Commercial Commando

Curtiss-Wright CW-20E postwar luxury airliner

Aviation writers, radio commentators and airline stewardesses met recently at the St Louis plant of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation, Airplane Division, for the unveiling of the CW-20E, that company’s bid for the immediate postwar transport business.

The CW-20E is the commercial version of the C-46 Commando, currently being used by both the US and Britain as a cargo plane for the transportation of vital war supplies all over the world. In this capacity, the Commando has earned no little amount of fame carrying gasoline, oil, men and munitions "Over the Hump" to Allied bases in China.

Largest, fastest twin-engine transport in the world. the CW-20E Commando has already been contracted for in quantity by Eastern Air Lines, Inc and National Airlines for use in their postwar expansion programs The commercial Commando is designed to supply the needs of the medium airline runs, that is, routes of 800 miles or less. Should a nonstop flight of a greater distance be desired, the CW-20E has a maximum range of over 1500 miles.

This new thirty-six to forty-two passenger luxury airliner incorporates many modern features suggested by airlines and travelers themselves, making an interior that is comfortable and attractive to the eye: fingertip control adjustable seats; flush-type ashtrays built into the arm of each chair; overhead luggage racks for small personal grips; individual overhead lighting system together with a fluorescently lighted cabin; ventilation system that changes the air in the cabin every minute, and keeps the temperature at seventy degrees.

Facilities for the serving of hot food to passengers have not been overlooked. A "mechanized" kitchenette has been built just behind the pilot, separated from the passengers by Dutch door which converts it into a serving pantry.

The Commando will be powered by two twin-row Wright Cyclone 18-cylinder radial engines of over 2000 hp each, the type presently used on the B-29 and other superbombers. Powered with these engines, the Commando will have a normal takeoff gross weight of 48,000 pounds, a design useful load of 15,000 pounds, and a maximum cruising speed of 242 mph at 10,000 feet. The big plane will be able to climb to and maintain an altitude of 13,500 feet on one engine. Propellers will be of the three-blade Curtiss Electric quick-feathering constant speed type and have been especially designed for use on the Commando.

Charles W France, manager of the St Louis plant, estimates that they will be able to deliver the new plane at the rate of somewhere around twenty a month, that the cost per complete unit will be about $300,000.

This article was originally published in the December, 1944, issue of Air Tech magazine, vol 5, no 6, p 46.
The original article includes a photo of a CW-20E unloading passengers, a photo of a cutaway model of the cabin, and plan, profile and 4 sections of the fuselage.
Photo credited to Curtiss-Wright Corp.