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History of the DC-3
70 Years of the DC-3 1935-2005










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The  first of the "Douglas Commercial" family the DC-1 which first flew on the 1st July 1933.  The DC-1 was very advanced for its day. Its fuselage was streamlined, as were its wings and engine cowlings. It featured all-metal construction and retractable landing gear. Variable-pitch propellers gave the plane remarkable takeoff and landing characteristics. With plush seats, a kitchen and a comfortable restroom, the DC-1 set a new standard for passenger comfort.  Great efforts were made to insulate the passenger compartment from the noise of the plane's engines. The plane's passenger seats were mounted on rubber supports, while the cabin was lined with noise absorbing fabric. Carpet covered the cabin floor and even the engines were mounted on rubber insulators. The DC-1 carried 12 passengers (two more than the Model 247) and could fly as fast as 180 mph. In April 1935, it set a transcontinental speed record covering the distance from Los Angles, Calif., to New York in 11 hours and five minutes. Pleased with its new plane, TWA placed an order for 25 larger aircraft designated the DC-2.
� Boeing (11193 bytes)
Before the DC-1 was delivered on September 13, 1933, an order was received from TWA for 25 of an improved version. The DC-2 was an instant hit, In its first six months of service, the DC-2 established 19 American speed and distance records. In 1934, TWA put DC-2s on overnight flights from New York to Los Angeles, Calif. Called The Sky Chief, the flight left New York at 4 p.m. and, after stops in Chicago, Ill., Kansas City, Mo., and Albuquerque, N.M., arrived in Los Angeles at 7 a.m. For the first time, the air traveler could fly from coast to coast without losing the business day. The DC-2 was the first Douglas airliner to enter service with an airline outside the United States. In October 1934, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines entered one of its DC-2s in the London-to-Melbourne, Australia, air race. It made every scheduled passenger stop on KLM's regular 9,000-mile route (1,000 miles longer than the official race route), carried mail and even turned back once to pick up a stranded passenger. Yet the DC-2 finished in second place behind a racing plane built especially for the competition. After that, the DC-2's reputation was assured, and it became the airplane of choice for many of the world's largest airlines. In 1935, the DC-2 became the first Douglas aircraft to receive the prestigious Collier Trophy for outstanding achievements in flight. Between 1934 and 1937, Douglas built 156 DC-2s at its Santa Monica, Calif., plant.
� Boeing (7780 bytes)
The immortal DC-3 first flew on December 17, 1935.  It was a simple, logical, evolutionary development of the DC-1 and DC-2.  New 1,000 hp Pratt & Whitney engines permitted the DC-3 to carry 21 passengers 1,480 miles at 195 mph. The world’s airlines bought 455 DC-3s, and many times that number of surplus C-47s.
� Boeing (8114 bytes)

The DC-3 was engineered by a team led by chief engineer Arthur E. Raymond and first flew on December 17, 1935 (the 32nd. anniversary of the Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk). The plane was the result of a marathon phone call from American Airlines CEO C.R. Smith demanding improvements in the design of the DC-2. The amenities of the DC-3 (including sleeping berths on early models and an in-flight kitchen) popularized air travel in the United States. With just one refuelling stop, transcontinental flights across America became possible. Before the DC-3, such a trip would entail short hops in commuter aircraft during the day coupled with train travel overnight. Early American airlines like United, American, TWA, and Eastern ordered over 400 DC-3s. These fleets paved the way for the modern American air travel industry, quickly replacing trains as the favored means of long-distance travel across the United States. During World War II the armed forces of many countries used the DC-3 for the transport of troops, cargo and wounded.

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Over 10,000 aircraft were produced (some as unlicensed copies in Japan as Showa L2D, and as licensed copies in the USSR as Lisunov Li-2 & Li-3 Yugoslavia built Li-2 with Pratt & Whitney R-1839 engines) and the DC-3 was vital to the success of many Allied campaigns, in particular those in the jungles of New Guinea and Burma where the DC-3 alone made it possible for Allied troops to counter the mobility of the light-travelling Japanese army. In Europe, the DC-3 was used in vast numbers in the later stages of the war, particularly to tow gliders and drop paratroops. In the Pacific, with careful use of the island landing strips of the Pacific Ocean, DC-3s were even used for ferrying soldiers serving in the Pacific theater back to the US. After the war, thousands of surplus C-47s were converted to civil service, and became the standard equipment of almost all the world's airlines, remaining in front-line service for many years. The ready availability of ex-military examples of this cheap, easily maintained aircraft (it was both large and fast by the standards of the day) jump-started the worldwide post-war air transport industry. Numerous attempts were made to design a "DC-3 replacement" over the next three decades (including the very successful Fokker Friendship) but no single type could match the versatility, rugged reliability, and economy of the DC-3, and it remained a significant part of air transport systems well into the 1970s. Even today, almost 70 years after the DC-3 first flew, there are still small operators with DC-3s in revenue service. The common saying among aviation buffs and pilots is that "The only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3." 
Specifcations:
Powerplants: 2 895 kW (1200 hp) Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp 14 cylinder twin row radial piston engines, or 2 895 kW (1200 hp) Wright Cyclone nine cylinder radials.
Performance: Max speed 346 km/h (187 kt), economical crusing speed 266 km/h (143 kt). Initial rate of climb 1130 ft/min. Max range 2420 km (1307 nautical miles), range with max payload 563 km (305 nautical miles).
Weights: empty 8030 kg (17,720 lb), max takeoff 12,700 kg (28,000 lb).
Dimensions: Wing span 28.96 m (95 ft 0 in), length 19.66m (64 ft 6 in), height 5.16 m (16 ft 12 in). Wing area 91.7 m� (987 ft�).
Capacity: Flight crew of two. Seating for between 28 and 32 passengers at four abreast or 21 three abreast.
Production: 455 DC-3, 10,174 C-47 built, could be as many as 6,150 built in Russia & 485 in Japan under licence. More than 400 remained in commercial service in 1998.

� Boeing
Super DC-3 (C117)
The next generation DC-3, The Basler turbo conversion
� Blaser Turbo

Some of the names the DC-3 has had:

Dakota (The British called it the Dakota, a clever acronym comprised of the letters DACoTA for Douglas Aircraft Co. Transport Aircraft);Gooney Bird; Super DC-3 (R4D-8); Skytrooper; Biscuit Bomber; Tabby (NATO code name for the Showa L2D); Cab (NATO code name for Lisunov Li-2); Dumbo (SC-47 Search-and Rescue variant); Sister Gabby/Bullshit Bomber (EC-47 dispensing propaganda-leaflets in Vietnam); Spooky/Puff the Magic Dragon (AC-47 Gunship); Dowager Dutchess; Old Methuselah; The Placid Plodder; Dizzy Three; Old Bucket Seats; Duck; Dak; Dakleton (South African C-47s which replaced their Avro Shackletons), Vomit Comet (Nickname used by US Army paratroops during the Normandy invasion.)

"Four things won the Second World War, the bazooka, the Jeep, the atom bomb, and the C-47 Gooney Bird"
- Dwight D. Eisenhower