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 John Schmidt (dc8schmidt@twc.com) | Home > 
60 years of Western airlines, April 2018
Launched as a mail carrier with Douglas M-2s, Western pioneered the air route from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City on April 26, 1926. Occasional passengers were carried among the mail sacks until 1928, when the Fokker F-10 arrived, with an enclosed cabin for the benefit of those daring initial passengers.
   Western grew, acquiring Pacific Marine Airways, West Coast Air Transport and Standard Airlines by 1930. The depression was on, and the Postmaster General decided to merge Transcontinental Air transport with Western to create TWA. Only the original route remained to be operated by Western.
   In 1934, Western divested itself of interest in TWA, creating a relationship with United which lasted for nearly a decade.  After 1941, Western grew and prospered until the final merger with Delta in 1987. The oldest airline in America was no more.
Album by John Schmidt. 1 - 68 of 68 Total. 11065 Visits.
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Enlarge photo 1
Western Douglas M-2 #1bd
A Western issue of one of their original Douglas M-2 aircraft, which was acquired from the post office in 1927. This aircraft was restored for Western's 50th anniversary, and took flight once again on June 2, 1976. This card by courtesy of Bernd Dienel.

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Western Boeing 95
Western operated 4 Boeing 95 mail planes in addition to the Douglas M-2s

Enlarge photo 3
Western Fleet 1930
Born in 1926, Western Air Express was primarily a mail carrier, that gradually developed an interest in transporting passengers. The fleet shown in this old photo certainly reflects that mission.

Enlarge photo 4
Western Fokker F-10
In 1928 Western began passenger service from Los Angeles to San Francisco. A fleet of 16 F-10s was ordered for this and other routes such as to Salt Lake City. The F-10 was the first aircraft in which passengers were more important than mail

Enlarge photo 5
Pacific Marine Curtis HS-2L
Western Air Express acquired Pacific Marine Airways in 1928, to enter the Santa Catalina market, and continued with S-38 Sikorskis as well as the Curtis aircraft. The card is a rare color issue from the mid 1920s.

Enlarge photo 6
Western Fokker F-32
Western's F-32s were somewhat like the later Stratocruisers, in that passengers liked the spacious and elegant cabin, but maintenance on the aircraft, particularly the rear facing engines made the aircraft impractical.
  Card is a rare Unusual Photographs issue from my want list.

Enlarge photo 7
Western North American GA-43
Western acquired a single GA 43 aircraft in 1932, which operated for less than two years on the Cheyenne Wyoming to Albuquerque route. Only 5 of these unique 10 passenger aircraft were built. The single engine doomed the aircraft to an early retirement.

Enlarge photo 8
Western received the Wacos in 1937 from the acquisition of National Parks Airways,

Enlarge photo 9
Western - United Boeing 247 KCF
In the mid 1930s, Western Air Express and United operated a Transcontinental  interchange service, operating Boeing 247s originally leased from and later bought from  United. The card, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu, describes specifically the "scenic" route used by the service. The card would appear to be a United issue.

Enlarge photo 10
Western - United Boeing 247 #2
This is a very rare color card of the 247 in flight over Boulder Dam. It was published by Carpenter Paper of Salt Lake City in the 1930s.

Enlarge photo 11
Western DC-3 #6 KCF
As Western eliminated all interchange ties with United, it's fleet consisted of 7 DC-3s and 5 Boeing 247s. Additional DC-3s were acquired such as NC 33647, acquired from United in 1942, and shown on this very rare Jumbo Postcard.

Enlarge photo 12
Western DC-3 #1
The same DC-3 shown on a Western  Airlines issue from the mid 1940s.

Enlarge photo 13
Western DC-3 #3
A gleaming new DC-3, N33664 was delivered to Western in 1942, operating through 1958. The card is a Propeller postcards Issue.

Enlarge photo 14
Western DC-3 #5
This is N33664 wearing the later 1940s colors. A number of DC-3s later operated in the Indian Head scheme. The card is an IAWP issue.

Enlarge photo 15
Western DC-3 #2
This splendid color card from 1941 shows a DC-3 dedicated to the United interchange flights, which ended that year. The aircraft, delivered new to Western in March of 1941, was sold to United in June of 1942. In the 1960s it flew for Ozark

Enlarge photo 16
Western DC-3 #7KCF
This great unidentified vintage card on the other hand actually shows a United DC-3 delivered in 1937, which carried the Western colors and the Mainliner titles. It was sold by United to Northeast in 1953.
"Card by courtesy of Kuo-Chin..."
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Enlarge photo 17
Western DC-4 #3GS
In January 1946 Western received the first civilian DC-4, along with 4 other newly built  DC-4s. Strangely, the new DC-4s were sold and 8 ex military C-54s were added to serve Western's main line routes for nearly a decade.
   This airliner went to TACA in 1947
The card is a Los Angeles Airport issue.

"Card by courtesy of Greg Smi..."
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Enlarge photo 18
Western DC-4 #1
Aviation World was thoughtful enough to give us an excellent color view of N10201.

Enlarge photo 19
Western Convair 240 #3
By 1948, Western had helped to launch the Convair 240, taking delivery of aircraft #3, as well as 9 other early Convairs. Terrell Drinkwater had become president in 1947, and he began the process of creating the great airline that Western became.
 The card is a splendid Whelan Issue from 1949.

Enlarge photo 20
Western Convair 240 #2
The Convairs were described as 49ers, and represented a big step forward for Western Passengers. This card is a Los Angeles Airport issue from 1949

Enlarge photo 21
Western Convair 240 #5KCF
N 8410H, delivered in June of 1948 was one of the first 3 delivered. The card is one of the early International Airline Museum cards, by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu. This image was also issued on a Spirotone card.

Enlarge photo 22
Western Convair 240 #1
This very nice Western issue of their Convair does not show the 49er logo on the front. The Convairs served until the early 1960s

Enlarge photo 23
Western DC-6B #6KCF
The first of 31 DC-6Bs arrived at Western in 1953. This is an uncommon Los Angeles Airport issue showing one of Western's DC-6Bs in its delivery colors, by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 24
Western DC-6B #2
The DC-6B was ideal for routes that now extended to Minneapolis. I believe this was the first Western DC-6B issue.

Enlarge photo 25
Western DC-6B #1
The 60 passenger DC-6s introduced Western's famed Champaign & Orchid flights. The carrier was prospering through the 1950s with up to date equipment and superior service.

Enlarge photo 26
Western DC-6B Interior KCF
This excellent Western Issue, by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu, provides a look at cabin service on board the "Californians"

Enlarge photo 27
Western DC-6B #7KCF
This excellent in flight view is a Frontier Productions issue. The DC-6Bs served with Western until 1968

Enlarge photo 28
Western DC-6B #3
An excellent FliteLine issue, showing N93117, delivered to Western in 1956, and sold 6 years later to Japan Airlines as the City of Fukuoka.

Enlarge photo 29
Western DC-6B #4
One final view of N93117 from Spirotone. Spirotone issues covered Western's fleet from the 1950s and 60s

Enlarge photo 30
Western Electra #2
In 1956 Western contracted for a fleet of Lockheed's proposed Electra Turboprops. This vintage Dexter issue is certainly the best view issued of Western's L-188.
Shown is N7135C delivered in May of 1959.

Enlarge photo 31
Western Electra #1
The new Electras went into service in 1959, serving major Pacific Coast destinations as well as Salt Lake City and Minneapolis. Shown is the only Western issue, which had multiple printings.

Enlarge photo 32
Western Electra #4
N7135C, shown on the Dexter card, appears on this Ontario Airport card wearing the later Indian head livery, featured on the new jets.

Enlarge photo 33
Western Electra Interior #1KCF
An excellent Western issued card from the days when a lounge was a feature of many airliners. Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 34
Western Constellation #2KCF
Although the DC-6Bs flew for 15 years, the last operating prop aircraft were the ex Chicago and Southern Constellations acquired in the Pacific Northern deal. By December 1968 they were on their way to the Biafran Air Force. This  once proud Constellation crashed in Morocco in November of 1969.
This card is an oversized issue from Aviation Slide and Postcard by courtesy of
Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 35
Western 707-120 #1
In May of 1960 Western joined the Jet Age with the delivery of 2 leased 707s, originally ordered by Cubana. N74613, shown on this common Western issue, was returned to Boeing in September of 1962, as new 720Bs were arriving.

Enlarge photo 36
Western 707-120 #2KCF
The Western 707s were essentially new when returned, and both were sold to Pan American as the Clipper Skylark and Clipper Southern Cross.
The card is a Frontier Productions issue, by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 37
Western 720B #1
The first 3 720B jets arrived at Western in 1961. N93143, shown on this common Western issue was the 3rd aircraft delivered, and served Western for 18 years before delivery to Air Malta.
There were at least 2 printings with different backs.

Enlarge photo 38
Western 720B #4KCF
This outstanding view of the 720B over San Francisco is a vintage Smith News issue, describing the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge in the background.
Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 39
Western 720B #5KCF
Another excellent view of N93143 is provided by this Frontier Productions issue, from Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 40
Western 720
This beautiful Boeing 720 came to Western in 1967 upon the acquisition of Pacific Northern Airlines. Somewhat ironically it was sold to Alaska in 1973 as N301AS. The card is an AeroGem issue.

Enlarge photo 41
Western 707-320C #1

Enlarge photo 42
Western 720B #2
Western Adopted the new W livery in 1972, shown on this excellent Dexter issue. N 3157 was a later 720B, delivered in June of 1965. It operated for 9 years and was sold to Middle East.

Enlarge photo 43
Western 720B #3
The identical image was used on the Western issue, in a standard sized card. Sadly, this proud airliner after serving with Middle East was turned into a restaurant which was destroyed by fire.

Enlarge photo 44
Western 727-200 #6KCF
The first of 34 Western 727-200s arrived in October of 1969. They served through the 1987 merger with Delta and were for the most part retired in 2002. This excellent view of the 727 in delivery colors is a Frontier Productions issue by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 45
Western 727-200 #1
This excellent Dexter issue shows Western's 727-247 N2807W, delivered in May of 1972, and operated for 28 years before retirement from Delta in 2000. The Western Dexter cards have logo and slogan on the back, but it is unclear if they were in fact Western issues.

Enlarge photo 46
Western 727-200 #4KCF
This is a rare view of the 727-200 in the final Western livery, on a Frontier Productions issue. The last of the Western 727s were retired by Delta in 2002
"Card by courtesy of Kuo-Chin..."
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Enlarge photo 47
Western 737-200 #3
An absolutely splendid vintage Editions PI card of Western's 1st 737, N4501W, delivered in June of 1968.

Enlarge photo 48
Western 737-200 #1
This surprisingly common Sioux Falls Airport issue shows the third Western 737, providing jet service to some of the smaller Western destinations

Enlarge photo 49
Western 737-200 #5
By the end of 1968, 16 more 737s were delivered, as the 737 proved to be ideal for most Western segments. The card is a Spirotone issue, probably from the late 1960s.

Enlarge photo 50
Western 737-200 #2
One final view of N4501W on an Aviation Color Photo issue.

Enlarge photo 51
Western 737-200 #4
The 30th 737 in the Western fleet, N4530W is shown in the new Western colors on a World Great Airlines issue. This image was previously issued on an unidentified (Japanese?) publisher card.

Enlarge photo 52
Western 737-200 #6 KCF
An excellent view of a later 737-200 at take off. By the time of the merger, Western had approximately 60 737-200s in the fleet with 2 remaining on order. The card is a Salt Lake City Airport issue, by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 53
Western DC-10-10 #2
One of my favorite cards is this stunning in flight Western issue of their first DC-10, delivered in 1973.

Enlarge photo 54
Western DC-10-10 #4KCF
The DC-10s were deployed on major segments including the Hawaiian services which were finally awarded in 1969. This excellent card, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu, is an unidentified Japanese Issue

Enlarge photo 55
Western DC-10-10 #5 KCF
Western ultimately operated 13 DC-10-10s, and leased at least 1 DC-10-30 for the short lived European service. This excellent postcard view is also an unidentified Japanese issue, by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 56
Western DC-10-10 #1
The DC-10s didn't last long at Delta, as most were gone in a year. I did fly N902WA in full Delta colors from Los Angeles to Atlanta in 1988.
The card is one of the 3 logoed Dexter cards showing Western's fleet in the 1970s.

Enlarge photo 57
Western DC-10-10 #3
A very hard to find oversized card, showing the new DC-10 "Space Ship". The configuration at the time provided for 8 abreast seating in Economy, and 6 in First for a total of only 239 seats.
A Western issue by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 58
Western Fleet #1 KCF
During 1980 and 1981, Western flew Trans Atlantic flights to London, with apparent plans to extend service to Frankfurt. This rare Western issue from Germany was kindly shared by Kuo-Ching Fu. Germany never materialized and London flights were soon discontinued as Western moved to fully develop the Salt Lake City hub.

Enlarge photo 59
Western 737-300 #2KCF
The final aircraft introduction into Western's fleet was the 737-300, shown on this excellent frontier productions issue. N3301 was delivered to Western on March 29, 1985.
Sadly, there were no Western issues of the 737-300. This one is from Frontier Productions.

Enlarge photo 60
Western 737-300 #1
The 737-300s remained in Delta's fleet for a number of years as they were virtually new aircraft. This final view is an Aviation World issue. It's hard to believe Western has been gone for 30 years.

Enlarge photo 61
Western 1936

Enlarge photo 62
Western Route Map 1958

Enlarge photo 63
Western Sticker 2

Enlarge photo 64
Western 1959

Enlarge photo 65
Western Brochure 1959

Enlarge photo 66
Western 707 Flyer 1960

Enlarge photo 67
Western 707s 1960

Enlarge photo 68
Western 1976

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