Convair CV-240 family

The Convair CV-240 is an American airliner that Convair manufactured from 1947 to 1954, initially as a possible replacement for the ubiquitous Douglas DC-3. Featuring a more modern design with cabin pressurization, the 240 series made some inroads as a commercial airliner, and had a long development cycle that produced various civil and military variants. Though reduced in numbers by attrition, various forms of the "Convairliners" continue to fly in the 21st century.[1]

CV-240 family
The Convair CV-440 is a low-wing airliner with twin radial engines
Role Airliner
Manufacturer Convair
First flight March 16, 1947[1]
Introduction February 29, 1948 with American Airlines
Primary user American Airlines[1]
Produced 1947–1954[1]
Number built 1,181[1]
Variants Convair C-131 Samaritan
Canadair CC-109 Cosmopolitan[1]

Design and development

The design began with a requirement by American Airlines for an airliner to replace its Douglas DC-3s. Convair's original design, the unpressurised Model 110, was a twin-engine, low-wing monoplane of all-metal construction, with 30 seats. It was powered by Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engines. It had a tricycle landing gear, and a ventral airstair for passenger boarding.[2] The prototype Model 110, registration NX90653, first flew on July 8, 1946.[2] By this time, American Airlines had changed the requirements to include pressurization and deemed the design too small. Convair used the first prototype for 240 series development work before it had it broken up in 1947.[3]

To meet the requirements of airlines for a pressurized airliner, Convair produced a revised design—the Model 240. This had a longer but thinner fuselage than the Model 110, accommodating 40 passengers in the first pressurized, twin-engined airliner.[4] The 240 first flew on March 16, 1947.[5]

The Model 240 was followed by the Model 340, which had a longer fuselage, longer-span wings, and more powerful engines. The 340 first flew on October 5, 1951.[6] In 1954, in an attempt to compete with turboprop-powered airliners like the Vickers Viscount, Convair produced the Model 440 Metropolitan, with more streamlined cowlings, new engine exhausts, and better cabin soundproofing.[7] As the "Super 240" evolved into the CV-340 and CV-440, the design reached the limit of piston-engine performance, and future development centered on conversion to turboprop power.[1]

Operational history

Convair delivered the first production Convairliner to American on February 29, 1948.[5] They delivered a total of 75 to American—and another 50 to Western Airlines, Continental Airlines, Pan American Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Swissair, Sabena, and Trans Australia Airlines.[8]

A CV-240 was the first private aircraft used in a United States presidential campaign. In 1960, John F. Kennedy used a CV-240 named Caroline (after his daughter) during his campaign. This aircraft is now preserved in the National Air and Space Museum.

After aborted negotiations with TWA and Eastern for "Super 240" orders, Convair temporarily halted 240 series production. In response to a United inquiry, Convair redesigned the Super 240, calling it the CV-340. United ordered 55, and more US orders came from Braniff, Continental, Delta, Northeast, and National. Other orders came from abroad, and the CV-340 was popular in South America. The CV-340 earned a reputation for reliability and profitability, and was developed into the CV-440 Metropolitan, the final piston-engined variant of the Convairliners.[1]

Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter, the major remaining operator of this model, currently holds the type certificate for this aircraft.

Used price for a Convair 240 in 1960 was around £40,000.[9]


Data from: General Dynamics Aircraft and their predecessors[1]

Civil variants

Convair Model 110
Unpressurized prototype with seats for 30 passengers. 89 ft (27.13 m) wingspan, 71 ft (21.64 m) length, powered by two 2,100 hp (1,567 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-SC13G engines. One built.[2]
Convair CV-240
Initial production version, with seats for 40 passengers in a pressurised fuselage. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney 2,400 kW (3,200 hp) R-2800 engines.[10] 176 built (excluding military derivatives.[11]
Convair CV-240-21 Turboliner
Turboprop-powered conversion fitted with Allison T38 engines. It became the first turboprop airliner to fly in the United States (on December 29, 1950), but problems with the engines resulted in development being terminated. Used as a test bed before being converted back to piston power.[12]
Convair CV-300
A conversion from a Convair CV-240 with two R-2800 CB-17 engines and nacelles as used on the CV-340.[13]
Convair CV-340
Built for United Airlines and other operators including KLM, the CV-340 was a CV-240 lengthened to hold an additional four seats. The wingspan was extended for better performance at higher altitudes. The CV-340 replaced the DC-3 in United service. The airline flew 52 340s for 16 years without a fatality. KLM operated the type from early 1953 until mid-1963. Many CV-340 aircraft were converted to CV-440 standard.[14]
Convair CV-440 Metropolitan
CV-340 with improved soundproofing and an option for weather radar. Maximum weight rose to 49,700 lbs. An optional increase from 44 to 52 passengers was facilitated by the replacement of the carry-on luggage area with two more rows of seats, marked by the addition of an extra cabin window. This option was taken up by several airlines including Swissair, Lufthansa and SAS.[14] Finnair operated the type from 1953 until 1980 without a single accident.
Convair CV-540
Conversion from a Convair CV-340 aircraft with two Napier Eland turboprop engines in place of the piston engines. Six aircraft were converted by Napier for Allegheny Airlines.[15] Cost for the conversions was £160,000 per-aircraft. 12 built as new-builds by Canadair for RCAF as CC-109 in 1960 for £436,000 per-aircraft. First flight February 9, 1955.[16] When Rolls Royce purchased Napier, the Eland program was terminated, and the Allegheny aircraft were converted back to piston power, but were later converted to Convair 580s with Allison turbo props.
Convair CV-580
Conversion from Convair CV-340 (Allison Prop-Jet Convair 340) or CV-440 aircraft with two Allison 501 D13D/H turboprop engines with four-blade propellers, in place of piston engines with three-blade propellers, an enlarged vertical fin and modified horizontal stabilizers. The conversions were performed by Pacific Airmotive on behalf of the Allison Engine Company.[15] Cost of the conversions was around £175,000 per aircraft and took 60 days.[9] The CV-580 served with the original Frontier Airlines (1950-1986), Allegheny Airlines, and North Central Airlines for many years and was also the first aircraft type operated by American Eagle on behalf of American Airlines in code sharing feeder service.
Convair CV-580 Airtanker
Firefighting airtanker conversions with retardant tanks and dropping systems.
Convair CV-600
Conversion from a Convair 240 aircraft with Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines with four-blade propellers, in place of piston engines with three-blade propellers. CV-600 conversions were performed by Convair.[15] The CV-600 first flew with Central Airlines on 30 November 1965 and also served with Trans-Texas Airways (TTa) and successor Texas International Airlines for many years. The CV-600 aircraft that flew with Air Metro Airways was configured as a 40-passenger airliner. In 2012 the last Convair CV-600 (Rhoades Aviation) went out of service.[17]
Convair CV-640
Conversion from a Convair CV-340 or -440 with Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines with four-blade propellers, in place of piston engines with three-blade propellers. The conversions were performed by Convair.[15] In 2012, a total of seven Convair CV-640 aircraft remained in airline service, with Rhoades Aviation (one) and C&M Airways (six).[17]
Convair CV-5800

A stretched Convair CV-5800 of IFL Group with this aircraft being developed by Kelowna Flightcraft (now KF Aerospace) in Canada

Conversion from former US Navy C-131F Samaritans by Kelowna Flightcraft Ltd. (KF Aerospace since 2015) in Canada. The CV-5800 is a C-131F Samaritan stretched by 16 ft 7 in (4,98 m)[18] with the Samaritan's original tail unit rather than the enlarged tail of the CV-580. These conversions also have a new freight door, digital avionics with EFIS and Allison 501-D22G engines in place of the original R-2800 engines. The prototype of this conversion first flew on February 11, 1992; the type certificate was issued on December 11, 1993.[19] A total of six aircraft were converted (construction numbers 276 to 279, 309, 343) and mostly used by Contract Air Cargo (later IFL Group); one aircraft later operated by Air Freight NZ was then returned to KF Aerospace for operation in their own fleet.[20][21]
Allison Turbine ATF 580S Turbo Flagship
Stretched Convairliner conversion.[22]

Military variants

Convair C-131 Samaritan
The CV-240/340/440 series was used by the United States Air Force for medical evacuation and VIP under this designation
Convair T-29 trainer
A trainer model of the C-131 was used to instruct navigators and radio operators
Convair R4Y Samaritan
The United States Navy used the Samaritan under this designation
Canadair CC-109 Cosmopolitan
Conversion from CV-440, with Napier Eland turboprops in place of the piston engines. The conversions were performed in Canada by Canadair. In Royal Canadian Air Force and later in Canadian Armed Forces service they were known as the CC-109 Cosmopolitan. All were re-engined in 1966 with Allison 501-D13 engines.
Canadair CL-66
Company designation for the CC-109 Eland powered variant


Civil operators





United States and Canada

Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America

Military operators

  • Paraguayan Air Force: CV-440/C-131D
 Sri Lanka

Other operators

 United States

Accidents and incidents

Specifications (CV-240)

Data from General Dynamics Aircraft and their Predecessors[10]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 or 3 flight deck crew
  • Capacity: 40
  • Length: 74 ft 8 in (22.76 m)
  • Wingspan: 91 ft 9 in (27.97 m)
  • Height: 26 ft 11 in (8.20 m)
  • Wing area: 817 sq ft (75.9 m2)
  • Empty weight: 25,445 lb (11,542 kg) (revised 29,500 lb (13,381 kg))
  • Gross weight: 40,500 lb (18,370 kg) (revised 42,500 lb (19,278 kg))
  • Fuel capacity: 1,000 US gal (3,785.41 l) - 1,550 US gal (5,867.39 l)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CA3 Double Wasp / CA15 / CA18 / CB3 or CB16 18-cyl air-cooled radial engines, 2,400 hp (1,800 kW) each
  • Propellers: 3-bladed Hamilton Standard or Curtiss


  • Maximum speed: 315 mph (507 km/h, 274 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 280 mph (450 km/h, 240 kn) (maximum)
  • Range: 1,200 mi (1,900 km, 1,000 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 16,000 ft (4,900 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,520 ft/min (7.7 m/s)

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



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