Lelystad C-54 gets historic scheme

Now wearing the colours of PH-TAR Rotterdam, C-54A Skymaster c/n 7488 basks in the sun at Lelystad, with reproduction buildings representing the old Schiphol Airport in the background.

The Dutch Aviodrome museum’s 1942-built Douglas C-54A Skymaster, c/n 7488, recently emerged from the paint shop at Lelystad Airport resplendent in the markings of DC-4 PH-TAR Rotterdam, which, on 21 May 1946, became the first KLM airliner to fly passengers on the Amsterdam-New York route. Prior to the repaint, volunteers at the Aviodrome made some minor repairs to the fuselage, and replaced the fabric on the rudder, elevators and ailerons.

The Aviodrome acquired the C-54 in 2003 and had previously displayed it wearing the markings of NL-316, one of 17 C-54s operated by Netherlands Government Air Transport during the immediate post-war period.

The machine was originally delivered to the USAAF as 42-107469, but in November 1946 was surplused and over the next few years counted Philippine Airlines and Thai Airways among its operators. In 1958 it went back into uniform with the US Air Force, before starting a lengthy career in Africa in 1967 with Botswana National Airways. During 1972 the transport returned to military service with the South African Air Force, and after six years was sold again to join Namibair. Put into storage in February 1994, the airliner was acquired by the Dutch Dakota Association (DDA) in 1995, and two years later made a ferry flight to the Netherlands, where the registration PH-DDY had been reserved.

This was never taken up, the machine serving as a spares source for the DDA’s other DC-4, PH-DDS (c/n 42934). During 2004 the C-54 was moved by road to join the Aviodrome at Lelystad.

The original PH-TAR Rotterdam flew with KLM’s West Indies division from April 1947-November 1948, after which it was sold to Iberia. It was scrapped at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, during 1975.