When the Second World War ended, the leading airlines rushed to put into service the new longer-ranged airliners that had been stimulated by technical advances during the war, as well as by the commercial pre-war design innovations that had been frustrated by wartime needs. T. W.A.’s Stratoliners were recalled from the military, and the C-69 Constellations and C-54 Skymasters were quickly refurbished with comfortable seating layouts. The emphasis was on the main inter-city routes; but the networks dated back to the 1930s, and with the “grandfather” route certificates in 1938, the airlines had sought, and the C. A.B. had granted, full service contracts to serve almost every city in the U. S.A. that was big enough to have an airport.
The problem was that many of the cities—and there were dozens of these—were too small to generate enough passengers, mail, or freight to justify service by such mainliners as the Constellation. Other cities were able to generate the traffic, but did not have the airfields to cope with the four-engined types. Also the airlines themselves chose to deploy their best equipment on the prestige routes, which generated the highest revenues. And so the veteran Douglas DC-3, obtainable as conversions from military C-47s, C-53s, and other DC-3 variants, and which could land or take off almost anywhere, was in great demand to back up their newer brethren in the fleet.
Life in the Old Dog
The old Douglas DC-3 “Gooney Bird” was the obvious choice, as there were thousands of them. T. W.A. alone had 96 altogether—a large fleet during that period. Under the C. A.B. mandate, and like the other trunk airlines, it had to serve the smaller points, or lose its certificate for the whole route. Exemptions were sometimes granted, but every’ one had to be argued separately, in an often protracted series of meetings in Washington. Later, during the 1950s, the Local Service airlines were established, and these provided the answer to the problem for several decades, relieving the trunk airlines from the obligation of providing “whistle stops” on prestigious point-to-point services.
But this took time, and this is why T. W.A. continued to keep the old DC-3s in service. Bill Halliday recalls that in 1947 “T. W.A. was flying so many DC-3s that as we approached Amarillo to turn westward to Albuquerque (at night) we could see the flight ahead of us headed west and after we had completed our turn, we could look back and see the flight behind us.”
While Douglas, Lockheed, and Boeing were concerned with providing the front-line fleets, it was left to other manufacturers to come up with a formula for a modem airliner to replace the DC-3s which, even if they were not too old, were regarded by air travelers as old-fashioned and obsolescent. Postwar airliners needed, at the very least, a pressurized cabin, tricycle landing gear, on-board amenities such as ample luggage and coat space, good lavatories, and above all, faster speed. Two manufacturers came to the fore to meet this requirement: Martin, with its Model 202, and Convair, with its Model 240.
At the Martin plant in Baltimore, Allan Roshkind and his team started work on the Martin 202 (at first called the Mercury) immediately after Japan surrendered. But this 36-seat design was unpressurized, and its first customer, American Airlines, changed its mind and ordered Convair-Liners instead. Nevertheless, by the end of 1945, Martin had orders for 155 aircraft and the 202 made its first flight on 22 November 1946, four months ahead of the Convair-Liner. United had ordered a pressurized version, the Model 303, but this was cancelled.
This Martin 404, Skyliner Louisville, displays its registration number unusually, reading downwards on
the vertical stabilizer.
The Martin 202A went into service on 1 September 1950, to relieve the DC-3s on T. W.A. ’s shorter routes.
It carried 36 passengers, had a З-man crew, and cruised at 220 mph. Its built-in boarding stairs, includ-
ing a ventral access at the rear, accelerated boarding and disembarking at the “whistle-stops. ” This pic-
ture is of Skyliner San Francisco.