north central duck logo
home intro aircraft stories stations routes
North Central Airlines

Many ideas and suggestions were submitted for a design to replace the Wisconsin Central look. The airline's employees and even an ad agency came up with various versions for the new livery needed for the recent name change to North Central. Finally, engineering chief Ralph (Stub) Roberts went with a design conceived by his assistant, Glen Harper. This paint scheme was based on a feather type design which was a very popular look during the 50's. The "feather motif" also resembled an American Indian headdress, which was also very popular during that era. This new paint scheme fit well with North Central's upper midwest area route structure where many of the tourist areas and cities used Indian names.

DC-3 N33632 was the first aircraft to receive this new paint after it was delivered from Eastern Airlines on 4 June 1953.The tail design was carried over from the Wisconsin Central livery, however the big change was the use of red instead of blue for the main color. The wing tips were also painted red with "NOR" and the registration number in blue a with white outline on the upper and lower surfaces. The use of white on the top of the fuselage was discussed (to reduce heat in cabin), but was decided against due to the extra weight (45 lbs.) it would add to the airplane. This decision would be reversed for the next design.

For publicity during the opening of a new ski lift near Wausau, Wisconsin in January of 1955, aircraft N38941 was given a name. "Rib Mtn" was painted on the nose section of "nine forty one" (as it was referred to then) for the resort's ceremony. It was decided to carry on this idea for many other aircraft in the fleet during the year, along with murals painted on the forward interior bulkhead, depicting a resort area in NOR's route structure.

It was decided that white on top of the fuselage was a good idea after all. This was first done on the Lockheed 10A's near the end of their service to reduce the cockpit/cabin heat buildup. The idea was not carried over to the DC-3 fleet in order to save on the added weight (45 lbs.) until this design.

Another feature of this livery was the added reference to aircraft fleet numbers located below the cockpit windows and on the tail. Previously, the DC-3's were referred to usually by the last three numbers of their registration (e.g. N17320 would be "320").

Although there were some exceptions, the registration number was moved to a lower position on the tail, replacing the "US Mail / Air Express" markings. Most of the aircraft no longer displayed the registration number and "NOR" on the upper and lower surfaces of the wing due to the deletion of this CAA regulation requirement.

Later on during the use of this livery, "North Central Airlines" would be displayed either to the left of the boarding door or in a curve around the top of the door.

This paint scheme coincided with the change to a similar design for the Convair 340/440. The "feather" concept still remained, however it had evolved into a geometric "triangle" type feather look. The "Herman the Mallard Duck" logo moved from aft of the boarding door to a more prominent location on the tail with "North Central Airlines" taking its place. Ship numbers were moved from below the cockpit windows to inside the triangled feather.
Wisconsin Central Cessna Bobcat
Wisconsin Central Lockheed 10A
Wisconsin Central DC-3
North Central DC-3 - Interim Scheme #1
North Central DC-3 - Interim Scheme #2
North Central DC-3 - Original Feather
North Central DC-3 - White Top Feather
North Central DC-3 - Modern Feather
Convair 340/440 - Original Feather
Convair340/440 - Modern Feather
Convair 580 - Original
Convair 580 - Late
Douglas DC-9 - Original
Douglas DC-9 Late
click to see plaque click to see plaque
click to see plaque click to see plaque
click to see plaque
<<< previous aircraft livery page
next aircraft livery page >>>
home introduction aircraft stories stations routes special features
e-mail off site links site info