 built.[13]
Model produced in 1969,[35] with Continental IO-470-VO engines,[36] ventral fin and a shorter nosegear leg.[citation needed]
Version of 310P with turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-B or TSIO-520-BB engines producing 285 hp (213 kW) and maximum takeoff weight of 5,400 pounds (2,400 kg);[37] combined total of 240 310P and T310P built.[35]
Last short-nose model, introduced in 1970,[35] with maximum takeoff weight increased to 5,300 lb (2,400 kg)[38] and detailed changes, from the 401st aircraft fitted with a bulged rear cabin roof with rear view window.[citation needed]
Version of 310Q with turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-B or TSIO-520-BB engines and maximum takeoff weight increased to 5,500 lb (2,500 kg);[39] combined total of 871 310Q and T310Q built.[35]
Last production model, introduced in the 1975 model year,[40] 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.[41]
Version of 310R with turbocharged Continental TSIO-520-B or TSIO-520-BB engines;[42] combined total of 1,332 310R and T310R built.[40]
Original designation for the Cessna 320.[citation needed]
320 Skyknight
Enlarged version of the 310F with six seats, larger cabin and two turbocharged engines; 110 built.
320A Skyknight
First model with canted fuel tanks and minor changes; 47 built.
320B Skyknight
First model with nacelle baggage lockers, minor changes; 62 built.
320C Skyknight
Model with a longer cabin, optional seventh seat and minor changes; 73 built.
320D Executive Skyknight
Model with reshaped rear windows and 285 hp (213 kW) TSIO-520-B engines; 130 built.
320E Executive Skyknight
Model with pointed nose, single piece windshield, modified landing gear, increased takeoff weight and minor changes; 110 built.
320F Executive Skyknight
Model with minor changes compared to 320E; 45 built.
United States military designation for the 310A, later changed to U-3A.
United States military designation for the 310E/310M, later changed to U-3B.
L-27A redesignated in 1963.
L-27B redesignated in 1963.
Riley 65
Conversion offered for Cessna 310 to 310G by fitting two 240-260 hp (179–194 kW) Continental O-470D/-470M engines.[43]
Riley Super 310
Conversion of Cessna 310/320 by fitting two 310 hp (231 kW) Continental TSIO-520-J/-N engines.[44]
Riley Turbostream
Conversion of Cessna 310 by fitting two 350 hp Lycoming engines.[45]
Riley Rocket
Conversion of Cessna 310 by fitting two 290 hp (216 kW) Lycoming IO-540-A1A5 engines and more fuel.[43]



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

Military operators[edit]

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

Royal Saudi Air Force Cessna 310 in Riyadh
Republic of the Congo[8]
Saudi Arabia[8]
United States

Accidents and incidents[edit]

Specifications (1956 model 310)[edit]

Data from 1956 Observers Book of Aircraft[67]

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Capacity: four passengers
  • Length: 27 ft 0 in (8.23 m)
  • Wingspan: 35 ft 0 in (10.67 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m)
  • Wing area: 175 sq ft (16.3 m2) [68]
  • Empty weight: 2,850 lb (1,293 kg)
  • Gross weight: 4,600 lb (2,087 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Continental O-470-B horizontally opposed piston engines, 240 hp (180 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 220 mph (354 km/h; 191 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 205 mph (330 km/h; 178 kn)
  • Range: 1,000 mi (869 nmi; 1,609 km)
  • Service ceiling: 20,000 ft (6,100 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,700 ft/min (8.6 m/s)

Notable appearances in media[edit]

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era


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  3. ^ Aviation Consumer's Used Aircraft Guide
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  6. ^ Type Certificate 3A10, p. 11.
  7. ^ Type Certificate 3A10, p. 19.
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  19. ^ Type Certificate 3A10, p. 6.
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  22. ^ Type Certificate 3A10, p. 8.
  23. ^ Type Certificate 3A10, p. 9.
  24. ^ Type Certificate 3A10, p. 10.
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  34. ^ Type Certificate 3A10, p. 21.
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  • FAA Type Certificate Data Sheet Number 3A10
  • Andrade, John. Militair 1982. London: Aviation Press Limited, 1982. ISBN 0-907898-01-7
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External links[edit]