The technology that combined to make the DC-3 an unbeatable success

James Kightly examines the technology that combined to make the DC-3 an unbeatable success

The DC-3 was initially developed as a widened sleeper version of the successful DC-2 airliner, being called the Douglas Sleeper Transport or DST. Reconfigured as a straight airliner with 21 passenger seats, rather than 14-16 sleeper berths, it became the ‘Douglas Commercial Three’. With a wider cargo door and greater floor strength, it was further developed into a range of military versions, the most numerous being the C-47. At the time, and crucially also after World War Two, the DC-3 family offered unbeatable payload efficiency figures that enabled profitable freight and airline work. It expanded commercial aviation into new environments, which aircraft had previously not been able to serve for physical or cost reasons. In this Briefing File we consider the technical elements and capability of the DC-3 family, in what proved to be an ideal, balanced design.

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