Designation: L-27A

Cessna U-3A

Cessna U-3A (L-27A) Blue Canoe

A picture of the Cessna U-3A Blue Canoe

The U-3A is the military variant of the civilian Cessna Model 310.  The 310 proved very successful in the civil market and was chosen by the Air Force in 1957 for use as a light utility transport.  Initially called the L-25A approximately 160 were ordered in 1957 and 1958, a further 30 were ordered in 1960 with more powerful engines and called L-27B.  The designation of these aircraft was changed in 1962 to U-3A and U-3B.  The planes’ distinctive blue and white paint scheme led to the unofficial nickname “Blue Canoe.” 

One of the more unusual uses for the U-3 was as a chase plane and trainer for the Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance plane.  The Cessna’s cockpit is at almost exactly the same height as that of the U-2 and with proper power settings the plane flies almost identically to the U-2 in the landing configuration.  New U-2 pilots would perfect the very precise skills needed to safely land with an instructor in the U-3 before trying it in the single seat U-2.

Wingspan 35 ft 9 in.


Length 27 ft


Height 10 ft 5 in.


Weight 4,830 pounds (loaded)


Max. Speed 238 MPH

Maximum Speed

Service Ceiling 22,000 ft

Service Ceiling

Range 900 miles


Engines Two Continental O-470-M with 240 horsepower each


Crew 1 and 4 passengers



100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Davis-Monthan AFB, 1974


Serial Number

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