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c/n 43157


The DC-4 1009 was produced at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant at Santa Monica, California.

Manufacturers' plate states date built as 4 August 1947.

The aircraft did two test flights on the 7th and 8th of August 1947 with Captain G.D.B. Williams. The aircraft was delivered to SAA on the 9th of August 1947, registered ZS-BMH and was named “Lebombo”.

This was the last DC-4 Skymaster off the Douglas factory production line. The aircraft was delivered by SAA Captains G.D.B. Williams, Captain G.W. Williams and Captain William J. Morrisey, assistant chief pilot of Douglas Aircraft Company.

09th August 1947
Los Angeles – Chicago
8 hours 20 min.
10th August 1947
Chicago – Gander (New Foundland)
8 hours 10 min.
11th August 1947
Gander – London
10 hours 10 min.
15th August 1947
London – Amsterdam
1 hour 30 min.
16th August 1947
Amsterdam – Castel Benito – Khartoum
8 hours 10 min
17th August 1947
Khartoum – Kisumu – Nairobi
6 hours
18th August 1947
Nairobi – Palmietfontein
8 hours 15 min.
Total hours
50 hours 35 min.

On the 30th of June 1962 the Skymaster was involved in a collision with a SAAF Harvard, number 7464 from 5 Squadron, during the approach into Durban Airport. The rudder and elevators were damaged but the aircraft landed safely, the Harvard crashed near a bowling club on the Bluff, both pilots parachuted and landed without injuries. The pilot of the Skymaster was Captain Archie Nasmith.

The aircraft was sold to the SAAF on the 21st of January 1966, allocated the tail number 6904 and was operated by 44 Squadron. The aircraft was leased to Safair in February 1977 using the registration ZS-BMH and was used for carrying mineworkers from neighbouring states to South Africa and was returned to the SAAF three months later.

During 1991 the SAAF began phasing out the DC-4 and in 1992 SAA bought the most noteworthy of the DC-4's back from the Air Force. It was ZS-BMH, "Lebombo". After an extensive rebuild she re-entered service with the SAA Historic Flight on 8 April 1993, exactly 46 years after she rolled off the Douglas assembly line in 1947. ZS-BMH was the last DC-4 ever built.

In July 1994 Lebombo flew to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Fly-in at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in the USA. The journey to Oshkosh was over 15 000 kilometres and she set a new world record for the longest, time and distance, propliner flight in one direction, with an unchanged passenger group.

Famous film actor, aircraft owner, enthusiast and pilot, John Travolta was aboard Lebombo.

Lebombo did SAA proud by winning the award for best transport aircraft, in the classic category, at the show.

ZS-BMH at Oshkosh July 1994
Photo: Dave Mangham

In June 1996 she attended the 50th anniversary celebrations of Heathrow Airport in London.

The aircraft was in Germany in June 1998 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift.

Douglas DC-4 ZS-BMH at Zurich Airport which celebrated its 50th birthday on 23 August 1998.
Photo: Rainer Spoddig

The ownership of the aircraft was transferred to the Transnet Heritage Foundation on the 25th of January 2001.
On the 18th of September 2006 the airliner transferred to Rand Airport with the Transnet Heritage Foundation.

Transnet donated the aircraft, along with what was the entire South African Airways Historic Flight fleet to the SAA Museum Society, effective 20 December 2007.

The airliner was operated by charter operator SkyClass Aviation who specialised in African Flying Safaris to Southern African.


The aircraft could carry up to 50 passengers in Business Class configuration. The DC-4's range of over 3000 km put it in easy reach of exotic destinations such as Central and East Africa.



Photo: Athol Franz

Photo: Bruce Perkins

Photo: Athol Franz

Photo: John Austin-Williams

Photo: Marilyn Andre

Photo: Bruce Perkins

ZS-BMH Douglas DC-4 Interior Michal Petrykowski
Douglas DC-4 ZS-BMH
Business Class seating

Photograph: Michal Petrykowski

ZS-BMH Douglas DC-4 cockpit Michal Petrykowski
Douglas DC-4 ZS-BMH
Photograph: Michal Petrykowski

Douglas DC-4 ZS-BMH
Photograph: Marilyn Andre

The two Lebombos ZS-BMH and big brother ZS-SAN

Technical details Douglas DC-4 1009 Skymaster

35.81 meters / 117.5 feet
28.60 meters / 93.9 feet.
8.40 meters /27.6 feet.
Weight empty
19,641 kgs / 43,300 lbs.
Weight loaded
28,804 kgs / 63,500 lbs.
Maximum speed
451 kph / 280 mph.
Cruising speed
329 kph / 205 mph
6,900 meters / 22,600 feet.
Range, normal load
5,630 kilometres / 3,500 miles.
4 Pratt & Whitney R-2000 D5, 14 Cylinder, two row, air-cooled radials developing 1,081 Kw/ 1450 HP Driving Hamilton Standard 3 blade constant Speed propellers.
3 Flight deck, 2 cabin.

Technical details Douglas DC-4 1009 Skymaster




Max t/o weight (structural)

73,000 lbs

Max landing weight (structural)

63,500 lbs

Max zero fuel weight

60,700 lbs

Max T/O weight 3 engines

55,700 lbs

C of G max t/o

16 % - 32 %


24.8 %

C of G 3 engine t/o

16 % - 24.8 %

Fuel (avgas)
Min fuel press idle
9 psi
Max fuel press
22 psi
Max fuel Qty overnight
1640 USG / 1680 USG
Max fuel Qty landing
max 395 in inboards or 395 total outboards
Fuel tank capacities
1+4 mains
495 USG each
2+3 mains
508 USG each
1+4 aux.
431 USG each total BMH = 2868 USG
2+3 aux. (AUA only)
362 USG each total AUA = 3592 USG
Fuel dump time 6 tanks
3.5 minutes
Fuel dump rate 6 tanks
382 / 472 USG/min
Safe endurance after dump
45min @ 75% of METO i.e. 2550rpm 33.5”
Operating Speeds
Max diving
218 kts
Max cruising
180 kts
Max gear down
156 kts recommended 140 kts
Flap Limits
40 - 45
176 kts
134 kts
Max fuel dump
191 kts
140 kts
Max landing lights extended
130 kts
Max speed for unfeathering
120 kts
Max x/wind take-off
25 kts
Max x/wind landing
20 kts
Main gear

Two retractable single shock strut dual wheel units


Hydraulic disc type two units per wheel

Nose gear

Steerable, hydraulically retractable single shock strut

Tail Skid

Single hinge shock strut with telescopic fairing filled with Hydraulic fluid & 800psi air press.

Fuel system
8 tank system
6 tank system
Fuel distribution for landing:
Max 395 USG in 2 & 3 mains or max 395 total in 1&4 mains and 1&4 Aux’s
Max Zero fuel weight
60700 lbs.
Fuel tank capacities
1&4 mains
495 USG each
1&4 Aux’s
431 USG each
2&3 Mains
508 USG each
2&3 Aux’s
362 USG each
Min dipped fuel in 1&4 mains
360 USG
Fuel consumption
193 / hr / eng
130 / hr / eng
81-92 / hr / eng
Cruise 3
56 / hr / eng
Cruise 4
50 / hr / eng
Pratt & Whitney
Wasp R2000 D5 Twin wasp 14 cylinder twin row
Impeller reduction gear ratio
Master cylinder no.
6 in front, 9 at rear.
Min. oil temp. for T/O
Min. CHT for T/O
Max RPM for T/O
Max Boost for T/O
48” Hg
Auto rich
Time Limit
2 minutes
Max oil temp.
Min. oil press.
40psi (Within 30 seconds)
Max mag. Drop
100 rpm
Overspeed limit
3050 for 30 sec.
Restricted RPM
1510 - 2310 & vicinity of 1900
Rpm when feather button released
800 -1000rpm
Oil Press to feather
500 psi
Oil Press to unfeather
600 psi
Normal voltage
24 - 28 Volts
Generator rating
200 amps
A/C voltage
115 volts / 26volts @ 400cycles
Max speed for landing light
130 Kts
Landing light limit
2 min.
Engine Starter motor limit
45 sec.
Cooling time for starter
3 min.

Douglas DC-4 ZS-BMH
Photograph: Marilyn Andre


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