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This information comes from the listings of Non-Prefixed and Non-Suffixed aircraft reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC.


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Northrop Alpha 2, NC933Y
Northrop Alpha 2, NC933Y


This airplane is a Northrop Alpha 2 (S/N 5; ATC# 381) manufactured November 10, 1930 by Northrop Aircraft Corporation, United Airport, Burbank, CA.  It left the factory with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp SC engine (S/N 3198) of 425 HP.  It was a seven-place airplane weighing 4,500 pounds gross.  It was painted “T.W.A. #4”.  It is one of two Northrop Alphas that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield during the period of the Register.  The other is NC11Y.

Image, left, by Larry Grossman.

We find NC933Y descending into Tucson on April 3, 1931 flown solo by Larry G. Fritz.  He was westbound from Tulsa, OK to Los Angeles, CA.  Fritz was vice-president in charge of operations for Safeway Air Lines, 1929-31.  But there was no indication on the NASM record that NC933Y ever flew for Safeway.  I do not know why Fritz was flying the airplane on this day.  Anyone know?

Later the same month, on April 13, 1931, NC933Y sold to Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., New York, NY.  According to the NASM record, on April 14, 1931 it was converted to Model 3 configuration (three-place) under ATC Gr. 2-335.  It was flown on TWA mail routes from 1931-1935.  It led a hard life, as you will see below. Two early principals of TWA were our own Davis-Monthan pilots Jack Frye and Paul Richter.

It suffered an accident at Winslow, AZ on May 27, 1931 and a new left wing and,  “extensive repairs to underside” were performed at the Lockheed factory.  As of August 18, 1931 it was converted at the factory to Model 4 configuration (new “trousered” landing gear) under ATC #451.

It suffered another accident at Glendale, CA on January 30, 1932 that required a new wing and landing gear.  It must quickly have been repaired, because it suffered another accident at Leupp, AZ on February 19, 1932.  The fix involved another new wing and landing gear and, “extensive fuselage repairs”.

As of May 17, 1932 NC933Y was converted to Alpha 4A configuration (single-place) under ATC #461.  It was still being flown by TWA.  On November 29, 1933 it suffered yet a third accident at Indianapolis, IN.  The fuselage was buckled at the rear.

It transferred to Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc. (a new company) on December 27, 1934.  TWA sold it on July 22, 1935 to James W. Fisher, living in Hong Kong, China.  Export certificate # E-1492 was issued July 5, 1935.  It was delivered to Seattle for export on July 20, 1935 with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp SC1 engine of 450HP installed.  It was exported to China via Hong Kong during July for use by the Chinese Nationalist Government.  No further information.


UPLOADED: 06/25/06 REVISED: 06/08/09

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