A Carnation* By Any Other Name

The following table lists the names of all Australian Super Constellations. In the author's opinion, never before or since have Australian airliners been graced with such stylishly poetic names. Also included is the latter day Super Connie triumphantly brought to Australia by the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (VH-EAG #2). This aeroplane is happily included as she represents a reincarnation of the finest traditions of the Qantas Connie era. Attention is drawn to the names bestowed upon VH-EAI ("Southern Boomerang")
and VH-EAO ("Southern Prodigal") when they returned to the Qantas fleet after having been sold overseas. Rarely are aeroplanes named in such brilliantly inspired fashion.


Boomerang:
A bent or curved piece of hardwood used by Australian Aborigines as a missile, one form of which can be thrown so as to return to the thrower.

Prodigal (Son):
A returned wanderer.

All of the names are presented together here in nostalgic appreciation of times when airlines demonstrated their pride in their aeroplanes by giving them special names.

 


NAME REGN
Southern Aurora VH-EAO
Southern Boomerang VH-EAI
Southern Breeze VH-EAL
Southern Constellation VH-EAG #1
Southern Dawn VH-EAD
Southern Horizon VH-EAB
Southern Melody VH-EAI
Southern Mist (see table below) VH-EAK
Southern Moon (see table below) VH-EAE
Southern Preservation VH-EAG #2
Southern Prodigal VH-EAO
Southern Sea (see table below) VH-EAA
Southern Sky VH-EAH
Southern Spray VH-EAM
Southern Star VH-EAJ
Southern Sun VH-EAI
Southern Tide VH-EAN
Southern Wave VH-EAC
Southern Wind VH-EAF
Southern Zephyr VH-EAP

 

Best Laid Plans

MSN PLANNED PLANNED
SEQ.
ACTUAL ACTUAL
SEQ.
4573 VH-EAK Southern Moon
1
VH-EAK Southern Mist
5
4574 VH-EAL Southern Wind
2
VH-EAL Southern Breeze
6
4578 VH-EAM Southern Sea
3
VH-EAE Southern Moon
1
4579 VH-EAN Southern Horizon
4
VH-EAF Southern Wind
2
4580 VH-EAO Southern Mist
5
VH-EAA Southern Sea
3
4581 VH-EAP Southern Breeze
6
VH-EAB Southern Horizon
4

 

The above table shows the planned registrations and names for Qantas' second order for Super Constellations. These names and registrations were published in "Qantas News" of October 1954 which also reported that the delivery of these six aircraft would be delayed to facilitate the incorporation of modifications prompted by Qantas' operational experience with its first four aircraft (VH-EAG, H, I & J).

When these six aircraft were delivered to Australia, their names and registrations varied significantly from what was planned. The reason for the change to the registration pattern is that the delivery deferment permitted the re-allocation of registrations VH-EAA, EAB, EAE and EAF from four L-749 Constellations which had been sold to BOAC in the interim. (The registrations VH-EAM, EAN, EAO and EAP were taken up by later Super Constellations.) The reason for the change of names is not so clear cut however, but it does account for persistent reports that VH-EAK carried both names "Southern Moon" and "Southern Mist" and VH-EAA carried both names "Southern Mist" and "Southern Sea".

A possible explanation can be found in a series of photographs taken by Lockheed and supplied to Qantas as a record of the production of these six aeroplanes. The following observations were recorded in a letter dated 4th January 1974 from Qantas Museum and Research Officer, Brian Reed, to Gordon Reid who kindly made the letter available to "The Lockheed File".

A photo taken on 3rd November 1954 shows msn 4573 VH-EAK carrying the name "Southern Moon". However, another photo taken on 14th January 1955, prior to the departure of the delivery flight, shows the aircraft as "Southern Mist". (The aeroplane carried the name "Southern Mist" on its final flight to the breaker's yard.)

A photo taken on 19th November 1954 shows msn 4578 VH-EAE also carrying the name "Southern Moon".

Thus it appears that during November 1954 it emerged that Lockheed had TWO "Southern Moons" on the line! (The similarity of msns 4573 and 4578 if poorly hand-written might account for the error.) Obviously one had to be changed and possibly it was more convenient to change VH-EAE than it was for VH-EAK to revert to its assigned name. It would appear that the list of names has been applied in the same sequence but commencing at VH-EAE instead of at VH-EAK. The two "SEQ" columns in the above table attempt to illustrate this hypothesis.

Several photos of msn 4580 VH-EAA on the production line show the aeroplane as "Southern Sea" from the outset.

 


* The colour of the cheatline on the Qantas Super Constellations
was "Carnation Red".


Issue Date Remarks
3 17JUN01

#2 Deleted reference to VH-EAA being re-named "Southern Mist" and VH-EAK being re-named "Southern Moon" as this now appears unlikely.

#3 Added a new table to address possible explanations for the above-mentioned reports.





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