Douglas DC-3 ( C-47 Skytrain ), Corgi Aviation Archive Upcoming Arrivals and Hobbymaster News !

Air Nostalgia Douglas DC-3 Melton Vabre

The Douglas DC-3 is a fixed-wing propeller-driven airliner. Its cruise speed (207 mph or 333 km/h) and range (1,500 mi or 2,400 km) revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting effect on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made.

The DC-3 was a twin-engine metal monoplane, developed as a larger, improved 14-bed sleeper version of the Douglas DC-2. It had many exceptional qualities compared to previous aircraft. It was fast, had a good range and could operate from short runways. Its construction was all-metal. It was reliable and easy to maintain and carried passengers in greater comfort. Before the war it pioneered many air travel routes. It was able to cross the continental United States, making transcontinental flights and worldwide flights possible, and is considered the first airliner that could make money by carrying passengers alone.

Douglas C-47 Skytrain

The C-47 differed from the civilian DC-3 in numerous modifications, including being fitted with a cargo door, hoist attachment, and strengthened floor, along with a shortened tail cone for glider-towing shackles, and an astrodome in the cabin roof.

The specialized C-53 Skytrooper troop transport started production in October 1941 at Douglas Aircraft’s Santa Monica, California plant. It lacked the cargo door, hoist attachment and reinforced floor of the C-47. Only a total of 380 aircraft were produced in all because the C-47 was found to be more versatile.

During World War II, the armed forces of many countries used the C-47 and modified DC-3s for the transport of troops, cargo, and wounded. The U.S. Naval designation was R4D. More than 10,000 aircraft were produced in Long Beach and Santa Monica, California and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Between March 1943 and August 1945 the Oklahoma City plant produced 5,354 C-47s

Civil DC-3 production ended in 1942 with 607 aircraft being produced. However, together with its military derivative, the C-47 Skytrain (designated the Dakota in British Royal Air Force (RAF) service), and with Russian- and Japanese-built versions, over 16,000 were built. Following the Second World War, the airliner market was flooded with surplus C-47s and other ex-military transport aircraft, and Douglas’ attempts to produce an upgraded DC-3 were a failure due to cost.

While the DC-3 was soon made redundant on main routes by more advanced types such as the Douglas DC-6 and Lockheed Constellation, the design continued to prove exceptionally adaptable and useful. Large numbers continue to see service in a wide variety of niche roles well into the 21st century. In 2013 it was estimated that approximately 2,000 DC-3s and military derivatives were still flying, a testament to the durability of the design.

American Airlines Douglas DC-3-277B

“DC” stands for “Douglas Commercial”. The DC-3 was the culmination of a development effort that began after an inquiry from Transcontinental and Western Airlines (TWA) to Donald Douglas. TWA’s rival in transcontinental air service, United Airlines, was starting service with the Boeing 247 and Boeing refused to sell any 247s to other airlines until United’s order for 60 aircraft had been filled. TWA asked Douglas to design and build an aircraft that would allow TWA to compete with United. Douglas’ design, the 1933 DC-1, was promising, and led to the DC-2 in 1934. The DC-2 was a success, but there was room for improvement.

The DC-3 resulted from a marathon telephone call from American Airlines CEO C. R. Smith to Donald Douglas, when Smith persuaded a reluctant Douglas to design a sleeper aircraft based on the DC-2 to replace American’s Curtiss Condor II biplanes. (The DC-2’s cabin was 66 inches (1.7 m) wide, too narrow for side-by-side berths.) Douglas agreed to go ahead with development only after Smith informed him of American’s intention to purchase twenty aircraft. The new aircraft was engineered by a team led by chief engineer Arthur E. Raymond over the next two years, and the prototype DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport) first flew on December 17, 1935 (the 32nd anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk). Its cabin was 92 in (2.3 m) wide, and a version with 21 seats instead of the 14–16 sleeping berths of the DST was given the designation DC-3. There was no prototype DC-3; the first DC-3 built followed seven DSTs off the production line and was delivered to American Airlines.

The DC-3 and DST popularized air travel in the United States. Eastbound transcontinental flights could cross the U.S. in about 15 hours with three refueling stops; westbound trips against the wind took  17 1⁄2 hours. A few years earlier such a trip entailed short hops in slower and shorter-range aircraft during the day, coupled with train travel overnight.

DC-3 in 1937 …nears 80 years old

A variety of radial engines were available for the DC-3. Early-production civilian aircraft used Wright R-1820 Cyclone 9s, but later aircraft (and most military versions) used the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp, which gave better high-altitude and single-engine performance. Five DC-3S Super DC-3s with Pratt & Whitney R-2000 Twin Wasps were built in the late 1940s, three of which entered airline service.

Total production of all variants was 16,079. More than 400 remained in commercial service in 1998. Production was as follows:

The Douglas DC-3

607 civil variants of the DC-3;

10,048 military C-47 and C-53 derivatives were built at Santa Monica, California, Long Beach, California, and Oklahoma City;

4,937 were built under license in the Soviet Union (1939–1950) as the Lisunov Li-2 (NATO reporting name: Cab);

487 Mitsubishi Kinsei-engined aircraft were built by Showa and Nakajima in Japan (1939–1945), as the L2D Type 0 transport (Allied codename Tabby).

Production of DSTs ended in mid-1941 and civil DC-3 production ended in early 1943, although dozens of DSTs and DC-3s ordered by airlines that were produced between 1941 and 1943 were impressed into the US military while still on the production line. Military versions were produced until the end of the war in 1945. A larger, more powerful Super DC-3 was launched in 1949 to positive reviews.The civilian market, however, was flooded with second-hand C-47s, many of which were converted to passenger and cargo versions. Only five Super DC-3s were built, and three of them were delivered for commercial use. The prototype Super DC-3 served the U.S. Navy with the designation YC-129 alongside 100 R4Ds that had been upgraded to the Super DC-3 specification.

From the early 1950s, some DC-3s were modified to use Rolls-Royce Dart engines, as in the Conroy Turbo Three. Other conversions featured Armstrong Siddeley Mamba and Pratt & Whitney PT6A turbines.
The Greenwich Aircraft Corp DC-3-TP is a conversion with an extended fuselage and with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65AR or PT6A-67R engines fitted.

The Basler BT-67 is a conversion of the DC-3/C-47. Basler refurbishes C-47s and DC-3s at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, fitting them with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67R turboprop engines, lengthening the fuselage by 40 in (100 cm) with a fuselage plug ahead of the wing and strengthening the airframe in selected areas.

BSAS International in South Africa is another company able to perform a Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprop conversion of DC-3s. Over 50 DC-3/C-47s / 65ARTP / 67RTP / 67FTPs have been modified.

Conroy Aircraft also made a three-engined conversion with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 called the Conroy Tri-Turbo-Three.

American Airlines inaugurated passenger service on June 26, 1936, with simultaneous flights from Newark, New Jersey and Chicago, Illinois. Early U.S. airlines like American, United, TWA, Delta and Eastern ordered over 400 DC-3s. These fleets paved the way for the modern American air travel industry, which eventually replaced trains as the favored means of long-distance travel across the United States. A nonprofit group, Flagship Detroit Foundation, continues to operate the only original American Airlines Flagship DC-3 with air show and airport visits throughout the U.S.

Douglas DC-3-194D PH-ARY “IJsvogel”

In 1936, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines received its first DC-3 (in 1943 it was downed by Luftwaffe fighters while on a scheduled passenger flight), which replaced the DC-2 in service from Amsterdam via Batavia (now Jakarta) to Sydney, by far the world’s longest scheduled route at the time. In total KLM bought 23 DC-3s before the war broke out in Europe. In 1941, a China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) DC-3 pressed into wartime transportation service was bombed on the ground at Suifu airfield in China, completely destroying the right wing. The only spare wing available was that of a smaller Douglas DC-2 being overhauled in CNAC’s workshops. The DC-2’s right wing was taken off, flown to Suifu under the belly of another CNAC DC-3, and grafted to the damaged aircraft. After a single test flight, in which it was discovered that it pulled to the right due to the difference in wing sizes, the so-called DC-2½ was returned to service.

Cubana de Aviación became the first Latin American airline to offer a scheduled service to Miami when it started its first scheduled international service from Havana to Miami in 1945 with a DC-3. Cubana used DC-3s on some domestic routes well into the 1960s.

Piedmont Airlines operated DC-3s and C-47s from 1948 to 1963. A DC-3 painted in the representative markings of Piedmont, operated by the Carolinas Aviation Museum, was retired from flight in March 2011. Both Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines once operated commemorative DC-3s wearing period markings.

Douglas C-47 Skytrain

During World War II, many civilian DC-3s were drafted for the war effort and just over 10,000 U.S. military versions of the DC-3 were built, under the designations C-47, C-53, R4D, and Dakota. Peak production was reached in 1944, with 4,853 being delivered. The armed forces of many countries used the DC-3 and its military variants for the transport of troops, cargo, and wounded.

Licensed copies of the DC-3 were built in Japan as the Showa L2D (487 aircraft); and in the Soviet Union as the Lisunov Li-2 (4,937 aircraft).

Thousands of surplus C-47s, previously operated by several air forces, were converted for civilian use after the war and became the standard equipment of almost all the world’s airlines, remaining in frontline service for many years. The ready availability of cheap, easily maintained ex-military C-47s, both large and fast by the standards of the day, jumpstarted the worldwide postwar air transport industry. While aviation in prewar Continental Europe had used the metric system, the overwhelming dominance of C-47s and other U.S. war-surplus types cemented the use of nautical miles, knots and feet in postwar aviation throughout the world.

Douglas developed an improved version, the Super DC-3, with more engine power, greater cargo capacity and a different wing, but with all the bargain-priced surplus aircraft available, they did not sell well in the civil aviation market. Only five were delivered, three of them to Capital Airlines. The U.S. Navy had 100 of its early R4Ds converted to Super DC-3 standard during the early 1950s as the R4D-8, later C-117D. The last U.S. Navy C-117 was retired July 12, 1976. The last U.S. Marine Corps C-117, serial 50835, was retired from active service during June 1982. Several remained in service with small airlines in North and South America in 2006.

A number of aircraft companies attempted to design a “DC-3 replacement” over the next three decades (including the very successful Fokker F27 Friendship), but no single type could match the versatility, rugged reliability and economy of the DC-3. It remained a significant part of air transport systems well into the 1970s.

Douglas C-47 “Skytrains”, 12th Air Force Troop Carrier Wing, loaded with paratroopers on their way for the invasion of southern France, 15th August 1944.

The C-47 was vital to the success of many Allied campaigns, in particular those at Guadalcanal and in the jungles of New Guinea and Burma, where the C-47 (and its naval version, the R4D) made it possible for Allied troops to counter the mobility of the light-travelling Japanese army. Additionally, C-47s were used to airlift supplies to the embattled American forces during the Battle of Bastogne. Possibly its most influential role in military aviation, however, was flying “The Hump” from India into China. The expertise gained flying “The Hump” was later be used in the Berlin Airlift, in which the C-47 played a major role, until the aircraft were replaced by Douglas C-54 Skymasters.
In Europe, the C-47 and a specialised paratroop variant, the C-53 Skytrooper, were used in vast numbers in the later stages of the war, particularly to tow gliders and drop paratroops. During the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, C-47s dropped 4,381 Allied paratroops. More than 50,000 paratroops were dropped by C-47s during the first few days of the invasion of Normandy, France, in June 1944. In the Pacific War, with careful use of the island landing strips of the Pacific Ocean, C-47s were even used for ferrying soldiers serving in the Pacific theater back to the United States.

About 2,000 C-47s (received under lend-lease) in British and Commonwealth service took the name “Dakota”, possibly inspired by the acronym “DACoTA” for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft.

The C-47 also earned the informal nickname “gooney bird” in the European theatre of operations. Other sources  attribute this name to the first aircraft, a USMC R2D—the military version of the DC-2—being the first aircraft to land on Midway Island, previously home to the long-winged albatross known as the gooney bird, which was native to Midway.

The United States Air Force’s Strategic Air Command had Skytrains in service from 1946 through 1967. The US Air Force’s 6th Special Operations Squadron was flying the C-47 until 2008.

With all of the aircraft and pilots having been part of the Indian Air Force prior to independence, both the Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force used C-47s to transport supplies to their soldiers fighting in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947.

After World War II, thousands of surplus C-47s were converted to civil airline use, some remaining in operation in 2012, as well as being used as private aircraft.

AC-47 Spooky

Several C-47 variations were used in the Vietnam War by the United States Air Force, including three advanced electronic warfare variations, which sometimes were called “electric gooneys” designated EC-47N, EC-47P, or EC-47Q depending on the engine used. Air International, Miami International Airport was a USAF military depot used to convert the commercial DC-3s/C-47s into military use. They came in as commercial aircraft purchased from third world airlines and were completely stripped, rebuilt, and reconditioned. Long range fuel tanks were installed with upgraded avionics and gun mounts. They left as first rate military aircraft headed for combat in Vietnam in a variety of missions.  EC-47s were also operated by the Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian Air Forces. A gunship variation, using three 7.62 mm miniguns, designated AC-47 “Spooky”, often nicknamed “Puff the magic dragon”, also was deployed.

Perhaps unique among prewar aircraft, the DC-3 continues to fly daily in active commercial and military service as of April 2017, more than eighty years after the type’s first flight in 1935. There are still small operators with DC-3s in revenue service and as cargo aircraft. The common saying among aviation enthusiasts and pilots is that “the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3”. The aircraft’s legendary ruggedness is enshrined in the lighthearted description of the DC-3 as “a collection of parts flying in loose formation”. Its ability to use grass or dirt runways makes it popular in developing countries, where runways are not always paved.

C47A Skytrain

Current uses of the DC-3 include aerial spraying, freight transport, passenger service, military transport, missionary flying, skydiver shuttling and sightseeing.

The very large number of civil and military operators of the DC-3/C-47s and related types makes a listing of all the airlines, air forces and other current operators impractical. As of 2012, DC-3 #10 is still used daily for flights in Colombia. Buffalo Airways, based in Canada’s Northwest Territories, operated a scheduled DC-3 passenger service between its main base in Yellowknife and Hay River however this is currently suspended. They continue to offer some passenger charter operations using DC-3s. Some DC-3s are also used by the airline for cargo operations.
The oldest surviving DST is N133D, the sixth Douglas Sleeper Transport built in 1936. This aircraft was delivered to American Airlines on July 12th, 1936 as NC16005. As of 2011 the aircraft was at Shell Creek Airport (F13), Punta Gorda, Florida, where it was undergoing restoration. The aircraft was to be restored to Douglas Sleeper Transport standards, and full airworthiness.

Douglas DC-3 (American Airlines) “Flagship Detroit”

The oldest DC-3 still flying is the original American Airlines Flagship Detroit (c/n 1920, the 43rd aircraft off the Santa Monica production line and delivered on March 2nd, 1937), which can be seen at airshows around the United States and is owned and operated by the nonprofit Flagship Detroit Foundation.

The base price of a new DC-3 in 1936 was around $60–80,000, and by 1960, used examples were available for $75,000.

A 1943 DC-3 was installed as a major design element atop architectural renovations at The Roasterie in Kansas City, Missouri.


 

AA38208 Corgi Aviation Archive 1/72nd scale Douglas C-47 Dakota, ZA947, ‘KWICHERBICHEN’, The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, RAF Coningsby, 2015

Corgi have announced that this model is due to arrive in the next couple of weeks. This model, as you might have expected, has been heavily pre-ordered. I only have a few left of my pre-order allocation from Corgi, so if you need one for your collection I wouldn’t hang about for too long. To order one please click on the photo or link below and it will take you straight to the model page.

In addition Hobbymaster have announced two new C-47 models in 1/200th scale which can be seen below. Please click on the photos below or CLICK HERE to see them all.


 

Corgi Arrivals in the next couple of weeks.

In addition to the Douglas C-47 Dakota, ZA947, ‘KWICHERBICHEN’ , the following Corgi Aviation Archive models are arriving in the next couple of weeks. Please click on the photos or links below or CLICK HERE to see them all.

 



Hobbymaster News !

Please find below updated photos and “work in progress” photos on new toolings. Please click on any of the images or links below to go straight to the model in which you are interested. All these models are avilable to pre-order through Flying Tigers now.

 

New Hobbymaster model announcements available to pre-order now !

Please check out all the latest Hobbymaster model announcements which are now available to pre-order from Flying Tigers. Simply click on the model of your choice below or CLICK HERE to see them all.

 

That’s all for this week. Thank you for reading this week’s Newsletter !

Richard.
Flying Tigers.