Airline Issue Models of Early Jet Airliners

Written by Jim Striplin

Even before jets were in service, the airlines already had advertising companies in full swing promoting “jet travel” as the wave of the future. Airplane model makers in the U.S., and especially in Europe, saw a surge of orders. Models of jet airliners were needed by the airlines for display in ticket offices, travel agencies, and on airline counters at airports. These models stirred up excitement and anticipation in the air traveling public. Upon seeing models of the soon to be put into service jets, passengers started dreaming of what it would be like to fly in one of these sleek, fast, and luxurious airplanes.

In England the new de Havilland Comet was all the rage. The Comet was about to go into service in 1952, and model makers in England such as Westway and Peter V. Nelson were already turning out aluminum models of the Comet prototype in BOAC markings. In anticipation of forth coming Comet service, BOAC had a small plastic “giveaway” model made for flight attendants to hand out on early flights.

BOAC giveaway model of early Comet. This original model is made of molded hard plastic and has a wingspan of 8 inches. On the bottom of the stand it reads “MADE IN ENGLAND”. These little models were prized by kids (and adults) in England and all over the BOAC system. (author’s collection)

Aluminum model of a Comet 1 by Westway London in 1/72nd scale with BOAC “Speedbird” type stand. Note the square windows on the early comet. (courtesy Aeroscale)

A large original 1/48th scale model of a Comet 4 by Westway in London. Model has landing gear, and is made of plastic/fiberglass. (author’s collection)

In the U.S.S.R. models of the new TU-104 were being made for Aeroflot by Soviet model makers. The TU-104 was the second jet airliner to be put into service. Models of the early TU-104s were made mainly by the Tupelov factory in house, but government commissioned models were also put on display. Early models were made of wood and primitive plastics. Later on injection molded models became available. The metal models of early Soviet airliners were not made of aluminum. They were made of a very heavy Zinc based alloy.

Aeroflot issued TU-104 souvenir model from the former Soviet Union. (author’s photo collection)

In the USA, in anticipation of the inauguration of jet service with the new Boeing 707, model maker Pacific Miniatures of Alhambra California produced large 1/50th scale models of the first series of Boeing jets. These models were big and impressive, and, they were pretty accurate considering that the actual airplanes had not yet been put into regular service. Early 707 models were based on drawings, artist conceptions, and speculation.

Pacific Miniatures original 1/50th scale model of a Pan American 707. Model is made of molded fiberglass and plastic. The heavy stand and stylish upright would become a PAC-MIN hallmark for many years. (author’s collection)

In Europe, Lufthansa Airlines in Germany bought early 707 models from companies like Raise Up of Holland, and Schaarschmidt in Berlin to promote upcoming jet service. Raise Up Models of Rotterdam Holland was a prolific model maker that produced thousands of models throughout the 40s, 50s. and 60s. Raise Up models however, did not take care to assure accuracy , especially in the nose, tail, and engine areas of their models. Many of their models appear almost “clown like”.

Lufthansa 707 original model by Raise Up. Note the inaccurate nose and engine pylons. The round stand with single pylon upright was something that Lufthansa specified and was used for years. (author’s collection)

The Douglas DC-8 entered into service in 1959. With much anticipation, model makers in the US and abroad went into action coming out early with DC-8 replicas. Obviously, the Douglas factory itself was quick to come out with models in numerous scales. Aluminum models in both 1/72nd and 1/50th were turned out, along with huge cutaway models mounted on floor stands. Raise up in Holland was quick to get on the DC-8 train, making 1/50th scale models to sell to airlines and travel agencies.

Delta Air Lines President C.E.Woolman holding an early DC-8 model. Model is a “ conception model” by the Douglas Factory for sales purposes. (author’s photo collection)

Douglas Factory United Air Lines DC-8. Model is original, unrestored. (author’s collection)

The Caravelle went into service in 1959 with Air France and SAS. This new airliner was unique in having its’ jet engines mounted at the rear of the fuselage under the tail. It was a beautiful design, and numerous model makers produced Caravelle models. Raise Up Holland of course, and others like Fermo of Denmark and even Fond Nucci of Italy did Caravelles, just to name a few.

Raise Up Caravelle model in aluminum. This 1/50th scale model bears serial #1! Model is original, unrestored. (author’s collection)

In 1960 the Convair 880 was put into service. The 880 was a fast airplane that was slightly smaller than the early 707s and DC-8s. Models of the new Convair 880 were made by a variety of companies for the airlines that operated them. Convair itself made the most accurate models of the airliner in house. The factory models were made in 1/50th scale of modern molded plastics. Convair had a very distinctive triangular stand.

Convair factory model of the 880. (author’s photo collection)

Fermo of Denmark made a huge model of the 880 in aluminum, that could be displayed as a solid or cutaway model with a full interior. On the smaller side, a company called Riffe models in Kansas City MO made 880 models for TWA that were displayed on ashtrays or on a regular stand.

Large 880 model by Fermo of Denmark in NE Airlines colors. 1/24th scale.(author’s photo collection)

In conclusion, models played a big part in the ushering in of the “Jet Age” by the worlds airlines. Early airline issue models of the first generation jets will continue to be prized by collectors.

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2017 – 65 Years of Commercial Jet Service

Written by Lane Kranz

Commemorating 65 years of commercial airline service is exciting. We have come a long way. The de Havilland Comet, the Boeing 707 and the Douglas DC-8 set the stage for the next generation of the airline industry—the jet age. Looking back at the first passenger flight for these impressive aircraft reveals some interesting details.

On May 2, 1952 British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) was first to market. On this day, BOAC’s maiden flight started a new era in commercial aviation which would usher in a new, faster way of connecting our world. Interesting to note, however, was the passenger capacity of the Comet. It held between 36 and 44 passengers. By today’s standards, that’s the size of a small regional jet. Also interesting to note was the first route– London to Johannesburg. However, due to range limitations of the Comet, the actual route was London-Rome-Beirut, Khartoum (Sudan)-Entebbe (Uganda)- Livingstone (Zambia) – Johannesburg. Travel time was approximately 24 hours. By today’s standards, the same route is operated nonstop by 3 airlines and takes approximately 11 hours.

These junior wings were issued by BOAC and are representative of the type of wings given to children on early BOAC flights.

Next up, it’s America’s turn. On October 26, 1958, Pan American World Airways inaugurated Boeing 707 service between New York and Paris. Although several years behind the de Havilland Comet, the Boeing 707 was much more refined and technically advanced. Interesting to note was the marketing and celebrations prior to entry. Just 10 days before the inaugural flight, Pan Am had a lavish ceremony at Washington National Airport. Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Juan Trippe christened the “first American built jet airliner” as Jet Clipper America.

This rare formal invitation and picture of the event shows the pride and professionalism of Pan Am as well as the excitement of our nation.

These junior wings were representative of the type given to children aboard Pan Am’s early jet flights.

Junior Clipper Pilot and Stewardess.

Junior Clipper Pilot and Stewardess (note all blue background)

Nearly one year later, Douglas celebrated the entry of service with the Douglas DC-8. Although last to service, the DC-8 would far outlive the Comet and the 707 in commercial airline service. In fact, in 2017 you can still see an occasional cargo version of the DC-8 still flying. The DC-8 entered service on September 18, 1959 with both Delta Air Lines and United Airlines. Delta was first by a few hours on the Atlanta – New York route.

These wings are representative of the type of junior wings given to children aboard Delta and United’s early DC-8 flights.

Although Delta introduced the widget in 1959, the DC-8 first flight likely carried the older “Flying D” style wings.

 The more updated widget logo later appeared on Jr. Captain and Jr. Stewardess wings.

United’s Future Pilot and Jr. Stewardess wings.

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Safety on Board

Written by Brian Barron

The launch of modern commercial jets in the late 1950’s are early 1960’s revolutionized air travel. Likewise, the jet age also brought a significant change in Safety Card design and use.

Prior to the jet age, the vast majority of safety cards were geared towards water evacuation and use of life vests. However, these cards were usually limited for aircraft used in trans-oceanic operations. As a result, for aircraft used primarily overland, safety information was usually just a few small paragraphs in a “Welcome Aboard” type booklet or part of a route map.

In this article, we illustrate examples of safety cards issued for the first jets operated by major airlines of the time. The majority of cards featured were issued between 1959 and 1963.

This Northwest Orient EMERGENCY WATER LANDINGS from 1960 features their newly delivered DC-8 as well as DC-6 and DC-7.   The DC-8 was short lived with NW and were replaced by Fan-Jet 707’s by 1963 for trans-pacific operations.  This card was an extension of the”Ditching cards” used in the 1950’s.  In fact, NW used this design from the early 1950’s DC-4 operation and continued to the 707 and 720 fan-jets.

Pan American’s first safety card for the 707 was this large plastic bound card showing basic emergency exit procedures. Interestingly, it is lacking aircraft floorplans. The assumption is this was done to cover both 707 and DC-8 services. The card makes no specific reference to a B-707 or a DC-8.

TWA’s first card for the 707 featured a basic layout with a detailed floorplan.  It is interesting to see how much of the plane was dedicated to First Class in the early glamour days of Jet travel.

TWA’s first Convair 880 followed the same layout as the 707. Many of the early jets did not show how to open the exits.  On the Convair Jets, we can guess this may had something to do with the types notoriously heavy swing out doors.

Northeast Airlines first owned jet was also a Convair 880 .   The format followed close to TWA’s early cards of the era.  As TWA did  most of the heavy maintenance on the NE 880’s it makes sense that they would borrow TWA’s look.

American’s first 707 card had a similar look to TWA, but with a slightly different layout.  The 707 was the only aircraft type featured in this design.   I would think similar cards may exist for the 720 and Convair 990, however I have not seen any.

The next cards for all American jets came out in the mid-60’s  “Astrojet”.  This card was used on all Jet types in the fleet, 707, 720 and Convair 990.   The card indicates there is a ‘minimum of six exits’.  The 720 and 990 would have had 6 exits, while the 707 would have 8.

In my opinion, United had the nicest cards of the U.S. carriers for their early jets.   This DC-8 card featured a nice tail drawing on the cover.  An interesting feature of early jets is that the evacuation slides were often ceiling mounted and required extra handling to bring them into use.  From the mid 60’s onward, it was most common for evacuation slide to be housed in the door for automatic deployment.

The first Caravelle card also followed the same layout.  Unfortunately, these nice “Tail cover” cards would be short-lived.  By 1962, United would adopt its single card style which would be the norm for the fleet until 1977.  The second 720 card also followed this design.

However, United’s first 720 card doesn’t even look like a safety card on the surface.  Instead, it only subtlety brings your attention to  “things you should know.”

Apart from some basic life vest and oxygen use cards, Delta Air Lines did not have any true safety cards prior to the mid 1960’s.   The first known card to feature the Jets was this multi-fold card featuring all planes in the fleet.  There was also a large single card featuring  Delta fleet.  In the illustration above, I have included the panel for the Convair 880.  This card was probably quite confusing for the typical traveler.  In 1967, the FAA adopted a regulation requiring each individual aircraft type to have its own safety card.

National was another airline that used a fleet card  for early  jets. This example features the DC-8, 727 and Electra.  Prior to this there was a basic two-sided card from 1963 that showed only the exit location without any instructions.  One side was the DC-8, the other side featured the Electra.

Going North across the border, Trans Canada also had a fleet card booklet.  This card features several variants of the DC-8 and Vanguard.  Surprisingly, the Viscount was not included in this series of cards.  Take note of the Trans Canada mascot, Mr. Beaver, on this card.

Across the pond to England, BOAC issued many cards featuring the early jets.  Early BOAC jet cards were all fleet cards, but did feature aircraft floorplans. To my knowledge, there are no cards featuring the ill-fated Comet 1.  The above example shows the 707, Comet 4 and the big props of the time.

Iberia in Spain issued this simple card to welcome the DC-8 to the fleet.  Prior to this, Iberia often included their safety information with their Route Map pamphlets.

[Image from collection of Carl Reese]

The above example shows both of Lufthansa’s early Boeing jetliners.   The detailed floorplans and photographs of exits were a nice feature of early LH jet age cards.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines prominently featured this DC-8 graphic on the cover of its early jet age safety cards.   The card also featured prop aircraft and the Caravelle.

Safety cards of First Generation Russian passenger jets are quite rare.   Aeroflot, in fact did not issue safety cards with any regularity until the late 1970’s. The above example is a TU-104 card issued by CSA from Czechoslovakia.

In Africa, South African Airways issued this comical cover design for its early 707 cards. This is the second version.  The card was issued in English and Afrikaans with opposite side printing for each language as shown by the exit plan.

Also, from Africa is this unique card from Sudan Airways featuring it’s Comet 4. As Air India had the Little Maharaj as its mascot, Sudan Airways had Little Hassan.   This design was also used on a Viscount card.

Air India’s first 707 Card was labeled Service and showed a group of travelers enjoy a gourmet meal service while lounging in a life raft.   Something tells me this image would not be politically correct in today’s world.

QANTAS, like Air India and SAA, also used a comical cover for it’s first 707-100 aircraft.  Using the Knight as a mascot,  I assume the suit of armor is to be symbolic of the sturdiness  of the modern jet ??

In Asia, Japan Air Lines had issued several Water landing/Life Vest cards for its prop operations.  However, the earliest DC-8 card we can find is this card from the late 60’s featuring three variants (-30/50, -61, -62).   There is also a CV-880 card in this format.  

Finally, we venture to South America.  VARIG Brasil issued this thick plastic card which was used on board the Boeing 707 along with the DC-8 and Convair 990.  Note the over wing exit marked with an * indicating this exit was not on all aircraft.  (Convair jets only had one set of overwing exits)

LAN Chile issued this nice booklet.  While the image shows only the front and back cover, the interior pages had nicely drawn illustrations.

I hope you enjoyed the above selections.  I welcome any comments and additions to the theme of this article.

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Airline Wings

American Airlines

Written by Charlie Dolan

My connection with American Airlines began on November 9, 1954 when I took my first ride in an airplane between New York City (KLGA) and Washington, D.C. (KDCA) It was my tenth birthday (shared with my twin brother) and our father took us to the nation’s capitol to soak up some history. I forget which aircraft took us south and then north, but one was a Convair and the other a Douglas DC-6. The result was immediate and the aviation bug had bitten.

I began working on my private pilot license while in college and enjoyed “commuting” between home on Long Island and Buffalo, NY with American Airlines doing the lion’s share of my transportation. The routes were operated by various aircraft between 1963-1967 with rides taken on DC-6s, Lockheed Electras, Boeing 727s and the “Pocket Rocket” BAC 1-11 known to AA as the BAC400.

While I was stationed at Montreal’s Dorval Airport (CYUL) I began to collect the insignia of airline “front-end” crewmembers after the demise of Braniff International Airlines. Shortly after I began asking crews how I could go about obtaining wings and cap badges, I was contacted by Captain Dick Koran of AA. In no time at all, a long lasting friendship developed.

Dick was a wealth of information and we spent many evening together, swapping brass and lies, whenever he had a Montreal RON.

Now to the topic of American Airlines insignia. Recently, AA switched to a new set of wings and cap badges to replace the silver insignia which had been in use for just over fifty years.

I have not had an opportunity to closely examine the new pilot wing and cap badge, but my natural resistance to change left me less than enthusiastic. They seem small in comparison to the last issue, but I may get used to them.

I believe that American’s first wings were the generic U S Air Mail wings worn by many carriers which transported the mail. There was also a “MATE” wing worn by co-pilots.

   

The first American Air cap had A”AMERICAN AIRWAYS” embroidered on the headband just below the A A and eagle gold badge. This was later changed to “AMERICAN AIRLINES”

During this period American issued its first AA wing which had a flat disc under the A A and eagle.

In 1934, AA issued wing insignia which designated pilot qualifications (pilot, captain, supervisory captain / check pilot) until 1946 the eagle was facing to the left as you looked at the wing.

In 1946, the eagle was reversed and began facing right as you looked at the wing.

As American began operating larger, more complex, aircraft a flight engineer was added to the crew.

During the war years, American Airlines pilots assisted the military by operating ferry flights and non-combat missions in support of the war effort. There is a photo of Ernest K. Gann, wearing an Army air Force leather flying suit with the American Airlines cap. It was shortly after this photo was taken that Capt. Gann left AA to join the short lived Matson Line.

The hat was changed in 1949 and removed the “AMERICAN AIRLINES” from the headband and added a gold bullion wreath to surround the now gold bullion thread eagle.  These insignia lasted into the jet-age, when the gold gave way to the silver insignia.

   

 

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American Airlines Junior Wings

Written by Lane Kranz

Over the past 80 years, American Airlines has issued nearly two dozen different junior wings. Over the years, the junior wings tell a story. From the proud early years American issued metal wings, followed by plastic wings in the post-deregulation years, followed by no junior wings in the post 9/11 and bankruptcy years, followed by a cookie-cutter junior wing currently in circulation. There have also been some extremely rare and hard-to-find wings issued perhaps by mistake or perhaps in a short-lived trial run. Either way, all of these wings are important to junior wing collectors.

The oldest AA junior wing and one of the rarest wings in the world.

The newest and current issue AA junior wing.

An American junior wing in the shape of a wing (what a great idea!).

The pin-back version of the all-silver, large font AA wing.

The common AA junior wing, followed by a rare ‘mistake wing’ with the red letter on the right, followed by the all-silver version of this wing.

The sticky-back versions of the large font AA wings.

The metal junior stewardess wings in silver and gold.

The metal junior pilot in silver and gold.

The metal AA wing in silver and gold. Interesting to note that these wings were the last of the wings that were issued in both silver and gold. All subsequent wings were silver.

The cloth patch with sticky back version.

The rare Miss Stewardess AA wings in both silver and bronze.

A novelty item and perhaps airline issued AA hat pin.

A novelty item and perhaps cereal box issue, 3 AA plastic pins in blue, green, and brown that includes a fuselage perhaps of a Boeing 707.

A few “new finds” to pass along. Allegiant, Aegean Airlines (Greece), and Alaska Airlines have issued new junior wings. Note the blue and green colors in Alaska’s new wing. Many thanks to Dave Cherkis and Bryan Mellon.

Keep on Collecting!

Lane

Written by Lane Kranz

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Trans World Airlines A Book of Memories

This review column focuses on both current and older books on commercial aviation topics.
Written by Shea Oakley.

Trans World Airlines A Book of Memories: TWA Employees and Friends Tell the Story of an Iconic Company

By Jon Proctor and Jeff Kriendler
Bluewater Press
ISBN 13:978-1-60452-122-1
265 Pages

Recent years have seen a number of books of this type published. They belong to what might be considered to be a new genre that I call, “employee –driven airline histories.”  In addition to the volume being reviewed here, there have been two other books produced in the same basic format on Eastern and Pan Am by separate publishers. The co-author of this one, Jeff Kriendler, was also co-author for the Pan Am history. The TWA book is the latest of the three having been published earlier this year.

What sets these books apart from other printed chronicles of major airlines is the fact that each chapter is a separate story about some aspect of the company told by either a former employee or a “friend”, often a passenger, of the subject airline. Two other distinctive aspects of the genre are the choice of only defunct carriers as subject matter and the presence of a large number of color images sourced from one or two well-known longtime airliner photographers (this book’s co-author Jon Proctor and/or George Hamlin being the photographers in question in at least two of the three books mentioned).

After 75 years of continuous operation, TWA was the target of a successful 2001 takeover attempt by American. It was a logical early subject for an employee-driven airline history as it was one of the original “Big Four” U.S. trunk carriers. Also, for many years, it was the only domestic company that had an extensive international route system. Beyond those claims to fame additionally Trans World was an airline known to have a certain glamour and spirit that set it a bit apart from other pioneering carriers.  This was often rightly or wrongly attributed to TWA’s longtime owner, a man who was at least as iconic as the airline he ruled for many years-the eccentric and reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes.

The book’s 61 chapters cover a myriad of stories told by Trans World insiders. Just a sampling of subjects include encounters with Hughes, flying famous passengers (including the Pope), operated aircraft types, hijackings, accidents, humorous stories from both flight and ground crews, and a number of pieces about upper management from the perspective of TWA executives through the years. Also included is plenty of material pertaining to the one larger carrier that was acquired by TWA, St. Louis-based Ozark, and even coverage of its hotel subsidiary of many years, Hilton.

If you have an interest in this historic and storied airline, it is fair to say that this book should become part of your library. About my only two caveats would be that I would have preferred it to be printed on glossier stock for better photo reproduction (though this is, admittedly, an expensive proposition for independent publishers) and copy-editing for grammar errors might have been tighter. Happily, a planned further print run will give the authors the opportunity to fully perfect what is otherwise a book well worth owning.

Availability: Copies of this book can be ordered for $29.95 each from Jeff Kriendler, 5600 Collins Avenue, Suite 14P Miami Beach, FL 33140. Shipping and handling are included.

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Douglas Factory Models

Written by Jim Striplin

Airline issued models, otherwise known as “Airline Counter Models” or “Travel Agency Models”, have always been source of fascination for Airline enthusiasts.  These models were manufactured for the Airlines by many notable model builders going back as far as the 1920s.  These models were first made of wood and were later constructed of aluminum and modern plastics.

In this first article, I have decided to feature the models produced for the Airlines by the Douglas Aircraft Corporation, commonly referred to as Douglas Factory Models or DFMs.  The Douglas Aircraft Corporation, was of course, one of the greatest Aircraft manufacturers of the 20th Century.  Douglas also had the foresight to provide its customers with very high quality models for sales promotion and advertising.   Models were given to Airline companies that purchased airplanes from Douglas.  Extra models could be purchased by an Airline to be displayed in Airport terminals, Airline ticket offices, and Travel Agencies.

Donald Douglas, Jr., the son of company president Donald Douglas, Sr., is said to have taken an interest in establishing a factory model shop about the time the DC-2 was being developed.  A Douglas factory worker, Victor Pastushin, a Russian immigrant, was at the same time already producing ashtray type models on his own.  Pastusian is likely to have had some influence on Douglas management, and Donald Douglas, Jr. in starting a factory model shop.  (Victor Pastushin will be the subject of a future article on “Airline Ashtray Models”) Donald Douglas, Jr. has always been credited with the establishment of the Douglas Factory Model Shop, which, however, was always kept as a separate entity by Douglas, Jr. from the Douglas Aircraft Corporation itself.

The first Douglas Model Shop has always been believed to be operated in the Douglas Aircraft Santa Monica, California plant.  It is unclear, however, if there was an actual Aluminum foundry located on Factory premises.  An Aluminum foundry incorporates a furnace to melt Aluminum that is then poured into sand molds.  More than likely a foundry located somewhere in the Los Angeles basin, already producing airplane parts for Douglas, did the actual casting.  Workers at the model shop would then laboriously file out and hand polish the sandcast models before the applying paint and decals.

The same Zinc Chromate primer, and finish enamel paint used on real Douglas aircraft, were used in finishing the models. Decals were produced using high quality water transfer decal sheet and Airline livery colors were applied using the silk screen process.

It is known that the DC-2, DC-3 and DC-4 models were actual sand castings.  Beginning with the DC-6 models, very expensive permanent molds, made of tool steel, were used to cast the models.  A sand core was placed inside the fuselage mold to make the model hollow, and lighter.  Permanent molds were used to cast all models from the DC-6 to the DC-8-63.  Most of the Douglas models were cast in 1/50th scale.  This scale was the most common size desired by Airlines and Travel Agencies.  1/72nd models were also produced but were less popular.  The early DC-2 models were produced in larger scales. It should be noted that the Douglas factory also produced models of its Military aircraft (C-124s, C-133s, B-66s, etc.).

The Douglas factory produced Aluminum models from 1934 to 1966.  After 1966 Douglas models were produced by a company called Marketing Aids located in Anaheim, California.  Marketing Aids produced mainly DC-9s, DC-8-63s, and DC-10s in fiberglass and plastics.  Marketing Aids inherited a great number of unfinished Aluminum models (blanks) from Douglas, along with a huge inventory of Douglas factory decals.  They also had acquired many leftover finished Aluminum models, some of which were sold to private individuals.  With the merger of Douglas with McDonnell (forming McDonnell-Douglas) in April of 1967, the era of the Douglas model came to an end.  Marketing Aids continued to produce some models for McDonnell-Douglas for a short time.  The remaining inventory of Aluminum Douglas model blanks, decal sheets, and fiberglass models were either sold off or simply thrown away.

In conclusion, the models produced by the Douglas factory, and later Marketing Aids, are highly regarded by collectors and Airline historians.  Noted for accuracy and correct scale, they are a prized addition to any model airliner collection.

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American Airlines Timetables

American Airlines – An Abbreviated Timetable History

Written by David Keller

One of the most renown and enduring names in the history of commercial aviation is that of American Airlines. While many other pioneers of the airline industry have fallen by the wayside, American has persevered for over 8 decades, surviving economic collapse, wartime, and terrorist attacks.

The seeds that would eventually sprout and combine to form American Airlines were sown in the 1920’s. Like many of the US trunk carriers, American’s formation resulted from an amalgamation of dozens of small, short-lived entities that were acquired by other companies in an error to stitch together a nationwide air network.

One such airline was Colonial Air Transport, which operated between New York and Boston, as depicted on the June 1, 1929 timetable. Colonial also had divisions known as Colonial Western and Canadian Colonial, which operated to Cleveland and Montreal respectively.

   

Another of those early lines was Universal Air Lines. The timetable dated November 1, 1929 shows 5 divisions being operated, representing airlines which had been added to the Universal system in the past few years. Universal and Colonial were quickly gobbled up by The Aviation Corporation, which began operating as American Airways in 1930.

   

The February 10, 1930 American Airways/Universal Division timetable is one of the earliest to display the American Airways name. Other timetables were still being issued for the other divisions, and the only logo appearing on the timetable is that of Universal Air Lines.

    

By mid-1931, American Airways had started using an early version of the familiar AA logo with the eagle, although timetables were still issued by division. The illustrated timetables from the Universal and Embry-Riddle Divisions show that a standard format was being used across the system. Additionally, each has a promotional message on the back entitled, “A Nationwide Network of Airlines”, to promote the American Airways system as a single entity.

The October 17, 1931 issue dispenses with the individual divisions and, with the exception of Alaskan operations, brings everything together into a single timetable. The route map shows the carrier’s (somewhat circuitous) transcontinental network.

           

The timetable dated February 1, 1934 was issued shortly before the Federal government decided to cancel all airmail contracts later that month. Air Mail contracts were the lifeblood of the industry and the survival of the airlines operating those contracts was put into serious jeopardy by this action.

     

After a few disastrous months of having the air mail routes flown by the military, new contracts were awarded, with the caveat that those possessing the cancelled contracts, would not be eligible to bid on the new ones. The existing airlines simply altered their names to become “new” applicants, and ended up receiving contracts that closely resembled those they had lost a few months prior. The June 15, 1934 timetable shows the carrier now operating as “American Airlines”, albeit with the same logo employed under the prior name. This timetable also contains an ad for Curtis Condor sleeper service. New aircraft were on the horizon, and the Condor would only remain in service for a few years.

  

The most significant of those new types was none other than the Douglas DC-3. A development of the DC-2, American was the first airline to place the Three into service in June of 1936. The timetable dated June 1, 1936 has several pages dedicated to the new aircraft and promotes the new services starting “on or about” June 25th.

   

   

By 1941, the varied types used in the mid-30’s were gone, frequencies were increasing and the entire schedule was operated with Douglas equipment, either “Skysleepers” or 21 passenger “Flagship Clubs”. Based on that, it appears that the small fleet of DC-2’s the carrier operated prior to the introduction of the DC-3, had already been phased out.

   

The timetable dated August 1, 1942 shows the impact of the United States entry into World War II. The timetable dispenses with the red, white and blue covers that had been a staple since the mid-1930’s, and also shows reduced services resulting from many of the carrier’s aircraft being put into wartime roles.

   

After the end of the war, American and the other US airlines were clamoring for newer, larger equipment. In March of 1946, American Airlines began service with the Douglas DC-4. The timetable dated March 27, 1946 shows DC-4’s operating American’s “Mercury” transcontinental service.

   

The following year saw the DC-6 enter service with American. The timetable dated April 27, 1947 promotes one-stop transcontinental service “starting soon”, with service already being offered between Chicago and New York. This type proved to be popular with the airline, and was utilized until the mid-1960’s, making it the last piston-powered type to be retired from American’s fleet.

   

Continuing the rapid succession of new equipment introductions, American became the first operator of the Convair 240 in early 1948. In just over a year, the Convairs had replaced the DC-3 on the shorter segments, and the timetable dated April 24, 1949 shows the schedule operated entirely by the DC-6 and Convairs.

   

   

Another facet of American’s operations after the war was its Transatlantic services via American Overseas Airlines, made possible by the acquisition of American Export Airlines in 1945. DC-4s, Constellations and Stratocruisers flew for AOA before American sold the division to Pan Am in 1950. The Transatlantic Service timetable dated May 1, 1948 depicts a Constellation, which was operating “Mercury” services to Europe.

In 1953, American was once again the first to introduce a new type with the introduction of DC-7 service in November, 1953. The November 1, 1953 timetable contains a full page promotion for the aircraft, despite the fact that it wasn’t slated to enter service until November 29th. The DC-7 enabled American to offer the first nonstop transcontinental service in both directions. (TWA began eastbound-only nonstop service a few months earlier.)

   

January, 1959 saw the simultaneous introductions of American’s first turboprop and pure-jet types. The January 23, 1959 timetable shows the Lockheed Electra operating between New York and Chicago, with service to Detroit following shortly thereafter. The Electra served in American’s fleet for approximately 10 years, before being retired in the interest of an all-jet fleet.

The same timetable also shows the introduction of the Boeing 707 on the New York to Los Angeles run. Flight times were 4 ½ hours eastbound, with the return trip requiring an additional hour. Being the first to operate jet service domestically, the 707 received a full-page promotion, while the Electra didn’t receive any mention at all.

In the summer of 1960, the Boeing 720 entered service with American. This was a shorter, lighter, reduced-range version of the 707 designed for routes not requiring a 707’s capabilities.

For all the advantages the early jets offered by cutting flying times, they were actually somewhat underpowered. A step toward remedying this situation came in the form of the turbofan engine, which had greater thrust and did not require water injection which was utilized by the early turbojets. The timetable dated February 5, 1961 contains a promotion for the introduction of the new fanjet-powered 707, which the carrier dubbed “Astrojet”. Besides taking new deliveries of the fanjet 707s, American decided to convert all of their previously-received aircraft to the “B” standard, with fanjet engines. This timetable also shows the carrier differentiating between the 707s and 720s in its fleet, although this would be short-lived, and all aircraft in the 707/720 family would soon be generically identified as 707s in the timetables.

    

Joining the Boeings in 1962 was General Dynamics’ Convair 990. Although the 990 was intended to be a fast aircraft capable of transcontinental operations, the promised performance was never achieved, and as the April 29, 1962 timetable illustrates, they were utilized on shorter routes. The 990 only remained in the American fleet for about 6 years.

   

As the manufacturers shifted their focus to smaller jetliners, American signed up for Boeing’s model 727. The new trijet went into service in April of 1964 between Chicago and New York. The routes that appeared in American’s quick reference specified all of the jet equipment as “Astrojets”, so it isn’t possible to determine which flights were being operated by the 727. However, one of those flights continued to Dallas, and is shown in the columnar section of the timetable where the jet types were specified individually. Although there are no promotions for the 727 in this timetable, the October 5, 1964 timetable does have a full page ad for the 727, which was fulfilling a new schedule of 5 roundtrips between Cleveland and New York.

   

   

Continuing the trend towards smaller jets, American also purchased the British Aircraft Corporation One-Eleven to serve on short hauls. The 1-11 was placed into service on March 6, 1966 between New York and Toronto. Although largely used for high-frequency services from New York, the twinjets would eventually operate as far afield as Dallas. In the end, the 1-11 was another short-timer in American’s fleet, and disappeared from the schedule by early 1972.

   

The Trans-Pacific route case was a political football that had been kicked through 4 presidential administrations, with recommendations being made only to be later overturned. The case finally concluded in 1969, which resulted in American receiving route authority to Hawaii with continuing service to the South Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand.

The timetable dated October 1, 1969 shows displays a pineapple on the cover and has a “Pacific Here We Come” promotion on the back cover. However, service wouldn’t actually start on the new routes until the following August. The August 1, 1970 timetable contains a special supplement highlighting the new service. In the mid-1970’s American swapped these routes to Pan Am, receiving Caribbean routes in exchange.

   

   

As much as the race was on to inaugurate jet flights in the late 1950’s, 1970 was a competition to offer 747 service. American’s initial 747s weren’t due until the Summer of 1970, but to avoid losing ground to TWA (which inaugurated service in February), American utilized leased aircraft from Pan Am, and was able to start transcontinental 747 service in early March, only a few weeks after TWA. The March 2, 1970 timetable touts the new service with several promotional mentions.

   

The following March, American completed the acquisition of Trans Caribbean Airways, gaining routes to 6 Caribbean destinations. The March 2, 1971 shows some of those flights still being operated with DC-8 aircraft formerly operated by Trans Caribbean. (Those would quickly be replaced by American’s own 707s.)

   

American’s next widebodied type, the DC-10, went in to service in 1971. Despite being the first carrier to place the DC-10 into service on the Los Angeles – Chicago run in August, the July 6, 1971 timetable contains no acknowledgement of the new aircraft. (It does have a very nice color centerfold promotion for the 747, though!) The September 13, 1971 does feature the DC-10 on the cover.

   

   

Late 1973 saw the airline industry reacting to the shock of the Arab Oil Embargo, which reduced the availability of jet fuel, eventually resulting in carriers operating with reduced fuel allocations. Airlines quickly grounded many of their gas-guzzlers, which were generally either older first-generation jets or 747s, in favor of smaller types. The October 28, 1973 timetable, which was printed before the Embargo was announced, features a DC-10 on the cover, and 12 daily 747 departures from Chicago. In the January 7, 1974 timetable (which features 727s on the cover), many schedule changes were made, including the removal of many 747’s from active service. In this issue, there were no longer any 747 services being offered to Chicago.

   

The Airline Deregulation Act was passed in 1978, allowing airlines much more freedom to set fares and enter new markets. The initial flurry of new route applications was for dormant route authority, plus each airline was allowed entry on one route of its choosing. While most airlines proudly announced new routes in their December timetables, American waited until their January 20, 1979 timetable to inaugurate the new services. (However, none of the new cities appear on the route map in this issue.)

In the deregulated environment of the 1980’s, the airlines focused on expansion, both through mergers and the creation of hubs.   Much of American’s expansion was achieved by adding international routes to its network. In the summer of 1982, American was awarded its first European route connecting Dallas/Ft. Worth and London, courtesy of Braniff International’s bankruptcy. The June 1, 1982 timetable shows the new service, although it only merited a one-line blurb on the route map page.

    

Later in 1982, American put the Boeing 767 into service, its first new model in over a decade. The November 1, 1982 timetable dedicates most of the back cover to promote the inaugural service, unfortunately, equipment was not being specified in order to determine which flights the 767 was actually operating.

   

The following summer, another new aircraft joined the fleet, this time a McDonnell Douglas offering, the MD-80 (dubbed Super 80 by American and other carriers). These planes arrived as part of a small order on very favorable terms, in the hope that the carrier would be pleased and order more. This worked out very well for the manufacturer, as American would eventually amass a fleet of over 300 MD-80s.

   

Most airlines have “regional” code-sharing partners nowadays, and American’s November 1, 1984 shows the modest beginnings of American Eagle. Seven destinations were served from Dallas/Ft. Worth, operated by Metro Airlines. Today, American Eagle services are provided by around 10 airlines operating hundreds of aircraft, most of which are regional jets.

   

American was one of the more aggressive airlines in the hub-building arena. In addition to its major hub operations in Chicago and Dallas, the April 15, 1986 timetable shows the creation of a new hub in Nashville. American initially operated 20 routes from Nashville, with 9 additional routes being flown by American Eagle.

   

By the spring of 1987, American was serving 8 European destinations, but had yet to acquire highly-coveted routes to Asia. In the April 5, 1987 timetable, American was finally able to boast a new Tokyo route, with flights beginning in May. Because American did not have aircraft capable of operating nonstop from its Dallas/Ft. Worth hub to Tokyo, a pair of TWA 747SPs were acquired to handle the service.

   

The June 15, 1987 timetable saw American engaging in substantial service expansion on both sides of the country. In the east, a new north/south hub had been created at Raleigh/Durham with new service to 35 cities. And in the west, American had acquired AirCal, with those flights being effective on July 1.

   

The December 17, 1988 timetable shows American building San Jose into a north/south hub on the West Coast. This was part of the “H” route strategy that was thought to be the key to success, having strong north/south route networks in place on the coasts, connected by east/west transcontinental service.

   

In the summer of 1990, American greatly expanded its international network with the addition of Latin American routes previously operated by Eastern Airlines. The June 15, 1990 timetable details the new service, which would eventually result in an American hub being set up in an almost unthinkable location – Miami!

   

A little under 20 years after inaugurating DC-10 service, American put the MD-11 into service between San Jose and Tokyo. The MD-11 was essentially a stretched DC-10 (with other improvements), but needed a new model number due to a series of high-profile DC-10 accidents. American (like many of the other MD-11 customers) was not overly pleased with the aircraft, and sold the entire fleet to Fedex.

   

By the early 1990’s, American was performing hub operations in 7 locations; San Jose, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Chicago, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Miami and San Juan. The first of these to falter was San Jose, with American making arrangements for Reno Air to replace it in a number of markets. The timetable dated July 1, 1993 shows a good portion of San Jose services discontinued as of July 15th. Ironically, in 1999, American would purchase Reno Air, thereby reacquiring many routes it had surrendered.

   

In 2001, American absorbed a much larger carrier, as it merged with the long-ailing TWA. The July 2, 2001 timetable shows the TWA logo with the moniker “An American Airlines Company” beneath it. Unfortunately, events that unfolded later in the year resulted in most of the routes, aircraft and personnel acquired in the merger being shed shortly thereafter.

   

The darkest day in American’s history came later that year, on September 11th, as two of its aircraft were deliberately crashed, taking the lives of all on board and many on the ground. The first timetable issued after the attacks was the December 15, 2001 edition, displaying the very subdued cover design that would be used on the remaining timetables until the cessation of publication the following summer.

The age of the printed timetable had largely ended, but September 11th didn’t cause the airlines to stop issuing printed timetables, it merely hastened what technology was making inevitable. Several airlines had already stopped printing for prolonged periods (including American, which did not issue a timetable for most of 1999), only to restart publication later.

The past 15 years have been difficult ones for American, as the carrier struggled financially while watching United and Delta grow with their acquisitions of Continental and Northwest, respectively, But American’s recent merger into US Airways (which retained the American name), has vaulted it past it’s competition and made it the world’s largest passenger-carrying airline. The “AA” that graced the airways for some eighty five years will soon be history, but the eagle soars on.

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American Airlines Playing Cards

Written by Luc Mertens

Please allow me to introduce myself as the successor to Fred Chan as Editor of the Playing Cards Section.

I worked for a major manufacturer of playing cards worldwide for 34 years.  In those 34 years I travelled about 5 million miles for the company visting all continents.

As a “professional disease” I started to ask for playing cards on the airplanes and consequently I had a nice collection before I got to know Trev Davis and Fred Chan through some collector friends.  Then the ball really started rolling and now my collection counts for over 4,000 different decks….

In my career I was also a platinum member of American Airlines for a several years so I have known this airline for a long time.

American Airlines was an early legacy carrier and has put out playing cards since 1944 (Figure 1).  In total so far American Airlines has issued, to our knowledge, 75 different decks of playing cards carrying the AA logo.  The subsidiary company American Eagle also issued 3 different decks of which the inaugural flight to Las Vegas is a tough one to find (see Figure 2).

AA always have been very strong in displaying their name and logo on the cards as shown in Figure 3 through Figure 8 .

Recently right after the US Airways merger, AA came out with a deck of playing cards which was a generic deck in a plastic case carrying the AA logo (Figure 9).  This was a disappointment to the collectors and not in line with the old style of issuing playing cards as part of their marketing campaigns ((see 242-A)) .

Another issue AA(L) recently came out with, was a joint deck with their global partner Qantas (Figure 10).

Also shown is the most recent known American Airlines deck, issued on 500 decks only, in a cooperation between the AA museum and one of the playing card collectors. (Figure 11?)

Figure 1   Figure 2   Figure 3

Figure 4   Figure 5   Figure 6

Figure 7   Figure 8   Figure 9

Figure 10   AAL-243-A

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American Airlines Etiquettes

Written by Arthur H. Groten M.D.

American Airlines, as we know it today, first appeared as such in 1934 after E.L. Cord of automotive fame acquired American Airways and renamed it. They worked closely with Donald Douglas to develop the DC-3, the first airplane to carry passengers at a profit without subsidy for mail handling. They were instrumental in establishing LaGuardia Airport.

I shall look at the etiquettes they issued prior to the post-war acquisition, in 1948, of American Export Airlines to form American Overseas Airlines, sold to Pan Am in 1950.

All American Airlines labels were either arrow-shaped or a horizontal hexagon. The first appeared in 1937, claiming “Tomorrow’s Mail Today.” This slogan appeared on all but two of the 8 and two of those in Spanish (Figures 6 & 7 which differ in the size of the lettering). The first four separated “American” and “Airlines” with their flying eagle logo (Figures 1-4); thereafter that logo was omitted.

As you will note in the illustrations, several have “NC136” or NC136A’ on the right wing (Figures 2, 3, 5 & 8). I do not know the significance of this. Perhaps a member can enlighten me.

The first of the two covers I show is from Chicago in 1939 to San Francisco and forwarded within that city, using the first etiquette produced (Figure 9). The 16¢ stamp paid the 6¢ airmail postage and the 10¢ special delivery fee. The second, a postcard, was sent from Mexico using the Spanish-language label. (Figure 10)

The study of American Airlines etiquettes can be extended to include their many early subsidiaries as well as those issued after the War. The last etiquette appeared in 1962.

Figure-1    Figure-2    Figure-3

Figure-4   Figure-5   Figure-6

Figure-7   Figure-8

Figure-9   Figure-10

 

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