View Full Version : Argonaut/North Star Memories and Observations

Midland 331
22nd Feb 2007, 13:57

There have been plenty of mentions of the Arognaut, Canadair's "Pressurised DC4 With Merlins" in other recent threads.

Growing up around Caste Don. in the 'sixties, they frequently impressed me, making the kind of sound heard only in WWII adventure films.

My uncle maintained them and flew as flight engineer, and amused us all at family gatherings with his observations on them.

Does anyone have any other reflections or insights?

Apparently, the noise of the "high level blowers" cutting in used to disconcert the passengers somewhat.

Plus, the cabin pressurisation was less than adequate, causing some, errm, discomfort amongst passengers.


22nd Feb 2007, 14:39
one of my earliest memories of a family holiday was to Majorca in say 1965, with an Air Links Argonaut from LGW. (I was already a spotty spotter). Ah, the joy of transport by 4 historic merlins!

By Le mans Southbound, I noticed liquid streaming over the port wing. 5 mins later, one of the engines was shut down, and the captain announced we were returning to LGW. When we arrived there were at least 3 fire engines cruising up & down the taxiways. Disembarked, 45 mins later we were told the tech problem had been sorted. We took off, and this time only got as far as Brighton before we returned for the same charade. 2 hours later we were asked to re-embark. Cue many stout fathers who grouped together and refused to let their families fly on that crate again. 8 hours later a DC-7C (clearly not in great demand) was flown in from Ireland, and off we went.

Happy days


22nd Feb 2007, 15:22
One of my earliest memories as a kid was taxiing out to take off at Khartoum, hearing the pilot rev the engines one by one, and then taxiing back to the terminal for an unexpected extra day in Africa.
Here is a photo of one of them taken by my father at Entebbe.


22nd Feb 2007, 15:34
At Easter 1966, while still at school, I went on a week's 'careers course' at BOAC, being introduced to the various bits of the company. One of the highlights was a visit to the engineering apprentices' Argonaut whicfh was just by the crossing at Hatton Cross. They managed to get a couple of the engines started and we all took turns to sit in the LH seat and advance the throttles until the thing threatened to shake itself to bits.

As a Newcastle spotter, we had a Canadian-registered one as a fixture for a long time, it was on the grass just by the viewing area and you could shelter under it when it rained. I'd seen it before at Coventry in the company of three others, remember seeing some Kenyan ones at Redhill too.

I used to know someone in BMI (now retired) who used to tell me exciting stories of take-offs from the Burnaston grass in the rain. They couldn't carry commercial pax out of Burnaston but it was OK for staff.

22nd Feb 2007, 16:44
I recall seeing a Canadian registered Argonaut/North Star at Panshanger in the earliy sixties. Am I going mad?

Shaggy Sheep Driver
22nd Feb 2007, 17:14
The only one I recall seeing was G-ALHG after it had crashed in Stockport while on the approach to Manchester Ringway. As a young lad I cycled to Stockport to see it. It had largely burned out, but the big tail section with 'BM' on it looked incongruous sitting in the middle of the town. The parents of a child in my mother's primary class (my mum was their teacher) were killed in the accident.

Very sad.


22nd Feb 2007, 17:24
Only one I ever saw was poor old G-ALHJ which languished on the fire dump down near the fuel farm at Heathrow till sometime in the early 1980s? There was a Comet parked near there too...

The Argonauts at Redhill were scrapped there weren't they?

22nd Feb 2007, 17:56
Ah the nostalgia! My childhood at Prestwick airport was filled on a daily basis with the C-54GMs of the RCAF, the DC-4M2s of Trans Canada Airlines and (less frequently) by the C-4 Argonauts of BOAC.

I think the Newcastle DC-4M2 was CF-TFM which had been bought from TCA by Overseas and which disappeared mysteriously one day to Holland and Czechoslovakia wearing a fictitious Italian registration I-ACOA.

It was flown by the infamous Hank Warton (later of Biafra fame) and ended its life when he ran out of fuel and crashed in northern Cameroon.

Cornish Jack
22nd Feb 2007, 20:44
Nostalgia indeed!!
For my first overseas tour in Aden, transport was the first BOAC trooping flight by Argonaut via Rome and Cairo. Still have the Rome meal voucher somewhere amongst the 'magpie complex' detritus:sad:
Leather, two abreast seats and up-market 'hosties' to cosset you. Perhaps surprisingly, no tech problems. I expect the hearing to recover, eventually !! ;)

22nd Feb 2007, 23:33
I recall seeing a Canadian registered Argonaut/North Star at Panshanger in the earliy sixties. Am I going mad?

During my time at Radlett I recollect being told that DC4s were parked up at Panshanger at one time but not sure whether, or not, they were Argonauts. Anyone else have a pointer on this?

23rd Feb 2007, 00:14
I had a friend who used to fly them as F/O with Trans Canada. They were known for false engine fire warnings. One day enroute Toronto to Winnipeg he had all four engine fire warnings go off at once. The Captain calmly reached up and cancelled all four warnings, with the explanation that the odds were astronomical that all four engines were on fire, and they continued to their destination. :eek:

henry crun
23rd Feb 2007, 00:50
thread digression.

pigboat: that story is similar to the one about O.P. Jones who had a long distinguished career as a pilot, finishing, I believe, as chief pilot in BOAC.

During the war he was ferrying a Liberator from the US to England, and mid atlantic the engineer somehow managed to knock off all 4 engine magnetos at the same time.

Apparently O.P. didn't bat an eyelid, but turned round and said "strangely quiet, isn't it Mr Smith ?". :)

23rd Feb 2007, 02:03
Henry, back in the 1980's I listened to an interview on Canadian radio with Captain Eric Moody of BA009, the 747 that lost power in all four due to ingestion of volcanic ash. The lady interviewer was all adither and asked him what his thoughts were, at the controls of an aircraft with no power, at night, etc. His reply - in the best British accent - was, "I was thinking I'm now in charge of the world's largest bloody glider."

Priceless. :ok:

23rd Feb 2007, 07:57
Yet another digression.

When Eric Moody arrived in Australia after the BA009 incident he was interviewed on Australian television and when asked what it was like after the engines failed his reply was "as dark as a badger's *rse at midnight".

Midland 331
23rd Feb 2007, 14:17
Drifting a bit here...

I flew on the same 747 NBO-LHR circa 1989, visited the flight deck, and the crew informed me that this aircraft was know as "Moody's Glider".


Does anyone know of the Argonaut inadvertant fuel transfer problem?


Shaggy Sheep Driver
23rd Feb 2007, 15:11
Does anyone know of the Argonaut inadvertant fuel transfer problem?

I understand it was that that caused the Stockport crash - it led to the crew not being aware that certain tanks were being drained, and this resulted in fuel starvation to the engines.


23rd Feb 2007, 17:41
Fuel feed was selected by levers located on the forward side of the centre console, ahead of the throttles ( two sets ). It's a while ago now, but I seem to remember they were selected into detents, as you might expect. Tests conducted by the R.A.E. appeared to show that the rotary fuel cocks operated in sequence could - in the Stockport case, at least - have been incorrectly aligned to the tune of several degrees. This, in turn, it was found, could have allowed migration of fuel from the mains to the auxiliaries. I assume mains would have been the normal feed selected prior to the approach phase. Anyway, it was the misaligned valves that were cited as the chief cause. I suppose, the accident report can be found somewhere on the internet, and I can imagine that in it will be other stuff covering cross-feeds, quantity indication, maintenance etc. etc.

23rd Feb 2007, 18:17
I recall seeing a Canadian registered Argonaut/North Star at Panshanger in the earliy sixties. Am I going mad?

During my time at Radlett I recollect being told that DC4s were parked up at Panshanger at one time but not sure whether, or not, they were Argonauts. Anyone else have a pointer on this?Yes, they were ex-TCA North Stars at Panshanger. I want to say three of them, but that's purely from (old and creaking) memory.

23rd Feb 2007, 18:46
Flew on the ill-fated ALHG aprox 6 months before the Stockport crash.
Managed to get airborn from Ringway at third attempt for Ostend. After only about 10 minutes in the air, one of the starboard Merlins decided to have a fire.
Emergency landing at EMA followed, where HG was towed away to a hanger and all pax were deposited in the staff canteen and fed cold ham, fried eggs and chips.

A four hour wait ensued, until sister ship LHY arrived, which should have operated EMA-JER. This aircraft was allocated for our continued journey and the JER pax informed of an indefinate delay to their flight.

The second leg of the flight was not uneventful, as on landing at Ostend, the tyres on the port undercarraige of HY burst.

Some of my friends witnessed HG on it's approach to Ringway on the day of the crash, across the Denton reservoirs. Apparently it was so low at that stage, you could see the pax through the windows.

24th Feb 2007, 09:29
A Derby Airways Argonaut did a Jersey flight from Staverton once. When the former SATCO retired after 35 years plus, this was the most memorable aircraft he could recall, so we commissioned a painting of it for him. I'll find a picture somewhere...

cvt person
25th Feb 2007, 11:21
I can recall three ex Trans Canada Argonauts at Coventry in the early 1960's belonging to Overseas. They were CF-TFK, CF-TFO and CF-TFT. I think they were scrapped out in the mid 60's. They were all parked on the grass with their tails towards the car park.

25th Feb 2007, 16:20
Yes, they were ex-TCA North Stars at Panshanger. I want to say three of them, but that's purely from (old and creaking) memory.The reply from cvt person jogged something grey. That's where the three I mentioned were; apparently there was but one at Panshanger - CF-TFN.
According to a tome in the PT (ahem) library the Argonauts in the UK were scrapped as follows:
CF-TFN Panshanger
G-ALHI Stansted (fire school)
G-ALHJ Heathrow
G-ALHP, LHW, VR-AAT Burnaston
G-ALHM, LHS, LHW, LHY Castle Don.
And not forgetting the peripatetic and probably illegal CF-TFM which was stored for a while at Coventry then reregistered(sic) HP-925, BR-HBP, I-ACOA before smiting a mountain in Cameroun. (BR- was an unofficial mark for Burundi).

25th Feb 2007, 17:39
When I worked at Southend Airport in the early 60s I can remember
the occasional Argonaut being parked on the north apron.

I vaguely recall they were in BMA colours by then, but a fading memory
could prove me wrong. Still a memorable sight and sound, especially when
compared with all the other DC4 conversions on the airport, the BUAF Carvairs.

Midland 331
25th Feb 2007, 18:52
In a history of British Midland by B.G. Cramp, the short "time between overhaul" interval of the Merlins is mentioned.

Midland bought the aircraft "on the cheap" from Overseas Aviation, then found that they were costly to maintain.

Was the Merlin a high-performance military power plant, unsuited to commercial operations?

And was it particularly unreliable in the Argonaut?


26th Feb 2007, 11:45
I recall that after the BEA Munich crash a series of tests to evaluate the effects of slush on aircraft take off performance were carried out at Boscomb Down by a Midland Canadair C4. Possibly early sixties.
If this is correct then the old C4 made a significant contribution to flight safety

26th Feb 2007, 19:02
I think the reliability of the Merlin was perhaps no worse than many of the powerful piston engines of the time. The Stratocruiser was forever limping back in on three, and the Wright Turbo-Compounds on the DC-7C had a depressing propensity for catching fire.

Takeoff on an Argonaut was a somewhat fraught experience, especially out of somewhere hot and high. On the West African routes the passengers were told that the flights were scheduled to cross the Sahara at night, due to it being very turbulent during the day. I'm more inclined to believe now that it was due to performance at Tripoli and Kano!

Mind you, a heavily-laden DC-6 or C118 setting off across the Atlantic was a 'Curvature of the Earth' job too.

26th Feb 2007, 22:06
<< passengers were told that the flights were scheduled to cross the Sahara at night, due to it being very turbulent during the day. >>

More to do with nav requirements - the ability to hopefully see the stars to fix on - applied equally to the atlantic where both crossings were at night in the immediate post ww2 period - LORAN and consol made life easier in later years!!!!!!

arem - son of eng/nav/pilot in BOAC

27th Feb 2007, 03:25
Speaking of long-range trans-oceanic flights, here is CPA's Canadair 4, Empress of Sydney, at Sydney, Australia on the return leg of her inaugural flight from Vancouver, Canada, on July 15, 1949.

27th Feb 2007, 17:09
Speaking of long-range trans-oceanic flights, here is CPA's Canadair 4, Empress of Sydney, at Sydney, Australia on the return leg of her inaugural flight from Vancouver, Canada, on July 15, 1949
What would the routeing have been on that? I get tired just thinking about it!

27th Feb 2007, 18:28
South Pacific routing was Vancouver-San Francisco-Honolulu-Fiji-Auckland-Sydney.

North Pacific routing was Vancouver-Anchorage-Shemya-Tokyo-Hong Kong.

The Chinese Communist Revolution of 1949 curtailed plans to stop in Shanghai.

28th Feb 2007, 02:43
Thanks for the thread; it bought back fond memories of early flights in an Aden Airways Argonaut to and from Mombasa.

28th Feb 2007, 08:55
Brings back memories to me as well, Khormaksar to Mombasa for two weeks leave to which one was entitled in ones second year in Aden.

Listening to people as they got off saying how noisy the aircraft was----and there was me thinking how quiet it was, but then I was used to sitting between four Griffons!!!

28th Feb 2007, 09:35
Love it!:ok: What avion had four Griffin motors you speak of? Photograph s.v.p?
Many thanks!:)

Midland 331
28th Feb 2007, 09:53
Re-reading more of Cramp's book on Midland, it seems that they narrowly missed buying DC6-Bs from the US, and only bought the Argonauts from a liquidation sale as they were very cheap.

However, the maintenance costs were much higher, overhauls more expensive, and, as Capt Cramp (who flew them) asserts, their range was inferior to the DC4, never mind the DC6!

Would anyone like to comment?


28th Feb 2007, 10:22
You are correct. The range was inferior to the DC-4. CPA relegated the C-4 to the domestic routes in the early 1950s. Meanwhile, Grant persued a contract from Douglas for DC-6Bs and parlayed a deal with de Havilland for the new Comet. Little known fact was that CPA operated DC-4s in place of Canadair C-4s while awaiting the DC-6Bs. CPA also leased some Convair 240s for service to the interior of B.C. His first jet, (and what would have been North America's first jet service) the Comet, crashed on delivery, so Grant bought Bristol Britannias for the long-haul routes the Comet was planned for. The Britannia's engines iced-up at temperatures just south of freezing, so by this time Grant was wondering if most British built
airliners were sub-standard. Against his better judgement, he bought Douglas DC-8s, with the excellent British Rolls Royce Conway engines, primarily because Trans-Canada Airlines had also ordered the DC-8 with the same engine. The DC-8-40s served him well initially, but the company dumped them for the P&W powered DC-8-50, and subsequently bought the stretch series -61, -62 and -63 Douglas DC-8s. He would have loved the Boeing 707-320B, had he lived to buy it. The share-holders of Canadian Pacific Corp. would have rejoiced.

28th Feb 2007, 10:53
I was stationed at Kai Tak in the early fifties and remember the CPA C4's on a weekly service from Vancouver via Tokyo. The BOAC Argonauts provided a regular "mail from home" service"
Regarding the C4 range. In 1953 I flew on a BOAC Argonaut (RAF charter) from London to Montreal via Iceland.
My records show that the flight time from Keflavik to Dorval 10hrs 50min. and a lot faster than a DC4. Quite a respectable performance I would say.

pax britanica
28th Feb 2007, 11:09
I grew up right by LHR-in late fifties early 60s and remeber the argonauts cos they were so bloody noisy compared to radials

Be nice to hear one now though

28th Feb 2007, 12:34

28th Feb 2007, 12:46
See Krakatoa's comments re noise (Black BOAC Avro York? 12). Merlin versus Griffon -----no contest, especially as said when you tie 24 prop blades on!!

Midland 331
28th Feb 2007, 13:02
A five-ship Shack. formation passed over Teesside just before their retirement.

Sound effects worthy of Bomber Command!


3rd Mar 2007, 18:16
I well remember the Argonaut and North Stars that Overseas Aviation operated. For a short while before they went bust I worked for them at Gatwick. What an airline! talk about a shoe string operation. Friday afternoon was engine change time. The aircraft going the furthest had to have the engines with the most flying hours left on it. So various aircraft were pulled up and engines changed.
If Ronald Myhill the Chairman had got his head screwed on correctly then the possibility of the airline continuing and going places could have been assured. He could'nt even present accounts of the company to the creditors at their meeting after the airline had gone bust. His answer, and I quote, "it was due to shortage of staff and lack of time".
However the arrival of the North Stars were a sight to be seen a bit like a bomber sqd. returning from an operation.
North Stars littered the taxiway outside the Overseas hanger, of course along with the Vickers Vikings plus a few Herons.

3rd Mar 2007, 18:21
'What an airline! talk about a shoe string operation'
I remember them well. Your hangar was one down towards British United from ours Air Couriers.

5th Mar 2007, 07:01
I understand it was that that caused the Stockport crash - it led to the crew not being aware that certain tanks were being drained, and this resulted in fuel starvation to the engines.

So some said. The fuel transfer systen was identical to that used in the DC-2, DC-3, DC-4, DC-6, DC-7, DC-8, and DC-9 (with controls being manual in all but the last two, which were electric). That is my recollection. There was evidence at the Inquiry that at start-up the ground crew reported less than full outer tanks as measured by dipstick, but it had been disregarded.

Midland 331
5th Mar 2007, 07:58
>So some said. The fuel transfer systen was identical to that used in the DC-2, DC-3, DC-4, DC-6, DC-7, DC-8, and DC-9 (with controls being manual in all but the last two, which were electric). That is my recollection. There was evidence at the Inquiry that at start-up the ground crew reported less than full outer tanks as measured by dipstick, but it had been disregarded.

As per my initial post at the top of the thread, I have a relative who worked and flew on them, so would like to think my information source is reliable.

The fuel transfer problem was certainly known of, but "a rather large hole in the cheese", waiting to catch the unwary or fatigued. Palma-Manchester was over four and a half hours in one of these machines.

I also understand that another Argonaut (-HY?) was sent to Boscombe Down for evaluation by the RAE and "Board of Trade", and loaded to emulate the Stockport situation, and the loss of control under asymettric conditions was significant.

It is difficult to describe the effect that such a major loss had on a (then)small and close-knit organisation.


5th Mar 2007, 09:59
A film of these test flights was made and shown on television. D.P. Davies, the Chief Test Pilot of the ARB, was shown practically standing up in the seat to maintain directional control, when the conditions of the accident were replicated. The amount of misalignment of the fuel cocks which allowed inadvertent fuel transfer was found to be only the thickness of a pencil.

5th Mar 2007, 10:23
As per my initial post at the top of the thread, I have a relative who worked and flew on them, so would like to think my information source is reliable.

I attended every day of the public inquiry. The captain survived but with amnesia as to the material times. There was evidence that there were more passengers on board than there were seats, and of an unqualified "flight engineer" who was seen operating overhead switches in the final moments. His experience had been limited to a short time in the RAF, in which he had worked as an officers' mess steward. At the time of the final sudden vertical or near-vertical fall, according to a graphic representation reconstructed from the black box and demonstrated at the inquiry, the aircraft was flying at less than stalling speed, but the implications of that evidence were not drawn to the attention of the inquiry. That evidence was consistent with the high incidence of compression spinal fractures among the dead. That is why the aircraft managed to impact in one of the few, perhaps the only, (and of necessity small) open spaces in the middle of an urban area without hitting buildings on a glide in. Indeed, again as I recall over the years, one of the recommendations of the inquiry report, addressing that very point, was that passengers should be seated on some sort of hammock that would distribute shock, rather than seats. That was certainly discussed. It appeared that one engine quit, and a "wrong" engine was feathered, thus putting two engines out at a critical time.

Midland 331
5th Mar 2007, 10:32
Thanks very much.

Just for the record, my source was a fully-certified Merlin engineer, and was eventually quite senior in the engineering set-up at Castle Don.

Thanks for the infomation.

Having visited the site, I'd always wondered about how the crash area was so confined. It really is in a built-up urban area.

As well as the memorial to the crew and passengers, there is now an additional plaque acknowledging the bravery of the rescuers. The BBC did a feature on the accident a couple of years ago in one of their regional documentary magazines.


5th Mar 2007, 10:47
.......... according to a graphic representation reconstructed from the black box and demonstrated at the inquiry,

I'd be surprised if the aircraft carried an FDR. :confused: First commercial aircraft fit was the Trident.

5th Mar 2007, 11:00
Be assured, wherever they got them from, and my recollection is that they came from in-flight records, the authorities presented two large graphic demonstrations on easels, one in azimuth and one in altitude.

The trace in azimuth showed the aircraft wander in an irregular track as the crew met and pretty much overcame each successive problem in a series: the first engine cut out from starvation; the second from indvertent feathering; loss of airspeed; probable hand-over from the first officer to the captain; and so on. The vertical trace showed gradual fairly regular loss of altitude and at the end a sudden drop into a near-vertical fall.

As is mandatory in such events, the crash in the one open small space was attributed by press and others to heroic if not superhuman efforts by the crew to avoid a school, I think it was, and put a large disabled out-of-control commercial aircraft down on a handkerchief.

5th Mar 2007, 18:34
If I may be a pedant with respect to the flight trials following the loss of Hotel Golf. The tests were a joint RAE/A&AEE effort and the report published was A&AEE Note 3022. I have a copy of it somewhere in my archive.

6th Mar 2007, 12:00
The Argonaut was the unsung hero of BOACs 1950s aircraft crisis following the demise of the Comet 1 in 1954 and the drastically delayed arrival of the Britannia in 1957. Introduced in 1948 it covered almost all the network except the USA and Caribbean and Australia. Its range wasn't a problem on BOAC's multi-stop largely Commonwealth route pattern and it offered a pressurised cabin ( which the DC 4 never did) , comparable to the DC 6 series and a competitive degree of comfort in both First and Tourist versions. Its reliability was good as most engineers had met the Merlin in its wartime guises and there wasn't much about them that they didnt know, although their civilan lives were vastly greater than the average military ones.
In 1948-50 it was envisaged that BOACs piston fleet would all be gone by 1955,but the above failures of their replacements produced a crisis which was overcome by keeping the Argonauts on African and Eastern Routes (but not beyond Singapore on the Australian route) and they soldiered manfully on
until the final service to Abadan in early 1960. Additionally more second hand Stratocruisers and Constellations were purchased to cover the Atlantic and initially Australia but later South Africa and many Eastern Routes First Class services. Peak utilisastion was probably in 1956 as the Britannia's started to replace them first to South Africa and then to the East from February 1957. Apart from a few Middle East services their last strongholds were the East and West Africa terminators which they hung on to until Britannia 312s displaced the 102s to South Africa in the winter of 1958 and the 102s shifted a notch down the scale. They suffered less from competitors DC 6s and 7s on the colonial routes as traffic rights were the preserve ofthe UK, but in any case, apart from the cabin noise level, were as comfortable as most other piston aircarft and a great deal more reliable than most.
The 4 aircraft which went to East African Airways in 1957/8, including the one in Aden Airways titles, but EAA logos in EvansB's photograph of Feb 28th (on Page 2 of this item) gave EAA sterling service at low cost of ownership. As with all EAA aircraft ,right through to the Comet4 and VC 10 ,they were kept in immaculate external condition, which was seldom a BOAC strong point. They also operated the Nairobi/London route until September 1960 together with Nairobi-Aden-Pakistan-India and intra African services until EAA's third Comet arrived.
There is an excellent book about the Argonaut in all its guises called "The Canadair North Star" by Milberry , published by Canav Books.

7th Mar 2007, 03:21
Thanks, Evansb, for that ad. If anyone wants a good overview of the North Star's birth & operations, find a copy of Ron Pickler & Larry Milberry's 1995 book:

Canadair The First 50 Years, CANAV Books, ISBN 0-921022-07-7.

Pages 49 - 79 covers the period.

It was given out as part of the Fifty Year celebrations. Probably no one will give up their copy as the end papers listed all the active Canadair employees (I'm about 2/3rds down the first page).

8th Mar 2007, 14:40
This book is hugely informative, and tracks the history of all 71 airframes. It narrates the Canadian conception, Government discussion, Douglas assistance, and Rolls Royce inputs. Early TCA and RCAF versions were not pressurised. Pressurisation for civilian aircraft, was pretty much a novelty in 1945. I just talked to a friend, and ex boss, who flew Tudors. ( Big old tail dragger, with a Lincoln wing and no cross-over exhausts ) He reminds us of the Tudor's Roots blowers, the F/E's manual spill valves, and problems with cabin ingestion of blower oil misting. The whole system was disabled on some. I think that this shows that Canadair, albeit with help from Roots and Godfrey, must have got it right on the ( first? ) successful pressurised airliner and that it was still a good ride in 1967, says a lot.

Maybe Blowers/ Avro Ashton/ Tudor problems, and Janitrol heaters, could be a possible interesting new thread - or pehaps that one has been and gone!

Referring back to the book again, one of my favourite asides is where in 1946, Canadair, having no milling machine, ferried raw wing spars to Douglas at Santa Monica in their DC3. These spars reached from inside the cockpit by the U/C lever to the lav compartment past the last bulkhead.

If anyone reading this has a copy, I would take issue with P.240. I know about only the four ex BOAC Argonauts that I flew in as a lucky 22 year old free-lance/contract co-pilot in 1964/65. ( lucky, because, at that time, jobs were scarce for low time pilots ) G-ALHM was not ferried to Castle Donington for breaking on 09SEP65. It was standing on the ramp at RAF Gutersloh on the 13th. I don't much trust my selective memory, but I'm looking at my logbook. The next day we flew 6hrs:15 to Bardufoss in G-ALHI ( see deeper trivia section, next paragraph ) Some months after converting to the Brit, I volunteered to ferry G-ALHM from Redhill to Castle Don on 09MAR66. This time, it really was for spares and tin-foil. I had never flown a big aeroplane off grass, and I remember the two of us testing the going, like a couple of Cricket captains strolling out to inspect the pitch. In the event, it shot off like a greased weasel........At the time, I was a member of the Tiger club at Redhill, and dropping indoors for a cup of tea, a few days later, had to keep shtum, when someone, reasonably, was howling about the ruts we left after the engine runs.....sorry about that. If it's any consolation, I nearly stuffed an Auster into an Argonaut rut at Burnaston myself.

Best Argonaut moment. After dropping off about 70 Territorial SAS at Bardufoss ( kick off point in Norway for NATO exercise areas ) My Captain sugested, for sentimental reasons, we might care to re-trace his steps of over 20 years previously, when in a Mosquito, he had been sniffing around for the Turpitz. The opposition had parked it ( according to Google, just now ) deep amongst the Fjords near Tromso. Just off a small island called Hakoya. We filed VFR, and after take off, dropped down just off the coast for the most exhilarating low level tour up a fjord, you can do that doesn't involve signing up with the military, or cruising with P&O. If there were any natives around, maybe fishing, very early that morning, they will have heard us. When we popped up again to set course for CPH, The Norwegan Airforce ATC was about to blow the whistle, and words were exchanged............... Brilliant day out though.

8th Mar 2007, 15:35
Stockport accident :

My brother was among the first police on the scene; he had joined the Stockport police just a couple of months previously. He still has some harrowing recollections as the pax were quite conscious inside the fuselage, which must have been intact at least in part, and they exchanged beats on the windows until the fire overwhelmed them. An attempt was made to break into the fuselage but this was later found to have been made at a structural strong point. I believe the "cut here" markings were a result of this accident (more recently they seem to have disappeared).

I would hope the press didn't do a "narrowly missed a school" story as I seem to recall the accident happened on a Sunday morning.

BOAC fleet :

Yes the Argonaut soldiered on beyond its expectations following the troubles with its turbine successors. The BOAC fleet of Constellations was not notably expanded in the later 1950s as, although a number of secondhand L749s were bought, an equal number of L049s (same size airframe but less capable)went the other way. The Strats were augmented by secondhand examples and dominated the Atlantic, and 10 DC7Cs were ordered. However getting to about 1958-60 the DC7Cs, the Britannias (both sizes), the Comet 4s and finally the first 707s all turned up in quantity pretty much together and it went from shortage to oversupply.

Noise :

An article I read a while ago said many of the long-term Argonaut crews suffered hearing loss in later years, the constant noise having done permanent damage. It was written as if this did not necessarily happen with other contemporary types.

8th Mar 2007, 15:50
The Argonaut ...... Peak utilisastion was probably in 1956
I happen to have a summer 1956 BOAC timetable here so this is the BOAC departure line-up for a typical summer Saturday, when some of the posters here were doubtless down at the fence in their school uniform caps :) 4 Argonauts, 3 B377G Stratocruisers and 4 L749 Constellations. Surprisingly small.

0915 BA 161 Argonaut ROM-CAI-KTM-EBB-NBO
1345 BA 257 Argonaut ROM-TIP-KAN-ACC
1630 BA 251 Argonaut TIP-KAN-LOS
1730 BA 633 B377G BUR-PIK-KEF-YUL
1900 BA 525 B377G BUR-PIK-YQX-NYC
2000 BA 509 B377G KEF-NYC
1930 BA 224 L749 ROM-BEY-BAG-ABA-KHI

BUR is Burtonwood, which BOAC were using midway between Liverpool and Manchester.

9th Mar 2007, 12:18
Those Burtonwood calls must have been temporary relocation from Ringway, surely. Runway work?

When I arrived in T3 in late Summer 69, BA's operation had doubled to 22 a day: [* 707, otherwise VC10]
BA503 1000 JFK NAS *
BA071 1030 FRA NBO
BA501 1100 JFK
BA561 1130 BOS DTT
BA308 1200 TLV
BA567 1215 YUL CHI
BA605 1230 PIK YYZ
BA669 1230 BDA NAS *
BA509 1500 JFK
BA601 1515 YYZ *
BA507 1600 JFK
BA031 2015 ROM NBO JNB
BA051 2145 CAI NBO LUN
BA011 2230 EBB JNB
BA281 2245 ROM KAN LOS

Note the nice lunch and tea breaks for the check-in staff

Midland 331
9th Mar 2007, 15:19
According to the same book on Midland by B.G. Cramp, the Argonaut was a touch tail-heavy when first received at Burnaston, and removal of a "horseshoe-shaped bar" at the rear of the aircraft helped rectify the problem.


9th Mar 2007, 15:26
Did it use a tail strut like the DC4?

10th Mar 2007, 01:50
Off-topic: From my hazy memory United's DC-10s had a little lounge at the rear of the cabin, no drink server though. They laid out the leftovers of the trays of little sandwiches, etc., after cabin snack service. It was in the aft of the 'plane, so it must have been in coach. I don't think this feature lasted long.

10th Mar 2007, 10:54
The lounge at the rear of the cabin had a horse shoe shaped bench seat where passengers could sit with a drink, no bar,waiter service only !
This was the layout with BOAC in 1953. The bench seat was not part of the seating plan.
I flew on an Aden Airways charter flight to Mombassa in 1961 where myself and family were seated on the bench seat throughout the flight, with seat belts.

Midland 331
10th Mar 2007, 13:32
Being liquid-cooled, and operating from "hot and high" points east, did those Merlins ever get hot?

I seem to recall one Merlin-engined machine (militiary) that had a limited taxi time on the ground.


11th Mar 2007, 15:47
QUOTE from henry crun:
Apparently O.P. didn't bat an eyelid, but turned round and said "strangely quiet, isn't it Mr Smith ?".

There was story at Canadair of the test-pilot, Al Lilly, I believe, still happily with us, who was on a test-flight at night in a C-4 over 8/8 cloud. The aircraft suffered a total electrical failure. What to do?

He knew where he was, more or less, in the flight test area, and he recalled the oil refinery, at the Eastern tip of Montreal island, that constantly burned off waste gases. The flames could be seen for miles. By the stars he set off in what he calculated as the right direction, and there indeed found a hole in the cloud caused by the convection current. Down he came through the hole and back visually below the cloud to Cartierville. Comment on the airmanship is superfluous.

I once travelled by road with him, and I swear he did a walk-around and full pre-flight check on the car. That, I suppose, is how one becomes an elderly retired test-pilot.

It was a C-4, as I recall, that brought the Queen back to the UK from South Africa when King George VI died.

11th Mar 2007, 17:37
Davaar: nearly correct. It was the tour of East Africa. The Argonaut was G-ALHK 'Atalanta' and the date she set foot back on British soil as Queen Elizabeth II was 7th February 1952. Sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister, was standing at the foot of the aircraft steps to meet her.

There was a plaque to this effect mounted on the bulkhead of the rear cocktail lounge. I've seen it. You see, I flew on 'HK on the 29th of June 1956, as an unaccompanied minor, to Accra, via Tripoli and Kano. The stewardess took me back to take a look at it. (No jokes about The Golden Rivet please!) It was only a brief visit because the grown-ups were partaking of the alcohol.

They might have been knocking them back a bit more heavily than normal - if that was possible - due to a certain fact of which I was oblivious. Five days earlier, Argonaut G-ALHE had crashed just after takeoff at Kano, into an approaching storm, with considerable loss of life. There were thirty-two fatalities out of forty-five aboard, including three crew members. Other than the fact that I was at boarding school, and the news must have been deliberately kept from me, I'm astonished that I didn't hear about the accident until I reached Accra and my parents told me!

13th Mar 2007, 16:17
The Kano crash was suspected by BOAC ops people as being down to a temperature inversion at low level,- ie it was cool enough to get airbourne but at 200 feet or so it was too hot for it to stay in the air, so was doomed as soon as it met any significant obstacle, or even substantial turbulence.

Midland 331
15th Mar 2007, 18:13
There are some excellent Argonaut images here, along with many other types.



22nd Mar 2007, 08:02
I posted this in another thread (DC-4), on which Evans suggests it is
relevant to this thread also, so I repeat it:

The Midland Argonauts certainly had a flight engineer. My uncle did relief shifts as one. Plus, one was involved in the loss at Stockport. "Taff" Lloyd RIP.

No, to be accurate, Midland, Hotel Golf did not carry a flight engineer.

Mr Lloyd was "an experienced although not certificated ground engineer......He flew in Hotel Golf in order to perform ground engineer's duties when the aircraft was away from its home station. He had no duties to perform in the air, but in order to help out, not as a matter of duty, he filled in instrument readings in the technical log and instrument and fuel logs, and if asked to do so by the Captain or First Officer would move control levers or switches in flight, for example the radiator shutter controls, and the fuel booster pump switches during the approach check".

"Apart from such very limited help in flight as they might request and receive from the ground engineers the Captain and First Officer on Argonaut aircraft in British Midland shared the whole workload of flying, navigation, radio communication, engine handling and system management".

And so on.

The ARB "now require" that "as part of its minimum crew the Argonaut shall carry a third pilot or qualified flight engineer ...."

All of the quotations above in inverted commas are taken from the Board of Trade Report of 7 May, 1968, by Mr Justice Peter Bristow, into the accident to G-ALHG on 4 June, 1967.

22nd Mar 2007, 15:25
In post # 50 above I mentioned the "black box" from which the flight path of Hotel Golf was reconstructed after the Stockport crash, and in post # 52 "forget" wrote that the Trident was the first commercial aircraft in which such a device was installed.

With respect, as we lawyers say, the Report I mention in the post immediately above narrates at Part IV that Hotel Golf was equipped with a Midas Type CMM Flight Recording system which recorded information simultaneously on two magnetic tapes, one housed in an armoured and fireproof container sited in the tail and designed to survive an accident, the other located on the cock pit floor. Both tapes were recovered. The tape from the protected recorder was undamaged. The other was "virtually undamaged" though the cassette was thrown from the electronics unit by the impact force.

The parameters recorded were indicated airspeed, pressure altitude and heading. Normal acceleration in each direction along the normal axis of the aircraft should also have been recorded, but was not for reasons that could not be determined.

The AIB working group was able to reconstruct what hapened during the last 900 seconds of flight. The rate of descent was a fairly steady 200 f.p.m. until at the very end there was a "sudden loss of height at the rate of 2000 f.p.m."

The Report includes, as I wrote before from memory, plots in azimuth and elevation, energy plot, and combined information plot.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
22nd Mar 2007, 19:50
In post # 50 above I mentioned the "black box" from which the flight path of Hotel Golf was reconstructed after the Stockport crash, and in post # 52 "forget" wrote that the Trident was the first commercial aircraft in which such a device was installed.

I think the Trident's contribution to 'black boxes' followed the Staines tragedy. The AAIB (or the then equivalent) called for mandatory CVRs following that accident, as cockpit voice information may have helped ascertain why the droops were retracted, causing the stall and crash.

4th Jun 2007, 12:54
After a gap of about 10+ years, I visited the former Home Town last weekend. It reminded me that today is the 40th anniversary of Argonaut G H piling in: http://www.carlscam.com/stockport/airdisaster.htm (http://www.carlscam.com/stockport/airdisaster.htm) . Interesting that the Stockport Express faithfully carries on journalism's long tradition of accuracy, reporting long after the events:

http://www.stockportexpress.co.uk/images/show/5/5078.html (http://www.stockportexpress.co.uk/images/show/5/5078.html) "The tail unit of the crashed DC4 passenger aircraft"

http://www.stockportexpress.co.uk/images/show/5/5080.html (http://www.stockportexpress.co.uk/images/show/5/5080.html) "The site of the crashed British Midland jet"

Apart from the demolished buildings, the crash site is very much as it was then.

25th Jul 2007, 20:49
Hi, Your answer to the argonauts at Panshanger question confirms my very old memory of seeing three at least parked on the grass ! early 60's ?often wondered why they were there ? did they fly out ? were they broken up ? please answer this my first ever entry into a "the net" norwich.

27th Jul 2007, 12:23
I have a picture of CF-TFM at Panshanger taken in 1964 - must have been one of the 'Overseas' imports that never got used - ended up in a heap in West Africa - Cameroun - crashed whilst gun running on 11 October 1966 according to Larry Milberry's book "The Canadair North Star"

27th Jul 2007, 17:04
I have a picture of CF-TFM at Panshanger taken in 1964You sure it wasn't November and not Mike ? Everything else I've read suggests 'TFN was the only one ever at Panshanger: http://abpic.co.uk/photo/1000561/

27th Jul 2007, 18:34
.........Apart from the Argonaut/ex TCA DC4M mentioned above, I seem to remember seeing what I thought were a couple or three standard DC4's parked on the grass there at some point around early or mid 60's. It's possible there could have been some confusion if observed from a distance. I had visited to borrow/rent/ferry a light aircraft, and had been surprised to see such large airliners dumped outside what I assumed was just the local flying club. ( no entry found in logbook, so not sure of the date ) For some reason I recall the flaps were fully extended making them look a bit untidy and abandoned. Referring again to the North Star book, I don't see any Argonaut/C4 or DC4M having been scrapped at Panshanger.
More likely Bagington if they could be ferried.

Midland 331 at top of page struck a bell. I just checked, and note that on a sector in May 1965 we had to return to the ramp and shut down ( Damascus - Baghdad ) having been stuck for ages at the runway holding point awaiting a clearance. The Merlin engine temps were the problem. I suppose it's quite poss that coms between DAM and BGW ATC's at that stage relied on that chaotic AM only HF radio. Having no radar, we used to suffer from hail damage to the radiators, and as co-pilot and assistant to the Ground Eng crew member on these occasions, it would have been my job to make sure the rad fins were reasonably straightend out with a flat piece of wood or similar. We seem to have got away later.....:8

28th Jul 2007, 11:45
You sure it wasn't November and not Mike ?

Yes it was November on closer examination

28th Aug 2007, 14:58
I am sure there are better photos of this scene than mine! However, I do not know of them. So I thought you might be interested to see this impressive line-up on 16 July 1959 at Heathrow.


The AvgasDinosaur
28th Aug 2007, 17:05
Dear All,

C/n 160 G-ALHN was apparently "modified" after BOAC service prior to
delivery to Overseas Aviation by Marshalls at Cambridge to a
freighter config. Photos prove this did not include a freight door,
she flew for some time with Overseas and Flying Enterprise mainly on
IT passenger flights and the occaisional freight run.
What was the nature of the modifications in early March 1960?

C/n 134 CF-TFJ was converted to freighter configuration during
service with Trans Canada Airlines what was the nature of the
conversion, did it include a freight door? She was sold to A.J. Gaul
13/10/61. Did she then fly to Coventry (see c/n 147 below)? If so
did anyone photograph her port side ?

C/n 147 CF-TFU was converted to freighter configuration during
service with Trans Canada Airlines what was the nature of the
conversion, did it include a freight door? Photo evidence exists of
the starboard side showing the windows either blanked out or painted
over. She was sold to A.J. Gaul 13/10/61 and delivered Gatwick -
Coventry on 31/10/61. Did anyone take a photo of the port side
during her stay at Coventry?

Did these two remain pressurised when flown as freighters?

Hope someone can help
Be lucky
Dave Truman

30th Aug 2007, 21:10
CF-TFN c/n 138 This was abandoned at Panshanger when Keegan Aviation moved to Luton on 27.7.64 and was subsequently broken up. The reg was cancelled 2.6.62.

23rd Sep 2015, 14:02
I was an ATCA at East Midlands when it opened in April 1965. One Sunday during that summer British Midland sent all 3 of their Argonauts to an event over in Lincolnshire (50 years and 2 strokes have erased the memory of exactly where) to operate pleasure trips.

They all came back together; the duty ATCO, it might have been Harry Pollack, opened the window and said "now you know what a squadron of Spitfires sounded like".

I had previously flown on G-ALHS Luton/Jersey/Luton the previous summer for a jolly; the customs officer letting us take in the full DF allowance although we'd only been out of the country for about 3 hours.

I recall that 'HG and 'HS were 2 of the 3 aircraft but I can't remember which was the 3rd.

Midland 331
24th Sep 2015, 07:22
A super memory. There are photos of Castle Don. in 1965 on the internet somewhere, maybe on a BBC site, posted in conjunction with the 50th anniversary.

'HY was the third of the fleet, I seem to recall.

A certain Captain B., notable maverick and long-serving Midland aviator, beat up the BMA admin block one day in an Argonaut, (according to my sister who worked there), causing several staff to dive under their desks for cover.

24th Sep 2015, 12:06
My only flight in the type was as a passenger of Air Links from Germany to Gatwick. It was by far the noisiest airliner I had ever experienced and the landing alarmed the full load of pax. I hope someone reported the very heavy landing(s).

24th Sep 2015, 22:07
Photographed by me there in 2014: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15657284285/in/photolist-pwAbmU-pzz53t-iwbKAN-ib7EbA-ibv3r2-ibuDcj-prC7bN-bELTD3-tUCmmy-pWv5pq-stXXLm-pRzF8k-ti3NwE-ttF6AK-tXtXUo

Lovely model of one at the same location:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/15386162906/in/photolist-pwAbmU-pzz53t-iwbKAN-ib7EbA-ibv3r2-ibuDcj-prC7bN-bELTD3-tUCmmy-pWv5pq-stXXLm-pRzF8k-ti3NwE-ttF6AK-tXtXUo

One of two plaques at the Stockport crash site:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/17914559914/in/photolist-pwAbmU-pzz53t-iwbKAN-ib7EbA-ibv3r2-ibuDcj-prC7bN-bELTD3-tUCmmy-pWv5pq-stXXLm-pRzF8k-ti3NwE-ttF6AK-tXtXUo

G-ALHY in service with BMA in the 1960s:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/18317183032/in/photolist-pwAbmU-pzz53t-iwbKAN-ib7EbA-ibv3r2-ibuDcj-prC7bN-bELTD3-tUCmmy-pWv5pq-stXXLm-pRzF8k-ti3NwE-ttF6AK-tXtXUo

25th Sep 2015, 17:26
We used to live very close to Panshanger airfield. I have vague memories of when my dad took my to see the North Star. I was around 4 years old. Somewhere in my loft there is a couple of photos that my elder brother took at the time.

26th Sep 2015, 16:21
Well remember my two flights on BOAC Argonauts. Flew out to Nairobi and back in the summer of 1958 (school holidays). It was my first trip as unaccompanied self loading freight, felt very grown up (13 years of age).

Flight out was uneventful but I do remember the noise, the ringing in your ears goes on for a couple days afterwards. Later I flew on an Air France Lockheed Starliner and I remember that as much noisier.

Come mid September it is time to return to school, reluctantly. The return flight (Flt No BA161) turned out to be “more interesting”. Leave NBI mid afternoon for the flight up to Entebbe, about 1 ˝ hours. Leave Entebbe in the late afternoon for the next leg to Khartoum, about 4 ˝ hours. When we are about 45 mins from Khartoum the captain announces we have an engine problem which is going to need attention and the facilities to do this are better at Entebbe, so it is back to Entebbe!!! Arrive back there, by which time it is approaching midnight. All the passengers, mainly teenagers returning to school, are despatched to the Lake Victoria Hotel. Seem to remember bunking down six to a room.

Final instructions are, “We will be up early, back at the airport for 07:00, then we will be on our way”. Duly arrive at the airport to be told, “The aircraft is not ready, go and have some breakfast, should be away by 10:00”. Later we are told “Need some spares from Nairobi, they are coming up on an East African Airways flight, should have you away by two o’clock!”.

While we are waiting an RAF Canberra lands. Some of the passengers get chatting to the crew and were invited to go out and take a closer look. Turns out the a/c is on its way back from Woomera. I remember asking if it was capable of carrying an atomic weapon, the crew gave “hazy” answers as I recall!!

We enjoy lunch but still no serviceable Argonaut. About four o’clock that day’s BA 161 hoves into sight from Nairobi,BA 161 is a daily flight. So we now have two lots of BA 161 passengers on the ground. The obligatory Tannoy is put out requesting passengers to re-embark. Chaos ensues as passengers from both flights queue to reboard. Eventually matters are sorted out and today’s flight departs with our delayed flight departing some hour or so later.

The captain seemed in no hurry to get us to London as we enjoyed a couple of circuits of Mt Etna at fairly low level: we were of course on our way into Rome (in those days Ciampino).

We arrive at LAP around about 11:00, only around 25 hrs behind schedule: oh the delights of 1950s air travel!! Was no doubt met by one of my relatives who put me on the train to Brokenhurst. Back to school, ugh !!!!

26th Sep 2015, 18:28
PM - which school "near Brockenhurst"?

26th Sep 2015, 21:42
Wander.......... Check you PMs. PM

29th Sep 2015, 12:34
In 1953 I flew with my mother from Singapore to London in a BOAC Argonaut.We checked in at the old Kallang airport and were bussed to Changi airport which was purely military in those days.The reason for this was that Kallang runway was not long enough for a loaded Argonaut. About an hour after T/O my mother said 'there is a funny noise' - I had a look out and saw #4 feathered. We turned back,dumped fuel and landed at Kallang. Late that night we were bussed to Changi again and on arrival were told to go home as an engine cowling had fallen off on the ferry from Kallang. We departed again the next day,transited through Colombo with no problems.Arrived and departed Karachi - about an hour out another engine was feathered and back we went.Took off again next day and an hour out another engine was feathered - back to Karachi again. We departed again 2 days later and had no further problems. We finally arrived at Heathrow where customs was a large military style tent. All that was in the days when flying was still an adventure.

29th Sep 2015, 14:02
Ah! the days of "Time to spare go by air", or alternatively "It's quicker by BOAT".

At Idris, after the BOAC Argonaut departed for its night flight to Kano, the occupants of the mess bar could toddle down to the airport restaurant to enjoy a dish left over from the passengers' dinners - 5 piastres (a shilling) ISTR and very good too.

29th Sep 2015, 16:50
Correction to my last post - my flight was in 1955 - the year of the Marciano - Cockell fight. One of the other passengers was headed for New York to see the fight.

30th Sep 2015, 10:09
In the 1950s BOAC cabin crew gave out cardboard models of the Argonaut to amuse child passengers. A friend of my mother's who worked at LHR brought a couple of these kits home for my brother and me. Impressively, they featured retractable undercarriage. Sadly our models have long since vanished and I've yet to meet anyone else who remembers them.

1st Oct 2015, 00:26
I flew in an Argonaut from Khormaksar,think Aden airways were run by BOAC(?)as the paint job was the same.All the way to Mombasa for a two week R&R .The flight down was uneventful .
The return flight hit some thunderstorms and it was a bit turbulent,I had spent all my money by the time I left and was a trifle hungry ,one of the stewardess,s was the girl friend of one of 8 sqdns pilots and I new here slightly,as a lot of people had declined their meals due to the turbulence The stewardess kindly allowed me a few extra meals!!Great flight and a week later 8 sqdn (including me)left for Nairobi for an excersise !!Flying from Embakasi ,now that's another story !!

1st Oct 2015, 11:15
A cardboard model? That is most interesting. I am something of a collector of historic cardboard models. Would anybody have more information, or could even supply a copy of one of these models? I would be highly thrilled.

2nd Oct 2015, 11:35
The Argonaut models were cleverly engineered so they could be assembled without adhesive or tools. The components were held together by 'V' joints. The nosewheel retracted by swivelling on a joint and the main gear retracted into the engine nacelles. I copied the 'V' joint idea and nosewheel swivel in my Aerocard models (http://steemrok.com/aerocard.html) but had to think of a new arrangement for the main gear. After trying various ideas the combined engine-gear design seemed to work best.

3rd Oct 2015, 10:41
Interesting construction, thanks Discorde, I'll give it a try.

14th Oct 2015, 08:27
I flew the Air Links C4 Argonauts as a co-pilot, but won't claim to be much of an expert, since ground school was all afternoon, and six visual circuits at Gatwick was all the handling I got for a while. I did quite a lot of supernumery, however, before being let loose in the right hand seat. Somewhere in there, I must have worked in an instrument rating renewal, and whatever stamp was needed for the C4 type rating. I remember having to return to the 'ministry', or ARB, to sit the recently introduced 'Performance A', which had been somehow overlooked. All the Captains, who seem to have been flying everything powered by Merlins since 1939, were easy to get along with. We were all on individual contracts, with some flying trips with other operators as well. By this time, I think that our friends at Derby Airways were the only other Argonaut operators. Must have been in 1966, by which time we had re-equipped with Britannias, that I returned to Redhill to ferry the last stored Argonaut out to British Midland for spares ( BMA, the new posh re-badged ident for the much cherished Derby Airways ) I look back to my brief association with the Argonaut era as a time of maverick goings-on, with much laughter and unexpected 'wind-falls'........Ho hum...

15th Oct 2015, 10:05
....Having just had a very quick scan through the previous posts here, I can make a couple or three observations.....The pressurisation stuff was on the co-pilot's side, and was ( I seem to recall ) similar to the DC6. A full sized altimeter on the eyebrow panel for the settings, and tweaking the system gave about the smoothest comfort control of any I've met since. That said, the challenges were not quite comparable to the jet age, I realise. As hinted at on one post, at least on the four C4s Air Links, ( charter airline names appeared to change at some speed, whereas the people in charge so regularly the same ) we used to throttle back at about 10,000ft.....probably two engines at a time, in order to engage high blower. The sort of work picked up from the Baltic exchange, might well involve something like a ship's crew positioning from Europe back East. As you may well imagine, with quite possibly no passengers understanding much English, and us mostly not much help in any other communication with them, apart from a few left over catch phrases from the Empire East of the Med ( i.e. expressions known mostly to Captains, involving laundry, wait-a-moment, thank you, hello, go-away, and stuff to do with mealtimes... not any use at all ) Cabin crew, all female and sourced locally were young and resilient, but to finish the point I started above about the comforting roar of the Merlins unexpectedly dying away half way up the climb, this was likely to seriously unsettle the more timorous clientele. ( including, the first couple of times, yours truly ) I could bang on about the cyclic timers for de-icing, and the strange heater at the back end, but I would have to revise a bit. Suffice to say that we once more or less got overwhelmed by icing, to the point the aircraft actually entered an incipient stall over the Alps. However we recovered before breaking safety altitude, so probably not that route over Mt Blanc. I spotted on another page here about crew compliment. The aircraft was fine with just two pilots apart from the North Atlantic or similar situations. Not so many VORs around then, so mostly NDBs, dead reckoning, and sometimes Consol and friendly QGH type bearings off military or civilian radar, although variable when heading East or anywhere near Africa. ( UK ATC Malta did reach quite a bit south in the '60s ) Have to say, we did have GCA radar approaches available in Europe. I think maybe Heathrow, and certainly on one occasion when with a problem, and in a hurry, we were talked back on at ( I think ) Wildenrath on a foggy day, and never saw the runway until moments before touch down. Not the final talk-down controller, but the person on tower frequency turned out to be my Captain's bro-in-law. A fridge that we had on board for him, we were planning to drop off at Gutersloh.......so that saved him a trip to pick it up. I didn't fly the DC4, but I think it was very different apart from its external similarity. A friend in the next village, at the end of his National Service in the RAF, was posted to help out in the Belgian Congo. Still in his early 20s, not only flew DC4 and DC3s as Captain, but also as the only person on board. Another ( also ex BCal ) operated as single pilot on DC4s somewhere in the Pacific. The Argonaut was the only type I flew where we never had manuals on issue......Just the office copy and the 'Flight Manual' document on each aircraft. Derby Airways people were more organised. I'm sure the BA museum at LHR will have Argonaut manuals for anyone wanting more info......

16th Oct 2015, 13:03
Here's one taken at Entebbe by my father.
http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c2/argonautical/argonaut%20at%20entebbe_zpsayd1ot8c.jpg (http://s24.photobucket.com/user/argonautical/media/argonaut%20at%20entebbe_zpsayd1ot8c.jpg.html)

17th Oct 2015, 19:47
Another great thread, I love hearing, or reading, tales from the good old days?!.
Unfortunately the Argonaut was before my time, I only saw the hulk on the fire dump at STN.
Some years ago I had a colleague, sadly no longer with us, who had been a ground engineer at Overseas. He told me of the owner taking him to inspect an Argonaut at London Airport, that had just been purchased. Upon giving a positive assessment of the machine he was told to jump aboard, where upon the new owner fired up the engines and ferried the aircraft to SEN.
Another story involved transporting an urgently needed ships prop shaft. A job successfully completed despite the item not quite fitting inside the aircraft!
Hopefully there is a grain of truth to these tales, they certainly seem to fit with the spirit of the time, amongst certain operators.

17th Oct 2015, 20:07
Here is a link to a short story about a Trans Canada Air Lines North Star "Flying Merchant":

Lightning Over the Hudson > Vintage Wings of Canada (http://www.vintagewings.ca/VintageNews/Stories/tabid/116/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/437/Lightning-Over-the-Hudson.aspx)

Midland 331
9th Apr 2018, 18:51
Someone has kindly uploaded the post-Stockport BBC documentary from 1968. Detailed, informative and with rare footage


9th Apr 2018, 21:52
Someone has kindly uploaded the post-Stockport BBC documentary from 1968. Detailed, informative and with rare footage


Thanks for that; fascinating.

Linked to another forum I inhabit as one of it's members was a copper in Stockport at time.