The Aviation Traders ATL-98 Carvair is a cargo aircraft designed to carry cars and passengers across the English Channel and Irish Sea. The aircraft is a conversion of surplus Douglas DC-4s and C-54 Skymasters, with the forward fuselage removed and replaced with an extension of eight feet, with the cockpit moved above and tail extended.

First flying on 21 June 1961, the Carvair could fly 3,700 km (2,300 miles) at top speed of 400km/h (250 mph). In a full passenger configuration, the Carvair could carry 85 passengers, while in a full cargo configuration up to five cars or 8,770kg (19,335 lbs) of cargo. Launch customers were Aer Lingus, Air Ferry and British United Air Ferries.

Carvair Video

Following on from the last video about the Boeing 737-600, this time we head to England for a look at the Aviation Traders Carvair. Running for 17 minutes, the below presentation by Ruairidh MacVeigh covers the entire story around the aircraft.

Highlights for me include the cutaway shown at 6:31, and the film from 8:58 to 9:25 which shows loading, the cockpit and passenger cabin. Also, 9:56 to 10:15 shows the Carvair in the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger. Who knew the aircraft was a movie star? Carvair, by the way, is a portmanteau of “car via air”.

How About Colour Silent Films?

British Pathé have a wealth of footage on YouTube from their archives. Highlights in the footage below include Southend Airport shops and control tower scenes and a British Midland Vickers Viscount arriving from 3:45. The Carvair gets loaded from 5:10.

Finally, the first 1:40 of the below shows a British Air Ferries Carvair landing and taxiing around the airport. That is followed by some air to air film.

While it is a shame there is no sound on these, the rarity of the material means it is still worth watching. I enjoyed the vintage airport scenes in the first one which give a good flavour for the time.

Overall Thoughts

Just 21 Carvair’s were produced between 1961 and 1968 and apparently there is one still flying for Gator Global Flying Services in Texas, though I can’t verify that. The longevity of the aircraft shows that there was a need for its unique capabilities.

The raised cockpit and front loading cargo door was pioneered by the Carvair. While it resembles a propeller driven Boeing 747SP, the famous jumbo jet actually came later. Who knows, perhaps Boeing copied this design for themselves!

Have you ever taken your car and flown on a Carvair? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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