The Taiwanese flag carrier began operations in December 1959 as a charter airline with scheduled operations not beginning until 1963. The fleet consisted of DC-3s and DC-4s until a single, ex-Flying Tigers and Trans International, Super Constellation was purchased in late 1966.
This was joined in February 1967 by the first of a pair of new Boeing 727-109s. International services to South Vietnam, Hong Kong and Japan were started with the L-1049 and 727s.
The arrival of a third 727 in 1969 and a pair of NAMC YS-11s in 1970 rendered the Connie obsolete and she was withdrawn that year and broken up in 1972. A pair of secondhand Caravelles joined in 1971. Losses halved both the YS-11 and Caravelle fleets by 1972 however another pair of secondhand Caravelles were added soon afterwards.
For long haul routes on 2nd Feb 1970, it was able to begin transpacific operations using a pair of new 707s to San Francisco via Tokyo. Four more 707s arrived from 1972. CAL become a 747 operator in 1976 and the first of four SPs arrived in mid 1977. The SP’s superior range enabled them to bypass stops in Japan, which were not politically acceptable to the Japanese, and still reach Los Angeles and San Francisco. Routes to Johannesburg and Dhahran were also now possible. On Feb 19th 1985 this aircraft was involved in an incident when after the flame out of No4 engine the aircraft rolled over and plunged 30,000 ft before the Captain was able to recover. Damage to the airframe was significant but the plane was repaired and served another 12 years before lease to Mandarin Airlines.
China Airlines was very conservative with its livery keeping it effectively unchanged from the mid 60s until the 1990s. I had never been very fond if it however, as with many older liveries, nowadays I think it has a classic look. Certainly it is interesting seeing it on such different types as the Super Connie and 747SP.
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: