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Canadair North Star

Aircraft of the Month: Canadair North Star

For this month's Aircraft of the Month we are taking a trip back in time and taking a look at the Canadair North Star.

The Canadair North Star was a 1940s Canadian development of the Douglas C-54/DC-4 aircraft designed specifically for Trans-Canada Air Lines (TCA). The main difference is Instead of radial piston engines found on the Douglas design, Canadair used Rolls-Royce Merlin engines to achieve a higher cruising speed of 325 mph compared with the 227 mph of the standard DC-4. Requested by TCA in 1944, the prototype flew on 15 July 1946 and was used by various airlines and also by the RCAF. It provided reliable service through the 1950s and into the 1960s. Some examples continued to fly into the 1970s, converted to cargo aircraft. The above photo was taken at YVR and shows the beautiful bird in all its glory near what is now known as the South Terminal.

Fun Fact: The sole surviving airframe in existence is an RCAF C-54GM, which is currently undergoing restoration at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.

General characteristics

  • Crew: Seven
  • Capacity: 52 First Class passengers, or 62 if operated as an all-Economy Class aircraft or 11,500 lbs (5,216 kg) of cargo
  • Length: 28.89 metres
  • Wingspan: 35.81 metres
  • Height: 8.38 metres
  • Wing area: 135.82 m²
  • Empty weight: 19,731 kg
  • Loaded weight: 33,112 kg
  • Powerplant: 4 × Rolls-Royce Merlin 622 liquid-cooled, V-12 piston engine, 1,760 hp (1,313 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 568 km/h\
  • Cruise speed: 523 km/h
  • Range: 6 212 km
  • Service ceiling: 10,970 metres

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