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 John Schmidt (dc8schmidt@twc.com) | Home > 
1933, Birth Of The Modern Airliner 6/19
The year 1933  was the beginning of the airliner revolution that put an end to the wood and fabric contraptions that previously carried daring passengers on frequently harrowing flights.
Boeing led the way in Feb. 1933 with the 247, a huge technological advancement, but inadvertently created their own competition by reserving the first 60 for United Airlines, leaving TWA and others, out in the cold.
TWA then solicited proposals for a comparable aircraft, which was very successfully met by Donald Douglas. The DC-1, essentially a prototype, was airborne by July 1933, and went into service with TWA  on Sept 15, 1933. Production of the DC-2 began with an order for 20 from TWA.
Lockheed's L-10 Electra was flying by February 1934, and shortly thereafter entered service with Northwest. It also introduced the twin tail concept, soon to be adopted by the very successful Beech 18 as well as future Lockheed offerings.
In the end, Boeing's refusal to share production  resulted in the sale of 198 DC-2s, and 149 L-10s, leaving only 15 additional 247s for Boeing.
Improvements and derivatives came quickly, but these three airliners essentially launched the industry. Following are some postcard views of these pioneers.
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Enlarge photo 1
United Boeing 247 #21 KCF
A "Century of Progress" in Chicago showcased the new Boeing 247 in use exclusively by United Airlines. This card, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu, is one of the earliest of the many United Issues.

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United Boeing 247 #18 KCF
The Boeing 247 took to the skies with United, giving the airline an enormous comfort and technical advantage over its competitors.

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United Boeing 247 #6
The early 247 models were notable for their forward sloping cockpit windshields, observable in this nice in flight image

Enlarge photo 4
United Boeing 247 #9
The original R 1340 Wasp engines with 2 blade fixed pitch propellers are clearly shown on this nice ramp view.

Enlarge photo 5
United Boeing 247 #15 KCF
Another ramp view of the early model 247, provided by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

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United Boeing 247 #7
The speed of the aircraft, and the Trans Continental air route were heavily promoted as exemplified on this early issue.

Enlarge photo 7
United Boeing 247 #20 KCF
A Rare Albertype Duotone issue Of the New York skyline with United's 247 in flight, kindly shared by Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 8
United Boeing 247 Interior KCF
A rather uncommon United issued interior card shared by Kuo-Ching Fu shows the somewhat claustrophobic 10 passenger interior of the 247.

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United Boeing 247 #5
The first airline issue featuring flight attendants in front of the aircraft.

Enlarge photo 10
United Boeing 247 #17 KCF
Another postcard first was this cut away view  showing passengers and cargo aboard the new 247 airliner. Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

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United Boeing 247 #2
This United issue shows the more advanced 247D model with awaiting passengers.

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United Boeing 247 #3
Another United issue of the 247D with crew.

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United Boeing 247 #4
Perhaps the best in flight view of the United 247D is this vintage Sparo issue. NC13361, shown above, was delivered to United in  September of 1934. It operated for 8 years before serving in the Army Air Force in WWII.
After the war it flew for Servicios Aereos Panini and Aerovias Reformas in Mexico. Retired in 1955.

Enlarge photo 14
United Boeing 247 #14
Early Trans-continental flights were operated in conjunction with Western Airlines. Both airlines included Boulder Dam in their advertising, but this colorized card produced by Carpenter Paper only describes the dam

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United Boeing 247 #8
This is one of the later United issues showing the 247D model along with the upgraded Trans Continental map.

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United Boeing 247 #19KCF
Finally, this is a splendid restoration of United’s 247D NC 13347, in flight. The airliner entered service with United in 1934, went to Western in 1938, and served briefly in the Canadian Air Force.
Later flew for Maritime Central, Columbia Airlines, and Aerovias Occidentales before becoming a crop duster in1955.
It was acquired in 1966 by the Museum of Flight and is now preserved.
Card is an excellent Museum of Flight Issue, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 17
L A M S A Boeing 247 #1 KCF
United Affiliate LAMSA of Mexico operated Boeing 247s after their service in WWII. This excellent, but unidentified publisher card shows XA-DIY, Delivered to United in 1933. It later operated for Western, and served in the USAAF, but sadly crashed near Mexico City in 1952.
Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 18
Pennsylvania Boeing 247 #1
This is an apparent pre delivery issue of the 247 from Pennsyvania Airlines, showing NC13309. This aircraft was actually sold to Western in 1935. Like many 247s it finished its career in Mexico.

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Pennsylvania Boeing 247 #2KCF
Pennsylvania Airlines acquired several United 247s in 1936 and 37. The aircraft were used on Pennsylvania's main route from Detroit to Washington. This rare in flight card, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu, shows NC13361, looking very much as it did with United.
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Enlarge photo 20
Pennsylvania Boeing 247D
The same image of N13361 was used on the Players International Air Liners series of collector cards. The 247 flew after the creation of Pennsylvania Central and as many as 18 were operated, but apparently no cards were issued.

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SCADTA (Colombia) Boeing 247D
In 1936 SCADTA which became AVIANCA of Colombia received their first of 10 247s. The card is an AVIANCA historical issue

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Western Boeing 247 #1
An unidentified publisher card showing Western's 247, NC13337. Delivered to United in June of 1933, it was sold to National Parks Airways in 1935.Western acquired it through the acquisition of National Parks in 1937. Western operated a substantial fleet of 247s, most of which were drafted into the war effort.
After the war this one went to Servicios Aereos Panini, but was written off in Sept. 1947.

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TWA DC-1 #2
When TWA attempted to order the 247, Boeing refused the order, protecting Boeing Air Transport (United Airlines). Unfortunately that refusal unleashed Donald Douglas and the DC-1 was born.

Enlarge photo 26
TWA DC-1 #3
TWA funding helped speed the development of the DC-1, and it entered service only 4 months after United's 247. The early cards detailed performance and safety of the airliner.

Enlarge photo 27
TWA DC-1 #4
This excellent TWA issued take off view shows NC 223Y, the first and only DC-1, which essentially was the prototype DC-2.

Enlarge photo 28
TWA DC-1 #5
This excellent TWA issue shows N 223Y at Los Angeles. This historic airliner, which should be in a museum was sadly written off at Malaga while in service with Iberia in 1940.

Enlarge photo 29
TWA DC-2 #5
This Vintage Players Cigarette collector card shows the 1st TWA DC-2. Delivered in 1934 it operated until transferred to military service in 1941.
The DC-2 simply outperformed the 247 at every level, carrying 14 passengers instead of 10 in greater comfort. Orders soon came from both American and European airlines.

Enlarge photo 30
TWA DC-2 #1
TWA ultimately operated 30 DC-2s, receiving the first in 1934. This in flight TWA issue shows N13728, delivered to TWA in August of 1934, but sold to Braniff in 1937. It went to the military in 1942 and was written off later that year.

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TWA DC-2 #2
This TWA issue shows cargo being loaded on The City of Los Angeles. Many of the cards of the time describe activities shown with the illustrated airliner.

Enlarge photo 32
An unusual in flight view of TWA's NC13784, flying over Lake Meade. Delivered in May 1934, she was sold to Northeast in April 1942. It however went to the military in July of that year. It was sold to TACA International in November of 1944.
Card is a Frontier Productions issue by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 33
TWA DC-2 Cockpit KCF
A rare TWA issue by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu showing the state of the art DC-2 cockpit.

Enlarge photo 34
American  DC-2 #1
American received their first DC-2 in 1935, but it crashed less than a year later on a flight from Nashville to Memphis. The card is a near mint American issue from 1936.

Enlarge photo 35
American  DC-2 #2
The DC-2s were featured on a number of American cards, but none more iconic than this splendid view of the 2nd DC-2, NC14278, flying over Niagara Falls.

Enlarge photo 36
American  DC-2 #3
In the 1930s many flights, like premium trains, had names. This card refers to the "Southerner" landing at Ft.Worth.

Enlarge photo 37
American  DC-2 #5 KCF
Another rare view of NC 14278 on a Peter Black issue shared by Kuo-Ching Fu.
After serving with American, the aircraft was bought by the RAF in May of 1941 and crashed 4 months later.
This image was later used on a card by John Fry Productions.

Enlarge photo 38
American  DC-2 #4
This card, often mistaken for a DC-3, was the only one of the later sepia cards featuring a DC-2. Delivered to American in early 1935, it served until July 1941, when it went to the RAF.

Enlarge photo 39
Braniff DC-2 #1
Braniff began acquiring DC-2s from TWA in 1937 to supplement their existing L-10 Electra fleet and facilitate expansion. This nice blue tone Braniff issue shows the DC-2 over Dallas.

Enlarge photo 40
Braniff DC-2 #2
A later issue, I believe, showing one of their DC-2s on the ramp at Brownsville. Braniff's DC-2 fleet was impressed into the Air Force in June 1942.

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Braniff DC-2 #3
This rather hard to find Braniff issue features the fleet of DC-2s, ready for another day's service.

Enlarge photo 42
Braniff DC-2 #4 KCF
An absolutely outstanding view of Braniff's NC13715 in flight. This aircraft was delivered to Braniff on June 11, 1937, operating until it was impressed into service with the army Air Force in 1942. None of the DC-2 fleet returned to Braniff after the war.
Card is an unidentified publisher card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 43
Braniff DC-2 Captain
An interesting Braniff issue describing the skills of the Captain of the DC-2

Enlarge photo 44
Braniff Stewardess (Ms Jeanne Braniff?) KCF
A rare Braniff Issue, showing stewardess at the front of the DC-2 Cabin. Reported to be Miss Jeanne Braniff.
Card kindly shared by Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 45
C L S DC-2 #1 KCF
CLS of Czechoslovakia took delivery of their DC-2 OK-AIC in 1936. Acquired by Germany in the war, it was sold to  Finnish Airlines in March of 1941. There it served until 1949, when it was sold to the Finnish Air Force. Now in the Finnish Aviation Museum.
Card ia a rare CLS issue by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 46
C L S DC-2 Interior KCF
A very nice view of the DC-2 interior, also on a CLS issue from Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 47
C N A C (China) DC-2 #1 KCF
China National Airlines operated DC-2s in a joint venture with Pan American in the late 30s until the war with Japan. Ultimately a passenger flight was destroyed by the Japanese. In the war the airline assumed a military role flying supplies in from India. After the war, CNAC resumed operations, serving Shanghai, Beijing, and Canton. But in November 1949, the Communists confiscated most of the airline.
Shown is a China National  DC-2 in happier times over Shanghai. Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 48
Delta DC-2
Delta's 4 ex American DC-2s were met with much fanfare, but operated only a year from delivery in 1940 until impression into military  service in 1941. This rare card of NC 14275 in flight is the only Delta issued DC-2.

Enlarge photo 49
Delta DC-2 #2 KCF
Delta took delivery of NC 14275 on Feb. 4th 1940. It was sold to the RAF with the other Delta DC-2s in April 1941. This unfortunate aircraft was written off in India in 1942.
Card is an International Airlines Museum issue, by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 50
Eastern DC-2 #11
Eastern ordered a total of 12 DC-2s, for delivery in 1934 and 1935. The airliner appeared in 3 different liveries, but I believe this is the earliest.

Enlarge photo 51
Eastern DC-2 #7
The Florida Flyer livery may possibly pre-date the previous card. This rare Eastern issue is in nearly mint condition.

Enlarge photo 52
Eastern DC-2 #1
Shown on this Eastern issue is NC 13735, flying over Houston. It was delivered in 1934, but was sadly written off at Montgomery Al in October 1938

Enlarge photo 53
Eastern DC-2 #3
This beautiful Eastern issue shows NC13733, the 3rd DC-2 delivered to the airline. Five of Eastern's DC-2s were lost in crashes, but this one served in the Australian Air Force during the war, later flew for Australian National, and ultimately did crash at Darwin in 1947, operating for New Holland Airways.

Enlarge photo 54
Eastern DC-2 #8
This nice Eastern issue features one of the DC-2s at New Orleans.

Enlarge photo 55
Eastern DC-2 #9
Eastern added 2 later aircraft to the original 12 aircraft order. Shown on this Player's Cigarette collector card is NC 14970. Delivered in 1935, it went to the RAAF in June of 1941, and it, too crashed in January 1943.

Enlarge photo 56
Eastern DC-2 #12 KCF
This is a rare Fotonamel Albertype issue of Eastern's DC-2 NC 14970 in flight over New York City, kindly shared by Kuo-Ching Fu.

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Eastern DC-2 #13
Eastern later published this very nice color version of the same image. One of my favorite Eastern cards!

Enlarge photo 58
Eastern DC-2 Interior KCF
Another rare Eastern issue is this outstanding interior view of the DC-2, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu.

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Eastern DC-2s
This unusual card shows a line up of 8 DC-2s at Chicago. The text would indicate that some DC-3s have been delivered, so perhaps issued in 1938.

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K L M DC-2 #1
The DC-2 was marketed to Europe, using a kit type assembly program to be accomplished by Fokker. Shown on this KLM issue is the first of those aircraft, PH AJU, an airliner that experienced both triumph and tragedy in its brief existence.

Enlarge photo 61
K L M DC-2 #7
As was the tradition at KLM, numerous postcards were issued promoting the newly acquired airliner. AJU was christened "Uiver", and appeared in various in flight as well as ramp views.

Enlarge photo 62
K L M DC-2 #8
The arrival of KLM's first DC-2 was fortuitous in that it would be available to compete in the planned McRobertson International air race from London to Melbourne! A race in which the Boeing 247 would compete.

Enlarge photo 63
K L M DC-2 #10
This excellent KLM issue shows PH AJU, with the crew that would participate in the race. The DC-2 would finish second overall, and first in the airliner competition despite flying a 1000 mile longer route. In fact, were it not for a forced landing due to a severe storm, which resulted in the aircraft being mired in mud, the DC-2 would have won outright.

Enlarge photo 64
K L M DC-2 #6
One final KLM issue showing PH AJU in flight before competing in the great air race. The airliner became famous for its performance, but in an unimaginable irony, she crashed in Iraq on her first revenue flight.

Enlarge photo 65
K L M DC-2 #15 KCF
Fifty years later, on the anniversary of the race, KLM flew a restored DC-2, re-registered as PH AJU. This rare card, shared  by Kuo-Ching Fu, from a set published  by Camel Cigarettes shows the crew and the aircraft that reenacted the flight of PH AJU

Enlarge photo 66
K L M DC-2 #18 KCF
An excellent in flight view of the New PH AJU issued by Krueger, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 67
K L M DC-2 #20 KCF
A somewhat poignant view of the restored "Uiver" flying over Amsterdam as it had once before now 75 years ago. Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 68
K L M DC-2 #3
PH ALF, the 34 th DC-2 assembled by Fokker joined the KLM fleet in June of 1936, but it too, had a short life, written off at Halle Belgium a little over a year later.

Enlarge photo 69
K L M DC-2 #4
PH AKT, shown on this KLM issue was delivered in May of 1935,  appropriated by the German military in May 1940, and was written off 4 months later.

Enlarge photo 70
K L M DC-2 #5
PH AKO was the 21st Fokker Assembled DC-2, delivered to KLM in 1935, and destroyed on the ground in 1940.

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K L M DC-2 #9
This is an excellent in flight KLM issue of PH AKK, also delivered in 1935, and likewise destroyed on the ground in 1940.

Enlarge photo 72
K L M DC-2 #16 KCF
This Ramp scene from 1935, showing PH AKF, was included in the Camel Cigarettes Historical set, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the race. AKF was a temporary delivery registration used by Fokker. Bicycles were the primary ramp equipment of the time.
Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 73
LOT DC-2 #1w
LOT of Poland operated DC-2s from February of 1935 until the war. Shown on this LOT issue from my want list is SP ASL the 28th Fokker Assembled DC-2.

Enlarge photo 74
Pan Am DC-2 #1
Pan American ordered 18 DC-2s, primarily for use by subsidiaries, but some did fly in Pan American colors. This bi-lingual information card refers to operations of Mexicana.
This image  is actually a DC-1 stock photo, also used on a LOT issue.

Enlarge photo 75
Pan Am DC-2 #3
A little nicer Pan Am issue showing DC-2  NC 14291 over Brownsville,TX. This one operated for Pan Am until May of 1939, when it went to Pan Air Do Brasil. It was sold to PLUNA in 1942.

Enlarge photo 76
Pan Am DC-2 #4
This Pan American issue shows a DC-2 over Mexico City.  The text is only Spanish, but does not refer to Mexicana.

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Panagra DC-2 #1
This is an excellent Panagra issue of one of their DC-2s in flight. Their aircraft were in fact, owned by Pan American but did fly with Panagra titles.

Enlarge photo 78
Panagra DC-2 #2
A very similar image was used on this unidentified vintage card, which refers to the Sky Road from Chile to Argentina. Panagra DC-2s operated in demanding conditions,  and 3 of their 7 DC-2s, were lost in crashes.

Enlarge photo 79
Panagra DC-2 #3
This is a rather iconic card, presumed to be Panagra issued, featuring the DC-2 with a number of Llamas at Lima

Enlarge photo 80
Swissair DC-2 #1
My only Swissair DC-2 was this vintage Players Cigarettes Collector card. It shows the 2nd Swissair DC-2 HB-ITI in flight over mountains. It was delivered in 1934, and written off in 1936.

Enlarge photo 81
Swissair DC-2 #3 KCF
A beautiful in flight Swissair issue of HB ITA, a Fokker assembled DC-2 delivered in January 1935. It operated 4 years before crashing near Paris on Jan 7, 1939.
Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 82
Swissair DC-2 #4 KCF
On the other hand, HB ITO, shown on this splendid Swissair issue operated from delivery in 1935 until sale to Phoenix Airlines of South Africa in 1952. Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 83
Japan Air Transport DC-2 #1 KCF
Douglas also licensed production of the DC-2 to Nakajima aircraft of Japan. Although the Fokker assembled aircraft had Douglas serial numbers, I can't find any record of these.

Enlarge photo 84
Japan Air Transport DC-2 #2 KCF
A total of 6 DC-2s were built by Nakajima. They became military transports in WWII. These two Japan Air Transport cards were kindly shared by Kuo-Ching Fu

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Enlarge photo 86
Northwest L-10 Electra #1
The third player in the all metal airliner race was the Lockheed L-10 Electra, launched by Northwest. This rare Northwest issue shows their 6th Electra, delivered in 1935. N14262, fleet # 66 operated for the airline until sold to Wisconsin Central in 1948. Northwest's Electras started service on the Northern Transcontinental route from Chicago to Seattle.

Enlarge photo 87
Northwest L-10 Electra #2w
Another Northwest issue from my want list shows one of the Electras on the ramp. Northwest operated 15 Electras, including the prototype NC233Y

Enlarge photo 88
Northwest L-10 Electra #3
This vintage Players Cigarette card shows fleet #62, NC14244, delivered in 1934, and later sold to the Canadian Air Force. Written off in December 1944

Enlarge photo 89
Braniff L-10 Electra #4 KCF
This extraordinarily rare Braniff issue, most likely a pre-delivery card, shows an early model Electra, complete with forward sloping windshield, similar to early Boeing 247s, presented in Braniff's livery.
Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 90
Braniff L-10 Electra #1
A later similar Braniff issue shows NC-3138, the first Electra of 8 acquired by the airline. The card is the same format as the previous one, including an interior view. During the war, it went to the Canadian Air Force and crashed in Manitoba on 1/26/1942.

Enlarge photo 91
Braniff L-10 Electra #3
Another nice Braniff issue of the real NC 14905 boarding passengers, delivered in 1935, and sadly, written off at Dallas in December 1936

Enlarge photo 92
Braniff L-10 Electra #2
One final card of NC 3138, from the Players Cigarette Collector card series.

Enlarge photo 93
British L-10 Electra
British Airways, which later merged with Imperial to form BOAC, acquired 5 L-10 Electras in 1936 and 37. G AEPN, shown on this nice airline issue was the first delivered.

Enlarge photo 94
British L-10 Electra #2 KCF
Two of the Electras were lost in crashes before the merger. Only 1 survived the war, and it was scrapped in 1946. This excellent in flight card is a vintage AG Fry issue, shared by Kuo -Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 95
Delta L-10 Electra #1
Delta took delivery of this Electra, NC14992 on February 2, 1936. It was the 3rd Electra delivered to Delta. The Electra took over the Atlanta to Dallas route, cutting over 2 hours from the previous flight time. Card is a Players Cigarette collector card.

Enlarge photo 96
Eastern Lockheed L-10 Electra
I've not been able to find an Eastern issued Electra card, but this Players Cigarette card is derived from an Eastern issued photo. NC14958 was the prototype L-10B model, and operated initially on New York to New Orleans and Chicago to Miami routes. it was sold to Northwest in 1937 as DC-3s began to arrive.

Enlarge photo 97
L O T L-10 Electra #1
A number of European airlines chose the Electra, including LOT of Poland, which operated both Electras and DC-2s. This Electra, shown on a nice LOT issue was built in 1935, and delivered on November 26, of that year. It lasted only a year before crashing on approach to Athens.

Enlarge photo 98
LOT L-10 Electra #2w
This LOT issue features SP AYD, which fared only a little better than AYB. It was delivered Jan 4, 1936, and as written off on approach to Warsaw on Nov. 11, 1937. Ultimately, LOT was to operate 10 Electras.

Enlarge photo 99
Trans Canada L-10 Electra #1 KCF
Although Trans Canada issued a number of  L-14 and L-18 cards, I've never found one of the L10. However, Air Canada re-acquired the original CF TCC, restored it, and to celebrate their 50th anniversary, recreated it's original Trans continental flight.
This excellent Air Canada issue by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 100
Trans Canada L-10 Electra #2 KCF
Trans Canada had purchased 3 New L-10A Electras in 1937 for $73,000 each to fly their Trans continental routes. All went the RCAF during the war years, and CF TCB was destroyed. CF TCA was recovered and is in a museum, and CF TCC is still airworthy some 82 years later.
Card is another Air Canada issue by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 101
Wisconsin Central L-10 Electra
The Boeings and DC-2s were essentially obsolete after the war, but a number of Electras were still active. Wisconsin Central, created in 1944 took delivery of their 1st Electra (ex Northwest NC 14262) in 1948. This excellent Wisconsin Central issue (believed to be NC 16084), introduced Herman, North Central's emblem for decades.

Enlarge photo 102
Wisconsin Central L-10 Electra #2 KCF
Wisconsin Central took delivery of 6 L-10s between 1947 and 1949. This excellent in flight view is an International Airlines Museum issue shared by Kuo Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 103
Provincetown Boston L-10 Electra
In the early 1950s, Provincetown Boston Airlines acquired a number of L-10s to accommodate the growing number of passengers on their flights over to Provincetown. The airliner proved to be ideal for the short flights and served faithfully until 1970. I received this card from Provincetown Boston around 1960.

Enlarge photo 104
Naples Electra #1
As the Naples Airlines division grew, Electras were transferred south, operating similar short hops to the Naples Airport. This outstanding Naples Airline issue shows Electra N35PB.
This was originally a Pan American airliner that served 2 years with Mexicana, 1 year with Pacific Alaska and 5 years with Pan Air Do Brasil. It was sold to Varig in 1943, and finally was delivered to PBA on Jan 23, 1956.  Retired from PBA in 1970.

Enlarge photo 105
Huron Airport 1937
A Mid Continent L-10 Electra and Inland Airlines Boeing 247 shown at Huron Airport. Cargo is being loaded into the Mid Continent, and a stewardess awaits passengers boarding the Inland. The Fokkers and Fords had disappeared and new faster, safer all metal aircraft had changed the world of airliners forever.

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