The Douglas DC-4 originated from the unrelated first DC-4 (which was renamed the DC-4E) that had proved too complicated and lacking in performance prior to World War Two. The advent of the war interrupted the new DC-4s use as a commercial airliner and after the first prototype was constructed nearly 1,170 came off the production lines for the military in a large number of variants. The basic types were named the C-54 Skymaster (for the USAAF) and the R5D (for the US Navy).
During the late 1970s and early 1980s Boeing 707-320s were retired in large numbers by the US majors and most went on to have second careers in the third world - often in beautiful liveries. Sadly African nations and their airline's seemed to succumb to rampant corruption (and the effects of wars) as the 80s went on and few of the Sub-saharan airline's remain with us today. Aeroclassics has made a good array of lovely 707s but there are plenty more still to be made. Following part1's look at North Africa in thi spart we go south of the Sahara.
During my childhood in the 80s, on the rare occasion I could get my dad to drive me up to Heathrow (Gatwick was my local and my dad was not a spotter) I was always thrilled by the variety of airlines on show.
Africa was an especially exciting location for interesting airlines. With Britain's colonial ties and business centre most English speaking African nations could be seen at Heathrow. Some of the more affluent airline's could afford new equipment so for example Ghana Airways, Air Zaire and Nigeria flew DC-10s, SAA 747s and Egyptair A300s, but well into the 90s most African flag carriers based their fleet around what they could afford. Near universally these were second-hand Boeing 707s.
The race to be the first US airline with Jets was won by those who purchased Boeing 707s, however in the south both Eastern and Delta were not 707 customers and the race was still on for first jet service in Atlanta. Eastern in the 1950s still dwarfed Delta and was set to get its DC-8s much sooner than its competitor, that is until Eastern's Eddie Rickenbaker decided to shoot himself in the foot. Rickenbacker was notoriously spendthrift and upon learning that Douglas's first DC-8s would be underpowered compared to later build aircraft he promptly switched Eastern's early orders to later DC-8-21s. Delta then cheekily stepped in and tookup the early deivery slots leaving Eastern in its jet trails.
In the late 1940s the first batch of DC-3 replacement aircraft were coming onto the scene. With Lockheed and Douglas pre-occupied by their long-haul types the main competition in the USA was between the Glenn L. Martin company's Martin 2-0-2 and Convair's CV-240. The unpressurised Martin got into service first, in 1947, but was soundly beaten by the pressurised Convair. Only 47 2-0-2s were sold and the type quickly became a disaster when design problems caused major structural failings in the wings (which were literally torn off). The 2-0-2s issues left Eddie Rickenbacker's Eastern in serious trouble since it had invested $11 million in its development. Rickenbacker rallied and found a way to save Martin from collapse whilst enabling them to redevelop the 2-0-2.
Bonanza started operations as early as 1945 with a single Cessna. it was formed as Bonanza Air Services in Las Vegas by Edmund Converse, Charlie Keene and June Simon. Based in Vegas at Sky Haven airfield they offered charters to local towns with their 4 passenger Cessna and sold tickets out of the El Rancho Vegas Hotel and Casino. Moving to Alamo Field (nowadays McCarran Intnl Airport) and changing name to Bonanza Air Lines the little carrier expanded with extra aircraft (Piper Cubs and Cessna T-50 Bobcats) and gained a contract to ferry merchant marines to New Jersey in 1946, for which the first C-47 arrived. From these humble beginnings would grow a trendsetting little airline which operated on the 'Route of the Gold Strikes'.
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: