First flying on 14 February 1942, the Douglas DC-4 is a long-range airliner powered by four Pratt & Whitney Twin-Wasp piston engines. It was the second most popular aircraft built by the California based company, with 1,241 built between 1942 and 1947.
Used throughout World War II by the Americans, it later played a large role in the Berlin Airlift. Many major airlines used the DC-4 on services around the world, some for quite a long time. Let’s have a look at some videos about this popular plane.
Douglas DC-4 Video
Following on from the last video about the Douglas DC-1, we stay in California and look at the fourth Douglas Commercial. Running for a little over two minutes, this colour film shows a flight on board an American Airlines DC-4. It has no sound but is a lesson in efficiency as it shows everything you’d want to see in a short period of time.
I must say the AA cabin for the time looks pretty comfortable. Notable is the meal service, which appears to come out on some kind of stable table type thing and is placed on the knees. Happily there is also a close up shot of the food, showing buns, what looks like a ramekin of peas, a salad and perhaps a piece of chicken. I think we have it a little better today!
Incognito Douglas DC-4s
The DC-4 was licence produced in Canada as the Canadair North Star, and 71 were eventually built. British people might know the aircraft as the Argonaut as that is what BOAC called them. Canadian Pacific referred to theirs as the Canadair Four. This version featured Rolls-Royce Merlin engines which were apparently very noisy.
Trans-Canada Airlines noted they modified the engine exhaust to reduce the noise to 102 decibels at the window. For those not up on their decibels, that is as loud as an outboard motor, power lawn mower, motorcycle, farm tractor, jackhammer, or garbage truck. A long flight would have been trying with all that noise, to say the least!
The Original Douglas DC-4
Planned to seat 42 in day configuration or 30 in a sleeper configuration, the original Douglas DC-4 looks nothing like the aircraft we associate with that name. There is a short silent two minute black and white video showing it here.
United Airlines evaluated the plane during 1939, but found the complex systems were expensive to maintain and performance was below expectations. The prototype was eventually sold to Imperial Japanese Airways and a new version was designed.
While major airline service has ended for the Douglas DC-4, there are still some around. The South African Airways Museum Society has two operational which are available for charters. Buffalo Airways in Canada also operates a number of them in a cargo role and a few others also exist.
Australia’s Qantas operated the Douglas DC-4 right through to 1977. This page shows the history of one aircraft, including a cabin shot showing a rather interesting overhead bin configuration.
Have you ever flown on board a Douglas DC-4? What did you think of the videos? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
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