Originally the DC-3 was designed as a luxury sleeper airliner, dealing with the longer distances. The Douglas Aircraft Corporation DC-3 Dakota first flew in 17th December 1935. Douglas had been instructed to design an aircraft in which passengers could walk upright in the cabin and that would be able to take off and land after one engine failure. Douglas came up with the aircraft. American Airlines was the first commercial company to use DC3s for carrying passengers between New York to Chicago.
Air travel in the US from coast to coast was reduced to a mere 15 hours ! The Douglas DC-3 Dakota caused a revolution in the Airline industry as previously operators were dependent on US Postal Service Mail contracts to make money on their routes. The DC3 enabled companies to make a profit transporting paying customers. The US entered World War 2 in December 1941. A total of 507 Douglas DC-3 Dakota had been produced. Many of the commercial aircraft were drafted by the military for the war effort.
The United States Military were looking for a modern cargo/troops transport plane. They were very interest in the design especially as in 1935 this "passenger plane" could fly faster than their current fighter aircraft. The US Army cargo transport variant had a reinforced floor, all plush seating and furnishings taken out and a large door was cut into the rear portside of the fuselage The USAAF took deliveries 1939 and 35 of the smaller DC-2. It wasn't until the Japan attacked Pearl Harbour that there was a scrambled for the DC-3s
During WW2 modified troop transport and cargo DC-3s were designated C-47 Dakota. It played a vital role in many Allied campaigns from the jungles of New Guinea and Burma Campaign to northern Europe. Another variant was the C-53 Skytrooper which was used in vast numbers in the later stages of the war to tow gliders and drop paratroops on D-Day and Operation Market Garden in Northern Europe. The C-47 also earned the nickname "Gooney Bird". The Dakota I is designated C-47. The Dakota II is designated C-53. The Dakota III is designated C-47A and the Dakota I is designated C-47B. Between 1935 and 1947 10,654 Douglas DC-3 Dakotas had built and there are still over a 1,000 in airworthy condition.
Douglas Dakota books