The Douglas DC-4E was originally going to be the Douglas DC-4 and it first flew on 7 June 1938. With capacity for 42 passengers in daytime configuration (30 for sleeper flights), it was designed to fly up to 3,500km or 2,200 miles, powered by four Pratt & Whitney Twin Hornet engines.
Unusually, the major airlines of the day – Pan American, TWA, United, Eastern and American – all put in $100,000 each toward development costs of the aircraft (that would be around $2 million in today’s money). As costs rose, Pan Am and TWA pulled out in favour of the Boeing 307 Stratoliner.
Douglas DC-4E Video
Following on from the last video about the Italian Savoia-Marchetti S.73, we head across the Atlantic to Santa Monica to look at the Douglas DC-4E. The first presentation lasts just under two minutes and its quality can be excused for its rarity. It shows the new plane starting up, taking off and landing in 1938.
Next up is another one running for just over two minutes, giving a potted history of the plane, with some photos and different film footage included. It looks like quite a large airliner all round.
Eventually the aircraft was deemed too expensive to operate and too complex, so the design was shelved. A completely different and more conventional Douglas DC-4 was designed instead, whereupon this one was re-named the DC-4E for Experimental.
Just the prototype was produced, making this a particularly rare aircraft indeed. It was sold to Imperial Japanese Airways, who passed it over to the Nakajima Aircraft Company for reverse engineering. The bomber that resulted from that was unsuccessful, making this a bad bet by Japan.
For Douglas, it was no big deal as the replacement DC-4 ended up selling over 1,000 units in both civil and military versions. The change turned out to be the correct decision all round.
Did you know the Douglas DC-4E existed? 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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Featured image via skipperbob on Reddit.