The DC-3 was to become perhaps the most important
airliner in history. It quickly established its reputation with
this and other operators, including the military
The early 1930s saw a complete
transformation of commercial air transport with the introduction of the
Boeing Model 247. At last the majestic but lumbering biplane was giving
way to the sleek low-wing, all-metal monoplane airliner. However, such was
the interest in the 247 that Boeing could guarantee delivery only to
United Airlines, who had ordered the first sixty.
Transcontinental and Western Air (TWA)
therefore issued a requirement to other manufacturers for a similar
airliner a challenge which Douglas accepted. It built the DC-1, in many
ways a more refined aircraft, although it flew for the first time on 1
July 1933, only four months after the Model 247 entered service. When it
was handed over to TWA, it flew in record time between Los Angeles and New
York. Impressed, the airline placed an immediate contract for 28 more
Douglas airliners, but in an even more refined form.
History owes a lot to TWA, for the development of the DC-1
History owes a lot to TWA, for the
production airliner delivered by Douglas was the DC-2, which began
operations in July 1934. At that time it was the best passenger aircraft
in the world, and other operators soon began queuing up to place orders.
First of the non-US airline customers was KLM, which began flying the type
in the autumn of the same year, and the DC-2 seemed set for a long
The production airliner delivered by Douglas was the DC-2, which began
operations in July 1934.
However, even greater acclaim was to
come Douglas's way when it attempted to fulfil yet another requirement,
this time from American Airlines. This company operated sleeper aircraft
on its trans-America flights and, wanting to keep abreast of the latest
developments, asked Douglas for a suitable airliner. Their answer was the
DC-3, a direct but slightly larger development of the DC-2. The prototype
first flew on 17 December 1935, and the design was soon being produced in
two versions for American Airlines the 14-passenger DST sleeper and a
21-seat 'daytime' airliner. Services with DC-3s started in June of the
What was to become perhaps the most important airliner in history, quickly
established its reputation with this and other operators, including the
military. During the Second World War, the DC-3 (named Dakota by Britain)
was mass produced as a utility transport in C-47, C-53, and other
versions, known also as Skytrains and Skytroopers, and was license-built
in large numbers in Russia as the Lisunou Li-2. Used in all imaginable
roles, from freight and personnel transport to glider tug and ambulance,
the type was active in all theatres of war, notably during the D-Day
landings in Normandy and subsequent assaults by Allied airborne forces.
After the war the military flying continued, while production of the civil
version restarted. DC-3s became the mainstay of worldwide passenger and
freight services for many years, although as larger-capacity
piston-engined airliners and then jet airliners became available, DC-3s
were gradually turned over to smaller operators.
0 in (28.96 m)
64 ft 5 in (19.63
16 ft 4 in (4.97
Max T/O Gross:
28,000 lbs (12,701
170 mph (274 km/h)
1,025 miles (1,650
Wright Cyclone R-1820, 9 cylinder, radial air-cooled engines, each
providing 1,475 hp (1,099 kw) @ takeoff.