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LN-FOS Curtiss C-46A-45-CU Commando c/n 30257 - Fred Olsens Flyselskap A/S - Rotterdam Airport "Zestienhoven" in Holland - 4 August 1970 Rotterdam The Hague Airport (RTM)

The Curtiss C-46 Commando is a two-engined transport aircraft, with a basic flight crew of four and various combinations of freight and passengers. Main compartment can accomodate up to of 50 passengers or as all freighter 6.800 kg cargo. The Curtiss C-46A had a cargo door installed in the fuselage; the floor was strengthened and folding seats were installed along the walls. Development of the Curtiss C-46 started in 1937. That year, Curtiss-Wright Corporation began design work on an all-metal twin engine airliner with twin-tail fin, capable of carrying 36 passengers in a pressurized cabin, as there arose a desire for a passenger transport that would offer a higher degree of luxury and comfort. The prototype, designated the CW-20, was powered by two Wright R-2600 engines and was first flown on 6 March 1940. After the first test flight of the CW-20 in St. Louis, the United States Army Air Corps placed an order for 25 military cargo versions of the aircraft with an increased gross weight and designated it the C-46. The C-46 differed from the CW-20 not only by a single fin and fewer windows; it was powered by two Pratt and Withney R2800 engines and the pressurized cabin system was removed, which changes resulted in an increasing of the gross weight from 40,000 lbs for the CW-20 model to 50,675 lbs for the C-46. By July of 1942, the first re-designated C-46 rolled out of the factory in Buffalo, NY, USA, being the first of a total of 3180 C-46s built as military transport in the period 1942-1945. The C-46 Commando, also known under the nicknames"The Whale" and "Curtiss Calamity", was the largest two engine plane that was operational in World War II and entered service during in World War II by the United States Army Air Forces as well as the U.S. Navy/Marine Corps under the designation R5C. Principal versions built were the Curtiss C-46 (25); C-46A (1491); C-46XC (2); C-46D (1410); C-46E (17); C-46F (234); C-46G (1) and Curtiss R5C-1 (160 built). The prototype CW-20 passenger liner, redesignated C-55, was transferred to Great Britain under Lend-Lease and registered G-AGID with British Overseas Airways Corporation on 24 September 1941. In B.O.A.C.-services the CW-20 became the "Spirit of St. Louis". After the war, Curtiss tried to launch a new passenger transport version of the Commando, but with thousands of surplus transports on the market, this project never stood any real chance of success. In fact, even civil C-46 passenger conversions failed to attract orders and the Commando was most often, and successful, used as a freighter.

Fred Olsens Flyselskap A/S, Oslo, purchased three Curtiss C-46A Commandos: LN-FOP (s/n 27049, registered on 25 March 1958); LN-FOR (s/n 30249, registered on 19 October 1957) and LN-FOS (s/n 30254, registered on 18 December 1957). All three aircraft were still active with Fred Olsens in the early seventies, when in the summer of 1970, a C-46A was stationed at Rotterdam "Zestienhoven" for the daily transport of newspapers to Barcelona for the Spanish holiday resorts. During the period from 22 July / 25 August 1970, during the strikes in British harbours, two of the Fred Olsens C-46A Commando's (LN-FOR and LN-FOS) were stationed at Rotterdam-Zestienhoven to carry out ad hoc cargo flights from / to the UK. In that period, flights were operated to Southend, Manston, Stansted, Newcastle and Birmingham. Curtiss C-46A-45-CU c/n 30257 started its carrier in World War II as 42-96595 in service with the United States Army Air Forces. On 9 April 1956, the C-46A entered the civil US-register as  N9888F with Sunday and Co. In October 1956, the aircraft was registered with Boreas Corp. and converted to a C-46R with two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34 Double Wasp 18-cylinder radial piston engines driving Hamilton Standard propellers. On 27 November 1957, the aircraft was temporarely registered LN-FOS with Fred Olsens and delivered to Norway. On 18 December 1957, the aircraft was registered LN-FOS with Fred Olsens Flyselskap A/S, Oslo. After Fred Olsens Flyselskap A/S had sold it's C-46 aircraft LN-FOP; LN-FOR and LN-FOS to Continental Air Services in Laos, the three Commandos left Oslo on 29 June 1971 on delivery to Laos via Munich. On 14 July 1971, registration LN-FOS was cancelled. In service with Continental Air Services Inc., the Curtiss C-46R was registered XW-PHN and re-registered N337CA in July 1974. Continental Air Services provided airlift services throughout Lao; Vietnam; Canbodia; Thailand and Singapore to construction and mining companies as well as USAID and other humanitarian agencies. Although its head offices were in Los Angeles, its operations base in Southeast Asia was in Udon Thani Thailand. After the N337CA was sold by Continental Air Services in 1976, the aircraft remained active in Southeast Asia with a number of operators until the airframe was withdrawn from use and broken up at Seletar, Singapore, at the end of the seventies.
On 4 August 1970, Fred Olsens' Curtiss C-46A LN-FOS was seen at Rotterdam Airport "Zestienhoven" waiting for freight during the strikes in the British harbours.

page last updated: 07-02-2014
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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