FR0033 Delta Over Spain

After just two years, Jack Northrop’s first company, the Avion Corporation, became a subsidiary of United Aircraft & Transport in 1929. His friend, Donald Douglas, then provided capital to found the Northrop Corporation in 1932, but by 1937 this became a Douglas Aircraft subsidiary known as the El Segundo Division. Jack Northrop then founded another company in 1939, also named Northrop, which in 1994 became Northrop-Grumman.

The Gamma was developed as a mail plane whose production began in the winter of 1933-1934, whilst the 2E version served as bomber in China. The design was modified with a wider fuselage to become a transport capable of carrying eight passengers as the Northrop Delta. The Delta prototype first flew in May 1933, and this was followed by a TWA order for 15 units.

The Delta prototype (c/n 3), Type 1A, was equipped with a Wright SR-1820-F3 engine of 710 hp. After three months of testing, it obtained certification, but only to carry six passengers. Delivered to TWA for trials in August 4, 1933, it was used to transport mail between Los Angeles and Kansas City. After only 453 flight hours the plane had an engine fire and was lost on November 10, 1933, near Albuquerque, New Mexico, causing the pilot, Harlan Hull, to bail out. He would later become TWA’s Chief Test Pilot.

The second Delta, (c/n 4), the Type 1B powered by a Pratt & Whitney Hornet T2D-1 of 660 hp, was purchased by the Pan American in August 1933, and transferred to its Mexican subsidiary Aerovias for use on the Los Angeles-Mexico City route. This plane, with Mexican registration X-ABED, was also soon written off after an engine fire that destroyed it on the ground in May 1934.

The third Delta, (c/n 7), the only Type 1C built, had a much longer career than its predecessors. Equipped with a P & W T1D-1 engine of 700 hp, it was acquired in April 1934 by the Swedish company AB Aero, given the Swedish registration SE-ADI, was named "Hälland", and served on the Gothenburg-Copenhagen-Malmö and Malmö-Copenhagen-Hanover routes.

These first three Deltas, built by Northrop (c/n 3, 4 & 7), used a two-bladed propeller, had a single-seat cockpit and a sliding canopy. Most of the later Deltas were fitted with three-bladed propellers, and all had two-seat cockpits.

In May 1937 SE-ADI Hälland (c/n 7) ceased its Swedish airline service and after several ownership changes was purchased in September by an Iraqi citizen, but then flew to Prat de Llobregat, near Barcelona, in the Spanish Republic. The aircraft was incorporated in the LAPE under registration EC-AGC and performed liaison duties for Republican leaders, piloted by Pedro Tonda and José Maria Carreras, who had been airline pilots before the civil war. Worth noting is the special mission to Zurich on September 9, 1938, when it flew Dr. Negrin, the Republic’s Prime Minister, to negotiate with the Nationalist’s Duke of Alba to end the civil war. The negotiations did not succeed however.

The plane was found by the Nationalists on a Catalan airfield after the fall of the Republic and went on to serve the Ejercito del Aire, under code 43-18. Its registration changed to L12-18 when the Ejercito del Aire reorganized in 1945, but was written off later that year.

Type 1C Specifications: Low-wing single-engine transport with fixed landing gear, of metal construction. Engine P&W Hornet 700 hp. Wingspan 14.55 m, length 10.08 m, wing area 33.7 m2. Maximum speed: 362 km/h at 1,900 m. Ceiling 6,000 m.

Documentation :

  • Air Magazine n°24, February / March 2005 (in french)
  • Northrop Delta - AB Aerotransport - European Airlines - Author : Rob J.M Mulden - in english. Deals with the two Deltas used by AB Aerotransport, the first being the SE-ADI and the second, althrough a Delta in load capacity, was looking more like a Gamma.
  • The aircraft SE-ADI got en enlarged access door, the correction is provided in the kit.
  • On SE-ADI, thus on the same aircraft in Spanish colors, there was a wall between the pilot and the the passengers room. This may eventually be done in plastic card (there is nothing much to see when the door and the cockpit are closed, as they are in the kit).
  • On the same aircraft, a radio operator was sitting in the passengers room, behind the pilot, on the right (same reference, see the book above). And the enlarged door did open revolving on the top. The aircraft was not modified in Spain. Unless you open the door (but is it worth ?) you are not going to see much inside.
Decals for:
  • Cam A : Northrop Delta 1C, c/n 7, EC-AGC, L.A.P.E. airline. Spanish Republic, 1937–38. The aircraft was ex SE-ADI (Sweden), named Halland. In Spain, it was used in transport role and for VIP transport, piloted by Pedro Tonda and José Maria Carreras. For example on 9–10 September, 1938, Republican Prime Minister Juan Negrín flew to Zurich and back on board of this plane.
  • Cam B : Northrop Delta 1C, c/n 7, EC-AGC, L.A.P.E. airline. Spain, 1938/39. Shortly after Zurich, the fuselage registration letters were all painted in black colour and stayed so until the end of the war. The aircraft escaped to the French base of Oran-La Senia in Algeria and was handled to Franco air force..
  • Cam C : Delta 1C, c/n 7, 43-18, (ex EC-AGC / SE-ADI), Ejercito del Aire (Spanish Air Force), 1939–45.