Take a look to this wonderfull and very rare photo:
Photo © Frank Hudson
Recognise that airplane? Yes, the good old C-54 Skymaster. I would like to share with you a bit how TAP ordered this airplane, the expectations TAP also had and what what the importance of this airplane for the future of TAP.
When TAP was formed the idea was to buy from war surplus the good old faithfull C-47 Dakota and also to get a few 4 engine C-54 Skymasters to start a service to Brazil. Portugal at that time was already served by Panair and their L049's, so it would be like a chance to compete with them. The request was donne to KLM and what TAP asked KLM was to find out " an airplane closest possible with the DC-4-1009 " and KLM indeed filled that request but unfortunetely the airplane that TAP got was the C-54A, an airplane with a very limited range and equiped with P & W R2000/7 a very, very infamous engine that gave a lot of problems to TAP.
When the first C-54A Skymaster was presented in Portugal TAP technitians already knew that TAP could only operate this airplane with a mere 20 passengers in any South Atlantic crossing...very bad from the start. Also the possibility of using this airplane in Africa was restricted due to a lack of infrastructures both in Angola and Mozambique! So the only market TAP could use the C-54 was flying to Europe. So what we had in late 40's was the use of the C-47/C-53's to Africa and the C-54 to Europe, first in Paris Le Bouget on the 10th. August 1948 and London Northolt on the 27th. May 1949. TAP received 4 C-54A's Skymasters with the following registrations and serial numbers:
CS-TSA C/nr: 3072
CS-TSB C/nr: 3059
CS-TSC C/nr: 3069
CS-TSD C/nr: 7487
If you notice closely, the first 3 C-54A-DO's were infact from the very early batch builted in the early months of 1943....so these C-54's were already obsolete then!!! It's worth to notice that TAP lost a C-54A ( CS-TSB ) during 1948 without any loss of people ( there are reports that it was an heavy landing on a trainning flight... ).
In 1954 the C-47/C-53's finnally left Africa routes and the C-54's went on those routes just for a mere year. TAP had already ordered the L1049G Super Constellation to boost their network to Africa. In 1955 TAP received their brand new Super Constellations and the old faithfull C-54 Skymaster would stay until the end of the 50's. Between 1958/1959 TAP leased another L1049, this time an H model that was used in Africa, but also in Europe. So we can say that after the arrival of the Super Constellation TAP kept the C-54 Skymaster in Europe but also got the reinforcement of the Lockheed in the network. TAP received two mote L1049G's in 1961 and that was the swann song for the C-54. With these 2 new Super Constellations TAP could finnally retire the C-54 Skymaster and at the same time operate an all L1049G Super Constellation fleet until the arrival of the first jet. TAP had two options on the jet, or they could get long-haul jets ( and that was quite hard because both Douglas and Boeing had their line already full ) or they could keep the Supr Constellations on the long-haul business for a while and get in a short notice short/medium jets, and that was the option TAP did, ordering 3 Caravelle VI-R.
Resuming, the C-54 Skymaster was "the plane" to open Europe to TAP, it was a good plane for that route, it gave the chance to TAP to use the most modern navigation aids at that time and that acknowledgement would clear the way for TAP - when they received the Caravelle VI-R - to spread their european network to further destinations like Switzerland, Belgium, Danmark etc, etc.