Happy Birthday DC-3!

December 17 is a magical day in aviation history!
On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers made their first sustained powered flight at Kill Devil Hills, Kittyhawk, North Carolina.
32 years later, on December 17, 1935 and now exactly 80 years ago, the first Douglas DC-3 took to the skies. An airplane that would change aviation forever!

DC3

Here’s what Boeing / Douglas has to say about this event:

The Douglas DC-3, which made air travel popular and airline profits possible, is universally recognized as the greatest airplane of its time. Some would argue that it is the greatest of all time.

Design work began in 1934 at the insistence of C.R. Smith, president of American Airlines. Smith wanted two new planes — a longer DC-2 that would carry more day passengers and another with railroad-type sleeping berths, to carry overnight passengers.

The first DC-3 built was the Douglas Sleeper Transport — also known as Skysleepers by airline customers — and it was the height of luxury. Fourteen plush seats in four main compartments could be folded in pairs to form seven berths, while seven more folded down from the cabin ceiling. The plane could accommodate 14 overnight passengers or 28 for shorter daytime flights. The first was delivered to American Airlines in June 1936, followed two months later by the first standard 21-passenger DC-3.

In November 1936, United Airlines, which had been a subsidiary of Boeing until 1934, became the second DC-3 customer. The DC-2 had proved more economical than the Model 247, and United assumed the DC-3 would continue that lead. Initial orders from American and United were soon followed by orders from more than 30 other airlines in the next two years.

The DC-3 was not only comfortable and reliable, it also made air transportation profitable. American’s C.R. Smith said the DC-3 was the first airplane that could make money just by hauling passengers, without relying on government subsidies. As a result, by 1939, more than 90 percent of the nation’s airline passengers were flying on DC-2s and DC-3s.

In addition to the 455 DC-3 commercial transports built for the airlines, 10,174 were produced as C-47 military transports during World War II. For both airline and military use, the DC-3 proved to be tough, flexible, and easy to operate and maintain. Its exploits during the war became the stuff of legend. Today, more than six decades after the last one was delivered, hundreds of DC-3s are still flying and still earning their keep by carrying passengers or cargo…

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About Kingsleyr

Thank you for visiting my blog! The posts you find here are a direct result of my research into aviation and military history. I use the information I gather as a foundation and background for my books. You may call the genre historical fiction, a story woven into a background of solid and verifiable historical facts. However, the period and region I have chosen to write about (late 1930's - 1950's in South-East Asia) are jam-packed with interesting information and anecdotes. If I'd used them all I would swamp the stories. So this blog is the next best thing. It is an "overflow area" in which I can publish whatever I think will interest you. And from the reactions I get, I deduce I am on the right track. A lot will be about aviation in the former Dutch East Indies. This, because my series of books ("The Java Gold") follows a young Dutch pilot in his struggle to survive the Pacific War and its aftermath. But there's more in the world and you'll find descriptions of cities, naval operations and what not published on this blog. Something about myself; I am a Dutch-Canadian author, living in, and working out of the magical city of Amsterdam. My lifelong interest in history and aviation, especially WW2, has led me to write articles and books on these subjects. I hope you'll enjoy them!
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6 Responses to Happy Birthday DC-3!

  1. GP Cox says:

    We’ve been on the same train of thought I see. I’ve had my post drafted for weeks and was anxious to put it out, but held up until today too!

    Like

  2. Kingsleyr says:

    It is hard to fall in love with machinery. But the Dc-3 is an exception. Somehow, this plane sneaks into your soul and stays there. I can always recognize that particular engine sound. And all of a sudden my schoolboy years are there again…

    Like

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