Aviation Historian 29
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J.Proctor - TWA's Skyliners
The introduction of the Martinliners saw the progressive replacement of the DC-3 in TWA service, the latter finally being withdrawn from scheduled service in early 1953. Nevertheless, N86544, used mainly for pilot instrument checks, was pressed into action on July 21, 1954, to replace a 4-0-4 on a Los Angeles-San Francisco-Los Angeles service.
Martin 4-0-4 N40424 taxies past a Chicago Helicopter Airways Sikorsky S-58 at Chicago-Midway in July 1959. A total of 103 4-0-4s was built; 60 for Eastern Air Lines, 41 for TWA and two for the US Coast Guard as VIP transports, designated RM-1Zs.
Martin 2-0-2A N93206, named Skyliner Phoenix in TWA service, at Newark, New Jersey, with the distinctive Federal Trust and Lefcourt buildings in the background. The 2-0-2As were withdrawn from TWA services from 1958, with N93206 going first to Pacific Air Lines that year before being sold to Allegheny the following June.
An early TWA promotional shot of Martin 2-0-2A N93201, named Skyliner San Francisco and given Fleet Number “211”. Delivered to the airline on July 14, 1950, it served until April 1958, when it was acquired by Allegheny Airlines.
San Francisco-based Pacific Air Lines acquired eight ex-TWA 4-0-4s for use predominantly on the San Joaquin Valley route between Los Angeles and San Francisco and Oakland. Pacific fitted its “Four O Fours”, as the airline dubbed them, with weather radar, hence the modified nose shape.
Martin 4-0-4 N40424 taxies past a Chicago Helicopter Airways Sikorsky S-58 at Chicago-Midway in July 1959. A total of 103 4-0-4s was built; 60 for Eastern Air Lines, 41 for TWA and two for the US Coast Guard as VIP transports, designated RM-1Zs.
Displaying the type’s steerable nosewheel to good effect, 4-0-4 N40401 prepares to board its next flight of passengers. In February 1960 Sky liner Baltimore lost a wheel on take-off at Chicago and had to make a belly-landing at NAS Olathe, Kansas. It was ultimately written off after a propeller reversal during a single-engined landing at Wilmington, North Carolina, in August 1962.
A rampful of TWA 4-0-4s - and one Constellation - on a very cold day at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Nearest the camera is N40424, named Skyliner Toledo while with TWA, delivered on June 20, 1952, and flying its first service the same day. It plied its trade with TWA for a decade before going on to Piedmont in February 1962.
The first production 4-0-4, N40401, named Skyliner Baltimore, was delivered to TWA only on February 19, 1952, three months after its first 4-0-4 delivery, N40403, the previous November. Unlike the 2-0-2As, which were initially bare metal with TWA stripes and titles, the 4-0-4s were in the company’s distinctive white-fuselage scheme from the outset.
The launch customer for the Martin 2-0-2 was Northwest Airlines, which began services with the type in October 1947. This example, NX93037, was unusual in that it was initially built with a smaller fin and reduced dorsal fin, and outer wing sections without the type’s standard pronounced dihedral, as seen here. It crashed on a training flight in Minnesota in October 1950.
The prototype 4-0-4 was in fact the second 2-0-2 prototype, NX93002, which was modified initially to become the 2-0-2A prototype in August 1947. Modified again in 1950 to the new 4-0-4 standard but without pressurisation and re-registered NX40400, the de facto 4-0-4 prototype made its maiden flight on October 21, 1950, and remained with Martin thereafter.
Originally part of Northwest’s 2-0-2 fleet, N93043 was acquired by Transocean Air Lines in August 1951 and was operated by the airline on behalf of Japan Air Lines from that October until it crashed into the volcanic Mount Mihara on the Japanese island of Izu Oshima on April 9, 1952.
With its aft ventral airstair extended, 4-0-4 N40439, named Skyliner Johnson City, awaits its next complement of passengers at San Francisco after its introduction into service in September 1952. The airstair was hydraulically operated and completely self-contained, a boon on some of the more remote stops.
Many of the former TWA Martinliners went on to have extended careers with second-line operators, including 4-0-4 N40428, previously Skyliner South Bend, which was acquired by the Outboard Marine Corp of Waukegan, Illinois, in January 1960 and used as an executive transport. The type was little-seen in Europe, however, Frank Sinatra’s N40434, named Christina, being a rare exception.
“It’s swift. .. it’s luxurious ... it’s spacious” - TWA’s brochure issued for the introduction of the “Martin Skyliner” extols the 2-0-2A’s virtues in no uncertain terms; “It gets you where you’re going fast - and on time!”
TWA “Martin Skyliner” timetable dated September 1, 1950.