Updated: Oct 28
While American Airlines operated a fair number of 747-100s (we are going to leave the SPs out of this), the type is not generally associated with the airline. These jumbos were part of AA's fleet during the seventies and the first half of the eighties, but many of them were converted to freighters and/or leased to other airlines during that time frame. Additionally, at the time American was far from being the global carrier it is today, and the Jumbos were almost exclusively used on domestic routes in the U.S. and its territories. Nonetheless, there is something special about the Jumbo Jet when it wears the livery of the airline that bears the name of the same nation that produced such an iconic aircraft. Because of this, the 747-100 is the most represented type in my AA collection, with 4 examples, even though it is the only type of AA aircraft in my collection that I never got to see in real life; I just have to have them.
Let's take a look at these four models and see what can we learn from them:
1) 747-121 N743PA by BigBird (400 Scale Hangar Club Exclusive)
This is one of two Pan Am 747-121 leased to American Airlines in 1970 before the airline started taking deliveries of their own jumbos. The aircraft was leased to American immediately after its delivery in March of 1970 and flew with the airline for six months before going back to Pan Am, with whom it served until 1989.
During its time with AA the airplane wore a hybrid c/s retaining the Pan Am white top, creating a unique and exotic look as a result.
Other operators included Tower Air and Logistic Air. After a rather interesting journey across the planet, the airframe wound up at an off-airport site in Kempas, Malaysia where it is planned to be used as a hotel or restaurant, along with another abandoned 747. Here is a cool video about it.
The model was released in 2005, and I got mine in 2023. Blue Box used the same reg. to release a Pan Am model in 2006 wearing the billboard livery carrying the name "Clipper Black Sea," one of two names it wore while with Pan Am ("Clipper Derby" being the other one).
2) 747-123 N9664 by Dragon Wings
This was the 4th 747-123 delivered new to American Airlines, an event that took place on August 27, 1970. It flew for AA all the way until May, 1984 when it was leased to Avianca. Subsequent operators included Cargolux and United Airlines, with whom it retired in 1998 as N154UA. The airframe was scrapped in the early 2000s
This was the first non-freighter American Airlines 747-100 produced in 1:400 scale in 2000-2001. I got my example in 2023.
3) 747-123F N9673 by Jet-X (Dragon Wings mold)
American took delivery of N9673 in April 1971. It was the 13th 747-123 delivered new to AA and was also the third one to be converted to a freighter just a few years afterward in July 1976. It continued to operate as a -123F wearing the American Freighter titles that the model displays until mid-1984 when it went to Orion Air, a predecessor of UPS Airlines, as N673UP. In 1989 it flowed right into the newly created UPS Airlines. In 2003 it went to Kalitta as N717CK. The airframe was retired in 2010 and scrapped a few years later.
This was the first non-SP American Airlines 747 released in 1:400 scale in 2000. I got my example in 2021.
4) 747-123 N9674 by GeminiJets
On May 12, 1971 N9674 became the 14th out of a total of 16 747-123s that were delivered new to American. It flew for AA until December of 1983. It then went to Pan Am retaining the same reg. Subsequent operators included Tower Air, UPS, and Polar Air Cargo. It did not receive its freighter conversion until 1995. It retired with Polar as N859FT in December 2001. The airframe has since been broken up.
This is the most recent American Airlines 747-100 in 1:400 scale. It was produced in 2013, and I got mine new that same year.
When American started to expand its international network to Europe during the eighties, it did so mainly with the help of the DC-10-30, which quickly became complemented, and eventually replaced, by 767s, and A300s to a lesser extent, as ETOPS gained traction. The 747 rejoined the fleet briefly in the late 80s in the form of two SPs that were strategically acquired to be used in some newly awarded ultra-long-haul routes to Japan. In the early 90s the 747SPs were replaced with MD-11s. Today a combination of 777s and 787s take care of the airline's comprehensive long-haul global network.
Jorge A. Zajia