|Role||Large outsize-cargo transport aircraft|
|Primary users||Heavylift Cargo|
Transmeridian Air Cargo
|Serial||N447T, EI-BND, 4K-GUP, 9G-LCA, RP-C8023, N447FT|
|In service||1970-1999, 2013-present|
The aircraft was designed by John M. Conroy as a transport aircraft that could be used to ferry three Rolls-Royce RB.211 jet engines from Belfast, Northern Ireland, to Palmdale, California, United States. The engines were to be installed on the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar airliner.
The Skymonster was derived from a Canadair CL-44 freighter, in turn a derivative of the Bristol Britannia. It features an enlarged fuselage, like the Aero Spacelines Mini Guppy, which was produced by Jack Conroy's previous company, Aero Spacelines.
The conversion was performed outdoors, under covered scaffolding, at the Santa Barbara California airport. The nose section was built using foam covered with fiberglass, while the larger fuselage was constructed using conventional aluminum structure.
The Skymonster first flew on 26 November 1969, under the US registration "N447T". The CL-44 from which it had been converted also bore this same registration, and was previously operated by the Flying Tiger Line.
Only one prototype was built. Another one was ordered, but the CL-44 on which it was to be based crashed before delivery.
In 1970, the prototype was leased by Transmeridian Air Cargo, who gave it the name "Skymonster". Despite its being renamed "Bahamas Trader" later on, the name Skymonster stuck, and it is now commonly known as this.
In 1978, it was bought by British Cargo Airlines.
The aircraft went into storage in 1993, but was bought by a leasing company only two months later and leased to Buffalo Airways. According to Mikey McBryan General Manager for Buffalo Airways in Yellowknife Canada, this Buffalo Airways was a different operator and had no connection to the Canadian company.
Its next lease was to Azerbaijan Airlines in 1997, under the registration 4K-GUP.
In March 1998, it was leased to Baku Express.
In August 1998 it went to First International Airlines and was registered 9G-LCA.
In 1999, it was placed into storage, initially in the US, but then it was flown to Bournemouth Airport, UK, where it was scheduled to be scrapped.
In December 2006 the aircraft was registered in the Philippines (RP-C8023) and was being prepared for service in Australia. As of March 2008, the Skymonster was still at Hurn. In August 2008, it was reported that the aircraft was in the process of being scrapped, however as of September this was on hold amid further rumours about donation to a museum in Germany.