Aviation Historian 25
D.Stringer - The Viscount comes to America (2)
Douglas DC-6B N90961 was delivered to Continental in January 1955, although it was actually operated and maintained by United Air Lines - note the dual markings on the fin - to fulfil interchange (through-flight) arrangements between the two airlines. Another DC-6B was used for a similar arrangement with American Airlines.
The first of Continental’s 15 V812s was N240V (c/n 353), which made its maiden flight on February 14, 1958, and was delivered to the airline that May, named Los Angeles. It was sold to the Tennessee Gas Transmission Corp in August 1960.
Gleaming in its newly-applied Continental Airlines scheme, factory-fresh Viscount V.812 N248V (c/n 360) attracts the attention of press and public alike at the SBAC show at Farnborough in 1958.
The immaculately attired crew of a Continental Airlines “Viscount II” prepare to board circa 1958.
Proudly wearing Continental’s new black-and-gold livery, originally introduced by the airline’s 707s on their entry into service in the summer of 1959, N246V (c/n 359) is prepared for a flight at Los Angeles. The Viscounts did not immediately have the new scheme applied, but were gradually repainted, some retaining the original red and blue scheme well into 1961-62.
In early 1958 the CAB awarded Continental authority for some 2,800 miles (4,500km) of new non-stop routes in Texas and New Mexico, bringing Viscount services to many towns in both states, including Dallas, where Viscount Ils N246V and N253V are seen here, with the distinctive Braniff hangar at Love Field in the background.
A Continental stewardess leads passengers down the integral airstairs of Viscount II N241V, named Chicago, and on to the specially prepared gold carpet and velvet rope at Los Angeles in May 1959. Within a few years, the Viscounts were superseded on Continental’s long-haul sectors by 707s, and this aircraft was sold to Australian airline Ansett-ANA in 1960.
In April 1966 Continental’s remaining fleet of 11 V.812s (two had been sold, and two lost in accidents) were sold to UK airline Channel Airways, which also acquired the entirety of Continental’s stock of Viscount spares and ground equipment as part of the $6-8m (£2-5m) deal. Formerly N244V, G-ATUE flew Channel Airways’ inaugural Viscount service in May 1966, the colour scheme remaining much the same.
As 707s began taking over Continental’s long-sector routes,the Viscounts were gradually diverted to the airline’s regional routes. Viscount II N244V (c/n 357) was one of Continental’s longer-serving examples and is seen here at Love Field, Dallas, in the early 1960s, before the fleet was repainted in a revised black and gold livery.
All 15 of Continental’s V.812s were built on the production line at Weybridge, as seen here in the spring of 1958. The greater power of the Dart 525 fitted to the 810-series meant that the airframe had to be strengthened, with more structure in the wings and a beefing-up of the fuselage, tail and flying controls to absorb the extra power.
Continental made sure its customers knew its V.812s were radar-equipped, with a stylish legend on the port door
The AVQ-10 weather radar dish was housed in a tidy fairing in the nosecone, designed for easy maintenance
A pair of Continental V.812s beside the hangar at Wisley, where they were tested.
Arguably one of the most attractive Viscount colour schemes, Continental’s three-colour (plus bare-metal) palette complemented the type’s graceful lines, a rather raffish touch being added with the incorporation of a dark blue band around the cockpit, lending the impression the aircraft was wearing a pair of elegant sunglasses! Continental Viscount II N248V is seen here up from Farnborough during the 1958 SBAC show.
Jet power! Continental was keen to differentiate its V812s from Capital’s 700-series Viscounts, each bearing the legend “Viscount II” prominently on its fin.
Continental’s V.812s were initially configured in an all-first-class 52-passenger layout with an ingeniously designed interior with specially commissioned trim and decor, which provided the airline’s Viscounts with an extra 4in (10cm) in width
“How long since you’ve been hailed as a conquering hero?” Thus runs the copy in this classic 1959 Continental advertisement for its Viscount and DC-7B “Gold Carpet” service. “You’re always a Caesar to us. Unless, of course, you’re Cleopatra!”
It s coming soon! Providing vibration-free, velvet-smooth Jet-Prop air travel’’, the Viscount II was heavily promoted by Continental on its introduction into service in May 1958 - although nowhere near as extensively as Capital’s V.745s had been back in 1955.