I know it's a serious business, but this plane does have a comical appearance this way...!
A shot with the tail open. It says it all on the fuselage: Over Size Cargo.
Not many Canadair CL-44s were built . Canadair made an effort to re-enter the civilian market after building the DC-4M2, C-4 North Star.
Canadair built a total of 39 CL-44 aircraft. 12 CC-106 Yukon and 27 CL-44D4. Seaboard World Airlines bought seven aircraft and The Flying Tiger Line bought twelve. Later Slick Airways ordered four more. |
This left Canadair with the unsold prototype and three CL-44D4s already finished but not sold.
Icelandic low fare carrier Loftleidir was searching for alternatives to replace their ageing fleet of DC6Bs. Loftleidir was interested provided the CL-44Ds would all be stretched to accommodate more passengers. An engineering office in the United States carried out a study to stretch the CL-44. Canadair carried out the work and the first stretched D4 flew on November 8, 1965. Loftleidir had already taken the other three D4s into service, but they too were converted.
A CL-44D4 of Flying Tiger Line was converted by Jack Conroy Aviation of California into a CL-44-0 'Guppy' or 'Skymonster'. This aircraft had its upper fuselage removed and replaced by an enlarged section, which raised the cabin height by 1.5m. It was the only one thus converted. Jack Conroy went on to convert Boeing Stratocruisers in even larger Super Guppies.
9G-LCA is the only airworthy CL-44 remaining and amazingly enough, no CL-44s are preserved.
A sequence of closing the "swingtail".
By August 2003 I was informed that all those efforts, to restore 9G-LCA to airworthiness, had apparently been in vain... No contracts had been secured and the financial backer, Mr Fahrad Azima, had thrown in the towel. Rumor was that it's next destination would be a museum !
Unfortunately 9G-LCA did not operate any commercial flight (probably loosing out to the cheaper Antonov An-22, also in the market for outsize cargo) and by 2006 rumors circulated of it a/going to a museum, or b/being scrapped and c/being restored for an unnamed airline (restored by whom as BASCO was rumored to be on the brink of bankruptcy..?).
Who is Mr Azima, the financial force behind the Skymonster for many years ? A profile:
By Nov.2006 it became clear that this amazing plane was being restored for a new owner, saving it from the scrapman who had already been waiting in the wings...
Andrew Stevens posted on Yahoo's Classic-Propliners the news that by 13dec06 it had been reregistered to the Philippines as RP-C8023 and had been spotted doing engine testruns that day at Bournemouth-Hurn. Wonderful news!
Malcolm Porter was again instrumental in often restoring the hopes and dreams of many propliner fans: to see this plane back in the air. Which is a good opportunity to put his book on the CL-44, "The Swingtail Story", back in the spotlight!
By Feb.2008 I received a message that all hope to restore this Skymonster to commercial airworthiness seems to be lost now:
By May 2013 someone described the status such: "The aircraft is currently 9G- registered but NTU, the Phillippine registration was deleted and removed 2 yrs ago."
Fahrad Azima, a profile (Link removed and no longer valid by may 2013)
Aviation Leasing Group (ALG), companies of ALG (www.algkc.com seems blocked)
See also WIKIPEDIA
Back to my Propliners in the UK, 2003
This vintage image was shared by Richard Nash