The original 737-100 and 200 were not big sellers for Boeing in the 1960s even in the USA. Western was renowned for going against the norm having not operated DC-3s or 727-100s so the 737 was in a way a natural fit and the airline's choices were limited after it was forced to cancel its ten orders for the One-eleven. As with the 720 the 737-200 would go on to be a major component of the fleet and unlike the former it was never replaced, except by more 737-200s (the Advanced model).
The 737 certainly got off to a slow start as by 1967 the One-eleven (Mohawk) and DC-9 (Allegheny, Bonanza, Central, North Central, Ozark, Southern, Trans-Texas, West Coast) had already got in and taken most of the local service airline market with only Frontier, Piedmont and Lake Central going for 737s (the latter not taking delivery).
Similarly with the Trunks only United and Western showed interest in Boeings new twinjet. PSA also showed interest but their unions were less fond of the two man cockpit and in the end they had to revert to 727s. Air California and Aloha were more successful.
Western's first 737 arrived in June 1968. N4510W (here in the Indian Head scheme) was the tenth of thirty delivered most of which were replaced in the early 80s by Advanced -200s and -300s. Sold to EG & G, operating government services, in 1980 airline service wasn’t resumed until 1995 when Air South leased the aircraft. Vanguard took over the lease in December 1997 and registered the plane as N912MP but she was repossessed in February 2002 after Vanguard’s bankruptcy. Breaking up of the airframe began in 2003.
N4518W (here in the Flying W scheme) was the 18th of 30 early 737-200s delivered to Western in 1968/69 as replacements for the L-188s, few remaining DC-6s and the L-749s acquired from the PNA takeover. By 1985 of the original 30 frames 13 remained in service and passed to Delta when they tookover Western. She was leased to the second Braniff in January 1988 until their bankruptcy when she was stored until May 1991 when she served a yearlong lease to Markair. In November 1992 she was sold to Cambodia Airlines and sold on again in September 1995. Exported to South America she joined Aero Continente as OB-1620 and served until mid-2000 when she was stored at Lima.
After not having taken delivery of a 737-200 since mid 1969 Western again turned to the baby boeing in the 80s and started taking new advanced -200s in 1982. They in fact continued to take -200s even during and after the delivery of thirteen next generation series 300s, with several being delivered directly to Delta after the merger of the two. N236WA (here in the Bud-Lite scheme) was operated by Delta throughout the 90s and this ship joined the offshoot Delta Express in March 2000. Stored for a while in 2002 she was still in service two years later and not withdrawn until September 2006. By 2009 she found herself with Aviacsa as XA-UJB.
Despite continuing to receive 737-200s Western also acquired thirteen series 300s with the first, N3301 ‘Larry Lee’, arriving in March 1985. Subsequent deliveries were in the range N302-N313WA except N2310 which was used in place of N310WA. The 737-300s were the last new type operated by Western prior to the Delta takeover and due to Deltas early 90s cancellation of its own 737-300 order were operated as orphans in until 13 ex-Germania aircraft were leased. These later aircraft had glass cockpits and operated from Atlanta whilst the original Western aircraft operated primarily from Salt Lake City. N308WA was withdrawn in 2007 and stored at Victorville with 54,678 hours and 37,110 cycles. As of 2012 she was operated by Sky King Inc.
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: