DOUGLAS DC-4 SKYMASTER SAAF SERIAL 6902

At the end of 1945, South African Airways (SAA) took delivery of three new Douglas DC-4 Skymaster aircraft, ZS-AUA, ZS-AUB and ZS-AUC.  These three aircraft were introduced onto the “Springbok” service between South African and the United Kingdom in partnership with the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). 

As the frequency of services increased, SAA purchased a further three Douglas DC-4 Skymaster's, ZS-BMF, ZS-BMG and ZS-BMH.  Skymaster ZS-BMH was the very last DC-4 to come off the production line at the Douglas factory on 8 September 1947.

When the DC-4 aircraft were replaced by the Super Constellation’s on the “Springbok” service, two of the DC-4’s (ZS-AUC and ZS-BWN) were sold in 1959 and were transferred to Air Afrique on the Ivory Coast and later, to Air Chad.  The remaining five DC-4 aircraft continued the air service in South Africa until four were transferred to the South African Air Force in January 1966 and the fifth aircraft ZS-AUB, during October 1966.  All the DC-4 Skymaster’s were allocated to 44 Squadron based at Air Force Base Zwartkop.

The aircraft on display is the former South African Airways ZS-BMF that was Christened “Amatola” and allocated the SAAF serial number 6902.  This aircraft was used extensively to ferry SAAF personnel around the country.  Once these aircraft started ferrying troops and passengers to the border areas of South West Africa (Namibia), they were repainted in camouflage colours and special shrouds were fitted to the exhaust pipes to make them less friendly to enemy heat-seeking surface-to-air missiles.

These aircraft will be remembered by all service personnel for ferrying SADF entertainment groups and Southern Cross Gifts and Comforts Fund personnel to all the operational airfields in South West Africa (Namibia) over the Christmas period every year for the duration of the Border War (1966 - 1989).  This aircraft remained with 44 Squadron throughout her operational life, first from Air Force Base Zwartkop and then Air Force Base Waterkloof when 44 Squadron was relocated.  DC-4 Skymaster 6902 made her final flight from AFB Waterkloof to the SAAF Museum on 15 January 1993 when these aircraft were finally retired from the SAAF aircraft fleet.

Country of origin: United States of America
Manufactured as: Douglas DC-4 (C-54) Skymaster
Served with: 44 Squadron
Role: Transport
Power Plant: Four Pratt & Whitney 14 cylinder radial engines, delivering 1 066 kW (1 450 hp) each
Max take-off mass: 33 112 kg
Max speed: 426 km/h
Max range: 3 500 km