Northeast Airlines Liveries
The intention of this page is to describe and show all the Northeast Airlines liveries from 1940, when Boston-Maine Airways was renamed, until the takeover by Delta in 1972. Schemes prior to 1940 are not covered.
1941-1942: FLYING PILGRIM
Northeast Airlines first new aircraft were a trio of DC-3s acquired from Douglas in 1941. They only lasted until April 1942, when they were traded to TWA in exchange for DC-2s, but did wear Northeast's first livery. This was a simplified version of the postwar scheme with a thick blue cheatline wrapping around the cockpit and nose. It bore a strong resemblance to the last Boston-Maine livery but had a trio of feathers on the large rudder.
On the wingtops the aircraft wore large nea lettering and the titles were full Northeast Airlines in script. Aft of the rear entry door was a large roundel with titles and DC-3 inside it. Oddly riding on top of the DC-3 was the airline's Pilgrim mascot Photos are hard to come by but this flightsim image is accurate:
1942-1945: ARMY AIR FORCE
During the war years Northeast did sterling work flying in the Arctic pioneering service to Scotland from Boston by way of Gander and Iceland. The fleet was repainted into Air Force colours but kept there script-like Northeast Airlines titles. For images of a typical wartime Northeast DC-3 see here.
1945-1958: WINGED PILGRIM
Northeast's postwar livery was a return to a similar style to its pre-war scheme and consisted of a single dark blue cheatline, which wrapped around the nosecone and cockpit. It also had a very 1940s feather styling after the cockpit. This feather style was repeated three times on the tail. Initially the scheme had a natural metal top (as this photo shows) but, as with most US airlines, in the early 1950s this was switched to a white crown. The scheme was worn by the DC-3s, short-lived trio of DC-4s, Convair 240s and the first DC-6s. It was also worn briefly by a Bristol Britannia, although the order was delayed in 1957 and cancelled the next year.
Around 1952 Western, as with most US airlines, adopted a white crown to the scheme. This was worn by the first DC-6Bs that arrived that year as well as the DC-3s, DC-4s and Convairs.
1958-1960: UPDATED PILGRIM
The arrival of Northeast's first Vickers Viscounts in August 1958 also heralded a modernisation of the Pilgrim scheme. The original winged Pilgrim logo remained in place at the aircraft's nose but the fuselage markings were modified to a pair of thin cheatlines. The after-cockpit feather effect was dropped. A large red NE was added to the tail between the two uppermost dual blue stripes.
The DC-6's were renamed SUNLINERs and the Viscounts wore VISCOUNT titles also. The DC-3s, DC-6s and Viscounts never wore any of the latter liveries, but the Pilgrim logo was dropped in later years.
In 1958 Western began advertising using their famous Wallybird character. I believe he was meant to be an owl, but he looks more like a parrot to me. He never appeared on the aircraft but was a major factor in Western's ad campaigns. The shots below are from 1960s campaigns:
1960-1966: ARROW TAIL PILGRIM
Northeast's jet-age scheme was a relatively minor modification of the one worn by the DC-6s. The colours remained a deep blue with red titles but the standard dual cheatline was altered into a TWA-esque arrow (probably due to the Howard Hughes connection). On the tail the three double stripes were reversed and made into arrows.
There were several minor title combinations. The first six Convair 880s had 880 in large titles on the tail. The replacement batch of four that arrived from October 1962 instead wore SuperJet titles in the same place. The first pair of 727-95s, which arrived in October and December 1965 respectively, had no special titles and were the only 727s to wear the pre-Yellowbird scheme.
Following the Storer Broadcasting takeover in 1965 a new image was created the following year by the industrialist designer Raymond Loewy. Out went the blue and in came a bright yellow covering the tail and a good chunk of the fuselage. This scheme was worn by the last of the Convair 880s, the single Convair 990 as well as the newer Boeing 727-100s/200s, Douglas DC-9s and Fairchild FH-227s.
1970-1972: YELLOWBIRD 2
Tying in with the increasing advertising around the Yellowbird family NE made some changes to the original version of the scheme, both to assist in marketing and for practical reasons. Ahead of the main titles, on the passenger boarding side, a small yellow bird logo was added (see below right) and under the large NE on the tail YELLOWBIRD was added. Additionally the rear fuselage and rudder was left unpainted in a natural metal finish on both the DC-9s and 727s, no doubt due to the dirt the engines produced. A similar tack was taken by several of the other trunk airlines such as United and Eastern.
1972: DELTA TAKEOVER
The last modification to the Yellowbird was the addition of a small Delta widget logo on the forward fuselage once the takeover was underway. Northeast officially became part of Delta on August 1, 1972.