A Douglas DC-4 interior model was just one of the aviation topics that Paul Kidder of Los Angeles kindly shared with me in July 2015. He wrote:
“I just acquired this 1946 DC-4 Douglas Aircraft Interior Salesman Sample model. The model was originally part of the Donald Douglas Collection and was ultimately sold off in the 1990’s. The DC-4/C-54 proved a popular and reliable type during its military service during WWII, 1245 being built between May 1942 and August 1947, including 79 postwar DC-4’s – built from January 1946 through August of 1947.
This one off model, was used used in 1946-1947 to show the customer how easily the DC-4 could be converted from a freighter to the passenger configuration and vice versa. The outer skin is very thin sheet aluminum over wood with tiny nails simulating rivets. The fully upholstered interior seats are fully operational, as are the doors with working door handles and latches. The seats, bulkheads, wood paneling, and curtains are all removable to show the different possible configurations.
The travel case is leather with Douglas Aircraft embossed on the side. Note the original American Airlines baggage tags from LAX to NY and return! The display case in the closed position measures 29 inches long x 15 inches tall x 15 inches wide. The display measures 58 inches in the fully opened position.”
The four engined nosewheel undercarriage DC-4 was known to the US Army Air Force as the C-54 Skymaster and to the US Navy as the R5D. As well as yielding sterling service during World War II, the DC-4 will always be synonymous with its role in the 1948-1949 Berlin Airlift.
The DC-4E (E standing for Experimental) was three times the size of the production DC-4, featured a triple tail and a pressurised fuselage and could have flown non-stop from Chicago to San Francisco. However this proved too expensive for airlines to own and operate but the smaller, simpler DC-4 arrived just in time to be mass produced after America’s entry into the Second World War.
As was the case with the earlier Douglas DC-3 Dakota, large numbers of war surplus DC-4s were made available to civilian operators after 1945 and as they were supplanted by newer types in front rank passenger service many saw third or even fourth owners among smaller charter and cargo airlines. Although all DC-4s were built as unpressurised airliners, a pressurised cabin could be added later and the type also pioneered airline travel between Europe and South America. The first South American airline to use DC-4s on this route in 1946 was Aerolinas Argentinas, competing with the Avro Lancastrians of British South American Airways.
The DC-4 was also the first airliner to have a circular section constant diameter fuselage which made it easy to evolve into the later piston engined DC-6 and DC-7 and finally the jet propelled DC-8. Canadair also licence built the DC-4 with Rolls Royce liquid cooled inline Merlin engines – as opposed to Pratt & Whitney radials – as the North Star from 1946 to 1950.
The basic fuselage (pictured left) of the real DC-4 (pictured in silhouette below) also became the basis for the Aviation Traders Limited Carvair. First flown on 21 June 1961, this could carry 25 passengers and five cars, loaded through a hinging nose door.
One example was used in the 1964 James Bond film “Goldfinger” to transport the eponymous villain and his Rolls Royce to Geneva. British Air Ferries continued using Carvairs (the name being derived from “car-via-air) into the 1970s although other examples continued to fly into the 21st Century.