Aviation Historian 18
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D.Stringer - Ted Baker & National Airlines
The arrival of new Vice-President Walter Sternberg in 1949 led to a revised marketing strategy for National, with “The Buccaneer Route” supplanted by “The Airline of the Stars”, and a brand new colour scheme. Delivered in April 1946, DC-4 N33683 (c/n 42922) served with National until late 1952, when it was sold to Japan Air Lines.
The first of National’s Douglas DC-8s, N6571C (c/n 45391) in a 1960 promotional shot showing off the company’s elegant new jet-era colour scheme.
National DC-6B N8225H (c/n 43742) was lost under mysterious circumstances on January 6, 1960, when a bomb was allegedly detonated aboard Flight 2511, a 707 replacement service from New York to Miami. The wreckage was found in North Carolina. It is thought a suicide bomber was responsible, but the FBI case remains open to this day.
With the new colour scheme, National’s “Buccaneer 400s” became “DC-6 Stars”, and a pair are seen here at Miami in July 1959. The nearest, DC-6B N8222H (c/n 43739), was delivered to National in October 1952 and wears the post-1949 colour scheme, with the “Airline of the Stars” legend applied on both front and rear of the fuselage.
With the substantial expansion of its routes from 1944, National undertook a programme of modernisation, introducing the most up-to-date airliners on its services, including, from July 1947, the 58-passenger Douglas DC-6, redesignated with Baker’s characteristic hubris as the “Buccaneer 400”, as seen on the forward fuselage.
National Airlines DC-7B N6201B sails majestically above the clouds after the airline’s acquisition of the type in 1957.
Douglas DC-7Bs (a long-range version of the DC-7 with extra fuel tankage) arrived at National from late 1957. This example, N6202B (c/n 45363) was delivered to National on October 15, 1957, and operated with the air­line until 1964, when it was acquired by the wonderfully-named Emerald Shillelagh Chowder & Marching Society.
By the end of the 1950s National’s domestic route network extended as far north as Boston, where Convair 340 N8413H (c/n 115) is seen here awaiting its next flight. The CV-340 entered National service in 1953 as part of the company’s ongoing modernisation programme, and most had been withdrawn from service and sold by the beginning of the 1960s.
Following National’s programme of modernisation the company’s Lodestars continued to work hard on the airline’s services. Lodestar N45324 (c/n 2260), seen here in the post-1949 colour scheme, joined National in January 1946 and was sold in South America when the company finally withdrew the type in the spring of 1959.
National’s Executive Secretary Robert Forman (third from right) hands the Mayor of St Petersburg, Florida, a letter of congratulation from New York City’s Mayor LaGuardia and Jacksonville’s Mayor Whitehead, expressing goodwill on the airline’s newly-established link between the three cities, at Pinellas Army Air Field in early 1944.
National Airlines groundcrew load mail aboard a Lockheed Lodestar with the help of a company tricycle. Note the refuelling truck, also emblazoned with full National Airlines titles. National acquired the first of its total of 17 Lodestars in November 1940.
With its c/n, 2039, stencilled on the nose, Lodestar NC25687 is probably seen here in California before its delivery to National on November 6, 1940. The type was brand new, the first purpose-built L-18 having made its maiden flight in February 1940
Another photograph of NC25687, again probably before delivery, this time showing off the clean lines which gave the Lodestar a distinct speed advantage over the bigger - and considerably more comfortable - DC-3. Note the legend ‘‘The Buccaneer Route” above the windows on the fuselage and the Air Mail routes (31 and 39) marked on the starboard fin.
A 1940 magazine advertisement for National Airlines’ Lodestar services, by then stretching from the southern tip of Florida to New Orleans.
Lockheed L-1049H “Super H” Constellation N7132C (c/n 4829), seen here in “Super Club Coach” configuration at Idlewild in July 1959, was delivered factory-fresh to National in September 1957 and served with the airline until 1963. As a 1957 brochure stated: “National flies the world’s most modern airliners - radar-equipped of course!”.