For my other posts on Nigeria Airways see:
BOAC, by the late 1950s, had survived the scare of the failure of the Comet 1, which had cost it so much. It had also meant the airline had needed to scramble to find alternative aircraft and these included the acquisition of most of United's Boeing Stratocruiser fleet. United had mainly bought the Strat for its Hawaiian services, which competed against Pan Am, however they found the type uneconomic as well as unreliable.
Of United's original 7 aircraft, one was destroyed in September 1951 whilst on a training flight. Four of the others joined BOAC in December 1954. They no doubt assisted BOAC to remain competitive, in lieu of its expected jets, but by the late 1950s their service life was nearing its close. Faced with newer piston types like the DC-7C and L-1649, as well as the forthcoming jets, the era of pure luxury was coming to a close.
BOAC's role in Africa was at the time gradually shifting from co-ownership of subsidiaries to partnership in pools. Within West Africa BOAC had formed the West African Airways Corporation (WAAC) in 1946 in partnership with the colonies of The Gambia (0.5%), Gold Coast (29.5%), Nigeria (68%) and Sierra Leone (2%). This airline existed to serve the domestic markets and link outwards to Dakar and Khartoum. Its flights were organised to connect with the BOAC services that connected London to Accra, Lagos and Kano. By the early 1950s these utilised the Handley Page Hermes. Gradually WAAC's network began to expand, however it continued to operate only intra-African routes.
As the former colonies began to gain independence there was the threat that the new nations would team up with Pan Am or KLM rather than BOAC. Each wanted its own airline and WAAC ceased to serve its former purpose as Ghana Airways, Sierra Leone Airways and Gambia Air Shuttle were formed. BOAC successfully fought off competition and invested 40% in the new Ghana Airways. BOAC began a joint Accra-London service using a Stratocruiser, G-ANTZ "Cordelia", on July 16, 1958. Technically Ghana (as the Gold Coast had been renamed) was still part of WAAC until the end of September.
The Stratocruiser's time in Africa was short. Ghana Airways replaced its Strats from April 14, 1959 using Bristol Britannia 102s instead. The last Stratocruiser operated to Accra on May 30th 1959. Similarly Nigeria Airways swapped over to Britannias on April 16 but continued to use Strats for somewhile afterwards.
In fact the career of the Stratocruiser with BOAC ended on the same day as Ghana's last service - May 30th. Most of the 11 strong fleet would fly to the USA and be purchased by Transocean Air Lines (TALOA), however not all would enter service before TALOA's own failure.
Nigeria Airways. Wikipedia
Higham, R. Speedbird: The Complete History of BOAC
Ghana Airways - Encyclopaedia of African Airlines
Nigeria Airways - Encyclopaedia of African Airlines
Davies, R.E.G. Airlines of the Jet Age: A History
Kerr, A.B. 50 Years Ago Today BOAC flew its last Boeing Stratocruiser Flight. Lady Skywriter
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: