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DOUGLAS DC-3 – N7772

The DC-3 was developed in late 1934 to fulfill a request from American Airlines. American Airlines operated transcontinental sleeper services using Curtiss Condors, which were substantially slower than TWA’s DC-2s. In order to be competitive with TWA, American Airlines came up with four criteria for their new airliner: more seats, more cabin volume, a longer range, and more positive directional control to correct the DC-2’s fishtailing tendency.

Douglas engineers modified the DC-2 airplane, using 85 percent of the DC-2 design and 15 percent new parts and components. The fuselage was widened by 26 inches and lengthened by just over two and a half feet. The sides were rounded and the shape of the nose was altered by relocating the landing lights in the leading edge of the wing. The wings were stretched and lengthened, providing more area and additional space for fuel tanks. The DC-3 was powered by a Wright SGR-1820-G engine.

The first DC-3 was constructed in December of 1934 and was flown 26 times for a total of just under 26 hours by the following December. By the end of 1936, American Airlines received thirteen DC-3s. Other companies around the world were ordering DC-3s, including Fokker, the Soviet Amtorg, and Eastern Airlines, and the DC-3 surpassed the DC-2’s commercial success. By the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, 260 out of the 322 aircraft operated by US domestic airlines were DC-3s or similar DSTs.

When the US entered World War II, the 149 DC-3s under construction for US airlines were taken over by the US Army Air Force and delivered under military designations. Throughout the war, the Army Air Forces acquired some 10,000 DC-3s and DC-3 derivatives.

While the development of the DC-3 didn’t attract much attention in the beginning, it was later regarded as a turning point in the history of aviation. The DC-3 performed for virtually all nations a vast array of duties ranging from luxury transcontinental passenger transport to tramp cargo and from corporate flying office to night flying gun battery.

Douglas DC-3 N7772 was donated to the EAA AirVenture Museum by Warren Basler in 1990.

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