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TWA Martin 4-0-4 Skyliner


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historical significance

First Albuquerque Visit:    1952

SKU: Model-0190 Categories: ,

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The Martin 4-0-4 was an American pressurized passenger airliner built by the Glenn L. Martin Company. When production of the earlier Martin 2-0-2 was stopped due to wing structural problems the company decided to re-wing an improved version, flown as the Martin 3-0-3. The new model became the Martin 4-0-4 and it had structural changes to the wings, was pressurized, and the aircraft was lengthened slightly to allow up to 40 passengers. Like the earlier 2-0-2, the 4-0-4 was a cantilever monoplane with a standard cantilever tail and single vertical stabilizer. The aircraft also had an airstair in the lower tail section for passenger loading and unloading. The 4-0-4 included a retractable tricycle landing gear system and was powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB16 radial piston engines.

The first deliveries of the Martin 4-0-4 were in 1951 and made to Eastern Air Lines (EAL), which had ordered 60 aircraft and Trans World Airlines (TWA), which had ordered 40 aircraft.

TWA, which was based in New York City, began operations as Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) on July 8, 1929 with a coast to coast route from Los Angeles to New York. Western Air Express (WAE), a competing air carrier, had begun service to Albuquerque two months earlier with a similar route from Los Angeles but their route continued on east to Amarillo, Wichita, and Kansas City. WAE was also operating other routes but due to the great depression and a ruling called the Watres Bill which involved awarding a new air mail contract that both carriers needed, TAT and the Los Angeles to Kansas City route of WAE were forced to merge. The merger took place on July 16, completed by July 24, 1930, and the one carrier became known as Transcontinental and Western Air, or “TWA”. In April 1945, a ticket office was opened in downtown Albuquerque at the Hilton Hotel which remained open through the 1970s.

TWA operated its 40 4-0-4s under the name “Skyliner” for scheduled flights between 1951 and the last flight on 29 April 1961. TWA started using the Martin 4-0-4 in January 15, 1952 to replace their DC-3’s for short haul, low passenger routes including the route from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

One TWA Martin 4-0-4 Skyliner aircraft N40401, the “New York”, crashed into the west face of the Sandia Mountains on February 19, 1955 killing all on board. Instrument and pilot error were blamed for the crash. A detailed book has been written that covers the crash and what was to blame in causing the accident.

A Martin 4-0-4 is on display in the TWA museum in Kansas City.

The inside views of the Martin 4-0-4 at the museum.