Bullet Holes in Douglas DC-3 of KLM

Bullet Holes in Douglas DC-3 of KLM

Bullet Holes in Douglas DC-3 of KLM

This picture shows bullet holes in the side of a Douglas DC-3 of KLM that was attacked by German fighters on 26 September 1939

The Douglas DC-8 Part II

The Douglas Aircraft Company’s first jetliner, the DC-8, had a good early run however, by 1964, sales were faltering, with only 14 ordered, nine of them being top-ups for United Airlines (UA). A radical move was needed to save the program.

Douglas had been considering a major stretch of the DC-8 for trunk routes such as California to Hawaii and New York to Puerto Rico. Compared to that of the 707, which rode considerably closer to the runway, the DC-8’s basic platform was much easier to stretch because of the plane’s high landing gear also,the DC-8’s modest wing sweep meant that the engine pods would not risk scraping the ground during takeoff and landing.

The DC-8-61 was the first stretched model, with a 200in (5m) plug inserted ahead of the wing and a240in (6m) one inserted behind it. The result was a new fuselage length of 187ft 4in (57m). Some of the additional structural weight was offset by an aggressive weight-saving program that cut 2,000lb (907kg), mostly by replacing non-loadbearing metal parts with plastic ones.

The new DC-8-61 couldaccommodate 269 passengers in seats that werecompatible with any other type of airline seating,attached totwin tracks along the cabin floor (earlier DC-8s had required bespoke seats that attached to the cabin wall). The designers borrowed cockpit instrumentation and lighting from the new Douglas shortfall DC-9 twinjet. They kept the wings and engines from the DC-8-55, making this, despite the impressive new dimensions, a ‘minimum change’ upgrade.

For the DC-8-62, Douglas then turned its attention to upgrading the wings and engines. The designers first focused on the engine pods—changing the reverse-thrust mechanism from three units to one, and relocating the heat exchangers from the pod to the pylon, reducing the former’smaximum diameter by 12%. They increased fuel capacity by 900 gallons by adding3ft to the wingspan and installing new leading edge tanks. The DC-8-62, with its shorter stretch, being only80in (2m) longer than the DC-8-55, and the incorporation of these aerodynamic enhancements, was a true ultra-long ranger, able to fly 6,000 miles (9,656km) with a load of 189 passengers and using the unchanged exit configuration from the DC-8-55.

In a final upgrade, Douglas married the -61’s fuselage stretch to the -62’s wings and engines, creating the world-beating DC-8-63 that would eventually account for a fifth of all DC-8 sales.

The company launched the three variants of the Series -60DC-8 on April 4, 1965, with an initial order from SAS for four DC-8-62s with four more asoptions.United then ordered five DC-8- 61s (and a top-up of various -50s) and Eastern Airlines (EA) eight -61s. By the end of 1965, Douglas had orders for 38 Series -60sas well as 36 -50s, including 12 Jet Traders.

However, with the pickup of the DC-8 and the boom in orders for the DC-9, the cash-flow problems, which had been a nuisance when orders were scarce, ballooned into a full-blown crisis. As the orders poured in, Douglas had to reverse its earlier decision to build both the DC-8 and DC-9 on the same production line, and set up two separate ones. This reorganization alone ate up precious capital.

The first DC-8-61, N8070U, rolled off the line at Long Beach on January 26, 1966. It took to the air for the first time on March 14 in the capable hands of Don Mullin and Heimie Heimerdinger, along with Flight Engineers Joe Tomich and Richard Edwards. The first flight took off with a gross weight of 255,000lb (115,666kg), left the ground at a speed of 137kt and climbed to 31,000ft. The aircraft then descended towards Palmdale airport, north of Los Angeles, where the crew conducted a number of touch-and-go landings before returning to Long Beach four hours and 45 minutes later.

The Port Authority of New York had some concerns about the noisiness of the new stretched DC-8s. These proved to be groundless, but the Port Authority also noted that the DC-8-63 would exceed the 430psi bearing limits of the runways and taxiways at John F. Kennedy airport. Douglas was made aware ofthis issue in time to revise the main landing-gear footprint by moving the wheels 31.25in (79.38cm) apart, as opposed to the 30in (76.2cm) of the older DC-8s. That expanded the tire contact area to from 200 to220sq in.

On August 16, the crew took N8070U on a long-range test flight from Long Beach to Tokyo, which lasted11 hours and 50 minutes. In Tokyo, the plane stayed on the ground long enough to allow Japan Airlines executives and technicians to inspect it. The flight back to North America— Tokyo to Winnipeg, Manitoba—clocked in at just 11 hours. After 124 test flights, totaling 175 hours in the sky, the DC-8-61 receivedits type certificate on September 1, 1966.

The first DC-8-62 made its maidenflight on August 29 with Paul Patten in command, Don Mullin in the right seat, Steve Benya on the Flight Engineer’s panel, and two test technicians in the cabin.

The Douglas sales team, with the new Series -60DC-8s and the short-haul DC-9 to offer, was booking a record number of orders yet,with Douglas’ persistent cash flow problems, things actually got worse, rather than better. Deliveries fell woefully behind schedule and, with pressure mounting, United asked Douglas to paint a test aircraft in United livery, so the publicity photographs would at least give the illusion that the airline’s new flagship was close to delivery. The Vietnam War added to the difficulties of the commercial division, as the national effort absorbed manpower and resources.

Douglas’s distress was no secret, and potential merger partners circled: North American, Martin Marietta, General Dynamics, Fairchild Aircraft and Signal Oil.

But it was the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation of St. Louis, Missouri, that won out. A merger was announced on January 13, 1967.

With the merger announcement still in the headlines, United finally received its first DC-8- 61 on January 26, 1967, and started service on the busy Los Angeles to Honolulu run on February 25. Eastern Airlines opened DC-8-61PF service between New York and San Juan on March 3.

The first DC-8-63, N1503U, rolled out on March 6. It first flew on April 10 another fivehour sortie, this time with Cliff Stout and Harry Terrell flying.

The DC-8-62 was certified on April 27, the first example being delivered to SAS on May 3. It entered service on the Copenhagen-New York route on May 22. The DC-8-63 followed a similar timing: certified on June 29, the first machine was delivered to KLM on July 15, and put into service on the North Atlantic route on July 27.

In 1968, flight testing focused on getting the freight versions of the Series -60range certified. The DC-8-63CF first flew on March 16 and was certified on June 10. Seaboard World received the first of the type and immediately put it into service on trips to Asia in support of the Vietnam War.

Flying Tigers had ordered 19DC-8-63s and received itsfirst ship in early July 1968. Tiger soon found that braking was poor on wet runways so,Douglas ran a trial on a flooded runway at its test facility at Yuma, Arizona, and—just as Tiger had reported—found serious hydroplaning. The company therefore reworked the Hydrol Mark II antiskid braking system, making so many improvements that the system was rebranded the Mark III and fitted to all DC-8-63s.

The final variant of the DC-8 was the -63AF, and Douglas delivered the first of its kind to Tiger on October 18. The airline was so thrilled with the aircraft’s productivity that it announced that, based on an acquisition price of $11 million and on each flight grossing $53,000 on a schedule of 16 round trips per month,each airframe would pay for itself in just 12 months.

The very last DC-8-50s rolled off the line in 1968. The last passenger aircraft went to Air Canada on October 16, and the last freighter to United on November 23. Total production of standard DC-8s (series -10, -20, -30, -40 and -50) had come to 294 aircraft, including 39 convertibles and United’s 15 oddball windowless DC-8-54AF freighters.

Total deliveries for 1968 numbered a record 102. This was doubly impressive, given that the production line was small, the size of the aircraft, and that much of the work was done outside, on the flight line.


With the DC-10 and Lockheed L-1011 wide-body peoplemovers coming, sales for the narrow-body DC-8, which had always come in volatile peaks and valleys, were winding down for the last time.

However, in 1969, the last year of DC-8 sales, Douglas wooed four new customers: World Airways, American Flyers Airline, West German leisure carrier Air Atlantis, and Air Zaire. Existing operators put their hat in the ring one last time—Airlift, Braniff, and Japan Airlines all placed top-up orders. SAS placed the last order, in April 1971, for a final DC-8-63.

Production was slowly reduced, from 1968’s 102 aircraft to 85 in 1969 to 33 in 1970, 13 in 1971, and a final four aircraft in 1972. SAS got its last -63 on May 17 and, with that, production of the first Douglas jetliner came to an end. It wasn’t quite the sad occasion it might have seemed, because McDonnell Douglas was keen to free up the production space to build the DC-10 wide-body, which went on to outsell the competing Lockheed L-1011 Tristar by nearly two to one.

Although revenue generated by DC-8 sales exceeded $4.5 million, because of the high development costs of so many variants and of the production costs of endless customization for different airlines, it is hard to say whether the program truly made a profit for Douglas. The residual income generated by spares sales and product support certainly added to the bottom line for decades after the end of production.

The early standard -10, -20, -30, and -40 series played a major role in the early part of the jet age—when flying was reserved for the mega rich, movie stars, captains of industry, diplomats, and spies passengers got paper tickets written by hand and climbed stairs to board and deplane and safety records were uncertain even on household-name airlines.The advent of the -50 series, with its fan engines, alongside the Boeing 707-320, opened up the skies towards the end of the decade, as fares started to come down.

In the 1970s, the Series -60machines dominated, becoming trunk liners in an era in whichair travel was starting to look like it does today, with reservations handled by computer for the first time, boarding by air bridge, fares down, and passenger numbers way up. No longer did every gentlemanwear a tie, nor every lady hat and gloves. The great human migration by air had begun in earnest.

The 1970s also saw DC-8s finding their way to the second-hand market—to new homes at airlines such as Loftleidir, which provided cheap transatlantic passenger flights via its home base in Iceland. Secondtier North American carriers such as Canada’s Nationair, Ontario Worldair, and Quebecair, and the Caribbean’s Air Bahama, Cayman Airways, and Air Jamaica allsnapped up spare DC-8s for transatlantic trips and winter vacation flights. Other second-hand frames began migrating to Africa, to carriers such as TAAG Angola and Air Zambia.

European leisure carriers fell in love with DC-8s across the continent. Major operators of second-hand aircraft included SATA and Balair (both Switzerland), Spantax, Air Spain, TAE, Canafrica (all Spain), Sudflug (Germany), Sterling (Denmark), Birgenair (Turkey), Point (France), Martinair (Holland), and Pomair Ostend (Belgium). Some of Iberia’s machines migrated to Spanish domestic carrier Aviaco for use as people movers in the heavily-traveled Spanish domestic market, including the world’s busiest domestic air route, Madrid to Barcelona.

In 1972, the Heath Technica Corporation of Kent, Washington, offeredan aftermarket ‘wide body’ interior upgrade to DC-8 operators. United Airlines installed it, starting with its own aircraft. Douglas soon offered a wide-body interior upgrade as well. Both versions offered a lower, rounded ceiling, new side walls and window frames, pull-down blinds to replace the oldfashioned curtains, and enclosed overhead bins to replace the open hat racks. Japan Airlines eagerly adopted the new-look interiors and made the conversions at Tokyo’s Haneda airport using kits made under license from Douglas by Atlantic Aviation.

As the 1970s moved on, airlines that were ready to upgrade from DC-8s to newer hardware sold their aircraft for as little as half a million dollars (in the case of the older -20s and -30s), even though the airframes still had a few decades of life left in them. As a result, cheaply acquired older DC-8s, especially Jet Traders, which already had main deck side cargo doors, began to be converted to freighters, starting in 1974 with the Charlotte Aircraft Corporation. The modifications involved only the strengthening of floors, the installation of roller loading systems, and the replacement of window panes with sheet metal blanks. The main deck side cargo doors were relatively easy to add. Charlotte Aerospace modified at least 25 DC-8-30s—and nine early-build -10s and -20s—to DC-8-30Fs.

The demand for DC-8 freighter conversions became so great that,in March 1976,Douglas opened a production line at its facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The modifications included upgrading old -10s, -20s and -30s to -50 standard aircraft by fitting Pratt & Whitney JT3D turbofans and the accompanying newer pylons. Even two Rolls-Royce Conwaypowered -43s were converted to -43Fs, and ended up at AeroPeru. Three other -43 series were refitted with Pratt & Whitney JT3Ds, to make them -54Fs these aircraft went to Zantop and Airlift.

UTA Industries ofParis (a highly capable aerospace spinoff of UTA/Aeromaritime Airlines, alater achievement of which included building two Supper Guppy Turbine super transporters for Airbus out of kits supplied by Aero Spacelines) converted two -33s to -54Fs for the French Air Force. Aeronavali in Italy also did some conversions.

Later, passenger Series -60and Series -70DC-8s began being converted to freighters, also by Aeronavali, on behalf of customers such as Air Canada, UPS (with 13 ex-Delta passenger liners, the last of which flew in service on May 1, 1989, from Baltimore-Washington to Atlanta), and Guinness-Peat Aviation (with all 29 ex-United -71s).

Today in Aviation: First Flight of the Douglas DC-8

MIAMI – Today in Aviation, we celebrate the anniversary of the legendary DC-8’s maiden flight from Long Beach Airport (LBG) on May 30, 1958, analyzing this magnificent aircraft in deeper detail from its inception to its first flight.

The Douglas Aircraft Company of Santa Monica, California, was the propliner era’s most successful manufacturer of civil air transports. It produced more than 16,000 units of the DC-3, the stalwart of the 1930s and 1940s, and followed it up with the very successful DC-4, DC-6, and DC-7 four-engine airliners.

In 1948, Douglas started producing a successful jet fighter, the F3D Skyknight, of which it would make 265 for the US military before replacing it, in 1951, with the supersonic F4D Skyray.

This model saw sales figures that were even higher (422 units) and was the first carrier-based aircraft to hold the world’s absolute speed record, achieving 753 mph (1211.74 kph).

An early DC-8-10 in Douglas colors, 1959. The DC-8 was certified in August 1959. Photo: Jon Proctor, via Wikipedia

Douglas’ Ambition: A Jet-powered Airliner

Douglas then established an office at its California plant to pursue a new ambition: a jet-powered airliner—something that had already been built in Britain, where the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) had started flying from London to Johannesburg, with five stops en route, in 1952. Over the next year, BOAC had expanded jet service to Tokyo, Singapore, and Ceylon.

Douglas’s great rival Boeing had begun custom building a prototype commercial jet, the Model 367-80 (registration ND70700) in 1952. When the ‘Dash-80’ took to the air over Washington State on July 15, 1954, America had made a major leap toward the jet age.

The company was not to be outdone. Chief Project Engineer Ivor Shogrun led designers through hundreds of jetliner configurations, including a delta wing. By mid-1953, they had settled on a swept-wing design with four podded underwing engines.

By September 1954, Douglas had devoted more than US$3m and 250,000 man-hours to the DC-8 project. It hoped to sell some of the intended planes to the US Air Force as tankers or transports.

The final decision to go ahead with a pure-jet airliner remained with Donald Douglas Sr. himself, who gave his OK on June 7, 1955. The budget of US$450m made this the most expensive privately financed corporate venture to date.

The DC-8 entered service with Delta Air Lines on September 18, 1959. Photo: Wikimedia

DC-8 Orders Begin

Although Boeing had beaten Douglas to the punch with the Air Force, Douglas got its revenge in October 1955 by grabbing the lion’s share of a Pan Am order: 25 DC- 8Bs with a six-abreast Economy layout, as opposed to 20 five-abreast Boeing 707s.

On October 25, 1955, with officials from 20 of the world’s top airlines on hand in Santa Monica, Donald Douglas Sr. and United Airlines President Pat Patterson jointly announced an order for 30 DC-8As at a cost of $175 million deliveries would start in May 1959. It was the largest single order yet placed for commercial airliners.

In June 1956, Douglas announced that the DC-8 would be built at its Long Beach plant, where 4,285 C-47s (and more than 3,000 B-17s under license from Boeing) had been assembled during World War II.

Finally, on March 26, 1958, four Pratt & Whitney JT3 engines were attached to Ship One, and the maiden aircraft rolled out of the hangar into broad daylight before an invited audience that included representatives of all 17 customer airlines.

Douglas DC-8-11 N8008D takes of from Long Beach Airport, 10:10 a.m., 30 May 1958. The heavy exhaust smoke is a result of water injection. Photo: Los Angeles Public Library

The DC-8 Takes to the Air

May 30, 1958, was the big day. Ship One (N8008D) took to the air for the first time from LBG at 10:10 a.m. local time.

The crowds of spectators, estimated at as many as 50,000 people, surrounded the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration needed at least five miles of visibility for this first test flight. Typical Southern California coast low clouds and fog caused a 10-minute delay.

Arnold G. ‘Heimie’ Heimerdinger was at the controls, William ‘Bill’ Magruder in the right seat, and Paul Patten at the Flight Engineer’s panel. Flight Test Engineer Bob Rizer was also onboard, monitoring the flight-data recorders in the main cabin.

Heimerdinger took the airliner north to Edwards Air Force Base in the High Desert of Southern California, where the full flight test program would be completed. The total duration of the first flight was 2 hours and seven minutes.

An escape chute, installed in the lower fuselage, was ready should the crew have to rapidly parachute out. But the two-hour, seven-minute flight went up to 21,000 feet and to 350 knots and back without a hitch, thus signaling the start of a successful legacy for the aircraft.

Douglas DC-8 N8008D accompanied by a U.S. Air Force Cessna T-37 chase plane during a test flight near Edwards Air Force Base, California. (Douglas Aircraft Company). Photo: Wikipedia, Public Domain

Initial Service, End of Production

On September 18, 1959, the DC-8 entered service with Delta Air Lines (DL) and United Airlines (UA), being DL the first to operate the DC-8 in scheduled passenger service. The DC-8 was produced until 1972 with a total of 556 aircraft built.

Published in our January 2016 issue is a more in-depth story of a fantastic article by Geoffrey Thomas about the legendary DC-8 (Airways, June 2005) that takes a panoramic view of this superb airliner.


Bullet Holes in Douglas DC-3 of KLM - History

excerpt from: LEGACY OF THE DC-3

Story by Henry Holden

Cyrus Rowlett Smith, President of American Airlines and William Littlewood, American Airlines. Vice president of engineering, had both flown in the DC-2 and did not like some of its performance characteristics, although it was a marked improvement over the Boeing 247. It had the highest rated engines in use at the time, but they felt it lacked power. It carried 14 passengers, two more than the DC-1. Moreover, it could not make New York to Chicago, non-stop, although it was faster than any other airliner on that route. They also had reports that, at times, it was difficult to land, with heavy aileron and rudder control. Additional reports of directional instability, propeller, and fin icing problems and yawing excessively in turbulence also concerned them.

While the DC-2 performed better with an engine failure than the tri-motors, or Boeing 247, a training crew exercising a single engine go-around created a nearly fatal spin incident. Douglas engineers extended the fin area and increased the margin between the single engine climb speed, and the vertical fin stall speed. That solved the problem. These problems were even more reason Smith and Littlewood wanted a new design.

Littlewood was anxious to convince Douglas that what he wanted was possible, so he sat with his engineers in late 1934 and began to redesign the DC-2. Littlewood’s sketches of the proposed sleeper would closely resemble the actual Douglas Sleeper Transport (DST). Once created,, the Douglas DC-3 aircraft would become one of the most significant airplanes in aviation history. Soon after the American Airlines team began to put requirements on paper, they invited Arthur Raymond to join the discussions. By May 10, 1935, Arthur Raymond had produced “Douglas Aircraft Report No. 1004.” This report outlined performance and other characteristics of the developing transport, and would be used for the initial engineering of the airplane.

Soon after C. R. Smith read the report he telephoned Donald Douglas with a proposal. Smith had decided what kind of airplane American needed. He was looking for a larger and more comfortable airplane than his Condors or Fords, and better than the Boeing 247. He also wanted something bigger than the DC-2. Smith wanted to give his customers safe, comfortable, and reliable transportation, and his Condor “Sleepers” and Fords simply did not measure up to these standards. The airplane Smith was looking for had been described in Raymond’s report.

At first, Douglas did not react strongly or positively to Smith’s proposal. He was reluctant to take on a new design and the associated headaches. The DC-2 was in full production with 102 machines already manufactured, and another 90 orders on the assembly line. A new model would mean new tooling and starting over another gamble.

Smith spent over $300 on a two-hour long distance call before he finally convinced Douglas to modify a DC-2 to American’s sleeper requirements. Some have said if Smith had not persisted and made an offer, Douglas would never have built the DC-3. Douglas nevertheless was skeptical. Night flying was about as popular as the plague, and he wondered about Smith’s business sense. Where would Smith get the millions of dollars needed to finance this venture and who would want to sleep in an airplane? After all, the Fords were noisy and the Condors were cramped.

After there was general agreement among the airlines on the potential, a detailed evaluation process began. The airline’s total needs, from the number of aircraft, to passenger accommodations, facility requirements, and total economic impact was part of the evaluation.

The Great Depression had created hard times for many of America’s industries and the government had formed the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to loan money to the private sector. Cyrus Smith took advantage of this agency and obtained a loan to fund the development of the new design. On July 8, 1935, Smith sent a telegram to Douglas ordering ten transports costing $795,000. The actual specifications for Smith’s proposed airplane arrived at Douglas Aircraft on November 14, 1935 (long after construction had begun). Before the first flight of the DC-3, American doubled their initial order to include eight DSTs and 12 DC-3s. By the time the actual contract was signed on April 8, 1936, American Airlines and Donald Douglas both had a heavy financial commitment. In today’s business environment the contract always precedes work, but in 1935, American Airlines had such faith in Douglas’ dependability and integrity that the order came first and the contract after delivery.

At the Newcomen Society’s annual dinner in 1955, Cyrus Smith introduced Donald Douglas as the honored speaker. In response to Smith’s gracious testimonial, Douglas gave Smith his due. “This is an ideal time to acknowledge our debt of gratitude to my good friend, C.R. Smith, for his part in the development of the DC-3.He had tremendous faith in us, and in the future of air travel. His boundless energy, clear vision, and uncanny knack in making the right decision at the right time were the catalytic agents that greatly influenced us in taking steps to build that famous airplane.”


The plan called for using the DC-2 design as a starting point. Widening. and rounding the fuselage would allow enough space for the berths, and increasing the power would help lift the larger plane. Littlewood had discussed the design with engineers at Curtis -Wright, and they told him they could modify the 855 hp engines on the DC-2 to deliver 1000-hp. Littlewood then thought, more power, more airplane.

Littlewood’s drawings suggested the new design would have the DC-2 center section and outer wing panels, but a larger cockpit and tail surface than the DC-2. Littlewood tried to work within the framework of the DC-2, because he knew he could not sell Douglas on a brand new design.

When Douglas engineers reviewed Littlewood’s drawings, they estimated they would reuse about 80% of the original DC-2 design, something Douglas could live with.

As Douglas had found out with the DC-1, sketches do not fly off drawing boards. As the engineers began to create the detailed drawings, it became apparent that a new airplane was evolving. This bothered Douglas, because it meant new tooling. What Littlewood had in mind was developing into the first “wide bodied” airplane, a super DC-2, and Douglas saw its potential.

Like the prototype DC-1, the DC-3 design specifications went through exhaustive tests. American Airlines flew a Curtis Condor to Santa Monica, so the Douglas engineers could study the berths and improve them. Littlewood and Wetzel laid down in the mock-up berths to judge the size and to find the best position for the reading light, call button, and airsick cup. Littlewood even made up the sleeper berths, and restored them to the day coach configuration to test their workability.

“Conceptually the DC-3 design was easy. In reality, however, we spent more than half our time in the shop,” said Raymond, “and we had over 400 engineers and draftsmen working on the design. We spent many long nights producing more than 3,500 drawings, but it was worth it.”

C.R. Smith came up with an innovation for passenger comfort. He insisted on a right side door to the airplane. There were two reasons for this. It would standardize American’s operations where they had ramp facilities to accommodate their right side door Ford Tri-Motors, but more importantly, Smith’s philosophy behind the right side door was that pilots started the left engine first preparatory to departure. Boarding passengers would not be buffeted by the prop wash as they boarded the aircraft if the left engine were running. In the past, most airlines had ramp facilities to accommodate left-sided door airplanes.


What rolled out of the shop on December 14, 1935, was much more than Littlewood had put on paper. It was a totally new aircraft, both in design and size. It had a wider and longer fuselage, greater wingspan, more tail area, stronger landing gear, and more power than the DC-2. The final product used only about 10 percent interchangeable DC-2 parts.

Arthur Raymond said, “The DC-3 was almost a new airplane as far as actual parts, but it was two-thirds finished before we started because we were so far ahead (in design and development) with work on the DC-2.” There was a strong emphasis on comfort because the DC-3 was not pressurized, and flew at altitudes where turbulence was present. Douglas engineers adapted ideas in use at the time by the Pullman Company, designers of the railway sleeper car to provide passengers with a measure of comfort.

Douglas had a highly motivated team. “We made the DC-3 without a computer to test it,” said Ivar Shogran. “There was plenty of data from the DC-1 and DC-2 to formulate the design. Often, we got down on the floor and worked things out ourselves. There was personal ingenuity, and application, and we made things happen overnight.”


December 17, 1935, was a sunny but cool afternoon in Santa Monica, California. The holidays were coming and spirits were high in the Douglas Aircraft Company. It was another ordinary day at Clover Field. A big, polished propeller caught the sun’s light as it began to turn. Slowly it revolved and then a belch of blue-white smoke appeared. The engine roared into life, and the propeller was lost in its own motion. A second propeller came to life. For a few minutes, the engines roared and then the plane began to move forward. A few engineers and draftsmen watched the shiny airplane taxi out to the runway.

The DST sat at the edge of the runway for about five minutes, its engines running at full throttle. Then it began to move, slowly at first but within 1,000 feet it lifted off, effortlessly. The lives of millions of people throughout the world were about to change.

In contrast to maiden flights of today’s aircraft, covered extensively by the media, this flight, like the maiden flight of the DC-1 went unnoticed by the Press. But the event on a runway in Santa Monica, California, would be one of the most significant events of the twentieth century.

The DST remained airborne from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Carl Cover reported everything went smoothly unlike his hair-raising maiden flight of the DC-1. Frank Collbohm, the copilot on the flight, described it as, “ routine.” None of the company executives took time out for the historic moment. The historic flight drew so little corporate attention that no one thought to photograph the event. Frank Collbohm, assistant to Arthur Raymond, said fifty years later, “I don’t even remember whether it happened in the morning or afternoon. I can’t separate it in my mind from any of the other test flights we made in those days. Everything was fine. There was nothing special, it was just another airplane going up.”

It is fitting that as the co-creator of the DC-3 that American Airlines also be the airline that used the most machines over the years. They used 114 DC-3s/DSTs and it all started with the acceptance of the first DST on April 29, 1936.

Years later, Carl Cover had the same lack of recall, “I remember nothing beyond that it took place on that day. It was unremarkable, just another routine flight, similar to hundreds of others.”

Arthur Raymond does not clearly remember the flight either. “When the plane was ready, Carl and the others (Collbohm and Fred Steinman) simply got aboard, and took off. Of course none of us had any idea it marked the start of an era.”


On June 26, 1936, American inaugurated its DC-3 Flagship service with simultaneous ceremonies introducing American Airline’s “Flagship New York” (NC16001) at Newark, New Jersey, and the “Flagship Illinois” (NC16002) at Chicago’s Midway Airport.

Douglas had been reluctant to tool up for the DC-3 and had anticipated only a small production line. Incoming orders grew to 50, and then to 100. By the end of 1936, 30 DSTs/DC-3s had been delivered American Airlines had 20 “Flagships,” United had 10 “Mainliners,” and Douglas had firm orders from TWA for eight “Skysleeper” DSTs. Eastern Air Lines also ordered ten for their “Great Silver Fleet.” With a steady stream of orders from Pan American Airways, KLM, Western Air Express, Swissair, and others, it became clear to Douglas the DC-2 would be obsolescent, and the DST/DC-3 production line would carry all Douglas commercial production. Not even the most irresponsible optimist counted on Douglas producing 10,629 DC-3s or World War II making it a legend. (Almost ninety-eight percent of all DC-3s/C-47s were manufactured or modified under military contract.) In December 1937, just two years after the first flight of the DST, the Douglas Company announced an all-time high in production. That month alone, they produced 36 aircraft and parts totaling almost $3,000,000 with the DC-3 making up the major portion of this revenue. There was also a backlog of more than $5,300,000 in foreign orders for the DC-3 and an additional $2,000,000 in domestic orders. Arthur Raymond said, “People keep asking me ‘did we have any idea this airplane would last fifty years?” Of course we didn’t! Our biggest decision was the question to design the fuselage tooling for 25 airplanes or 50. We took a deep breath and we said let’s go for 50. Off that tooling, we built 300. We made another set of tooling, three plants, and the rest is history. We didn’t have any idea what was evolving. Looking back, we were right to be conservative. We didn’t know we were building a legend.

One attraction that lured people to the new Douglas planes was the free hot meals. The DST was the first American aircraft to have hot kitchen facilities. No longer did captive passengers have to eat boxed lunches consisting of a cold sandwich, and a piece of fruit. Now flight attendants served hot, full course meals. However, hot meals were not an innovation of Douglas, or American Airlines. As early as 1928, Lufthansa Airlines had served pre-heated meals in-flight. The DC-3 introduced the American flying public to quality in-flight hot meals.

American’s “Flagship Mercury” service from Newark, New Jersey, to Los Angeles, California, offered three breakfast and dinner menus served on genuine Syracuse china with Reed and Barton silverware. Wild rice pancakes with blueberry syrup, cheese omelets, or Julienne of Ham omelet were the breakfast choices. For dinner there was Chicken Kiev, Long Island Duckling with Orange sauce, Breast of Chicken Jeanette, Strip Sirloin, or Filet Mignon, a choice of salads, and pastries for dessert. Lunch was on the light side with consommé, fried chicken, peas, and mashed potatoes. Deserts included ice cream, and chocolate sundaes. A flight attendant could serve 21 passengers in just over an hour.


In the evolution of the Douglas Commercial transports, the DST occupied only a slightly better position than the DC-1. Like the DC-1, progress quickly replaced its younger sister, the DST.

Contrary to popular belief, the DC-3 day plane seating of 21 was not an accident. An engineer noticed that removing the berths made room for a third row of seats, two on one side of the aisle, and one on the other. According to Dan Beard, Littlewood and Kirchner drew up the specifications, and worked out the details with the Douglas engineers for a day plane and a “sleeper” simultaneously. The 21 seat day plane originally started out in mock-up with 24 seats.

With the introduction of the new Wright 1000-hp Cyclone engines, Littlewood felt he could increase the number of seats and baggage allowance. He laid out eight rows of three-abreast seating in the day plane, and seven passenger sleeping compartments, three full-length (6 foot, 5 inches long) upper and lower berths on the left side of the cabin, four on the right side, plus the private “Sky room” berths. The DST version had a maximum capacity of 28 passengers (although it never flew as a DST in this configuration) since each berth had forward and aft facing double seats.


The accident rate in the early days of the DC-3 was comparatively low. As the DC-3 became more universal, the number of fatal accidents even decreased. In 1936 for example, domestic airlines flew 63,000,000 miles, and had eight fatal accidents in 1941 there were only four fatal accidents for 133,000,000 miles flown.

To relieve the pressure on the factory, Douglas sold the licenses to manufacture the DC-3 to three countries Holland, Japan, and Russia. A royalty paid to Douglas for each aircraft manufactured was part of the license agreement. Tony Fokker never manufactured any for Holland, but he distributed 63 before the war in Europe ended his operation. Fokker died of pneumonia complicated by meningitis a week before Germany invaded Holland.


Russia built as many as 20,000 Li-2s. Russia has never paid Douglas a cent in license fees. The PS-84 used the 900 hp Shvetsov M-62 engine (developed from the licensed Wright SGR-1820F which powered the DC-2) and the engine configuration gave the nacelles a narrower chord. Even after they upgraded the engines to 1200 hp ASH-62, the nacelle shape remained close to the first models.


When the DC-3 came along, the Japanese immediately recognized its potential, especially since they had such great success with the DC-2. Great Northern Airways and the Far East Fur Trading Company (another Japanese military front company) purchased at least 21 DC-3s from Douglas between 1937 and 1939. The first intended for KLM as PH-ARA, but canceled, arrived in Japan on December 6, 1937. These transports were operated by Dai Nippon Koku and impressed into Imperial service during the war. The surviving transports were scrapped at the end of the war.

On February 24, 1938, a Japanese manufacturer, Mitsui (a subsidiary of Nakajima Hikoki), purchased the production rights and technical data to the DC-3 for $90,000. Unknown to the United States at the time, the sale was directed behind the scenes by the Imperial Japanese Navy (who was planning on using the type in the invasion of the East Indies.


  1. ↑ Hill, Gladwyn. "7 Die as Planes Collide and One Falls in Schoolyard PLANES COLLIDE, SCHOOL YARD HIT Roar Alerts Students 'Everything on Fire' Witness Describes Crash." The New York Times. Friday February 1, 1957. Page 1. Retrieved on February 3, 2010. "Wreckage of airliner falls into school yard at Pacoima, Calif." (subscription req'd)
  2. ↑ "31-JAN-1957 Douglas DC-7B N8210H." Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on February 3, 2010.
  3. ↑ "7 KILLED, 74 HURT IN SCHOOL AIR CRASH." [ sic ] Los Angeles Times. February 1, 1957. Start page 1. 5 pages. Retrieved on February 3, 2010.
  4. [ dead link ]
  5. 123C.A.B. DOCKET # SA-323, FILE #2-0020, DATE ADOPTED November 22, 1957, p. 5.
  6. ↑http://www.joangushin.net/crashpictures.html
  7. ↑ CECILIA RASMUSSEN (January 28, 2007). "The day fiery disaster fell from the sky" . Retrieved May 15, 2021 .
  8. Allen, David (February 19, 2021). "Childhood pal recalls Ritchie Valens as 'sweet,' 'tough' from California home" . Retrieved May 15, 2021 .
  9. Kahler, Karl (December 29, 1988). "On Pacoima Playground With Ritchie Valens   : Grief Moves Him to Save Lives" . Retrieved May 15, 2021 . One student developed an intense fear of flying after the accident--Ricardo Valenzuela, who later adopted the name Ritchie Valens.
  10. "The Definitive CBS Radio Workshop Radio Log with Parley Baer, Herb Butterfield and William Conrad". Archived from the original on January 15, 2015 . Retrieved January 15, 2015 .
  11. ↑https://archive.org/details/CBSRadioWorkshop


The shoulder- wing aircraft was intended as a supplement to the DC-3 and DC-4 on short routes, for 16 to 22 passengers, and not as a replacement for the DC-3, as was often claimed. The DC-5 attracted the attention of several airlines and orders were received from KLM , British Imperial Airways , Pennsylvania-Central Airlines and Colombian SCADTA before the outbreak of war . Even William Edward Boeing ordered a DC-5 as a private plane, because his own company could not provide a comparable model.

However, World War II ended the DC-5's career prematurely, and airlines gradually withdrew their orders. Only one prototype, four DC-5s for KLM and seven R3D machines for the US Navy and the US Marine Corps were built. The Dutch DC-5s were used in the evacuation of Java . One KLM DC-5 was captured by the Japanese Army Air Force , and a second was lost in a landing accident. The other two KLM DC-5s were taken over by the United States Army Air Forces and designated as C-110s . The last C-110 was sold and surfaced in Israel in 1948 , where it was used by the Air Force until it was scrapped in 1955 .

The DC-5 went down in Douglas Aircraft Company history as the “right aircraft at the wrong time”. If the aircraft had been equipped with a pressurized cabin , it would probably have been able to compete with the Convair CV-240 . It is also speculated that Boeing gained knowledge from the DC-5 that was later sold to Fokker . This knowledge should have been the basis for the later Fokker F-27 .

Not a single Douglas DC-5 exists these days. This makes the DC-5 (after the Douglas DC-1 , of which only one example was built) the second type of aircraft from the DC series that has not been preserved for posterity.

Douglas DC-7

The Douglas DC-7 is a transport aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company from 1953 to 1958. It was the last major piston engine-powered transport made by Douglas, being developed shortly after the earliest jet airliner—the de Havilland Comet—entered service and only a few years before the jet-powered Douglas DC-8 first flew. Unlike other aircraft in Douglas's collection of propeller-driven aircraft, no examples remain in service in the present day, as compared to the far more successful DC-3 and DC-6. [3]

Design and development

In 1945 Pan American World Airways requested a DC-7, a civil version of the Douglas C-74 Globemaster military transport. Pan Am soon canceled their order. That proposed DC-7 was unrelated to the later airliner. [4]

American Airlines revived the designation when they requested an aircraft that could fly the USA coast-to-coast non-stop in about eight hours. (Civil Air Regulations then limited domestic flight crews to 8 hours' flight time in any 24-hour period. [5] [6] ) Douglas was reluctant to build the aircraft until American Airlines president C. R. Smith ordered 25 at a price of $40 million, thus covering Douglas' development costs.

The DC-7 wing was based on that of the DC-4 and DC-6, with the same span the fuselage was 40 inches (100 cm) longer than the DC-6B. Four eighteen-cylinder Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone Turbo-Compound engines provided power. [7] The prototype flew in May 1953 and American received their first DC-7 in November, inaugurating the first non-stop east-coast-to-west-coast service in the country (unrealistically scheduled just under the eight-hour limit for one crew) and forcing rival TWA to offer a similar service with its Super Constellations. Both aircraft frequently experienced inflight engine failures, causing many flights to be diverted. Some blamed this on the need for high-power settings to meet the notional schedules, causing overheating and failure of the engines' power recovery turbines. [8]

The DC-7 was followed by the DC-7B with slightly more power, and on some DC-7Bs (Pan Am and South African Airways), fuel tanks over the wing in the rear of the engine nacelles, each carrying 220 US gallons (183 imp gal 833 l). South African Airways used this variant to fly Johannesburg to London with one stop. Pan Am's DC-7Bs started flying transatlantic in summer 1955, scheduled 1 hr 45 min faster than the Super Stratocruiser from New York to London or Paris.

Operational history

Early DC-7s were purchased only by U.S. carriers. European carriers could not take advantage of the small range-increase of the early DC-7, so Douglas released an extended-range variant, the DC-7C (Seven Seas) in 1956. Two 5 ft (1.5 m) wingroot inserts added fuel capacity, reduced interference drag and made the cabin quieter by moving the engines farther outboard all DC-7Cs had the nacelle fuel tanks previously seen on Pan American's and South African's DC-7Bs. The fuselage, which had been extended over the DC-6Bs with a 40-inch (100 cm) plug behind the wing for the DC-7 and DC-7B, was lengthened again with a 40-inch plug ahead of the wing to give the DC-7C a total length of 112 ft 3 in (34.21 m).

Since the late 1940s Pan Am and other airlines had scheduled a few non-stop flights from New York to Europe, but westward non-stops against the prevailing wind were rarely possible with an economic payload. The L1049G and DC-7B that appeared in 1955 could occasionally make the westward trip, but in summer 1956 Pan Am's DC-7C finally started doing it fairly reliably. BOAC was forced to respond by purchasing DC-7Cs rather than wait on the delivery of the Bristol Britannia. The DC-7C found its way into several other overseas airlines' fleets, including SAS, which used them on cross-polar flights to North America and Asia. The DC-7C sold better than its rival, the Lockheed L-1649A Starliner, which entered service a year later, [9] but sales were cut short by the arrival of Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 jets in 1958–60.

Starting in 1959 Douglas began converting DC-7s and DC-7Cs into DC-7F freighters to extend their useful lives. The airframes were fitted with large forward and rear freight doors and some cabin windows were removed.

The predecessor DC-6, especially the DC-6B, established a reputation for straightforward engineering and reliability. Pratt & Whitney, manufacturer of the DC-6s Double Wasp engines, did not offer an effective larger engine apart from the Wasp Major, which had a reputation for poor reliability. [ citation needed ] Douglas turned to Wright Aeronautical for a more powerful engine. The Duplex-Cyclone had reliability issues of its own, and this affected the DC-7's service record. Carriers who had both DC-6s and DC-7s in their fleets usually replaced the newer DC-7s first once jets started to arrive. Some airlines retired their DC-7s after little more than five years of service, whereas most DC-6s lasted longer and sold more readily on the secondhand market.

Basic price of a new DC-7 was around £570,000 ($823,308). [10]

Price of a DC-7B was around £680,000 ($982,226) in 1955, rising to £820,000 ($1,184,490) in 1957. [10]

Similarly, the price of a DC-7C was £800,000 ($1,155,560) in 1956, increasing to £930,000 ($1,343,385) by 1958. [11]

Cost of the DC-7F "Speedfreighter" conversion was around £115,000 ($166,112) per aircraft. [11]




Seventeen DC-7s remained on the U.S. registry in 2010, [12] they were used mainly for cargo and as aerial firefighting airtankers. Due to its engine problems, the DC-7 has not had the same longevity as the DC-6, which is still used by a number of commercial operators. [ citation needed ]

Military operators

  • Colombia
  • France
  • Mexico
  • Rhodesia
  • United States

Orders and production

Airline DC-7 DC-7B DC-7C Notes
Alitalia 0 6
American Airlines 34 24 Launch customer for the DC-7 with an original order for 25
Braniff Airways 0 7
British Overseas Airways Corporation 10
Continental Air Lines 0 5
Delta Air Lines 10 10
Eastern Air Lines 49
Iran Air 0 1
Japan Air Lines 0 4
KLM 15
Mexicana 0 4
National Airlines 0 4 0 4
Northwest Orient Airlines 14
Panair do Brasil 0 2
Panagra 0 6
Pan American World Airways 0 6 27
Persian Air Services 0 2
Sabena 10 3 were leased
Scandinavian Airlines System 14
South African Airways 0 4
Swissair 0 5
Transports Aériens Intercontinentaux 0 4
United Airlines 57 2 were lost in mid-air collisions
Douglas Aircraft 0 2 Written off before delivery
0 1 DC-7B prototype delivered to Delta Air Lines
0 1 DC-7C prototype delivered to Panair do Brasil
Total 105 112 121 Total built: 338

Accidents and incidents

The Douglas DC-7 suffered 79 incidents and accidents with a total of 714 fatalities. [13]

Bullet Holes in Douglas DC-3 of KLM - History

Boeing & Douglas: A History of Customer Service

The history of The Boeing Company and the Douglas Aircraft Company is, in essence, the history of commercial aviation. Founded in 1916 and 1920, respectively, the two companies led America and the world in airplane development, challenging each other decade by decade, and marking the progress of flight from open-cockpit biplanes to jumbo jets. The uniquely American spirit evinced by the two companies -- a sense of imagination and daring combined with Yankee ingenuity -- is nowhere more clearly illustrated than in the history of their customer service achievements from the early years of this century.

The principle of customer service (the idea that selling an airplane involves more than simply an exchange of hardware for cash) dates from the earliest days of both companies. The first such activity at Boeing took place in 1917, just prior to the company's first sale. The United States had recently entered World War I, and the U.S. Navy was interested in the Boeing Model C seaplane. With flight tests scheduled across the country in Pensacola, Florida, the company was forced to break down, crate, and ship two of the Model Cs by rail -- sending along spare parts, a factory engineer, and a pilot to complete the package. The following year, when the New Zealand Flying Club purchased the company's original B & W seaplanes, training and spares were made part of the deal.

Similarly, the first transactions of the fledgling Douglas Aircraft Company virtually assumed customer service. The company's first airplane, the Douglas "Cloudster," was successively refitted by Douglas engineers as its ownership passed to various commercial firms in Southern California. More-over, the round-the-world flight accomplished by the Douglas World Cruisers in 1924 -- establishing the company's reputation in a single stroke -- necessitated the strategic placement of company engineers and spare parts at different locations around the globe, anticipating the modern arrangement years before it took shape.

Passenger service, as such, did not exist in the early 1920s rather, it grew out of the development of airborne mail service. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge signed legislation forcing the Post Office to transfer established routes to private operators. Douglas capitalized on the opportunity by selling its M Series mail planes to the newly formed airline companies. Boeing went one step further, winning the contract to fly the mail between Chicago and San Francisco with its fleet of Model 40As -- each containing a tiny compartment for passengers.

"From the start of the mail operation," declared William Boeing in an interview years later, "I looked ahead to the time. when passengers would become of primary importance." He was right. By the close of the 1920s, airline travel had caught on in America, and passengers had become an important source of revenue. The Boeing Company expanded, setting up a holding company that included airplane manufacturing, airmail contracts, and a passenger service known as United Air Lines. The corporation also opened The Boeing School of Aeronautics in Oakland, California, a program aimed at raising the standards of flying and ground-school instruction, and providing United Air Lines with capable pilots.

In 1933, The Boeing Company introduced the world's first modern passenger transport, the Model 247. A sleek, all-metal transport with an enclosed cockpit, the 247 contained seats for 10 passengers and featured thick upholstered chairs, an insulated cabin, a lavatory, and individual overhead lighting. The phenomenon of the Model 247 caught the attention of America's young airline companies. When its commitment to United prevented Boeing from filling orders fast enough, Transcontinental & Western Air (TWA) turned to Donald Douglas.

Douglas offered to build something similar to the Boeing 247 -- only faster and larger. TWA quickly accepted the proposal. The Douglas DC-1, which would eventually be refined as the legendary DC-3, immediately attracted new customers, making the 247 obsolete less than a year after its first flight. In 1934, the Roosevelt administration ordered the annulment of all airmail contracts, effectively divorcing The Boeing Company and United, and restricting the former to the manufacture of airplanes. With the advent of the Model 247 and the DC-1, 2, 3 series, however, the competition to supply the world with aircraft had well and truly begun -- with Boeing and Douglas facing off on the western coast of the United States and spurring each other to new levels of innovation, decade by decade.

The Douglas Aircraft Company was the first to formally establish a "Service Department," an organization created in 1935 -- "to aid the operators of Douglas planes in every way and to have our service men visit repair stations to instruct the operators in care and maintenance." The success of the Douglas DC-2 had brought the company a rapidly widening customer base, with commercial operators of Douglas planes based in both North and South America. This prompted a 33,000- mile tour of Douglas repair and maintenance bases by the new Service Department head, Chet Cole, whose travels that year took him as far away as Lima, Peru.

The Boeing Company followed suit in 1936 with the birth of its "Service Unit," headed by engineer Wellwood Beall. Doubling as the company's "Far Eastern Sales Representative," Beall had traveled to China the previous year, concluding a successful sale of Boeing P-26 "Peashooter" pursuit planes to the Chinese government. Accordingly, Beall found it necessary to establish a field representative in Canton to oversee airplane maintenance and the training of Chinese pilots. With this sizable international sale, the Boeing Service Unit thus became a functional necessity for the company, providing a critical link between Seattle and its distant customers.

The 1930s saw the rapid growth of both companies. The rest of the country had been mired in the Depression for several years, and the mid-30s marked the beginning of America's financial recovery. Substantial orders flowed into Douglas and Boeing. Pan American Airways placed an order with Boeing for six Model 314 Clippers, the long-range flying boats that provided luxurious accommodations, including sleeping room for 40 passengers. At Douglas, new airplane construction was already taking place at a record pace. The enormous success of the Douglas DC-3, combining passenger comfort with a utilitarian design, made it the worldwide standard for commercial air travel.

The year 1938 saw Europe plunge into the Second World War -- with important ramifications for the service organizations of both companies. Resources devoted to training, spares, and maintenance publications increased dramatically as the Allied war machine called for support from America. A steady stream of Boeing and Douglas field representatives began flowing to battle fronts on several continents to support their companies' respective aircraft.

Back in Seattle, employees began working around the clock to build Allied bombers -- the B-17 "Flying Fortress" and its successor, the B-29 "Superfortress." The first military unit to send B-17s into battle was Britain's Royal Air Force. Boeing field reps flew to Europe in 1941 with a two-fold mission: to keep the bombers flying and to relay information for design improvements back to company engineers. Often stationed in battle zones, they wore dogtags, helmets, and fatigues, and frequently carried weapons. Their major concern, however, was the shortage of parts. Reported one Boeing field rep in a letter home: "This isn't a war of tanks and planes -- it's a war of spare parts!"

Douglas field reps were already stationed in many corners of the globe by the time war broke out in Europe. Douglas planes had begun "flying the hump" over the treacherous Himalayas in Asia even before the outbreak of hostilities. Douglas reps soon found themselves on battlefronts in Europe and Africa to boot. The DC-3 and DC-4 -- and their military versions, the C-47 Skytrain and C-54 Skymaster -- had a reputation for rugged reliability and were being used by the Allies in every imaginable capacity. Moreover, employees in Southern California were also turning out several models of Allied attack aircraft -- the DB-7/A-20 Havoc, the A-26 Invader, and the SBD Dauntless.

The training of American pilots and mechanics during the war grew to unprecedented levels. Thousands of young men with limited flying or maintenance experience poured into training facilities at Boeing and Douglas. In Seattle, the famed Boeing Fortress School was established. Instructors from the Boeing Mobile Technical Training Unit took this course to every theater of the war. In California, each of the major Douglas sites set up training facilities for the military.

The Second World War thus wrought several important changes in the service departments of both companies. The rapid growth in the number of field representatives, the establishment of permanent training facilities, and the increasing complexity of aircraft systems spurred departmental reorganizations. In 1941, the Douglas Service Department reorganized itself under the aegis of Product Support. In the spring of 1943, the Boeing Service Unit reorganized, dividing itself into four principal groups: maintenance publications, field service, training, and spares. Today, these same four groups still exist as the primary functions of the Boeing Customer Support organization.

Following the war, a new spirit of partnership began to emerge between the aircraft manufacturers and their customers. Customer service engineers from the two companies began working alongside design engineers, speaking for the needs of the airlines and handling service issues from their customers' viewpoint. Spares, already a special point of focus during the war years, made another leap forward in growth.

Training programs and facilities also adapted to the new era. At Boeing, the Fortress School gave way to the "Stratocruiser School," as the introduction of pressurized cabins ushered in new technology. This, in turn, gave way to the "College of Jet Knowledge" in the 1950s. Pilots from all over the world arrived in Seattle to make the evolutionary leap from piston-driven airplanes to jets.

With the introduction of commercial jetliners, the globe rapidly began to shrink. Field represen-tatives from Boeing and Douglas soon found themselves facing new challenges in remote locations. Both companies deemed it necessary to establish "special forces" teams to recover and repair planes that had crashed in remote sites. At Boeing, the new organization was dubbed "AOG" (Airplane on Ground) and the first team was dispatched to Guadeloupe in the French West Indies in 1960. A Boeing 707 had been damaged in a runway mishap and was initially pronounced a total loss. The AOG team arrived and proceeded to rebuild the 707, completing the job in just 29 days.

At Douglas, the new organization was referred to as "RAM" (Recovery and Modification). Established in the late 50s, the Douglas team -- like their Boeing counterparts -- were renowned for tackling the impossible. One notable example was the crash of a DC-9 in Jakarta, Indonesia in 1969. The Douglas crew arrived to find the airliner buried nose-deep in a rice paddy and virtually inaccessible. Requisitioning every water buffalo for miles around, they harnessed the animals in teams and hauled the jet out of the mud.

From a historical perspective, it is entirely fitting that Boeing and Douglas are now united under one roof. Americans everywhere -- and particularly the men and women who helped to build the two great companies -- can take pride in the extraordinary heritage wrought by their forebears. The Boeing B & W, the Douglas Cloudster, the World Cruiser, the Model 247, the DC-3, the Stratoliner, the B-17, the SBD Dauntless, the DC-6, the Dash 80 -- the litany of history-making airplanes reminds us that Boeing and Douglas didn't just take part in the evolution of flight, they literally wrote the defining chapters.

Each chapter of the story bears the same essential theme -- that of rising to a particular challenge, overcoming great obstacles, and stepping forward into the future. And despite the vast technological changes that have taken place in the airplane industry, the Customer Support mission has remained the same: To assist the operators of Boeing and Douglas planes to the greatest possible extent, delivering total satisfaction and lifetime support.

The year was 1915 -- America had not yet entered World War I, Prohibition was still four years away, and a significant but unremarked event was taking place in suburban Los Angeles:

William Boeing journeyed from Seattle for flight instruction at the Glenn Martin flying school, and Donald Douglas arrived from the East to join the Martin Company as chief aeronautical engineer.

Within five years, the two men had formed their own companies and were soon competing head-to-head in one of the most significant business rivalries of the 20th century -- leading America and the rest of the world into the Aerospace Age.

William Edward Boeing, born in 1881 and christened "Wilhelm," was one of three children, the son of an educated German immigrant. Little is known of William Boeing's early life apart from the fact that he was just eight when his father died, that he was sent to Switzerland for part of his education, and that at some point he anglicized his first name and asked friends to call him "Bill." He entered Yale University to study engineering but left one year short of graduation in 1903, bound for the Pacific Northwest.

Boeing established himself in Grays Harbor and began trading and selling timber lands on the Washington coast. Like his father before him, he swiftly made his fortune in this enterprise. In 1910, he traveled to Los Angeles to witness the first American air meet, featuring the French ace Louis Paulhan. Fascinated, Boeing tried to obtain a ride in one of the planes, but circumstances prevented it.

By 1914, he was quartered in Seattle, where he frequented the University Club, smoking cigars and discussing the issues of the day. There he met Conrad Westervelt, a Naval engineer with a strong interest in aviation who was temporarily assigned in the Northwest.

According to an interview with its founder, The Boeing Company began as a holiday lark on a hot Fourth of July morning in 1914. Boeing and Westervelt celebrated Independence Day by purchasing rides in a seaplane flown by a barnstorming pilot off Lake Washington. Flying machines were still a novelty in 1914, and their design had advanced very little from the box kite prototype the Wright brothers had launched from Kitty Hawk 11 years earlier.

Bill Boeing went first -- exchanging his rimless eyeglasses for a set of goggles and taking his position beside the pilot. The two sat on the front edge of the lower wing, in front of a backward-facing pusher propeller. Boeing braced his feet against the footrests, his hands gripping the edge of the wing. There were no seat belts.

The pilot revved the engine, the frail craft raced across Lake Washington -- then lifted off into the air. Boeing was absolutely thrilled by the experience. The plane touched down, he exchanged places with Westervelt, then immediately went back up again when Westervelt landed. The two men spent the rest of the day repeating the experience. Between flights, they closely examined the construction of the rickety airplane. By mid-afternoon, they were already planning how to design a better craft.

A reserved man with a strong sense of privacy, Boeing was nonetheless possessed of great foresight and daring, and believed utterly in the future of aviation. In 1916, when the company's first test flight was scheduled and the pilot was inexplicably late, Boeing climbed into the cockpit and took the plane up himself -- explaining later that he "did not want to endanger anyone else." When a glut of ex-military planes forced a slump in the market following the close of World War I, he depleted his personal fortune to keep Boeing workers employed.

The Boeing Company was parted from its founder in 1934, when the Roosevelt administration dictated the divestiture of aircraft companies and airline carriers. But the company retained his stamp -- daring to make great leaps forward when it introduced jetliners in the 1950s and becoming a pillar of American technological leadership in the process.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1892, Donald Wills Douglas was the younger son of William and Dorothy Hagen-Locher Douglas. As a young man, his interests centered on writing verse poetry, ocean sailing, and the new science of aviation.

In 1908, only five years after Kitty Hawk, Wilbur and Orville Wright announced the trial demonstration of a flying machine built to the U.S. Army's specification at Fort Meyers, Virginia. Captivated by the news, the 16-year-old Douglas persuaded his mother to accompany him to Virginia to witness the trials. This event appears to have cemented his desire to become involved in aviation.

A banker by profession, however, William Douglas insisted on a rigid, formal education for both his sons. Accordingly, Douglas enrolled in the Naval Academy in 1909, following his brother, Harold, who was already a sophomore. The younger Douglas spent much of his free time building airplane models powered by rubber-banded propellers. In one instance, he attempted to build a rocket-powered model -- the resulting smoke causing a panic when he launched it from the window of his room.

After three years at Annapolis, Douglas resigned as a midshipman, seeking to continue his studies at an institution with a greater emphasis on aero-nautical engineering. He enrolled at MIT, finishing the four-year mechanical engineering course in two years and graduating in 1914. He remained at MIT the following year as an assistant in aeronautical engineering, working on wind tunnel design and consulting on a dirigible for the U.S. Navy.

In August 1915, at the recommendation of his instructors at MIT, Douglas accepted the position of chief engineer for the Glenn L. Martin Company in Los Angeles. He was 23 years of age.

In 1916, Douglas accepted a position with the War Department as the head of the Aeronautical Branch of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. By 1920, he had established his own company. In 1924, the U.S. Army Aviation Service mounted the first around-the-world flight, commissioning Douglas biplanes for the journey. Upon the successful completion of this feat, Douglas united his Scottish family crest -- the winged heart -- with a globe-encircling design to form the Douglas Aircraft Company logo.

A man of many interests, Donald Douglas won the silver medal in sailing (six-meter class) at the 1932 Olympics. It was his passion for flight that burned the brightest, though he led his company by example, inspiring all who worked with him. Upon the death of company vice president Harry Wetzel in 1938, Douglas might have been speaking of himself when he wrote:

During the 1930s, Boeing service representatives quickly established a reputation for resourcefulness in the field. The author of this reputation was, in great part, the company's first field rep -- Herbert "Nemo" Poncetti.By the early part of the decade, military pursuit planes had became The Boeing Company's bread and butter. Following the success of the P-26 Peashooter with the U.S. Armed Forces, the company decided to market an export version of the diminutive pursuit plane.

In the late summer of 1934, Wellwood Beall, the company's Far Eastern Sales Representative, sailed to Canton, where he concluded a sale of eleven Peashooters to the Chinese Air Force. Coming off the production line in Seattle, the planes would be torn down, crated, and shipped to the Far East.

It would be necessary, Beall realized, to have a Boeing man onsite who could uncrate and assemble the airplanes. Moreover, the company would need someone who could train Chinese pilots to fly the machines and Chinese mechanics to service them. By a stroke of luck, while traveling through Shanghai, Beall stumbled across Nemo Poncetti, a man with a broad background in engineering and a love for airplanes. Beall offered him the job at once.

Beall's judgment was precisely on target -- Poncetti was the ideal field rep. Having accepted the job, Poncetti set sail for Seattle to learn about the airplane. His education completed, he returned to China in late 1935, exhibiting a resourcefulness for keeping planes in the air that soon became the hallmark of the Boeing Field Service.

One of a small group of foreign instructors to reach China in the 30s, Poncetti was installed at the Central Aviation School in Canton. Following his introduction at the school and the attendant formalities -- which included being presented to Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek -- Poncetti quickly got down to the task of reassembling the Peashooters and instructing Chinese student pilots.

On one particular occasion, one of his students ground-looped his plane, leaving Poncetti the task of building an entire new wing from thin air. Although the details of the story have been lost, the field rep somehow managed it. Under his tutelage, the Chinese pilots soon became a crack group of fliers.

During Poncetti's sojourn in China, Boeing formally established the Service Unit within the Engineering Department -- where he was officially assigned upon his return to Seattle. In the war years that followed, Poncetti accepted assignments in North Africa and Italy, serving with distinction. Following the war, he returned to Seattle, switching to the Bomarc and Minuteman missile programs in the 1960s.

Retiring in 1969, Poncetti was celebrated by dozens of friends and acquaintances from his long tenure as a field rep. When pressed, he declared that he had enjoyed every minute of it. Recalling his first assignment in China, however, he noted: "I must admit I enjoyed working with the airplanes in the early days more than anything else."

During the Second World War, customer service took on an entirely new level of meaning -- as illustrated by the Douglas and Boeing machinists who took part in the top-secret mission referred to as "Project 19."

By the summer of 1941, the British were facing disaster in North Africa. German Field Marshall Rommel's armored divisions were besieging Tobruk, threatening to gain control of the Suez Canal. A battle-damaged Royal Air Force urgently needed a repair base in the region. Desperate for aid, Britain called upon America -- who, as yet, had not entered the war.

By Presidential directive, a secret meeting was convened with representatives of the nation's top planemakers. The upshot: a top-secret repair base, designated "Project 19," would be established at Gura in the Eritrean hills, 60 miles from the Red Sea port of Massawa. High on the mountain plateau lay an abandoned Italian airplane plant, complete with luxury barracks, well-equipped machine shops, and new hangars.

Recruitment and management were assigned to Douglas Aircraft. Under an oath of strictest secrecy, volunteers were drawn from the principal U.S. airplane manufacturing centers -- Seattle, the Midwest, and Southern California.

The Boeing and Douglas men who rode the first trucks from Massawa, winding up hundreds of curves to Gura, saw a mile-high desert valley that reminded Californians of the upper Mojave. They also saw a pitted airstrip, surrounded by a rubble of bombed-out barracks and shop buildings -- the remains of the Italian plant, blasted by Allied bombers months earlier.

Awaiting them was a field littered with ruined aircraft, along with crates of battered wings, fuselages, empennages, and engines. The Americans regarded them with dismay. Their task was to make these aircraft battleworthy. But how, they asked themselves. And with what tools? Bereft of even the barest necessities, they responded with the only resource available to them -- Yankee ingenuity.

Tools were improvised and salvaged from ship cargoes. Barrack walls and roofs were patched, bomb craters filled in. There were forests of propellers to be straightened, but no hydraulic press to do the job. The machinists contrived a simple vice to hold the bent props, then proceeded to unbend them manually with the longest available two-by-four.

They made a crude but accurate level steel table and a homemade protractor to check the pitch and curve of the blades. They improvised a balancing stand and pit. From junk steel, aluminum, and rubber, they built a working bench to test the flow of oil through pitch controls.

One day on the docks of Massawa, the Americans discovered a new German milling machine, crated and bound for Japan. With part of the group creating a suitable diversion, the milling machine was gleefully liberated, then trucked over the hills to Gura. As the days went by, proper machine tools arrived, one by one, to replace the original makeshifts.

Soon, the members of Project 19 were fixing every kind of American plane that limped or was hauled in from nearby North African fighting fronts. They serviced and assembled P-40s, C-47 Skytrains, C-54 Skymasters, B-24 Liberators, B-17 Flying Fortresses, Havocs, Hudsons, and a host of others. Those that couldn't be repaired were dismantled for spare parts.

On October 23, 1942, the third and final battle of El Alamein commenced with continuous attacks from RAF aircraft. Many of the Allied planes had been patched together by Project 19. By November 4, the Axis forces in the Western Desert were in full retreat. No fuel had succeeded in reaching Rommel's forces for six weeks. Air interdiction -- made possible by Project 19's field maintenance and repair -- had tipped the balance in the Allies favor.

On March 9, 1943, a group hanging around the wireless heard the news first: Rommel had abandoned North Africa. Soon after, in groups large and small, the exodus back to the U.S. began -- some by airplane, some aboard ship by way of Australia. One day in late 1943, a small group of machinists -- the last remnant of 2,500 civilians and 500 soldiers -- nailed the final crate, heaved it on the bed of the last truck, and rode the six-wheeler down the escarpment road to the Red Sea.

The DC-2 -- or the "Dizzy Three," as it was known in Douglas circles -- was truly a one-of-a-kind airplane and illustrated the ingenuity of Douglas field representatives during the 1930s and 40s.

Originally a DC-3, the plane in question was one of several Douglas models owned by the China National Airways Corporation (CNAC). In the spring of 1941, the plane was flying a scheduled route between Hong Kong and Chungking when it received word by radio that Japanese fighters were in the area. The pilot hurriedly set the aircraft down in a field near Kiuchuan, and the crew sprinted for cover. Moments later, a flight of Japanese Zeroes swooped down and sprayed the DC-3 with machine gun fire. When the shooting was over, the plane's fuselage was riddled with bullet holes, and one wing had been completely blasted off.

The plane's captain, H.L. Woods, radioed back to the CNAC base. "The plane's a wreck," Woods reported, "but if we can get a new wing, I think I can fly her out of here." Captain Charlie Sharp, another American pilot flying for the CNAC, takes up the story from there:

"The hell of it was, we didn't have a spare DC-3 wing, and we didn't know where to get one. We did, however, have a spare DC-2 wing. It was five feet shorter, and it wasn't designed to support the loads of the DC-3 -- but we thought it just might work. And we needed that airplane in the worst way."

With the help of Douglas field representatives, they bolted the DC-2 wing to another DC-3's underbelly and flew it across the 900 miles of mountainous terrain to Kiuchuan. There, a ground crew bolted the DC-2 wing to the fuselage of the damaged airliner. Astonishing every witness on the ground, the plane bumped across the field and lifted off without a hitch. Concluded Sharp, "We called her the DC-2."

During the war years of the 30s and 40s, there were so many in-the-field modifications that even Douglas field representatives couldn't keep track of them all. The DC-3 (or C-47) served as an aerial pack-horse in a multitude of roles -- becoming, in turn, an ambulance plane fitted for litter patients a "flying tank car" hauling gasoline, milk, or water to stranded ground forces an airborne photo lab used by reconnaissance groups and a "flying wrecker," refitted as a complete airborne machine shop.

William Winship
Writing & Editing Resources
Boeing Shared Services Group


Background [ edit | edit source ]

In the post-World War II era, Douglas held a commanding position in the commercial aircraft market. Although Boeing had pointed the way to the modern all-metal airliner in 1933 with the 247, it was Douglas that, more than any other company, had made commercial air travel a reality. Douglas produced a succession of piston-engined aircraft (DC-2, DC-3, DC-4, DC-5, DC-6, and DC-7) through the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

When de Havilland introduced the first jet-powered airliner, the Comet, in 1949, Douglas took the view that there was no reason to rush into anything new. Their U.S. competitors at Lockheed and Convair felt the same way: that there would be a gradual switch from piston engines to turbines, and that the switch would be to the more fuel-efficient turboprop engines rather than pure jets. All three companies were working on a new generation of piston-engined designs, with an eye to turboprop conversion in the future.

De Havilland's pioneering Comet entered airline service in 1952. Initially it was a success, but a series of fatal crashes in 1953 and 1954 resulted in the type being grounded until the cause could be discovered. The cause of the Comet crashes had nothing to do with jet engines it was a rapid metal fatigue failure brought on by cycling the high stresses in corners of the near-square windows from pressurizing the cabin to high altitudes and back. A new understanding of metal fatigue that the Comet investigation produced would play a vital part in the good safety record of later types like the DC-8.

In 1952, Douglas remained the most successful of the commercial aircraft manufacturers. They had almost 300 orders on hand for the piston-engined DC-6 and its successor, the DC-7, which had yet to fly and was still two years away from commercial service. The Comet disasters, and the consequent airline lack of interest in jets, seemed to demonstrate the wisdom of their staying with propeller-driven aircraft.

Competition [ edit | edit source ]

In contrast, Boeing took the bold step of starting to plan a pure-jet airliner in as early as 1949. Boeing's military arm had gained extensive experience with large, long-range jets through the B-47 Stratojet (first flight 1947) and the B-52 Stratofortress (1952). With thousands of their big jet bombers on order or in service, Boeing had developed a close relationship with the US Air Force's Strategic Air Command (SAC). Boeing also supplied the SAC's refueling aircraft, the piston-engined KC-97 Stratotankers, but these proved to be too slow and low flying to easily work with the new jet bombers. The B-52, in particular, had to descend from its cruising altitude and then slow almost to stall speed to work with the KC-97, even when the latter was augmented with jet engines to boost its speed.

Believing that a requirement for a jet-powered tanker was a certainty, Boeing started work on a new all-jet aircraft that would fill this role and also be adaptable into an airliner. In the airliner role it would have similar seating capacity to the Comet, but its swept wing planform would give it considerably higher cruising speeds, and better range. First presented in 1950 as the Model 473-60C, Boeing failed to generate any interest at the airlines. Nevertheless, Boeing remained convinced that the project was worthwhile, and decided to press ahead with a prototype, the "Dash-80". After spending $16 million of their own money on construction, the Dash-80 rolled out on 15 May 1954, and first flew the next month. Boeing's plans became obvious in the industry, despite the "code name" intended to hide its purpose.

Design phase [ edit | edit source ]

Douglas secretly began jet transport project definition studies in mid-1952. By mid-1953 these had developed into a form very similar to the final DC-8 an 80-seat, low-wing aircraft with four Pratt & Whitney JT3C turbojet engines, 30° wing sweep, and an internal cabin diameter of exactly 11 feet (3.35 m) to allow five abreast seating. Maximum weight was to be 95 tons (86 tonnes), and range was estimated to be about 3,000–4,000 miles (4,800–6,400 km).

Douglas remained lukewarm about the jet airliner project, but believed that the Air Force tanker contract would go to two companies for two different aircraft, as several USAF transport contracts in the past had done. In May 1954, the USAF circulated its requirement for 800 jet tankers to Boeing, Douglas, Convair, Fairchild, Lockheed, and Martin. Boeing was already just two months away from having their prototype in the air. Just four months after issuing the tanker requirement, the USAF ordered the first 29 KC-135s from Boeing. Besides Boeing's ability to provide a jet tanker promptly, the flying-boom air-to-air refueling system was also a Boeing product from the KC-97: developing the KC-135 had been a safe bet.

Donald Douglas was shocked by the rapidity of the decision which, he said, had been made before the competing companies even had time to complete their bids. He protested to Washington, but without success. Having started on the DC-8 project, Douglas decided that it was better to press on than give up. Consultations with the airlines resulted in a number of changes: the fuselage was widened by 15 inches (38 cm) to allow six-abreast seating. This led to larger wings and tail surfaces and a longer fuselage.

The DC-8 was officially announced in July 1955. Four versions were offered to begin with, all based on the same 150-foot-6-inch (45.87 m) long airframe with a 141-foot-1-inch (43.00 m) wingspan, but varying in engines and fuel capacity, and with maximum weights of about 120–130 tons (109–118 tonnes). Douglas steadfastly refused to offer different fuselage sizes. The maiden flight was planned for December 1957, with entry into revenue service in 1959. Well aware that they were lagging behind Boeing, Douglas began a major push to market the product.

First orders [ edit | edit source ]

At the time, Douglas' previous thinking about the airliner market seemed to be coming true the transition to turbine powered looked likely to be one to turboprops rather than turbojets. The pioneering 40–60-seat Vickers Viscount was already in service and proving enormously popular with both passengers and airlines: it was much faster, quieter and more comfortable than piston-engined types. Another British aircraft, the 90-seat Bristol Britannia, was establishing a fine reputation, and Douglas's main rival in the large, piston-engined passenger aircraft market, Lockheed, had committed to the short/medium range 80–100-seat turboprop Electra, with a launch order from American Airlines for 35 and other major orders flowing in. Meanwhile the Comet remained grounded, the French 90-passenger twin jet Sud Aviation Caravelle prototype had just flown for the first time, and the 707 was not expected to be available until late 1958. The major airlines were reluctant to commit themselves to the huge financial and technical challenge of jet aircraft. On the other hand, no-one could afford not to buy jets if their competitors did.

And there the matter rested until October 1955, when Pan American placed simultaneous orders with Boeing for 20 707s and Douglas for 25 DC-8s. To buy one expensive and untried jet-powered aircraft type was brave: to buy both was at the time, unheard of. In the closing months of 1955, other airlines rushed to follow suit: Air France, American, Braniff, Continental and Sabena ordered 707s United, National, KLM, Eastern, JAL and SAS chose the DC-8. In 1956 Air India, BOAC, Lufthansa, Qantas and TWA added over 50 to the 707 order book, while Douglas sold 22 DC-8s to Delta, Swissair, TAI, Trans-Canada and UAT. By the start of 1958, Douglas had sold 133 DC-8s as against Boeing's 150 707s.

Production and testing [ edit | edit source ]

United Airlines chose the DC-8 over the Boeing 707. This Douglas DC-8-50 was photographed at Boston in 1973.

The first DC-8 was rolled out of the new factory at Long Beach in April 1958 and flew for the first time in May. Later that year, an enlarged version of the Comet finally returned to service, but too late to take a substantial portion of the market: de Havilland had just 25 orders. In October, Boeing began delivering 707s to Pan Am. Douglas made a massive effort to close the gap with Boeing, using no less than ten individual aircraft for flight testing to achieve FAA certification for the first of the many DC-8 variants in August 1959. Much had needed to be done: the original air brakes on the lower rear fuselage were found ineffective and were simply deleted as engine thrust reversers had become available unique leading-edge slots were added to improve low-speed lift the prototype was 25 kn (46 km/h) short of its promised cruising speed and a new, slightly larger wingtip had to be developed to reduce drag. In addition, a recontoured wing leading edge was developed that extended the chord 4% and reduced drag at high Mach numbers. Ώ]

The DC-8 entered revenue service first with Delta Air Lines on 18 September 1959 with United also entering service later on the same day. ΐ] By March 1960, Douglas had reached their planned production rate of eight DC-8s a month. Despite the large number of DC-8 early models available, all used the same basic airframe, differing only in engines, weights and details. In contrast, Boeing's rival 707 range offered several fuselage lengths and two differing wingspans: the original 144-foot (44 m) 707-120, a 135-foot (41 m) version that sacrificed space to gain longer range, and the stretched 707-320, which at 153 feet (47 m) overall had 10 feet (3.0 m) more cabin space than the DC-8. Douglas' refusal to offer different fuselage sizes made it less adaptable and forced Delta and United to look elsewhere for short/medium range types. Delta ordered Convair 880s but United went for the newly developed lightweight 707-020 but prevailed on Boeing to rename the new variant the "720" in case people thought they were dissatisfied with the DC-8. Significantly, Pan Am never reordered the DC-8 and Douglas gradually lost market share to Boeing. After an excellent start, 1962 DC-8 sales dropped to just 26, followed by 21 in 1963 and 14 in '64, and most of these were for the Jet Trader rather than the more prestigious passenger versions. In 1967, Douglas merged with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation to become McDonnell Douglas (MDC).

On 21 August 1961 a Douglas DC-8 broke the sound barrier at Mach 1.012 (660 mph/1,062 km/h) while in a controlled dive through 41,000 feet (12,497 m) and maintained that speed, for 16 seconds. The flight was to collect data on a new leading-edge design for the wing, and while doing so, this DC-8 became the first civilian jet to make a supersonic flight. Α] The aircraft was a DC-8-43 later delivered to Canadian Pacific Air Lines as CF-CPG. The aircraft, crewed by Captain William Magruder, First Officer Paul Patten, Flight Engineer Joseph Tomich and Flight Test Engineer Richard Edwards, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California, and was accompanied to altitude by an F-104 flown by Chuck Yeager. Β]

Further developments [ edit | edit source ]

Air Canada DC-8-61 at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport

In April 1965, Douglas announced belated fuselage stretches for the DC-8 with three new models known as the Super Sixties. The DC-8 program had been in danger of closing with fewer than 300 aircraft sold, but the Super Sixties brought fresh life to it. By the time production ceased in 1972, 262 of the stretched DC-8s had been made. With the ability to seat 269 passengers, the DC-8 Series 61 and 63 had the largest passenger-carrying capacity available. That remained so until the Boeing 747 arrived in 1970.

All the earlier jetliners were noisy by modern standards. Increasing traffic densities and changing public attitudes led to complaints about aircraft noise and moves to introduce restrictions. As early as 1966 the New York Port Authority expressed concern about the noise to be expected from the then still unbuilt DC-8-61, and operators had to agree to operate it from New York at lower weights to reduce noise. By the early 1970s, legislation for aircraft noise standards was being introduced in many countries, and the 60 Series DC-8s were particularly at risk of being banned from major airports.

In the early 1970s several airlines approached McDonnell Douglas for noise reduction modifications to the DC-8 but nothing was done. Third parties had developed aftermarket hushkits but there was no real move to keep the DC-8 in service. Finally, in 1975, General Electric began discussions with major airlines with a view to fitting the new and vastly quieter Franco-American CFM56 engine to both DC-8s and 707s. MDC remained reluctant but eventually came on board in the late 1970s and helped develop the 70 Series DC-8s.

The Super Seventies were a great success: roughly 70% quieter than the 60-Series and, at the time of their introduction, the world's quietest four-engined airliner. As well as being quieter and more powerful, the CFM56 was roughly 20% more fuel efficient than the JT3D, which reduced operating costs and extended the range.

Air Transport International DC-8-62F at Thule AB, Greenland.

By 2002, of the 1032 707s and 720s manufactured for commercial use, just 80 remained in service — though many of those 707s were converted for USAF use, either in service or for spare parts. Of the 556 DC-8s made, around 200 were still in commercial service in 2002, including about 25 50-Series, 82 of the stretched 60-Series, and 96 out of the 110 re-engined 70-Series. Most of the surviving DC-8s are now used as freighters. As of May 2009, 97 DC-8s were in service following UPS's decision to retire their remaining fleet of 44. Γ]

Bullet Holes in Douglas DC-3 of KLM - History

The DC-1 was followed by the delivery of 32 Douglas DC-2s that started operations in May 1934 on TWA's Columbus-Pittsburgh-Newark route. Most were phased out by 1937 as the Douglas DC-3 started service, but several DC-2s would be operational through the early years of World War II. TWA started using the DC-3 on June 1, 1937. The fleet included ten DST sleeper aircraft and eight standard DC-3 day versions.

Several DC-2s have survived and been preserved in the 21st century in the following museums in the following places:

TWA accepted the basic design and ordered twenty of the upgraded DC-2s which were longer, had more powerful engines, and carried 14 passengers in a 66-inch-wide cabin. The design impressed American and European airlines and further orders followed. Although Fokker had purchased a production licence from Douglas for $100,000, no manufacturing was done in Holland. Those for European customers KLM, LOT, Swissair, CLS and LAPE purchased via Fokker in the Netherlands were built and flown by Douglas in the US, sea-shipped to Europe with wings and propellers detached, then erected at airfields by Fokker near the seaport of arrival (e.g. Cherbourg or Rotterdam)., Airspeed Ltd. took a similar licence for DC-2s to be delivered in Britain and assigned the company designation Airspeed AS.23, but although a registration for one aircraft was reserved none were built. Another licence was taken by the Nakajima Aircraft Company in Japan unlike Fokker and Airspeed, Nakajima built five aircraft as well as assembling at least one Douglas-built aircraft. A total of 130 civil DC-2s were built with another 62 for the United States military. In 1935 Don Douglas stated in an article that the DC-2 cost about $80,000 per aircraft if mass-produced.

Author Ernest K. Gann recounts his early days as a commercial pilot flying DC-2s in his memoir Fate Is the Hunter. This includes a particularly harrowing account of flying a DC-2 with heavy ice.

During the Japanese attack of the Dutch East Indies, KNILM was utilized for evacuation flights and transport of troops. On December 28, 1941, a KNILM Douglas DC-3 "Nandoe" (PK-ALN) was destroyed on the ground by Japanese fighters at Medan, killing all crew members and passengers. Immediately before and after the Japanese invasion on 1 March 1942, all KNILM aircraft with sufficient range were evacuated to Australia. On 7 March 1942, one day before the capitulation of Java, the last KNILM aircraft took off from the Boeabatoeweg in Bandung. A number of KNILM aircraft in Darwin were destroyed by the Japanese during the bombing of Darwin. In all, 11 KNILM aircraft managed to escape to Australia: 3 Douglas DC-5s, 2 DC-3s, 2 DC-2s and 3 Lockheed Model 14 Super Electras. In mid-May 1942 the remaining aircraft were sold to the American military.

The airline became a wholly government-owned company on 1951-11-12. After World War II, PLUNA's fleet included two Douglas DC-2s which were operated on the Montevideo–Paysandú–Salto route until they were retired by 1951. In the same year, a Douglas DC-3 and four de Havilland Herons were added to the fleet. The Herons only stayed in PLUNA's fleet for a short time and by 1957 they had been sold. The DC-3s remained in service much longer, and in 1971 the last four of them were sold to the Fuerza Aérea Uruguaya.

Meanwhile, efforts to expand operation northwards to Queensland were being thwarted by Airlines of Australia (AoA), its main competitor. Established in 1931 as New England Airways by G.A. Robinson and Keith Virtue of Lismore, it operated services in northern New South Wales and between Sydney and Brisbane, Queensland, expanding further into Queensland by taking over a number of struggling regional airlines during the mid-1930s. It was restructured as AoA in 1934 with funding by an investment group the British Pacific Trust. In 1936 it introduced Stinson Model A airliners in a regular service between Sydney and Brisbane, and later acquired Douglas DC-2s and Douglas DC-3s. After several months of fruitless negotiations with its financiers, ANA managed to gain a controlling interest in AoA in April 1937, although the two airlines retained separate public identities until 1942. Between them the two airlines operated four DC-2s and four DC-3s by the time of the outbreak of World War II, as well as several other aircraft including two Model As, two D.H.84s, two D.H.86s and nine de Havilland D.H.89 Rapides.

For the first 18 months of the Second World War, No. 31 Squadron remained stationed at the North-West Frontier. In April 1941, the Squadron started to be equipped with Douglas DC-2s and began flying support missions to RAF Habbaniya during the 1941 Iraqi coup d'état and the following Anglo-Iraqi War. Returning to India the squadron re-equipped with the Douglas Dakota Mk.I. After the Japanese invasion of Burma, it flew missions between Calcutta and Rangoon dropping supplies for the XIVth Army. After World War II the squadron moved to Java. In 1946 the Squadron was disbanded in Java and reformed at PAF Base Masroor, Mauripur Karachi, at that time in British India.

Meanwhile, Vultee and Breese had redesigned the V-1 to meet American Airlines' needs and created the eight-passenger V-1A. American purchased 11 V-1As, but the plane ultimately failed due to safety concerns about a single-engine plane and the advent of the twin-engine Douglas DC-2s and DC-3s. Vultee redesigned the V-1 into the V-11 attack aircraft for the United States Army Air Corps, but it received few initial orders.

During the war, Braniff remanded much of its new 21-passenger Douglas DC-3 fleet to the United States Army Air Force. The DC-3 had just entered the fleet in December 1939. All of the Airline's DC-2s were given to the military for wartime service and none were accepted back into the fleet at the end of the war. Besides offering its aircraft to the United States military, it also leased its facilities at Dallas Love Field to the military, which became a training site for pilots and mechanics.

De Uiver was the name of a Douglas DC-2 that placed second in the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race, only being beaten by a purpose built de Havilland DH.88 racer Grosvenor House. The real Uiver, which is an old Dutch word for Stork, no longer exists. The Aviodrome owns one of the last still airworthy DC-2s in the world. This DC-2 is a former US Navy aircraft painted in the Uiver's original KLM colors. After an unexpected gear collapse the aircraft suffered some minor damage, but after the needed funds were raised the aircraft was repaired.

The 21st Airlift Squadron is part of the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, California. It operates C-17 Globemaster III aircraft carrying out United States Air Force global transport missions, duties which involve airlift and airdrop missions as well as provision of services and support in order to promote quality of life for both soldiers and civilians in situations requiring humanitarian aid. First formed as the 21st Transport Squadron at Archerfield Airport, Australia on 3 April 1942. Activated in the wake of the United States withdrawal from the Philippines, the squadron was formed with a mixture of personnel withdrawn from Clark Field and some reinforcements which had arrived in Australia but did not see combat in the Philippines. The squadron was hastily put together with some impressed civilian Douglas DC-2s and DC-3s.

During February and March 1942, the RAAF formed four transport units: Nos. 33, 34, 35 and 36 Squadrons. No. 36 Squadron was established on 11 March at RAAF Station Laverton, Victoria, under the control of Southern Area Command. Its initial strength was twenty-six personnel and one Douglas DC-2. This was gradually built up to a force of six DC-2s, as well as examples of various de Havilland types including the DH.84 Dragon, DH.86 Express, DH.89 Dragon Rapide, and Tiger Moth. Tasked with transport operations throughout Australia and to Port Moresby, New Guinea, the squadron relocated to Essendon, Victoria, on 17 July. One of the DC-2s crashed at Seven Mile Aerodrome, Port Moresby, on 14 September all aboard were killed. The squadron was transferred to Townsville, Queensland, on 11 December 1942. During 1943, it maintained detachments at Essendon and in New Guinea, and began re-equipping with twelve Douglas C-47 Dakotas.

Howard learned to fly in 1930 before the age of 16 by working as a lineboy for Hawthorne Flying Services in Augusta, Georgia. Shortly thereafter he purchased the struggling company and flew DC-2s for Delta Air Lines and Eastern Airlines in order to support Hawthorne. He became the youngest pilot to receive an Airline Transport Rating before the regulations increased the age limit to 21.

Braniff acquired Dallas-based Long and Harmon Airlines in January 1935, extending its network in Texas, and purchased it first twin-engine airliner, the Lockheed L-10A Electra. In 1937, Braniff bought its first cabin-sized twin-engine airliner the Douglas DC-2 from TWA for the extended network. With the DC-2s came the carrier's first flight attendants or Hostesses as Braniff dubbed them.

Originally, five Douglas DC-3s and one Douglas DC-2 airliner were available, but with the loss of a DC-3 on 20 September 1940 in a landing accident at Heston, and the destruction of another DC-3 in November 1940 by Luftwaffe bombing at Whitchurch, only four aircraft remained: DC-2 G-AGBH Edelvalk (ex-PH-ALE), DC-3 G-AGBD Buizerd (ex-PH-ARB), DC-3 G-AGBE Zilverreiger (ex-PH-ARZ), and DC-3 G-AGBB Ibis (ex-PH-ALI). In 1939, with war tensions in Europe increasing, KLM had painted their DC-2s and DC-3s bright orange to mark them clearly as civilian aircraft. BOAC repainted the aircraft in camouflage, with British civil markings and red/white/blue stripes like all BOAC aircraft, but without the Union Flag. They were later marked with their Dutch bird names under the cockpit windows. The interiors remained in KLM colours and markings.

On 17 April, the 1st Battalion King's Own Royal Regiment (1st KORR) was flown into RAF Shaibah from Karachi in India. Colonel Ouvry Roberts, the Chief Staff Officer of the 10th Indian Infantry Division, arrived with the 1st KORR. By 18 April, the airlift of the 1st KORR to Shaibah was completed. The troop-carrying aircraft used for this airlift were 7 Valentias and 4 Atalantas supplemented by 4 DC-2s which had recently arrived in India.

In 1936, Douglas DC-2s were acquired and London was added to the route network. In 1937, the bigger Douglas DC-3 was bought. In the same year, both founding fathers died: Walter Mittelholzer during mountaineering in the Steiermark, Austria, and Balz Zimmermann succumbed to an infectious disease.

Fate Is the Hunter is a 1961 memoir by aviation writer Ernest K. Gann. It describes his years working as a pilot from the 1930s to 1950s, starting at American Airlines in Douglas DC-2s and DC-3s when civilian air transport was in its infancy, moving onto wartime flying in C-54s, C-87s, and Lockheed Lodestars, and finally at Matson Navigation's short-lived upstart airline and various post-World War II "nonscheduled" airlines in Douglas DC-4s.

During the war, Braniff remanded much of its new 21-passenger Douglas DC-3 fleet to the United States Army Air Force. The DC-3 had just entered the fleet in December 1939. All of the Airline's DC-2s were given to the military for wartime service and none were accepted back into the fleet at the end of the war. Besides offering its aircraft to the United States military, it also leased its facilities at Dallas Love Field to the military, which became a training site for pilots and mechanics.

Watch the video: United Douglas DC-6 Promo Film - 1950