National Airlines had been at war with its much larger rival Eastern almost since it came into existence and the feud between the two airlines irascible larger than life leaders, George Theodore Baker and Eddie Vernon Rickenbacker was legendary. Baker loved nothing more to get one over on Rickenbacker and the two airlines competed heavily for traffic on the North-South routes between cities like New York and Miami. Speed was the name of the game in the 1940s and 50s and whoever was fastest had a clear advantage with passengers.
"What the hell. They are still faster than anything Rickenbacker's got."
They certainly were and gave Eastern a major problem which it eventually only resolved by purchasing its own DC-7s - see here for more info. National actually also purchased four more aircraft (upgraded DC-7Bs) in the late 50s which didn't begin delivery until October 1957. N6201B was the first to arrive. By 1965 she was with the Gulliver Society Inc. By 1967 she was with Carolina Aircraft Corp and she was scrapped in 1974.
Eastern also converted many of its Constellations into coach class configuration for which the Connie was ideally suited. Baker himself bought four of Lockheed's L-1049H Super Constellations (N7131C-7134C) which were used on the Havana service but later converted to coach class for night services between Miami and New York. Obviously having a small sub-fleet of Connies alongside a larger fleet of DC-6s and DC-7s made little sense. Despite this however the Connies survived as long as the DC-7s. N7133C was sold to Nordair Canada along with her three sisters (as CF-NAL) she served with them until April 1969 when, again along with her sisters, she joined Canairelief Air. Withdrawn in Sao Tome by 1970 by 2007 she was being used as the restaurant "As Asas do Avião".
In 1962 Louis Bergman "Bud" Maytag bought the company from Baker convinced that it was capable of being run much better and making a lot more money. He successfully refinanced the company and this enabled him to replace the entire piston fleet almost at once. The DC-6s left in 1963 followed by the DC-7s and Connies in early 1964. Two DC-7Bs were kept on until the end of the year to operate the interchange agreement with Panagra which stipulated the use of the DC-7s (they were the best aircraft when it was originally drawn up). To fill the hole in his fleet Maytag acquired four second-hand Electras from American and four DC-8s from Northwest.
The timetable image is taken from the collection of Björn Larsson at the excellent http://www.timetableimages.com
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: