Calgary Municipal Airport (PDF version)

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Calgary Municipal Airport

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Calgary TCA “McCall Field” and the Canadian “Speedbirds”

Calgary Municipal Airport 1

Undated color Post Card image was likely taken in postwar, showing [background north] No. 4 Hangar used by the RAF from 18 June 1941 to 10 March 1944.

The white [with blue trim] painted Calgary Municipal Trans Canada Airlines Terminal at [McCall Field] Airport was officially opened by the City of Calgary 25 September 1939. Due to the Canadian declaration of war against Germany on 10 September, the new airport now came under direct control of the Federal Department of Transportation. The airport was commonly known as TCA Airport, Calgary North or McCall Field until 24 January 1941, then it first appears on RCAF [No. 2 Wireless Flying School] Daily Diary records as RAF No. 35 SFTS, later renumbered No. 37 SFTS in October 1941.

In 1936, the Canadian Federal government created the Department of Transportation, headed by a dynamic Liberal Minister the Hon, Clarence Decatur Howe. Mr. C.D. Howe immediately set forth to establish a Trans-Canada airway system and organize a new airline to operate a flight schedule across Canada.

Calgary Municipal Airport 2

Word version (no images)

Calgary TCA “McCall Field” and the Canadian “Speedbirds”

Undated color Post Card image was likely taken in postwar, showing [background north] No. 4 Hangar used by the RAF from 18 June 1941 to 10 March 1944.

The white [with blue trim] painted Calgary Municipal Trans Canada Airlines Terminal at [McCall Field] Airport was officially opened by the City of Calgary 25 September 1939. Due to the Canadian declaration of war against Germany on 10 September, the new airport now came under direct control of the Federal Department of Transportation. The airport was commonly known as TCA Airport, Calgary North or McCall Field until 24 January 1941, then it first appears on RCAF [No. 2 Wireless Flying School] Daily Diary records as RAF No. 35 SFTS, later renumbered No. 37 SFTS in October 1941.

In 1936, the Canadian Federal government created the Department of Transportation, headed by a dynamic Liberal Minister the Hon, Clarence Decatur Howe. Mr. C.D. Howe immediately set forth to establish a Trans-Canada airway system and organize a new airline to operate a flight schedule across Canada.

The Canadian government plans were first published in Canada by Maclean’s magazine on 15 August 1936, “Wings for Tomorrow.” The full article can be read online.

Maclean’s magazine published Lockheed Electra model 10A, serial #1001, the prototype airliner which first flew on 23 February 1934, as X-233-Y. [ Free domain image – became NC-233Y]

On 10 April 1937, the new “Trans-Canada Air Lines Act” became Canadian law, while the construction of hundreds of airfields and emergency landing strips had commenced a year earlier. TCA was a monopoly airline controlled by the Canadian government owned CNR railway. It had no competitors when asking for a new air route from politicians in Ottawa. The new Western air route selected for trans-continental service ran east from Vancouver through the Crowsnest Pass to Lethbridge, Alberta, then stretched north to Calgary and Edmonton. The Calgary Municipal TCA hangar and terminal were built to service the new commercial aircraft built in Burbank, California, the Lockheed Electra Model-10A airliner.

The world famous Lockheed Electra Model-10-A was born in the fall of 1933, when three nationally known American aircraft designers, Robert Gross, Carl Squier, and Lloyd Shearman purchased a small bankrupt company named Lockheed Aircraft. The trio paid $40,000 which was a huge amount of money in the middle of the great depression. They also obtained all the tools, molds, and rights to build future aircraft designs on the old Lockheed files. One such design was an all metal 10 passenger single-engine fuselage and the second was a twin-engine transport aircraft. The two aircraft designs were reviewed, studied, and modified by Dr. Hall L. Hibbard who designed a new all-metal, twin-engine passenger monoplane. The new aircraft was christened “Electra” for one of the seven stars [seven sisters] Pleiades group found on the shoulder of Taurus the Bull. This new star became the official company logo with the motto “Look to Lockheed for Leadership.” In January 1933, Lockheed showed a net profit of $25,692 and some of these funds were used to design the new Electra model. In March 1933, the test model Electra was shipped to the University of Michigan for wind tunnel testing. A young student was working on his Masters of Science in Aeronautical Engineering, when he discovered the single fin and rudder of the Electra were inadequate for stable flight. Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson filed his report and was hired by Lockheed that same year. Kelly designed a new twin tail with two fins and new rudders, which cured the flight problems. The full scale Electra prototype X-233-Y flew on 23 February 1934. The aircraft had a 55 ft. wingspan, carried ten passengers, two crew, 450 lbs. of cargo and sold for $37,000, the lowest price of any multi-engine American airplane.

Clarence “Kelly” Johnson became Lockheed Chief Research Design Engineer in 1938, and designed nineteen of the best aircraft in the world. He managed Lockheed’s Advanced Development Projects Division at Area 51, [the Skunk Works], developed the F-104 double-sonic Starfighter, the high flying U-2 and the supersonic [Mach 3] SR-71. His genius in the design and production of state-of-the-art aircraft has yet to be equalled, even by the Russians. Few Canadians understand this renowned American Aero Engineer also gave Trans-Canada Airlines its first safe secure commercial airliner, on which all future Lockheed transports would be based, and TCA earned its first wings.

By July 1934, Lockheed had received contracts to build twenty-two Electra Model-10 airliners.

The Electra was born and Trans – Canada Air Lines will fly three different models of the Lockheed Airliner family. Design team were Dr. Hall Hibbard and Lloyd Shearman.

The Pleiades [seven sister stars] were included in the first February 1934 Lockheed Electra advertisement poster.

In just eighteen months the Lockheed Aircraft Company had been saved and the Electra Model-10 legend was born. The first customer of the Electra Model-10A serial #1001 became Northwest Airlines, [23 February 1934] Pan American Airlines, and Swissair followed, with flying operations beginning in 1935. The first two Canadian Electra’s were purchased by Mr. James Armstrong Richardson of Canadian Airways, in Winnipeg. [#1063, CF-AZY built by Lockheed 4 August 1936, and #1064, CF-BAF built 21 August 1936] purchased for $55,000 each.

This author water color was inspired by the front cover of American Aviation Weekly magazine for April 1934, featuring an early Lockheed Electra aircraft in flight. The Canadian Airways Ltd logo was added to honour James Armstrong Richardson, the father of Canadian trans-continental air service. Richardson was a pioneer of Canadian commercial aviation and his Canadian Airways was instrumental in creating the first trans-continental route and the government creation of Trans-Canada Air Lines, a monopoly airline, today Air Canada.

In December 1926, Richardson first formed Western Canada Airways Ltd., in his quest to expand and take control of Western Canadian Air Service.

Western Canada Airways Ltd. operated nine Fokker Universal commercial airliners on floats and winter time skies. Map drawn and photo taken in 1928.

His nine Fokker Universal commercial airliners were the first to carry the flying Canada Goose insignia created for Richardson’s new Winnipeg based company.

By 1929, Richardson had fifty-one single-engine aircraft piloted by war veterans and skilled northern bush fliers. He had built the back-bone of future Canadian commercial aviation.

In 1930, Richardson established Canadian Airways Ltd and his flying Goose became the trade-mark of his fast growing airline. By 1935, James Richardson had anticipated his Canadian Airways would be a front runner to operate the new planned government created Trans-Canada air route. On 29 September 1936, Richardson purchased two new Lockheed Model 10A Electra aircraft [CF-AZY and CF-BAF] and they were delivered to Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington. Both aircraft were painted with Canadian Airways new nose insignia of a flying Canada Goose, based to his original logo [above] and flew the first Canadian passenger route from Seattle, Washington, to Vancouver, B.C. in late 1936.

On 26 November 1936, Hon. [not really honorable in what he did to James Richardson] C.D. Howe announced a wholly new Canadian Airline would be formed and given the monopoly to operate across Canada. The dream of James Richardson died that day, as he fully understood, thanks to backroom political deals, he would never obtain his airliner permit to operate across Canada. James Richardson sold his two Electra airlines to the newly formed TCA and died from a broken heart [stress] in 1939. His little Canada Goose had in fact made Canadian aviation history and went on to become the trademark of Canadian Pacific Airlines. Years later, the same Canada Goose would for a second time be swallowed by Canadian Government politics and that giant bird Air Canada. This Canadian Airways Ltd Goose aircraft logo carried the first Lockheed Electra Airline passengers in Canada, and now CF-AZY would carry the first TCA Canadian “Speedbird” insignia. TCA paid $55,234.00 for Electra CF-AZY and $63,618.00 for CF-BAF, which originally cost James Richardson $55,000 each.

I believe this is very close to the Canadian Airways insignia [above] on Electra CF-AZY.
The first Canadian TCA purchased Lockheed Model-10-A was serial number 1112, a 1937 constructed Electra delivered to Trans-Canada Airlines on 6 October 1937, registered as CF-TCA, Fin #23. She flew passenger service beginning 1 April 1939, then was sold to the RCAF 21 September 1939, given military serial #1526. Loaned back to TCA 22 July 1941, as CF-BTD, flew six months, struck off strength by RCAF 2 May 1946. In postwar SN-1112 was sold to Wisconsin Central Airlines, Truax Field, Wisconsin, resold to Miami, Florida, owner and flew operations into Mexico, crash landing in Mexico City. The full history can be found on internet websites. Purchased by mechanic Lee Koepke in 1962, she was slowly rebuilt to flying condition. In 1967, the thirty-year-old Electra N-79237 was flown by Lee, William Polhemus and pilot Ann Pellegreno retracing the Amelia Earhart’s route in her ill-fated special built Electra NR-16020.

In 1968, Lockheed Electra 1112 was purchased by Canada’s Aviation and Space Museum where this rare American/Canadian Aviation history is preserved today as the original CF-TCA, sadly wearing the wrong period TCA “Speedbird” Maple Leaf nose insignia.

This is Lockheed Model 10-A serial 1112, TCA number 23, wearing her correct nose insignia for 1938. Port side correct nose insignia markings in color painted to scale by author.

The Canadian public were introduced to the new TCA Lockheed Electra artwork on the front cover of Maclean’s magazine, 1 June 1939. Painted by Eric Aldwinckle [22 January 1909 – 13 January 1980] British born and immigrated to Canada at age fifteen years. He was a self-taught artist who developed a Deco art style, enlisted in the RCAF in 1942, and became an official War Artist the following year. His starboard [above] TCA art deco bird is facing the wrong direction.

The Art Deco bird logo painted on top of the new Canadian Maple Leaf TCA insignia was called a “Speedbird.” The first Speedbird was painted by another famous British artist who created many Art Deco designs in United Kingdom. Theyre Lee-Elliott [28 May 1903 – 24 December 1988] created the original “Speedbird” aircraft design, for British Imperial Airways in 1932, poster seen below left. The British Speedbird design logo is recorded as first appearing on the nose of an Imperial Airways Short S. 30 Flying Boat in 1938.

On 4 August 1939, Imperial Airways merged with British Airways, and formed British Overseas Airways Corporation with the Speedbird aircraft insignia becoming their copyright BOAC Trademark, plus the world-wide company aircraft call sign. BOAC decided to paint the logo on their airliners [September 1939] and aviation Speedbird history was created. [Possibly thanks to TCA Lockheed Electra’s having first painted a Canadian yellow designed “Speedbird” on their Lockheed Electra airliners] Trans-Canada Air Lines was created 10 April 1937, and the new aviation company hired American Philip Johnson [Past President of United Airlines] to form TCA, becoming Vice-President of airline operations. Johnson hired an artist to create a new TCA insignia for the Electra aircraft and employee’s uniforms. A long-forgotten Canadian artist painted a multi-color Maple Leaf [for Canada] with the yellow letters TCA, and then he decided to top it off with an Art Deco “Speedbird” design. Not wishing to steal the original copyright design created by British artist Theyre Lee-Elliott, he created his own Canadian Speedbird logo. I guess Canadian TCA President James S. Hungerford liked his new design as it was painted on Lockheed Electra Model 10-A, CF-AZY, sometime after 22 August 1937.

Artist Aldwinckle’s 1939 Maclean’s magazine Electra cover painting captures this very first TCA insignia on the nose of Electra Model-10-A, however his starboard “Speedbird” is pointing the wrong direction. This insignia was created for the 1 September 1937, historical event where CF-AZY made the first passenger flight from Vancouver B.C. to Seattle, USA. Photos show this insignia was hand painted on each side of the nose, a yellow Art Deco “Speedbird” over a Maple Leaf containing four colors, red, orange, yellow, and green

The author believes this was the very first use of an art deco “Speedbird” logo by any airliner in the world. This was also the very first “Canadian” designed aircraft Speedbird created in the world by an unknown artist for TCA uniforms and aircraft insignia. Rare forgotten Canadian Aviation aircraft nose art history, but not important to our modern Canadian aviation museum’s.

To fully understand the political back-stabbing/back-room deals that took place to create the monopoly air line Trans-Canada Air Lines, you will have to study the formation of Canadian Airways by Mr. James Armstrong Richardson in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I have met author Shirley Render, who wrote a well researched book titled “Father of Canadian Aviation” [James Armstrong Richardson] and Shirley uncovered the truth. James Richardson purchased Canada’s first modern airliner, Lockheed Electra Model 10-A, NC97227, serial #1063 in July 1936, and pilot Don MacLaren went to the Lockheed plant on 6 July, and flew her back to Boeing Field, Seattle. Registered as CF-AZY on 4 August 1936, she was joined by a second Electra, N16222, serial 1064, registered as CF-BAF on 29 August 1936. On 21 August 1937, James Richardson was politically forced to sell his Canadian air-route from Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle, Washington, plus his two Electra airliners to newly formed Trans-Canada Air Lines. The fuselage name Canadian Airways was hastily removed and Trans – Canada Air Lines painted [half-circle] over the fuselage rear passenger door. The first TCA insignia and Canadian “Speedbird” were painted where the original Canadian Airways “Canada Goose” appeared on each side of the nose section.

Vancouver newspaper image showing Electra CF-AZY Fin #21 on TCA first commercial passenger flight 1 September 1937. The nose partly shows the very first TCA painted insignia, which is shown to scale and correct colors below. Electra CF-AZY #1063 was purchased from Canadian Airways on 21 August 1937, [$55,234] and the new TCA insignia first officially flew eleven days later. Photos show the first original hand painted TCA insignia only flew on CF-AZY, CF-TCA, CF-TCB, and CF-TCC, however it became the pattern for all future nose insignia and new TCA pilot hat badge until September 1941. I believe it was the first commercial airliner use of a Speedbird in the world, plus the first “Canadian Speedbird” to fly on a Canadian commercial airliner.

This is the author replica scale drawing of the first hand painted TCA insignia that flew on both sides of the nose section of Lockheed Electra Model 10-A, CF-AZY, 1 September 1937. TCA hired former American President of United Airlines, Philip Johnson, and he brought with him an experienced American staff from United A. L., Eastern Airlines, and North West Airlines, who all understood the importance of a company trademark and insignia. The first President of TCA was former President of C.N.R. James S. Hungerford, and many of his directors were ex-CNR employees, who also understood the importance of a company trademark design. The Art Deco “Speedbird” was a first for Canada, and possibly the first to appear on any commercial airliner in the world, painted in late August 1937.

The story of TCA first pilot training from Sea Island Airport, [Vancouver, B.C.] to Winnipeg, Manitoba, [Operations H.Q. and training base] appeared in the 15 April 1938 issue of Maclean’s Magazine. The first operational training flights from Vancouver to Winnipeg began on 1 February 1938.

This image on the cover of 1 June 1940 Maclean’s magazine contains no information on the two TCA pilots or the Electra aircraft. I have been told the man on the left looks like Bush pilot Herb Seagrim, one of the original TCA pilots who joined in December 1937. Herb took his flight training at Winnipeg Operations H.Q. training centre in 1938, and that is possibly where this photo by Maclean’s Scott Malcolm was taken. CF-BAF was used for pilot training at Winnipeg, and possibly this is that same Lockheed Electra.

The first five Lockheed Electra Model 10-A aircraft all became early TCA pilot trainers, Fin #21 CF-AZY, Fin #22 CF-BAF, Fin #23 CF-TCA, Fin #24 CF-TCB, and Fin #25 CF-TCC. The 1st test-hop flight from Sea Island, Vancouver, B.C., to Lethbridge, Alberta, 1 February 1938 was flown by Electra CF-TCC, Fin #25.

The new original TCA pilot hat badge was designed from the first TCA aircraft nose insignia, including the Canadian “Speedbird.” This was highlighted in 1 March 1942 issue of Maclean’s.

CF-BAF serial #1063, NC97227, was originally purchased from Lockheed by James Armstrong Richardson 29 August 1936, and flown in the “Goose” markings of Canadian Airways Ltd. [Please read “Father of Canadian Aviation” by Shirley Render] Purchased by TCA 21 August 1937, she carried airliner Fin #22, a flight trainer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. TCA took many promo photos of CF-BAF including the above [and below] image of her wearing her original TCA nose insignia.

For some unknown reason CF-BAF Canadian “Speedbird” insignia contained a different Maple Leaf design than the other four Lockheed Electra aircraft. This Maple Leaf from the top down contains seventeen sharp points on each side and was two-tone red in color. The letters TCA were also a thinner design, “A” than the other Electra’s. The Maple Leaf shape, “B” was possibly due to a different artist painting the Electra at training H.Q. Winnipeg, Manitoba.

This is the TCA insignia painted on sister airliner Lockheed 10A Electra, CF-TCA Fin with nose #23. Note the Maple Leaf and TCA lettering are different then that painted on Electra CF-BAF #22 top images.

This is the correct TCA aircraft nose insignia, with Canadian “Speedbird” carried on four of the Lockheed Model 10A Electra airlines CF-AZY, CF-TCA, CF-TCB, and CF-TCC. This same design was painted on all sixteen Lockheed 14-H2 Super Electra and the first six Model L18-08 Lodestar airliners until early September 1941. This original 1937, TCA insignia should be displayed on CF-TCC in the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada at Winnipeg, and on CF-TCA in the Canada Aviation and Space Museum at Ottawa. [Both of these rare Electra’s wrongly carry the September 1941 “Speedbird” painted on Super Electra’s and Lodestar airliners]

By 1937, the price of a Lockheed model 10-A Electra had increased from $37,000 to $73,000, TCA purchased three, the last being CF-TCC, serial 1116 built 28 October 1937, which is today a rare airworthy example. CF-TCC was given tail fin #25 and flew until late 1939, then was sold to the Canadian Department of Transport, which flew her until 1956. Acquired by Matane Air Service in Quebec, CF-TCC flew until 1961.

It is important for model builders to note CF-TCC flew with a second career French/Canadian “Speedbird” logo painted on her engines and tail fin in Quebec, Canada.

In June 1961, TCA leased CF-TCC from Matane Air Service in Montreal, Quebec, stripped the aircraft and repainted her white [seen above in 1962]. The man in charge of the repainting was Mr. Alan Hunt, and I’m sorry to say he made a major mistake with the TCA insignia. Mr. Hunt painted the TCA Maple Leaf with the BOAC “Speedbird” which would not appear on TCA Lodestar airliners until September 1941. CF-TCC flew across Canada for the 25th Anniversary of TCA and after four months was returned to Matane Air Services in 1962. Matane Air offered the historical aircraft to TCA for the price of $20,000, but the offer was turned down. In 1965, Matane Air Service was taken over by Quebec Air and CF-TCC was sold to an American citizen. In 1975, Mr. Ernie Sykes, a former Air Canada employee, discovered the rare Canadian Electra CF-TCC at the annual Confederate Air Force Show in Harlingen, Texas. Owned by a CAF member she was painted in a color scheme of the RCAF in the 1970s with serial #7656. In 1983, CF-TCC was purchased by Air Canada at four times the original offer of $20,000 back in 1962. In January 1984, CF-TCC was flown by Air Canada Captain Ray Lank and the former owner Bud Clark from Florida, where it was acquired, to Air Canada facilities at Winnipeg, Manitoba. Extensive restoration was required and the rare Electra was first flown by pilot Brian Harrington of Canadian Warplane Heritage on 18 March 1986. This rare airworthy example was flown across Canada to Vancouver, B.C., where it was a star attraction at Expo ’86. During the restoration, TCA copied the same TCA insignia which Mr. Hunt had painted in 1961, and this error is still on the aircraft in Winnipeg, Manitoba, today [2020]. Should it be repainted correctly for TCA history, well that’s up to Air Canada historians and their retired TCA veterans?

CF-TCC with 1941 BOAC Speedbird. Correct Canadian Speedbird on CF-TCC in 1938.

Trans Canada Air Lines was so impressed with the Lockheed Electra performance they ordered sixteen new Super Electra Model 14H-2 aircraft before construction began. These were a scaled-up version of the Model-10 Electra with 1,200 H.P. [R-1830-S1C3-6] engines. Lockheed took full advantage to advertise the first Canadian pre-production order of twelve Super Electra’s. TCA Lockheed 14H-2, #1429 was delivered on 12 May 1938, and given Canadian registration CF-TCD, Fin #26. Fifteen more would follow as they were constructed, the last CF-TCS #1504, Fin #41 was delivered in 21 September 1939.

Ten new Lockheed Model 14H-2 Super Electra’s were on strength at TCA by 21 September 1938.
CF-TCD #1429, CF-TCE #1430, CF-TCF #1450, CF-TCG #1451, CF-TCH #1471, CF-TCI #1472, CF-TCJ #1473, CF-TCK #1474, CF-TCL #1475, and CF-TCM #1476. [CF-TCN #1499, CF-TCO #1500, CF-TCP #1501, CF-TCQ #1502, CF-TCR #1503, and CF-TCS #1504 would arrive May to September 1939.] The sixteen TCA aircraft Fin numbers ran from CF-TCD #26 to CF-TCS #41. CF-TCL, [18 Nov. 1938] CF-TCP [6 Feb. 1941] and CF-TCF [27 Feb. 1945] crashed.

CF-TCD Fin #26 and CF-TCE Fin #27 arrived in May 1938, both wearing the original 1937 insignia.

A 1939 Postcard showing CF-TCG Fin #29 at Kapuskasing Airport in Ontario. She was built on 24 June 1938, and delivered a few days later, wearing 1937 insignia.

Sixteen Lockheed Super Electra Model 14-H2 purchased by Trans-Canada Air Lines in 1938-39

TCA registration Serial Built TCA Fin #
CF-TCD #1429 12 May 1938 #26
CF-TCE #1430 12 May 1938 #27
CF-TCF #1450 24 June 1938 #28
Crashed 27 February 1943, written off in forced landing Moncton, New Brunswick, no fatalities. Capt. James H. Hattie and First Officer Kenneth Moreland.
CF-TCG #1451 24 June 1938 #29
CF-TCH #1471 30 Aug. 1938 #30
CF-TCI #1472 30 Aug. 1938 #31
CF-TCJ #1473 7 Sept. 1938 #32
Crashed 2 September 1946, during training flight at Moncton, New Brunswick. Right engine failed, lost altitude turning and hit trees, killing both pilots.

CF-TCK #1474 7 Sept. 1938 #33
CF-TCL #1475 21 Sept. 1938 #34
Crashed 18 Nov. 1938, on a flight from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Vancouver B.C. with a load of mail. Crashed after take-off from Regina, Sask. Airport killing both pilots.

CF-TCM #1476 21 Sept. 1938 #35
CF-TCN #1499 27 May 1939 #36
CF-TCO #1500 24 July 1939 #37
CF-TCP #1501 24 July 1939 #38
Crashed 6 February 1941, hit trees one mile short of Armstrong, Ontario, airport, killing nine passengers and three crew members.
CF-TCQ #1502 2 Aug. 1939 #39
Crashed 23 January 1947, crashed on takeoff at Winnipeg, Manitoba, killing both pilots.
CF-TCR #1503 14 Aug. 1939 #40
CF-TCS #1504 18 Aug. 1939 #41

CF-TCO survives today in the Kermit Weeks collection in Florida, reg. N14126. Badly damaged by Hurricane Charley, 13 August 2004.

May 1939 issue of American Aeronautical Aviation Weekly created a special art cover to “Salute Trans-Canada Air Lines” and the launch of the first trans-continental flight on 1 April 1939. The new TCA insignia Maple Leaf can be seen on the aircraft nose cover painting. Three Lockheed Electra Model – 10A and ten Super Electra Model – 14H aircraft opened Canada’s first coast-to-coast high-speed passenger service.
American Aviation Weekly magazine Lockheed ad for June 1939, displaying the original TCA insignia, Speedbird and TCA over Maple Leaf. Lockheed 14-H2, Super Electra N66578, serial #1471, CF-TCH was built 30 August 1938, the fifth Model 14 delivered to TCA at Winnipeg, in September 1938, Fin #30. Photos below were – Fin #37 CF-TCO and Fin #28 CF-TCF.

The Lockheed 14-H2 aircraft were delivered to TCA with a clear glass nose and a large nose cargo door. These show up in the Lockheed ad appearing in Aviation Weekly June 1939. The airlines are top Fin #37, CF-TCO and bottom Fin #28, CF-TCF.

Super Electra CF-TCF [#28 under nose] displays the nose loop antenna [RDF] Radio Direction Finding, for picking up ground signals transmitted from radio towers for route location, and the TCA insignia with 1937 Canadian “Speedbird” logo.

Trans-Canada Airlines Lockheed sponsored full page ads first appearing in the 26 June 1939 issue of LIFE magazine. Super Electra #1471, CF-TCH appears in the TCA drawing.

The fifth delivered Super Electra 14-H2, CF-TCH arrived at Winnipeg in September 1938, possibly when this image was taken in front of the Stevenson Field, TCA terminal.

Another Super Electra at TCA terminal McCall Field, Calgary, Alberta, showing the 1937 aircraft insignia with Canadian “Speedbird” and Maple Leaf in multi-colors. Aircraft port side image in color below for model builders.

#1 photo – TCA Calgary hangar “McCall Field” with the first new Electra Model 10-A, serial 1112, CF-TCA, seen at night as the Alberta May sun sets in the far west, and #2 the TCA modern two-way aircraft radio communication at Calgary in 1939. CF-TCA was sold to Dept. of National Defence, RCAF on 21 September 1939. Maclean’s Magazine images published 1 June 1939.
Canada declared war on Germany 10 September 1939, while the United States of America and her citizens remained determinedly an isolated nation. The looming world conflict with Hitler and Nazi Germany was not a problem to be solved by Americans.

In 1937, the Super Electra was born, a Model 14-H2 transport, which was destined to test her design in combat as the famous Hudson RAF/RCAF bomber. This ad appeared in January 1940 issue of LIFE magazine, as the Lockheed Super Electra went to war. Lockheed was not afraid to fight for world democracy, while making money from her Allies, a double winner.

The new Lockheed L-18-08A Lodestar airliner featured an extended fuselage [168 inches] version of the L-14 Super Elecrta with seating for 14 to 18 passengers. This 1940 Lockheed ad shows the seating for fourteen passengers. The American air worthy certificate was received on 30 March 1940, and TCA would order six of these new aircraft.

On 7 January 1941, six new Lodestars were flown from the U.S. aircraft factory at Burbank, California, to the TCA terminal at Seattle, by Lockheed pilots. After clearing U. S. customs, [9 January] three new aircraft [CF-TCT, CF-TCU, and CF-TCV] were flown to Sea Island Airport, Vancouver, B.C. The next morning the first plane took off piloted by Capt. R.F. George, TCA’s flight superintendent and First Officer D.S. Driscoll, headed for Winnipeg, Manitoba. Top speed was 263 miles per hour, faster than any other passenger ship for that time. The Lodestar landed at Stevenson Field, Winnipeg, just before sundown, setting a new speed record of five hours and ten minutes. The other two aircraft followed but they would not begin flight operations until May 1941. The new aircraft needed minor modifications and TCA personnel required training to become accustom to the larger, heavier, and faster aircraft. One Lodestar remained at Lethbridge, Alberta, for pilot and ground crew training. The last three CF-TCW, CF-TCX and CF-TCY arrived Winnipeg on 13 January 1942. The new Lodestar could carry fourteen passengers, a crew of three, and 2,500 pounds of cargo, cruising at 225 miles an hour. First six TCA Fin numbers were: CF-TCT, Fin #42 to CF-TCY, Fin #47.

On 10 May 1941, TCA inaugurates a new faster return flight from Toronto to New York City, New York. This 1941, La Guardia Field, New York, Post Card honours new Lodestar CF-TCX, Fin #46, wearing her original 1937 TCA nose insignia. Trans-Canada Air Lines has become the first foreign airline to land at La Guardia Field, New York.

TCA CF-TCX Lodestar 18-08A Fin #46, landing at La Guardia Field, New York, proudly displaying her 1937 Canadian “Speedbird” and Maple Leaf insignia.
On the eve of the Pearl Harbour attack, LIFE 17 November 1941 issue featured a full page color Lockheed ad on new ordered TCA Lodestars and the first painted 1937 original Speedbird Canadian Maple Leaf insignia. CF-TCK was in fact a Model 14-H2 Super Electra, built 7 September 1938, serial #1474, Fin #33, converted to a L18-08A airliner. It crashed in Jamaica 23 March 1949, operated by Kenting Aerial Survey.

The cockpit of a new Lockheed 14-H2 Super Electra most likely taken in 1939, with pilots [left] K. Edmison and J. Storey. Published in Maclean’s magazine on 1 March 1942. [author collection]

The new Lodestar arrives January 1941, and the TCA “Speedbird” logo changes in September.

The September 1941 issue of American magazine Air Trails published a two page article on the TCA Lockheed Lodestar airliners with eight photos supplied by TCA. This was the first publication which featured the new TCA aircraft insignia with the second British BOAC style “Speedbird.”

This image used in the American article was in fact a Lockheed Model 14-H2 Super Electra CF-TCN, Fin #36, built 27 May 1939. This same image appeared in Maclean’s magazine 1 June 1939.

Maclean’s magazine 1 June 1942. Lodestar L18-08A, CF-TCV delivered to Winnipeg, Manitoba, 10 January 1941. Serial 18-2061, began flights in May 1941, sold postwar Imperial Oil [Canada] Ltd. [Author collection] The original first painted 1937 TCA insignia and yellow Canadian Speedbird has now evolved into the original British design created by Theyre Lee-Elliott, the Trademark owned and used by BOAC airlines in U.K. since 1939.

Canadian Speedbird September 1937- Sept. 1941 New Speedbird Sept. 1941 – April 1943
Beginning with the original TCA insignia in 1937, [left] the insignia evolved into a more solid red Maple Leaf and the Canadian Speedbird has been replaced by the British Speedbird design. This June 1942, original BOAC Speedbird design was short lived and all were replaced in 1943.

This TCA insignia change should be important for model builders and aviation museums. In June 1942, six more Lockheed Lodestar L18-08A airlines were purchased by TCA and each airliner received the new British style Speedbird nose insignia. [seen above] Airliners – CF-TDB, CF-TDE, CF-TDF, CF-TDG, CF-TDH, and CF-TDI flew with this nose insignia until April 1943.

The reason for this TCA aircraft and company “Speedbird” insignia logo change is not explained by historians and the answer may still be found in old company letters or archives. The insignia was used until April 1943, and then gave way to the new solid red Maple Leaf with white letters TCA. It’s possible this original 1932 British copyright Speedbird plus official trade mark and call sign of BOAC was observed by U.K. pilots on the TCA aircraft. BOAC possibly sent a “Stop and Desist” letter to TCA and a third new Maple Leaf logo appeared, lasting until 1965.

Canada Post Office ad appearing in Canadian publications, the date would be mid-1943, when the four Avro Lancaster’s [Lancastrians] arrived. KB702 [TCA-101, CF-CMT] KB703 [TCA-102, CF-CMU] KB729 [TCA-103, CF-CMV] and KB730 [TCA-104. CF-CMW]. Lockheed Lodestar CF-TCT, #2059, Fin #42, was the first delivered to Winnipeg, Manitoba, 10 January 1941, setting a new speed record. PICRYL free domain image.

From early 1942 until 1947, the British BOAC “Speedbird” logo appeared on the fuselage of the TCA fleet, just forward of the lettering Trans-Canada Air Lines. Seen above on Lodestar 18-08A, Fin #53, which went missing 28 April 1947. Found on Mount Elsay, North Vancouver, 47 years later.

Four Lockheed Model 10A Electra aircraft CF-AZY, CF-TCA, CF-TCB, and CF-TCC all flew wearing the first 1937 TCA insignia with the Canadian “Speedbird” logo “A.” CF-BAF flew with a different Male Leaf design and smaller TCA lettering, same Canadian Speedbird.
The original sixteen Lockheed Model 14-H2 Super Electra were all painted with the “A” TCA insignia, five crashed, [CF-TCL, CF-TCP, CF-TCF, CF-TCJ, and CF-TCQ] the eleven survivors would all wear the second “B” insignia and the third “C” insignia.

Lockheed Model 14-H2, CF-TCK, Fin #33, arrived Winnipeg in September 1938. In July 1942, she lost both engines after take-off from Winnipeg airport and made a forced landing. CF-TCK is now wearing the BOAC style logo “D” and Trans – Canada Air Lines lettering.

Eleven Lockheed Lodestar L18-08A aircraft were painted with “A” insignia and later wore “B” and “C” insignia. CF-TCT, CF-TCU, CF-TCV, CF-TCW, CF-TCX, CF-TCY, CF-TDB, CF-TDE, CF-TDF, CF-TDG, and CF-TDI. In summer 1942, these aircraft also received the fuselage marking “D” featuring the BOAC Speedbird logo painted in bright red. Two Lodestars [CF-TCX, and CF-TDF] crashed.

In 1944, the fleet received a new tail Fin marking “E” featuring a double “Speedbird” in a circle with letters TCA. This was painted over the original Lockheed insignia with star, seen in photo on markings page, highlighted in yellow.

Research information and photos of this TCA tail insignia are hard to obtain. It is unknown how many aircraft wore this tail art or for how long.

The third new TCA insignia begins to appear on aircraft and advertisements in April 1942.

This image of Lockheed 18-08A Lodestar CF-TCV first appeared in Maclean’s magazine on 1 June 1942, wearing the second TCA insignia, with British design Speedbird. On 12 May 1943, this new ad [above] appeared in Maclean’s and CF-TCV is wearing her new TCA insignia with red Maple Leaf. This insignia will remain with TCA until 1965.

On 13 July 1940, the Canadian government was informed the R.A.F. wished to move four service flying training schools from the United Kingdom to Canada. In August this total was increased to eight RAF service flying training schools and the Calgary TCA Airport was first selected as RAF No. 35 service flying training school. The Canadian construction industry suddenly experienced a burst of priority in a vigorous attempt to construct the new RAF airfields. The movement of RAF schools to Canada began in earnest in October 1940, and by the New Year five new British training schools were operating in Canada. In March 1941, the British again revised the number of schools they would like to move from the U.K. and nine more service flying training schools were added to the eight selected for movement to Canada. It was very clear the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was rapidly outgrowing the original dimensions signed in December 1939, and training space had to be found for the new arriving RAF ground and training staff. Calgary TCA terminal would now share its air space with the Royal Air Force who were sailing for Canada on the “Queen Mary” from England.

Calgary TCA Municipal Airport [McCall Field] was originally constructed in 1938 as a major stop for north-south daily flights of the newly formed Trans-Canada Airlines. The TCA terminal and control tower hangar were equipped with the most modern RCA Victor radio communications, now taken over and operated by the RCAF.

This TCA Calgary terminal postcard contains no data, however six of the seven Lockheed airlines in the image can be identified from top to bottom #2063, CF-TCX [L18-08], #2059, CF-TCT [L18-08], #1450, CF-TCF [14-H2], #2248, CF-TDF [L18-08], CF-TDG, [L18-08], and #2064, CF-TCY, [L18-08]. Five of these Lodestar aircraft began coast-to-coast service in May 1941, thus, this air shot was taken some time later possibly to promote the new aircraft at McCall Field, Calgary.

Today [2020] Lodestar CF-TCY [bottom left] survives and is being preserved by the Canadian Museum of Flight at Langley Airport, British Columbia. They have the choice of three different sets of correct TCA markings with nose insignia and it will be interesting to see their final selection. I hope my research will assist them with selecting the correct period markings, and not end up like a dog’s breakfast of markings, which has occurred in a few Canadian Aviation Museums including the Hangar Flight Museum at Calgary, Alberta.

During the winter of 1940 construction, the RAF Calgary sign [above] gave no indication the base was RAF No. 35 SFTS, changes were being made every week. The first RCAF records using No. 35 SFTS appeared in the Daily Diary of No. 2 Wireless Flying School which moved from RCAF No. 3 SFTS at Currie Barracks [Mount Royal University] to RAF No. 35 SFTS TCA Airport, Calgary, on 24 January 1941. This RCAF squadron began wireless air/gunner training in Menasco [American engine] Tiger-Moth aircraft [Course #8] on 4 April 1941. Five weeks later [12 May 1941] No. 2 Wireless Flying Squadron was ordered back to RCAF No. 3 SFTS, today Mount Royal University of Calgary. The new RAF student pilot trainees [No. 31 EFTS] were arriving in Canada and almost 200 would learn to fly at Calgary, and RAF relief field at Airdrie, Alberta.

In 1985, a photo album belonging to student/pilot LAC Gafney came up for auction in United Kingdom, which captured his RAF training taken at Calgary and graduation at No. 31 EFTS De Winton, Alberta. Nothing else is known about this British officer other than the names recorded on the back of each photo. Above are four classmates of Gafney, L to R: Ian Reekie, Ted Jones, Ted Ivison and Geoff Knowles. For the next four months, 18 June 1941 until 12 October 1941, RAF No. 31 EFTS conducted flying training from Calgary, Alberta, while their home base further south at De Winton was still under construction. While the Tiger-Moth aircraft were stored in the hangars at Calgary, the actual RAF flying training took place further north at the Airdrie Relief field.
Airdrie Relief landing field was also used as an emergency landing base for the many daily TCA flights from Calgary to Edmonton.

LAC Gafney [right] and his RAF Flying Instructor Reg Eastwood, Course #30, September 1941.
RAF pilot training of No. 31 EFTS began at Calgary TCA Municipal airport [McCall Field] on 18 June 1941, Course number 22. Ninety-three RAF pilot trainees began the course and seventy-four graduated on 8 August 1941, nineteen failed the course. These first British pilots received 35 hours of flying in Tiger Moth [Canadian built] trainers before their final test. The next RAF Course number 25 began on 15 July 1941, with ninety students and sixty-two graduated on 1 September 1941. Course number 27 began on 8 August 1941 with ninety-six students and graduated 54 pilots on 29 September 1941. The failure rate in this class was very high, with wastage of 34 students, eight were posted to the next course number 30, which began on 1 September 1941. Number 27 was the last RAF course to graduate students at Calgary Airport, with a three-course total of 190 trainees moving on to SFTS training in Alberta. RAF Course #30 and #33 began at Calgary and graduated at least 170 students at their home base at De Winton, Alberta, where they moved on 12 October 1941. The particulars of RAF Course #25, #27, #30 and # 33 follow.

Group Capt. W.H. Poole, AFC, M.M., arrived at Calgary, Alberta, on 19 September 1941, and officially took over command of the new RAF No. 37 SFTS. On 22 September 1941, No. 35 SFTS at Calgary TCA Municipal Airport was officially renumbered RAF No. 37 SFTS, RAF orders #228.
RAF student LAC Gafney was part of Course #30 which began training at Calgary on 1 September 1941, with ninety-eight students. On 13 October 1941, the RAF movement of No. 31 EFTS from Calgary to their new base at De Winton, Alberta, began and Gafney took one image of No. 37 SFTS Calgary, Alberta. This was possibly his last look of No. 37 SFTS Calgary taken from a Tiger Moth flying at around 5,000 ft. LAC Gafney would graduate [88 pupils] on 19 October 1942, at De Winton, Alberta, then was selected for RAF training at RCAF No. 15 SFTS at Claresholm, Alberta. Today hangar #1, [far left] the Calgary Hangar Flight Museum [top left] and the original TCA terminal hangar [far right] still remain, all TCA/RAF/RCAF wartime history forgotten by the passage of time.

Gafney began his service flying training at Claresholm in January 1942, and graduated in class #44 on 25 March 1942. It appears he was in the top of his class, as he remained at Claresholm and was selected for RAF Flying Instructor training. He would complete his Flying Instructor course at RCAF Vulcan, Alberta, in August 1942, and moved on to RAF No. 32 SFTS Bowden, Alberta, where he taught British students to fly the American PT-27 Stearman trainer. His photo album suddenly ends in late September 1942 at Bowden, Alberta. His collection of training photos records and preserves a large section of our Calgary WWII RAF past, however there is no Canadian museum which wishes to display the history of the British Royal Air Force training in Canada, 1940 to 1944.

LAC Gafney [middle row fourth from left] graduation of Class #44 at RCAF Claresholm, Alberta, on 25 March 1942. A large number of these first student pilots [at least 190] received their first RAF flying training at Calgary, Alberta.
On 21 October 1941, No. 37 SFTS RAF Calgary began training bomber pilots in the British built Airspeed Oxford trainers which had been shipped by rail to Calgary, Alberta. This full history with aircraft serial numbers can be found on my Blog titled – “Calgary Wings.”

The 1st class of RAF bomber pilots begins training on 21 October 1941, Class #31, and the last class graduates on 26 September 1942. In just over ten months the British have trained and graduated 385 bomber pilots at RAF No. 37 SFTS, Calgary, Alberta.

This was the new Royal Air Force insignia created by No. 37 Service Flying Training School at Calgary, Alberta, first appearing November 1941. TCA not only share their airfield with the British, they now also share a new base flying badge. The new Thunderbird and TCA Speedbird both fly out of Calgary.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941, it became imperative for the Americans to rush troops and war material to defend Alaska. The first American northwest route survey flight took place in March 1942, and a line of bases in varying sizes was laid out on paper for the ferrying of aircraft to Russia. The ferry flights began at Great Falls, Montana, continued north to Lethbridge, Calgary, Edmonton, and Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada. The total flight covered a distance of over 2,000 air miles to Ladd Field at Fairbanks, Alaska. On 3 June 1942, the Japanese attacked Dutch Harbor, and the invasion of Kiska and Attu followed. On 20 July 1942, the 7th Army Air Forces Ferrying Group was formed, with detachments of the 385th Air Base sent to Lethbridge and Calgary, Alberta. A new and mostly forgotten chapter in Calgary aviation history is about to begin. On 26 August 1942, Russian ferry pilots began to arrive at Ladd Field, Alaska, and on 12 October 1942, the deliveries of American lend-lease aircraft to Russia began. The numbers of aircraft deliveries during October were: fifteen B-25s, fifty A-20s, sixty P-39s, and twenty P40s. All of these American aircraft passed directly over the TCA control tower at Calgary, Alberta, which maintained radio control and provided a refueling and emergency landing base for any aircraft in trouble.

This American lend-lease P-39 [in Russian Red Star markings] awaits repairs at No. 37 S.F.T.S. Calgary, Alberta, winter 1942. The Lend-Lease Act was passed on 11 March 1941, allowing neutral U.S. to lend war material to other nations at war. Russia will receive almost 8,000 American built aircraft during World War Two.

Lend Lease P-63 over Alaska 1943.

This is a copy of the original route map and information given to all American ferry pilots during WWII. The American ferry pilots were flying over a major training area for the RAF and RCAF aircraft in the BCATP. Calgary alone had seven major training airfields with hundreds of aircraft in the air day and night. From December 1942 until September 1945, Air Transport Command delivered 7,926 lend-lease American aircraft to Russia, and they all passed over Calgary, TCA terminal. The aircraft total delivered over Calgary, Alberta, follows:
P-39 2,618
P-63 2,397
A-20 1,363
B-25 732
C-47 710
C-46 1
P-40 48
P-47 3
AT-6 54

This sky road to Russia was code named “Amber Airway #2”, [orange lines] which passed directly over the TCA Terminal #2 [McCall Field] at Calgary.

From 1941 until March 1944, Calgary [McCall Field] was home to four major BCATP Pilot, Bomber Pilot, and Wireless Air Gunner training schools, which are marked numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5. Three of these main schools had Relief Field landing grounds for training, which are marked #1, #6, and #7. The four training schools had on charge an average total of 360 to 430 training aircraft during the years 1941 to 1945, and they were flying night and day, crossing the flight path of Amber Airway #2, the sky road to Russia. It is impossible to give a count of the number of aircraft in the air over Calgary each day, but it was a very crowded air space. Add to this total three or four daily TCA Lockheed airliner flights from Lethbridge to Edmonton, Alberta, over this same sky road Amber Airway #2. The Air Traffic controllers at Calgary TCA McCall Field had a most dangerous job and only one mid-air collision took place over Calgary during the war years. RAF Harvard Mk. II AJ796 collided with RCAF Cessna Crane #8127 over Calgary on 28 August 1943, three airmen killed. The British and RCAF training aircraft had no radios, and received Morse code lamp signals for air traffic control directions.

This air traffic controller was on duty at the CPA/TCA tower in Edmonton, Alberta, November 1942, showing his Signal lamp or Morse Lamp. It was held by two hands like a gun and sighted on the top which was pointed at the aircraft cockpit area. In a period of two and one half hours he averaged six-planes-a-minute, mostly American aircraft going to Russia. [Maclean’s magazine page 19, 1 November 1942.

On 26 September 1942, seventy-eight British Airspeed Oxford trainers were flown to No. 39 SFTS at RAF Swift Current, Saskatchewan, and exchanged for one-hundred Harvard II fighter pilot training aircraft. [flown to Calgary 25-27 September 1942] The final RAF course #94 graduated 53 fighter pilots at Calgary on 10 March 1944, the same day the school officially closed. That evening two special CPR trains [one for officers and one for NCOs and Airmen] departed Calgary train station [one hour apart] for Halifax, Nova Scotia, and return to United Kingdom. The RCAF Ensign flag flew for the very first time at Calgary [Ex-No. 37 SFTS] at 08:00 hrs 11 March 1944. Calgary ex-RAF No. 37 SFTS became No. 2 Aircrew Graduate Training School, which was an RCAF ground school training for Canadian aircrew officer’s in special escape duties. The school had been located in Quebec City, P.Q. and the Commanding Officer, W.C Paul G. Rodier, arrived on 25 March 1944. The first class #6, containing 174 RCAF aircrew officers’ [70 Pilots’, 52 Navigators, and 52 Air bombers] graduated on 21 April 1944, and class #27 with 56 officers’ was terminated on 27 November 1944. The war was coming to an end and RCAF Calgary joined hundreds of other war time bases, used for storage and run by skeleton RCAF staff.

The Lockheed aircraft family had also served the RCAF and Trans-Canada Air Lines with speed and stamina during WWII. Calgary McCall Field now returned to civil use and TCA passenger flights continued.



August 1949

Avro Canada built the first North American jet transport in the world and flew the first jet “Air-Mail” in the world from Toronto to New York City. Built for Trans-Canada Air Lines, the Jetliner was rejected by TCA and the Canadian government cancelled further production. Only the nose section remains in storage in Ottawa, today 2020.

TCA was created by back room political deals in 1937, and the Canadian built first commercial jet liner in North America was destroyed by Canadian government back-room deals. TCA went from Canadian “Jetliner” back to American propeller “Skyliner” and the Canadian aviation industry would never recover. Buy American, paint a Maple Leaf on it, and fly it, the Canadian airliner motto forever.


On 10 December 2006, Winnipeg International Airport was officially renamed James Armstrong Richardson International Airport, in honour of Winnipeg’s Canadian “Father of commercial aviation” Mr. James Richardson, Senior.

Two of TCA Lockheed Electra original five aircraft, CF-TCA [6 October 1937] and CF-TCC [28 October 1937] survive, preserved in Ottawa and Air Canada at Winnipeg, Manitoba. Both of these rare historical airliners are painted with the incorrect September 1941 TCA insignia, containing the BOAC style “Speedbird” logo.

TCA operated from their Calgary terminal and hangar at McCall Field, from 1939 until 1962, when a new modern Calgary terminal opened. On this date the original name of WWI pilot hero Fred McCall was dropped and the name Calgary International Airport was adopted and is still in use.

This is the original TCA control tower and passenger terminal exit door to awaiting aircraft, looking much the same as it appeared eighty years ago. The building is privately owned and not protected as an historical cultural site by the City of Calgary.

Many aviation historians [including the author] feel the original name “Fred McCall” should be applied to the title of the Calgary International Airport. If Freddie McCall had been a pioneer Calgary Cowboy, I’m sure his name would have reappeared many years ago. In the 1920s, American pilots were nicknamed “Cloudboys” and that’s what Freddy McCall was.

And in case you are wondering, that little Canadian “Speedbird” and Maple Leaf, still fly out of Calgary, Alberta. In fact, their home base is located at Calgary, Alberta, and they appear in two shades of Blue with a large White “V” in color.

Thanks WestJet for preserving our Calgary “Speedbird” past.
Dedicated to the Canadian Father of Commercial Aviation – James Armstrong Richardson, Senior, 21 August 1885 to 26 June 1939.

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