Aircraft of the Month: Douglas DC-3

The Douglas DC-3 is an American, fixed-wing, propeller aircraft that revolutionised air transport in the 1930s and ‘40s. 

Built by aircraft manufacturer Donald Douglas, a DC-1 was originally developed for Transcontinental and Western Airline (TWA), allowing it to compete with rival United Airline’s Boeing 247. In 1935, American Airlines persuaded a reluctant Douglas to design a sleeper style aircraft as well as a 21-seat passenger version, which was given the designation DC-3.

The amenities of the DC-3 popularized air travel in the United States. With only three re-fueling stops, flights were able to cross the United States eastbound in 15 hours. Westbound trips took 17.5 hours, which was a significant improvement over the Boeing 247. Passengers were soon eager to fly on the DC-3, which eliminated the need for shorter-range aircraft hopping during the day, coupled with train travel at night.

The DC-3 went on to become a popular aircraft with military, cargo, private and commercial airlines.  A number of aircraft companies attempted to design a replacement over the next three decades, but no aircraft could match the versatility, reliability and economy of the DC-3. It remained a significant part of air transport systems well into the 1970s – with many still in the air today.

Operators: American Airlines, TWA, United, KLM, U.S. Military
Manufacturer: Donald Douglas
Country: United States
First Flight: December 17, 1935
Maximum Altitude: 23,200 ft (7,100 m)
Operating Range: 2420km (1307nm)
Crew: 2
Cruise Speed: 180 kn; 333 km/h
Engine: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S1C3G Twin Wasp radial piston engines, 1,200 hp (890 kW) each
Height: 16 ft 11 in (5.16 m)
Length: 64 ft 8 in (19.7 m)
Wingspan: 95 ft 2 in (29.0 m)
Passenger Capacity:  21–32 passengers
Operating Weight (Empty): 16,865 lb (7,650 kg)
Maximum Take-off Weight: 25,199 lb (11,430 kg)

Did you know? In 2011 there were over 400 DC-3s in operation around the world.

The YVR Connection:  Last week, a DC-3 was spotted from the South Terminal Viewing Platform. The Great Silver Fleet (Eastern Air Lines) is one of the oldest DC-3s in operation today, with more than  91,000 hours on the airframe, among the highest in the world for an aircraft today.

 

Please Upgrade Your Browser

This site's design is only visible in a graphical browser that supports web standards, but its content is accessible to any browser or Internet device.