One of the most famous aircraft ever built is the Douglas DC-3 and its military variant, the Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota. Originally called the DST or Douglas Sleeper Transport, it first flew on 17 December 1935.

With a range of 2,400 kilometres and a cruising speed of 333km/h it was considered both fast and long ranged for the era. American Airlines put the first aircraft into service on 26 June 1936.

Douglas DC-3 Video

Following on from last weeks video about the Breguet Deux-Ponts, this week we return from France and look at the Douglas DC-3. Below is a 25 minute short film narrated by C.R. Smith of American Airlines called Flagships of the Air, which was released in June 1939.

Who is C.R. Smith? He was the CEO of American Airlines and the one who persuaded Donald Douglas to build the DC-3 in the first place. He found the existing DC-2 was too narrow for side by side sleeping berths and convinced Douglas to develop a wider and better aircraft. The most interesting parts of the film for me is 02:00 to 15:20 and then 22:25 onwards.

You can really tell the film is from 1939 as it mentions how the route network connects to the “Yankee Clippers” on one side of the country and the “China Clippers” on the other. These are the Pan American flying boat services to Europe and Asia, so I enjoyed hearing that mentioned.

Something that amused me is how it is pointed out that Chicago is very busy with 96 flights per day. Their minds would be blown if they knew that today Chicago sees more than 2,400 flights each day. Other highlights for me are breakfast at 13:20, sleeping berths at 14:35, and a few seconds of the Normandie ocean liner at 22:35.

Overall Thoughts

The Douglas DC-3 is credited with making air transport popular in the United States. Over 400 of the 607 passenger aircraft were delivered to US airlines. Other early operators included KLM who replaced the DC-2 with it on the services from Amsterdam to Sydney in 1936.

With 10,048 military versions, and with another 4,937 and 487 produced under licence in the Soviet Union and Japan respectively, you could find the DC-3 virtually everywhere. An old saying goes that the only way to replace a DC-3 is with another DC-3!

Have you every flown on board a Douglas DC-3? Is it as quiet inside as they try to make out in the film? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Jim Koepnick via Vintage Airplane, September 2006.