Qantas has been renowned for being on the cutting edge of long-haul travel with the best equipment: Connies in the 1950s, 707s in the 1960s and 747s in the 1970s. Along with that is a reputation for safety that is second to none. However even during the regulated era Qantas wasn't just a long haul airline as it had duties to perform closer to home. These involved using more primitive equipment well into the 1970s in the form of Douglases stalwart C-47/DC-3 and DC-4s.
Qantas had a long relationship with the DC-4 beginning with operations quite late in 1949 when five aircraft were purchased from British Commonwealth Pacific . These aircraft opened up new routes to Japan and Hong Kong. As Qantas was primarily a Lockheed Constellation and later Super Constellation operator the DC-4s (several of which were actual DC-4s rather than the far more common civilianised C-54 Skymaster) were never the cream of the fleet and several were converted to freighters in the 1950s. Several additional aircraft were even purchased for the freight role.
One of these was VH-EBP which didn't join the fleet until March 7, 1955, as 'Australian Trader'. She had originally been delivered to National Airlines in April 1946 as NC33681. She was sold to Resort Airlines in 1952 and then Qantas 3 years later. She was only with Qantas for four years before being sold to Zantop in October 1959 as N601Z. Sold again, this time to Trans Mediterranean of Lebanon, in April 1962 as OD-EAD, she was back in the US by 1968 as N480G. She was leased to Pan African Airlines of Nigeria, in April 1968, and destroyed in a Biafran bombing attack at Port Harcourt in November 1969. Twenty people were killed on the ground but there were no crew fatalities.
The pure freight role was not however how the DC-4 survived with Qantas. The airline utilised a pair of DC-4s on its routes to Norfolk Island until February 27, 1977, which meant that some aircraft even wore the orange striped livery that was worn by the company's 747s. The two aircraft utilised for this route were VH-EDA and VH-EDB and for more details of their subsequent history and lots of photos see http://www.adastron.com/aviation/definitive/def-his-006.htm
In addition from 1955 Qantas wet-leased DC-4s to operate the Auckland-Norfolk Island route too for ten years until TEAL DC-4s replaced them.
Qantas acquired 14 C-47s between 1945-48 for domestic Queensland routes and international services. By 1949 5 DC-3s were part of the New Guinea fleet and when these routes were transferred to TAA in 1960 the aircraft went with them.
VH-EDC and D were the last C-47s used and served for ten years on crew training duties, though EDC also served a lease to Fiji Airways. She was originally 42-9310 with the USAAF and then A65-46 with the RAAF. As VH-CAR she served the Dept of Civil Aviation through the 50s. She served from 1972 with Bush Pilots Airways who became Air Queensland in 1981. When Air Queensland shut-down in 1988 she was sold and in 1991 joined South Pacific Airmotive. On April 24, 1994 she was forced to ditch in Botany Bay and though salvaged was deemed uneconomical to repair. Her remains are located at Camden Airport. Check out the pages in the references for lots of photos and the crash report.
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: