THE AIRLINES GO TO WAR
The United States' entry in to World War II on December 7, 1941 had a major effect on the airlines. Both Eastern and Delta relinquished aircraft to the Army, engaged in the training of Army pilots and mechanics, operated military contract and cargo flights and modified and overhauled thousands of military planes for various theaters of war. This photo shows the Delta hangar surrounded by a sea of Vultee Vengeance dive bombers awaiting modifications.
The increased military activity, particularly the continuous pilot training flights, propelled Atlanta Municipal to the status of busiest airport in the United States. This article appeared in the Atlanta Constitution on June 7, 1942.
This image from Eastern Air Lines' September 1, 1943 timetable portrays an Eastern DC-3 joining U.S. military C-47s on "The Highroad to Victory". From the collection of Antonio Bordoni via TimetableImages.com.
A collection of wartime Eastern Air Lines timetable covers courtesy of TimetableImages.com.
Delta continued to expand during the war, adding a new route to New Orleans, and constructing a new two-story addition to their general offices, seen on the left side of this photo.
These photos from Delta's 1943 Annual Report illustrate some of the activities undertaken by the airline to assist in the war effort. From the Delta Flight Museum digital archives.
By 1944, the Army was slowly returning transport planes to the airlines. Resources were so strained that the return of a single aircraft was cause for celebration as illustrated in this July 16, 1944 timetable. From the collection of Björn Larrson.
A 1944 publicity photo showing a group of stewardesses with one of Delta's shiny DC-3s on the Atlanta ramp. Operating a minimal schedule while much of the fleet was pressed into military work, Delta emphasized superior customer service to overcome passengers' inconveniences and challenges presented by the war.
As the war came to an end, aircraft were returned to the airlines and surplus transport planes were converted for civilian use. This photo from Delta's 1945 Annual Report shows two DC-3s being reconditioned for passenger service. From the Delta Flight Museum digital archives.