American placed its first order for the DC-7 in December 1951 with each plane costing $1.6 million. The initial order was for 25 aircraft, the first of which arrived with AA in October 1953. This aircraft was registered N304AA. N301-303AA would be delivered in early 1954 after they had finished in their roles as the DC-7 prototypes. American opened up DC-7 services on November 29 between New York and Los Angeles, using N305AA, becoming the first airline to offer nonstop service in both directions on a transcontinental flight (TWA had begun nonstop eastbound flights in October). As a measure of how far air travel had come in only eight years the flights took only eight hours as opposed to the 20 of 1945.
American received 34 DC-7s (N301-334AA) up till November 1956. Seven months later deliveries began again but this time of the improved DC-7B ordered to counter TWA's L-1049G Super Connies. American took 25 of the longer ranged and heavier DC-7B with the last not delivered until the twilight days of the piston liner in January 1958. By this time many of the DC-7s had been reconfigured or delivered new in Royal Coachman configuration. This had first appeared in 1956 and the fleet was split between all first class 'Mercury', all tourist class 'Royal Coachman' and aircraft with a mixture of both. The Royal Coachman introduced five abreast seating in the DC-7s.
As with most other DC-7 operators, though the aircraft initially served their purpose well, as soon as they were no longer the best equipment available their worth decreased since the highly strung engines were not very reliable. They were only marginally more effective than the more rugged DC-6s and on shorter secondary routes their advantages no doubt disappeared and their engine's fragility became a problem. Though some of the DC-7Bs remained in service into 1967 (15 had been converted into freighters) all of the standard DC-7s were retired beginning in January 1959 and ending in August 1962. N301AA, Flagship Texas, did not see further service after retirement in 1959 and was scrapped. The seconds market for DC-7s was limited so she was not alone and few saw secondary operators.
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: