Douglas DC-4 Skymaster Lockheed L188 Electra
Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation   Two Engine Propeller Aircraft
Air Ceylon Turbojet Aircraft Air Ceylon Home Page


Douglas DC-4 Skymaster

DC-4 Laxapana

The history of the DC-4 dates back to when United Airlines devised a requirement for a four engine long range airliner.

United looked to Douglas to fulfill the requirement, who devised the highly ambitious DC-4E (where the E stood for experimental). This four engined behemoth was flight tested in 1939. It was roughly three times the size of the DC-3 (its wingspan was 42.17m/138ft 3in, and length 29.76m/97ft 7in), had triple tail surfaces, tricycle undercarriage, was pressurised and potentially could fly nonstop from Chicago to San Francisco.

However all the ground breaking new technology on the DC-4E meant that it was costly, complex and had higher than anticipated operating costs, so Douglas thoroughly revised the design, resulting in the smaller and simpler definitive DC-4.

The new DC-4 was developed under the darkening clouds of WW2, and upon the USA's entry into war all DC-4s then on the production line were requisitioned for the US military. The result was that the first DC-4 flew for the first time on February 14 1942 in military markings (as the C-54 Skymaster). The DC-4 was found to admirably suit the USAAF's requirement for a long range cargo transport, and 1162 were built through the war years.

As was the case with the DC-3, the end of war meant that much of that number were surplus and sold to the world's airlines. Further to this Douglas built an additional 78 DC-4s to new orders. Over the years the survivors have been passed down to charter and freight airlines, and today small numbers survive in service as freighters.

Notable developments of the DC-4 include Aviation Trader's much modified Carvair freighter (described separately) while Canadair built a number with Rolls Royce Merlin engines and pressurised fuselages. The DC-4 also formed the basis for the larger DC-6 and DC-7 which are described separately (the DC-4 was the first airliner to introduce a circular section, constant diameter fuselage which made stretching the basic aircraft relatively simple).


Air Ceylon Aircraft

VP-CBD Douglas C-54A-DC c/n 10365 1949-1951 1950 re-reg. CY-ACA
VP-CBE Douglas C-54A-DO c/n 3077 1949-1950 1950 re-reg. CY-ACB

DC-4 plan

DC-4 cutaway

DC-4 cockpit

DC-4 engines



Douglas C-54A-DO c/n 3077-19 of Air Ceylon VP-CBE

Australian National Airways applied for an Australian C of R for a DC-4 - November 25, 1948

Entered onto the Australian Aircraft Register as VH-ANF (c/n 3077) - November 25, 1948

This Certificate of Registration was not taken up

Transferred to Air Ceylon - January 21, 1949

Entered onto the Ceylonese Aircraft Register as VP-CBE - January 24, 1949

Departed London (Heathrow) on delivery flight to Melbourne - January 21, 1949

Cancelled from the U.S. Aircraft Register - January 24, 1949

Arrived Melbourne's Essendon Airport at conclusion of delivery flight - January 26, 1949

Delivery route: London-Castel Benito-Cairo-Karachi-Colombo-Singapore-Darwin-Melbourne

Operated first Air Ceylon revenue service Melbourne-London - February 4, 1949

Aircraft was named by the Governor-General of Ceylon 'Ratmalana' - February 7, 1949

Reregistered CY-ACB - October 11, 1950

Sold to Australian National Airways Pty Ltd - December 1950

Entered onto the Australian Aircraft register as VH-INZ - December 21, 1950

Aircraft retained the name 'Ratmalana' (site of Colombo's first airport)

Remained under charter to Air Ceylon and operated in full Air Ceylon livery

Returned to A.N.A. when Air Ceylon ceased operations - July 23, 1953

Air Ceylon international services commenced in 1949 and were operated in partnership with Australian National Airways using two DC-4s, VP-CBD and VP-CBE.  In 1950 these were re-registered CY-ACA and CY-ACB respectively. The above photo is from the Bruce Robinson collection, and was taken when Keith Virtue, seconded from ANA, was its captain.

An illustration which appeared in a 1949 magazine advertising Air Ceylon as 'The Trunk Route of the Orient'. The DC-4s were flying into London Heathrow at the time and shows 'Ratmalana' in profile as VP-CBE. In December 1950 this DC-4 joined ANA.

All Douglas prop aircraft

Douglas propeller aircraft family: DC3, DC4, DC6,  & DC7



Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation


The Lockheed Constellation ("Connie") was a propeller-driven airliner powered by four 18-cylinder radial Wright R-3350 engines. It was built by Lockheed between 1943 and 1958 at its Burbank, California, USA, facility. A total of 856 aircraft were produced in numerous models, all distinguished by a triple-tail design and dolphin-shaped fuselage. The Constellation was used as a civilian airliner and as a U.S. military air transport, seeing service in the Berlin Airlift. It was the presidential aircraft for U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Sleek and powerful, Constellations set a number of records. On April 17, 1944, the second production C-69, piloted by Howard Hughes and TWA president Jack Frye, flew from Burbank, California to Washington, D.C. in 6 hours and 57 minutes (c. 2,300 mi/3,701 km at an average 330.9 mph/532.5 km/h). On the return trip, the aircraft stopped at Wright Field to give Orville Wright his last flight, more than 40 years after his historic first flight. He commented that the Constellation's wingspan was longer than the distance of his first flight.

On September 29, 1957, an L-1649A Starliner flew from Los Angeles to London in 18 hours and 32 minutes (about 5,420 mi/8,723 km at 292.4 mph/470.6 km/h). The L-1649A holds the record for the longest-duration, non-stop passenger flight. During TWA's inaugural London-to-San Francisco flight on October 1–2, 1957, the aircraft stayed aloft for 23 hours and 19 minutes (about 5,350 mi/8,610 km at 229.4 mph/369.2 km/h).

An EAL Constellation to date still holds the record for a New York to Washington flight from lift off to touch-down in just over 30 minutes. The record was set prior to speed restriction by the FAA below 10,000 ft.
One of the reasons for the elegant appearance of the aircraft was the fuselage shape—a continuously variable profile with no two bulkheads the same shape. Unfortunately, this construction is very expensive and was replaced by the mostly tube shape of modern airliners. The tube is more resistant to pressurization changes and cheaper to build.


Air Ceylon Aircraft

PH-LKI Lockheed L-1049G-82-151 c/n 4644 1959-1959 leased
4R-ACH Lockheed L-1049G c/n 4553 1958-1960  


Connie plan

Connie ad

Connie add


Connie cockpit

    Connie engines   


'Maha Devi' at Amsterdam.
Air Ceylon restarted its weekly Colombo to London service in February 1956 with a L-749A leased from KLM. The aircraft carried PH- registration but was fully painted in Air Ceylon's attractive livery. The L-749A was replaced by a (KLM) L-1049G in November 1958. The former PH- registration was replaced by a 4R- Ceylonese registration later that year. The Super Connie was in use until November 1960 when a leased KLM L-188 replaced it.

"Somadevi" seen at LHR on a beautiful day in September 1959. (Scott Henderson Collection)

Modified to 1049E-55-108 on 15 May 1954 and delivered to KLM as Ph-LKA 'Isotoop'. Updated to 1049G/02-82 by KLM, completed 16 March 1956. Leased to Air Ceylon 1 November 1958 and named 'Somadevi'. In service 12 November 1958. Returned to KLM 1 November 1960 and restored as PH-LKA.

At Paya Lebar Singapore during the London - Colombo service in 1957. (Scott Henderson Collection)

Re-registered PH-LDP 16 February 1954. Leased to Air Ceylon in a 12 sleeper/35 tourist class configuration 7 February 1956 and named 'Mahadevi'. First service to London-Heathrow 10 March 1956. Returned to KLM 1 November 1958, and withdrawn from use 3 November 1958.



London - Heathrow (LHR / EGLL), UK - England, 1958

FSX Conny



Lockheed L188 Electra




Lockheed's Electra provided a number of airlines with their introduction to turbine powered aircraft. Today it remains popular with freight operators.

The Lockheed L-188 Electra was developed to meet a 1954 American Airlines requirement for a domestic short to medium range 75 to 100 seat airliner. In June 1955 American awarded Lockheed an order for 35 such aircraft. Lockheed's design, the L-188, was a low wing, four turboprop powered aircraft. Many other airlines shared American's interest in the L-188, and by the time the first prototype flew on December 6 1957, the order book stood at 144. Service entry was with Eastern Airlines (due to a pilot's strike at American) on January 12 1959.

However, any optimism Lockheed felt about a strong sales future would have been short lived, as a number of crashes in 1959 and 1960 (two of which where the aircraft broke up in flight) contributed to a number of order cancellations.

As an interim measure following the crashes, speed restrictions were imposed on Electras. Investigations uncovered a design defect with the engine mountings where the wing would shake and eventually break up. Lockheed undertook a significant modification program where the nacelles, nacelle mountings and wing structure were strengthened, and the speed restrictions were eventually lifted in 1961. After that the Electra proved reliable and popular in service, but the damage had been done and production wound up in 1961 after 170 had been built.

Lockheed built two basic versions of the Electra. The L-188A was the basic production aircraft, and accounted for most Electra sales. The L-188C entered service with KLM in 1959 and had greater fuel capacity and higher weights, and thus improved payload range performance.

The Electra also forms the basis for the hugely successful P-3 Orion long range maritime surveillance aircraft of which more than 600 have been built.

Most Electras currently in service are configured as freighters. From 1967 Lockheed converted 41 Electras to freighters or convertible freighter/passenger aircraft, fitting a strengthened floor and a large cargo door forward of the wing on the left side. Other companies have also converted Electras to freighters. However, a small number remain in passenger service.


Air Ceylon Aircraft

PH-LLD Lockheed L-188C c/n 2009 1960-1961 leased


Electra plan

Electra cutaway

Electra cockpit




L-188C Electra PH-LLD Dutch registered Air Ceylon Electra, leased from KLM.
London - Heathrow (LHR / EGLL) England, 1961





Douglas DC-4 Lockheed L188 Electra
Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation   Two Engine Propeller Aircraft
Air Ceylon Turbojet Aircraft Air Ceylon Home Page

Man is not as good as a black box for certain specific things. However he is more flexible and reliable. He is
easily maintained and can be manufactured by relatively unskilled labour.

- Wing Commander H. P. Ruffell Smith, RAF, 1949 -









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