NORTHROP ALPHA 2 NC933Y
FROM MAIL PLANE TO HONG KONG
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
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
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
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
UPLOADED: 06/25/06 REVISED: 06/08/09