Douglas DC-2

DC-2 PH-AJU Uiver came second in the MacRobertson Air Race
Role Passenger & military transport
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
First flight May 11, 1934
Introduction May 18, 1934 with Trans World Airlines
Primary users United States
United Kingdom
Produced 1934 - 1939
Number built 200
Developed from Douglas DC-1
Developed into B-18 Bolo
Douglas DC-3

The Douglas DC-2 was a 14-seat, twin-engine airliner produced by the American company Douglas Aircraft Corporation starting in 1934. It competed with the Boeing 247. In 1935 Douglas produced a larger version called the DC-3, which became one of the most successful aircraft in history.


Design and development

In the early 1930s, fears about the safety of wooden aircraft structures (responsible for the crash of a Fokker Trimotor) compelled the American aviation industry to develop all-metal types. With United Airlines having a monopoly on the Boeing 247, rival Transcontinental and Western Air issued a specification for an all-metal trimotor.

The response of the Douglas Aircraft Company was more radical. When it flew on July 1, 1933, the prototype DC-1 had a highly robust tapered wing, a retractable undercarriage, and only two 690 hp (515 kW) Wright radial engines driving variable-pitch propellers. It seated 12 passengers.

TWA accepted the basic design and ordered 20, with more powerful engines and seating for 14 passengers, as DC-2s. The design impressed a number of American and European airlines and further orders followed. Those for European customers KLM, LOT, Swissair, CLS and LAPE were assembled by Fokker in the Netherlands after that company bought a licence from Douglas.[1] 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 actually delivered.[1] 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.[1] A total of 156 DC-2s were built. In 1935, Don Douglas stated in an article, that the DC-2 cost approximately $80,000 per aircraft if being mass produce. [2]

Operational history

Although overshadowed by its ubiquitous successor, it was the DC-2 that first showed that passenger air travel could be comfortable, safe and reliable. As a token of this, KLM entered its first DC-2 PH-AJU Uiver (Stork) in the October 1934 MacRobertson Air Race between London and Melbourne. Out of the 20 entrants, it finished second behind only the purpose built de Havilland DH.88 racer Grosvenor House. During the total journey time of 90 hours, 13 min, it was in the air for 81 hours, 10 min, and won the handicap section of the race. (The DH.88 finished first in the handicap section, but the crew was by regulations allowed to claim only one victory.)

It flew KLM's regular 9,000 mile route, (a thousand miles longer than the official race route), carrying mails, making every scheduled passenger stop, turning back once to pick up a stranded passenger, and even became lost in a thunderstorm and briefly stuck in the mud after a diversionary landing at Albery racecourse on the very last leg of the journey. [3]



156 civil DC-2s, powered by two Wright GR-1820-F53 Cyclone radial piston engines.
Two civil DC-2s, powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-1690 "Hornet" radial piston engines.
Two DC-2s sold to LOT Polish Airlines, fitted with two 750 hp (560 kW) Bristol Pegasus VI radial piston engines.[4]
Nakajima-Douglas DC-2 Transport
DC-2 transports license built in Japan.
Airspeed AS.23
The designation reserved for proposed license-built production by Airspeed Ltd. in Great Britain.


Modified DC-2s built for the United States Army Air Corps under several military designations:

16-seat transport aircraft, one built,[5] later a flying command post.[6]
Designation for 24 commercial DC-2s impressed at the start of World War II.[5]
Cargo transport aircraft powered by 750 hp R-1820-25 engines, with larger vertical tail surfaces, a reinforced cabin floor and a large cargo door in the aft fuselage, 18 built.[5]
VIP transport, basically similar to XC-32, later designated C-34, two built.[7]
The first C-33 was modified with a DC-3 style tail section and two Wright R-1820-45 radial piston engines of 975 hp (727 kW) each. Originally designated C-33A but redesignated as prototype for C-39 variant, one built.[8]
Douglas C-39 transport, a military modified version of the DC-2
A composite of DC-2 & DC-3 components, with C-33 fuselage and wings and DC-3 type tail, centre-section and undercarriage. Powered by two Wright R-1820-55 radial piston engines, of 975 hp (727 kW) each, 35 built.[9]
A single aircraft similar to the C-39, but with 1,200 hp (895 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-21 engines, built as a VIP transport for General Hap Arnold, the US Army Air Corps Chief of Staff.[10][11] (The Douglas C-41A was a VIP version of the DC-3A)[12]
VIP transport, Powered by two Wright R-1820-53 radial piston engines, of 1,000 hp (746 kW) each, one built in 1939 for the commanding general, GHQ Air Force, plus two similarly-converted C-39s procured in 1943.[12]
One transport aircraft for the US Navy.
Four transport aircraft for the US Navy.


Civil operators

 Republic of China
  • CNAC
  • ČLS (Československá Letecká Společnost, Czechoslovak Air Transport Company)
  • Aero O/Y
  • Manchurian Airlines
Spain Spanish Republic
 United States

Military operators

  • Argentine Naval Aviation - 5 (+1) DC-2 ex civilian Venezuelan [13]
  • Finnish Air Force Donated by the Swedish military during the Winter War (1939-1940) which flew a bombing mission based on Tampere on 22 February 1940
Spain Spanish Republic
 United Kingdom
 United States



DC-2 - c/n 1404
DC-2 - c/n 1368

There are currently no DC-2s in commercial service, however, several aircraft made it into the 21st century:

  • c/n 1404: The Aviodrome in Lelystad, the Netherlands, owns and operates one of the last flying DC-2s. This former United States Navy aircraft is painted in the Uiver's KLM colour scheme and is sometimes seen in European airshows. It is registered as NC39165 since 1945, though it now also wears PH-AJU as a fictional registration to match that of the historic Uiver aircraft.[16] The aircraft was operated by Mercer Airlines of Burbank, California, and sold in the late 1960s to Colgate Darden, who restored it in General Air Lines colors and moved it to his private airport in South Carolina.
  • c/n 1288: Also located at the Aviodrome in the Netherlands though owned by the Dutch Dakota Association.[16] It is far from airworthy and will not be restored to such a condition. Its first operator was Eastern Air Lines.
  • c/n 1368: A former Pan Am aircraft from 1932 that was used by the Douglas historical foundation until the merger with Boeing in 1997. It is now housed at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. This aircraft (N1934D) was restored to flying condition in 2007 and flown to Santa Maria, California for a new paint job. It received a TWA "The Lindbergh Line" livery and interior trim.[17]
  • One DC-2-115E (c/n 1354, reg. DO-1, ex. PH-AKH, SE-AKE) is preserved at the Aviation Museum of Central Finland (Finnish Air Force Museum) in Jyväskylä. The DC-2 is currently being restored to display condition (completion date estimated as September 2011). Another wingless fuselage (c/n 1562, reg. DO-3, ex. OH-LDB "Sisu") was on display at the Finnish Aviation Museum in Vantaa.[18][19] The fuselage was transported to the Aviation Museum of Central Finland in 2011 where it was used in the DO-1 restoration project.
  • c/n 1292: There are three DC-2s surviving in Australia as of 2006; this aircraft, c/n 1292, is one of ten ex-Eastern Airlines DC-2s purchased and operated by the RAAF during World War II as A30-9. It is under restoration by the Australian National Aviation Museum.[20] at Moorabbin Airport in Victoria, Australia
  • c/n 1376 is owned by Steve Ferris in Sydney, Australia, and has been under restoration to flying status for many years.[citation needed] It was originally delivered to KNILM in 1935. At the outbreak of World War II it was flown to Australia and was conscripted into use with the Allied Directorate of Air Transport. In 1944 it joined Australian National Airways and finished its flying career in the 1950s with Marshall Airways. It is registered as VH-CDZ. It is the most complete of all the Australian DC-2s as of 2008.
  • c/n 1286 Ex-Eastern Airlines and RAAF, preserved (dressed as the historic "Uiver", PH-AJU) at Albury, New South Wales as centerpiece of Uiver Memorial at Albury Airport. Removed from display late 2002 and into 2003 for preservation work. [21]
  • C-39A (s/n 38-515) is at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The aircraft is currently in storage at the Museum.[22]

Specifications (DC-2)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2-3
  • Capacity: 14 passengers
  • Length: 62 ft 6 in (19.1 m)
  • Wingspan: 85 ft 0 in (25.9 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 10 in (4.8 m)
  • Wing area: 940 ft² (87.3 m²)
  • Empty weight: 12,455 lb (5,650 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 18,560 lb (8,420 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Wright GR-1820-F53 Cyclone 9-cylinder radial engines, 730 hp (540 kW) each


See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. ^ a b c O'Leary, Michael. "Douglas Commercial Two." Air Classics magazine, May 2003 (online version at Retrieved: March 1, 2010.
  2. ^ "Secrets of Speed." Popular Mechanics, February 1935.
  3. ^ "DC-2 Commercial History." Boeing. Retrieved: November 26, 2010.
  4. ^ Francillon 1979, p. 180.
  5. ^ a b c Francillon 1979, p. 181.
  6. ^ "Air Corps Flagship is Flying Headquarters." Popular Mechanics, January 1936.
  7. ^ Francillon 1979, pp. 181–182.
  8. ^ Francillon 1979, p. 182.
  9. ^ Francillon 1979, pp. 182–183.
  10. ^ Francillon 1979, p. 183.
  11. ^ "Factsheet: Douglas C-41." National Museum of the United States Air Force. Retrieved: September 27, 2011.
  12. ^ a b Francillon 1979, p. 239.
  13. ^ "Transportes Navales." Retrieved: August 5, 2010.
  14. ^ Francillon 1970, p. 499.
  15. ^ "De Uiver verongelukt bij Rutbah Wells (Irak)". Retrieved 2011-10-03. 
  16. ^ a b "Collectieoverzicht:A–F." Aviodrome. Retrieved: 23 November 2010.
  17. ^ "Douglas DC-2-118B."
  18. ^ "DC-2." Finnish Aviation Museum. Retrieved: August 5, 2010.
  19. ^ "Accident description, February 7, 1951." Retrieved: August 5, 2010.
  20. ^ "DC-2." The Australian National Aviation Museum. Retrieved: August 5, 2010.
  21. ^ "Douglas DC-2." Retrieved: November 27, 2010.
  22. ^ "Factsheet: Douglas C-39". National Museum of the US Air Force. 30 November 2007. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  • Francillon, René J. Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War. London: Putnam, 1970. ISBN 0-370-00033-1.
  • Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. London: Putnam, 1979. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.
  • United States Air Force Museum Guidebook. Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio: Air Force Museum Foundation, 1975.

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