DC-9-15RC (Rapid Change)
Reports that Air Canada is considering utilizing older B-767's to expand its cargo market reminded me of images I have seen of DC-9's in freighter configuration and livery from the 1970's. I have been curious about these aircraft for some time now.
The last aircraft used in dedicated cargo configuration were the DC-8-60/70's which were all retired in the mid 1990's. The B-747 Combi's that followed were retired in the mid 2000's.
I originally explored the DC-9-15RC's in my article from NL #1342 back in July 2016 when, quite surprisingly, most of these aircraft were still in service with Ameristar of Dallas, Texas. I checked into their current status and, even more surprisingly, four of them are still in service as per Planespotters.net
As these aircraft had already left (or were about to leave) the AC fleet by the time I started in 1980, I asked Terry, Ken and Bob if they had any info to share.
Terry extracted info from some past issues of 'Horizons' magazine.
From issue #365, May 1972
Three DC-9s have been added to the company's jet fleet from Continental Airlines at a cost of some $6 million, the short" 9's are convertible models and can be used for either passengers or freight.
"The three new aircraft will initially be used to replace some propeller-turbine Viscount equipment, an aircraft type the company plans to phase out by May 1, 1973 next year.
From issue #407, March 1974
The DC-9 is more than a passenger carrier. Several airlines operate freighter and convertible passenger-freighter models.
Air Canada, for example, provides cargo service linking Toronto and Montreal five nights week with Canada's Atlantic provinces. In a month, the overnight service transported close to 26,000 pounds of freight, mail and express nightly on the eastbound flights.
The freighter is kept busy flying about ten hours each of the five days it operates on routes that measure up to 1,000 miles nonstop. With the hours it flies and the needed cargo it carries, the DC-9 is purely and simply a workhorse. "It doesn't do anything spectacular but work,"' said L. C. Dales, Air Canada's market development manager, cargo.
Ken provides some information on a unique aircraft that was a part of this venture but not mentioned in my original article.
Registration # CF-TMN (Fin # 771), a DC-9-32CF (pictured in the header of this NetLetter issue) was acquired from U.S. charter carrier Overseas National Airways in 1973. I believe it was only used as a freighter while with AC and was sold to Southern Airways in 1977 who used it as a passenger aircraft. It had the same longer fuselage as AC's large fleet of passenger DC-9-32's.
That CF-TMN registration was used on two different AC DC-9s. It had previously been briefly used on a new DC-9-32 delivered in January 1969, Fin 739. It was one of two new DC-9's delivered that month, also CF-TMM, Fin 738. Both of those aircraft only spent 2 months with AC before going to Air Jamaica in March 1969. AC recycled that registration on the DC-9-32CF in 1973.
The text below is Gary Vincent's comments accompanying is photo of CF-TMN posted at Airhistory.net.
Air Canada loved the DC-9, but this freighter was only around for a relatively short time. Originally delivered to Overseas National Airways November 11, 1967, Air Canada bought it in May 1973.
AC sold it to Southern Airways in October 1977 to revert to it's original registration, N932F. Merged into North Central Airlines to form Republic, the DC-9 was again sold, this time to the US Navy.
With Bu number 163036 it became the "City of Philadelphia" and was finally struck off strength July 15, 2003. It was moved to NAS Fort Worth in Texas for ground training.
Below is an excerpt from Horizons issue #367, June 1972 announcing the introduction of the DC-9 freighters replacing the Vanguard cargo fleet. Click the image for full size to read the text.
Editor's note from Wayne: Thanks to Gary Vincent for use of his photo and to Terry and Ken for their contributions.