C-54E c/n 27314: its History by Gil White

VH-INM C/n 27314
Manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Company Inc. at Santa Monica and delivered to the U.S.A.A.F. on 7/4/1945 seeing war service as 44-9088. The only difference with this aircraft from the other types was that it had a different fuel tank arrangement whereby the cabin tanks were replaced by collapsible bag tanks in the wing. Whilst in service with the U.S.A.A.F. aircraft was mainly used to transport cargo and troops when required. Ownership of aircraft transferred to Reconstruction Finance Corporation during 1945. When at that stage it was struck off charge and given the American civilian registration of N88881.

Sold to Douglas Aircraft Company on 14/11/1945 and was the 13th conversion to a civilian DC-4 to be undertaken. After conversion aircraft was sold to Pan American World Airways Inc. on 22/12/1945. Whilst in service with Pan Am aircraft was named initially 'Clipper Kit Carson' then renamed 'Clipper Golden West' and later given its final name of 'Clipper Red Rover'.

On 10/2/1958 sold to Japan Air Lines and registered JA6015. Whilst in service with Japan Air Lines aircraft renamed 'Amagi' which is the name of one of the famous mountains in Japan and operated as a passenger aircraft. Sold to Ansett-ANA and registered VH-INM to Australian National Airways P/L on 19/3/1965. The delivery crew of this aircraft flew up to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific with the intention of picking up the DC-4 VH-ANF which was being overhauled by H.A.E.C.O. but when they arrived at Hong Kong a go-slow strike was in progress and VH-ANF was not ready.

After numerous telexes between Hong Kong and Melbourne a decision was made by Captain A Lovell not to wait any longer as Ansett-ANA had just purchased Japan Air Lines last DC-4. After Captain A Lovell arrived in Japan and test flights were completed it departed from Tokyo on 23/3/1965 and routed via Manila, Darwin and arrived in Melbourne on 25/3/1965. Crew for the delivery flight were Captains S Telford, A Groser, B Chapman, Navigator W C Kennedy and Engineer C Burns. Struck off the Japanese civil register on 29/3/1964.

When this aircraft arrived in Australia it was no stranger to our shores as it had flown the Pacific Ocean as 'Clipper Kit Carson' on a route proving flight whilst in service with Pan Am on 17/3/1947. Whilst with Ansett-ANA this aircraft operated as a freighter. During 1965 leased to MacRobertson Miller Airlines for a short period of time. Length of lease has not been determined.

On 22/6/1968 this aircraft departed Melbourne for the United Kingdom to be converted to a Carvair by Aviation Traders Ltd It routed via Alice Springs, Darwin, Denpasar, Singapore, Bangkok, Calcutta, Karachi, Bahrain, Damascus, Athens, Marseille and arrived in the United Kingdom on 1/3/1968. The crew for this flight were Captains J Coakley, W Oldcastle, N Currey, Navigator W C Kennedy and Engineer P Kettner.

After conversion to Carvair departed the United Kingdom on 19/7/1968 and routed via Athens, Damascus where it unfortunately blew a window, Bahrain, Karachi, Calcutta, Bangkok where further problems were experienced this time with the engine fire warning system, Singapore, Bali, Darwin and arrived in Melbourne on 26/7/1968. Crew for this delivery flight were Captains D Elford, R Stacey, G Backhouse, Navigator W C Kennedy, and Engineer M Draper.

On 12/5/1972 suffered a lightning strike 85 miles west of Melbourne. Damage was confined to the High Frequency aerial, which was severed. Repaired to reenter service. On 1/2/1973 aircraft was withdrawn from service at Tullamarine and placed in open storage to await sale.

Sold to Australian Aircraft Sales on 1/1/1974 and remained in storage at Tullamarine until 7/7/1975 when resold to Seulewah Air Services. Departed Melbourne on the ferry flight to the new owner and routed via Alice Springs, Darwin, Denpassar to Jakarta. Whilst in their service aircraft was allocated the name of 'Kasby II'. When the sale to Seulewah Air Services fell through it was also withdrawn from service and placed in storage at Seletar Airport. Struck off the civil register on 25/8/1975.

Sold to J A Cunningham in March 1978 and registered N54596. In November 1978 resold to Nationwide Air and ferried from Singapore to New Zealand. Aircraft originally allocated the registration of ZK-EKZ but this was not taken up but registered ZK-NWB instead. In April 1979 aircraft withdrawn from service at Nelson Airport due to company ceasing trading.

In December 1982 noted as being registered to Turner Aviation and sold to Pacific Aerolift of Honolulu and flown to Hamilton in New Zealand for a complete overhaul and repainting. Aircraft allocated the name of 'Ruth II'. As Pacific Aerolift did not become operational this aircraft remained at Hamilton Airport in storage. During 1986 Captain J Ellis owner of the Lovely Banks Aerodrome near Geelong announced his intentions of importing this aircraft as well as sister aircraft ZK-NWA.

The intentions of his company Gold Crown Aviation were to use the two aircraft on interstate freight services. Unfortunately this aircraft and sister aircraft did not return to Australia for operations out of the Lovely Banks Aerodrome as the local Council declined his plans. Before Turner Aviation ceased trading the aircraft sold to Hawaii Pacific Air and prior to departing New Zealand overhauled for the ferry flight to Honolulu for the new owners.

During September 1990 aircraft was ferried to Honolulu to commence inter island cargo services. On arrival at Honolulu aircraft reregistered N5459M to Hawaii Pacific Air in May 1990. In January 1993 company suspended operations and the aircraft once more withdrawn from service and placed in storage at Honolulu. As the company still owned the aircraft their intentions are to reactivate the company and restart operations. Sold to Air Cargo Hawaii in March 1992. Aircraft remained in storage until sold to Roberts Hawaii Inc. in September 1993.

Sold to Airline Marketing Consultants Inc. on 29/7/1996 with the intention of being used for relief flights in Zaire in South Africa. Delivered to Wonderboom in South Africa in November 1996 for lease by Wonderair and went into storage awaiting an overhaul. As the original plans did not eventuate aircraft is still in storage in Hawaii Pacific Air colours awaiting its final fate.

Aircraft remained in storage at Wonderboom in South Africa until late 1999 when it made a short flight to a country strip and returned back to Wonderboom. Nearing the end of its stay at Wonderboom Airport aircraft was tidied up by giving it a fresh coat of white paint and the engine cowlings were polished and aircraft was readied for its next operator.

On 5/11/2000 aircraft departed for Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo and routed via Johannesburg. After a short stay at Johannesburg aircraft departed for Kinshasa where it was rumoured that it would become a source of spares for an operator of DC-4s. Struck off the American civil register on 30/4/2002.

Sold to Phoebus Apollo Investments in March 2002. Leased to Phoebus Apollo Aviation which is based at Johannesburg in the Republic of South Africa on 20/5/2002. Aircraft was reregistered 9J-PAA in the Republic of Zambia but operated mainly out of Johannesburg with freight such as fresh vegetables, mining equipment and office equipment and furniture for various central African countries.

Still in service with the company as a freighter in 2003 but noted as having all of the engines removed. Currently advertised for sale with a price of $250,000.

Final fate has yet to be ascertained.

© Gil White (2004).

back to Propliners around Johannesburg, 2004

Gil White 2005IN MEMORIAM.
"It has been a great pleasure to have known you all, but my days are now numbered." -24Jun06.
Gil White passed away on 27Jun06. He will be remembered by me as a enthusiastic (Ansett) historian and a courageous person; may he rest in peace.

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Created: 28-01-05 Updated: