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Douglas DC-5

US Navy Douglas R3D-2
Role Transport
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
Designer Donald Douglas
First flight 20 February 1939
Introduction 1940
Retired 1949
Primary users KLM
United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
Number built 12
Developed from Douglas DB-7

The Douglas DC-5, probably the least known of the famous DC airliner series, was a 16-to-22-seat, twin-engine propeller aircraft intended for shorter routes than the Douglas DC-3 or Douglas DC-4. However, by the time it entered commercial service in 1940, many airlines were canceling orders for aircraft. Consequently, only five civilian DC-5s were built. With the Douglas Aircraft Company already converting to World War II military production, the DC-5 was soon overtaken by world events, although a limited number of military variants were produced.


  • Design and development 1
  • Operational history 2
  • Variants 3
  • Operators 4
    • Military operators 4.1
    • Civil operators 4.2
  • Specifications (DC-5) 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Design and development

A Douglas DC-5, circa 1939.

The Douglas Commercial Model 5 was developed in 1938 as a 16-22 seat [1] civilian airliner, designed to use either Pratt & Whitney R-1690 Hornet or Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines.[2] It was the first airliner to combine shoulder wings and tricycle landing gear, a configuration that is still common in turboprop airliners and military transport aircraft.[3] A very early change in design was altering the horizontal tail group to add a 15-degree dihedral to improve stability. Another significant modification was adding exhaust stacks to the engine nacelles, which was retroactively incorporated after the series entered production.[4] An unusual "optical trick" was applied to the profile of the prototype. The top of the vertical stabilizer and outline of the engine nacelles were painted a darker color following the aircraft's contour, making the tail and engines appear somewhat smaller and the aircraft sleeker.[5]

Prior to the US entry into World War II, one prototype and four production aircraft were built.

Operational history

US C-110 transport aircraft carrying supplies from the Australian mainland to Allied troops in Port Moresby, New Guinea, August 1942

The prototype DC-5, Douglas serial 411, was built at El Segundo, California with Wright Cyclone 1,000 hp R-1820-44 engines. The aircraft made its first flight on February 20, 1939 with Carl A. Cover at the controls. This sole prototype (originally configured with just eight seats) became the personal aircraft of William Boeing which he named "Rover". It was later impressed into the US Navy and converted for military use as an R3D variant in February 1942.[5]

The first customer for the DC-5 was KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij) of The Netherlands. A US domestic carrier, Pennsylvania Central (later renamed Capital Airlines), ordered six and SCADTA, (Sociedad Colomba-Alemana de Transportes Aéreos), ancestor of today's Avianca in Colombia, another two. The four aircraft sold to KLM were used by their colonial subsidiaries. When Douglas factories went into war production, DC-5 production was curtailed to build additional SBD Dauntless dive bombers for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps and only KLM received the high-winged airliner.

A dozen DC-5s were completed. The first two initially flew the Paramaribo-Curaçao route, and the other two operated from Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia). Three aircraft were used for the 1942 evacuation of civilians from Java to Australia, during which PK-ADA was damaged in an air strike by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force at Batavia Kemajoran Airport on February 9, 1942 and it was abandoned. Japanese forces captured PK-ADA, subsequently repaired and tested it at Tachikawa Airfield and Haneda Airport during 1943. This DC-5, painted in camouflage with Japanese Imperial Army Air Force markings, was later used as a transport in the Japanese Home Islands.[5]

The captured KLM DC-5 (PK-ADA) in service with the Japanese Imperial Army Air Force

The three remaining aircraft, PK-ADB, PK-ADC and PK-ADD made their way safely to Australia where the aircraft were interned by the Allied Directorate of Air Transport and operated by the United States Army Air Forces as the C-110. The wartime history of PK-ADC was brief, because it was destroyed in a landing accident shortly after its arrival in Australia. PK-ADD flew for the balance of the war under the aegis of Australian National Airways, on support missions inside the country with the temporary license VH-CXC.

In 1939, the US Navy ordered seven aircraft. Three were delivered as R3D-1s, the first of which crashed before delivery. The remaining four were R3D-2s for the U.S. Marine Corps and were equipped with 1,015 HP R-1820-44 engines, a large cargo hold and 22 seats for paratroopers.[5]

After World War II, production of the DC-5 was not resumed because of the abundance of surplus C-47 aircraft released into civil service. In 1948, the last surviving DC-5 (c/n 426) VH-ARD of Australian National Airways was sold and smuggled to Israel for military use. The aircraft arrived at Haifa in May 1948, and from there it went to Sde Dov, where its markings were removed and the name "Yankee Pasha - The Bagel Lancer" was crudely painted on the nose by hand. The aircraft joined 103 Squadron (Israel) at Ramat David Airbase. Because Israel was in the midst of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, it was occasionally used as a bomber as well as flying transport missions. On bomber missions the aft loading door was removed and bombs were rolled out of the opening "by a judicious shove from a crewman's foot."[6] The operational record of the aircraft is in dispute as authoritative sources do not verify its combat service.

When the war ended and 103 Squadron moved, the DC-5 was left behind at Ramat David.[7] It eventually found its way to the Airline Technical School where it was used extensively as a ground instruction airframe at Haifa Airport. When it was no longer serviceable due to a lack of spares, the airframe was stripped of its engines and instruments and the last DC-5 was reduced to scrap in Israel sometime after 1955.[8]


Prototype DC-5
The prototype was sold to William E. Boeing as a personal aircraft, modified to fit 16 passenger seats.
The basic passenger version: five aircraft were built, one prototype and four production series.
Three former Indonesian-registered KLM aircraft that had been used by the Royal Australian Air Force impressed into United States Army Air Forces for service in Australia in March 1942.[9]
Military version of the DC-5 built for the Navy as 16-seat personnel carriers. Three were produced. Douglas serial number 606 crashed at Mines Field, June 1, 1940. Serial 607 retired January 1946. Serial 608 is believed to have been used briefly by Gen. MacArthur; retired January 1945.
Military version of the DC-5 built for the US Marine Corps as 22-seat paratrooper version, four were produced. Douglas serial number 609 crashed in Jan. 1942 on an island off Australian coast under enemy submarine fire and was stricken from inventory January 31, 1942. Serial numbers 610, 611 and 612 were retired October 1946.
The prototype, registered NC21701, was impressed into military service in February 1942. It is thought to have been lost off Australia due to enemy action in 1943.


Military operators

 United States

Civil operators

  • Australian National Airlines bought +at the end of the Second World War from the USAAF as scrap but airworthy by July 1946. Sold to New Holland Airways in 1947.
  • New Holland Airways bought from ANA in 1947 and later ended up in Israel.
Dutch West Indies
  • KLM West Indies two aircraft delivered new in April and May 1940, transferred to KNILM in 1941.
 Dutch East Indies
  • KNILM two aircraft delivered new in May and July 1940, two further aircraft transferred from KLM West Indies in 1941. Three escaped to Australia in February 1942 and one was damaged in a Japanese air raid in February 1942, it was repaired and used by the Japanese Army.
 United States
  • Boeing operated one DC-5 delivered in 1940, impressed into service by the United States Navy in 1942

Specifications (DC-5)

Data from McDonnell Aircraft since 1920 [11]

General characteristics
  • Crew: three
  • Capacity: 18-24 passengers
  • Length: 62 ft 2 in (18.96 m)
  • Wingspan: 78 ft (23.77 m)
  • Height: 19 ft 10 in (6.04 m)
  • Wing area: 824 ft² (76.55 m²)
  • Empty weight: 13,674 lb (6,243 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 20,000 lb (9,072 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Wright GR-1820-F62 Cyclone, 900 hp (671 kW) each


See also

Related development
Related lists


  1. ^
  2. ^ Delta 1993, p. 14.
  3. ^ Delta 1993, p. 15.
  4. ^ Delta 1993, pp. 15–16.
  5. ^ a b c d Verstappen, Harrie. "Douglas DC-5: 'The Forgotten Douglas'." Curassow: The Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao. via, September 4, 2001. Retrieved: June 6, 2010.
  6. ^ Delta 1993, p. 65.
  7. ^ Norton 2004, p. 109.
  8. ^ Delta 1993, pp. 64–65.
  9. ^ a b Andrade 1979, p. 84
  10. ^ a b c Andrade 1979, p. 214
  11. ^ Francillon 1979, p. 313.
  • Delta, Mike. "Forgotten Five: The history of the very limited production of the Douglas DC-5 Airliner." Air Classics, Volume 29, Number 7, July 1993. ISSN 0002-2241.
  • Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. London: Putnam, 1979. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.
  • Norton, Bill. On The Edge: A History of the Israeli Air Force and its Aircraft since 1947. Hinckley, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 2004. ISBN 1-85780-088-5.
  • Pearcy, Arthur. Douglas Propliners: DC-1 – DC-7. London: Airlife, 1995. ISBN 1-85310-261-X.

External links

  • Douglas DC-5/R3D
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