Military Wiki
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 198
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 247, rival Transcontinental and Western Air issued a specification for an all-metal trimotor.

The Douglas response 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 130 Civil DC-2s were built with another 62 for the United States military. In 1935, Don Douglas stated in an article, that the DC-2 cost approximately $80,000 per aircraft, if mass produced.[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 Albury racecourse on the very last leg of the journey.[3]



Douglas DC-2

156 civil DC-2s, variously powered by two Wright R-1820-F2 -F2A -F3 -F3A -F3B -F52 -F53 Cyclone radial piston engines varying in power from 710 to 875 hp (529 to 652 kW).
Two civil DC-2s, powered by two Pratt & Whitney R-1690 Hornet SD-G, S1E-G or S2E-G 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 by Nakajima.
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:

The C-32 at Langley Field, 1937

(DC-2-153) One aircraft, powered by 2x 750 hp (560 kW) Wright R-1820-25 radial piston engines, for evaluation as a 14-seat VIP transport aircraft, one built,[5] later used by General Andrews as a flying command post.[6]
Designation for 24 commercial DC-2s impressed at the start of World War II.[5]

A C-33

(DC-2-145) Cargo transport variant of the C-32 powered by 2x 750 hp (560 kW) Wright 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]

A YC-34

(1x DC-2-173 & 1x DC-2-346) VIP transport for the Secretary of War, 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

(DC-2-243) 16-seat passenger variant, 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 975 hp (727 kW) Wright R-1820-45 radial piston engines; 35 built.[9]
(DC-2-253) One C-39 re-engined with two 1,200 hp (890 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-21 engines, as a VIP transport for General Hap Arnold, the U.S. Army Air Corps Chief of Staff.[10][11] (The Douglas C-41A was a VIP version of the DC-3A)[12]

The C-42.

(DC-2-267) VIP transport variant of the C-39, powered by two 1,000 hp (750 kW) 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 with their cargo doors bolted shut were converted in 1943.[12]

Douglas R2D-1 at Langley

(3x DC-2-125 & 2x DC-2-142) 710 hp (530 kW) Wright R-1820-12 powered transport similar to the XC-32, three built for the United States Navy and two for the United State Marine Corps.


♠ Original operators

Civil operators

  • Australian National Airways
  • Holymans Airways
  • Aerovias Brasil
  • Aerovias Minas Gerais
  • Cruzeiro do Sul
  • Panair do Brasil
 Republic of China
  • CNAC
  • ČLS (Československá Letecká Společnost, Czechoslovak Air Transport Company) ♠
 Dutch East Indies
  • KNILM (Royal Netherlands Indian Airways) ♠
  • Aero O/Y
  • Deutsche Lufthansa ♠
  • Avio Linee Italiane
  • Manchurian Airlines
  • Mexicana
  • KLM ♠ ordered 18 aircraft.
  • LOT Polish Airlines ♠ operated three DC-2B aircraft between 1935 and 1939
Spain Spanish Republic
  • Líneas Aéreas Postales Españolas ♠ received five aircraft.
  • Swissair ♠
 United States
  • American Airlines ♠ used their DC-2s on their New York-Los Angeles route.[citation needed]
  • Braniff Airways
  • Delta Air Lines operated four aircraft during 1940–1941
  • Eastern Air Lines ♠ received 14 aircraft and used them on East Coast routes.
  • General Air Lines
  • Pan American Airways ♠ received 16 aircraft, distributing many to its foreign affiliates; some flew under its own name on Central American routes.[citation needed]
  • Pan American-Grace Airways (Panagra) ♠ used their DC-2s on routes within South America.
  • Transcontinental & Western Air (TWA) was the first DC-2 operator, receiving 30 aircraft. ♠

Military and government operators

  • Austrian Government
  • 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
  • French government
Spain Spanish Republic
 United Kingdom
 United States


  • On December 20, 1934, a KLM DC-2-115A, registration PH-AJU and named Uiver, crashed at Rutbah Wells in Iraq, killing entire crew. The aircraft was operating a flight from Schiphol to Batavia.[16][17] This the first loss of a DC-2 and the first fatal accident involving the DC-2.
  • On May 6, 1935, TWA Flight 6, a DC-2-115 with registration NC13785, crashed near Atlanta, Missouri due to navigation errors, killing five of eight on board.
  • On July 20, 1935, a KLM DC-2-115E, registration PH-AKG and named Gaai, crashed on landing at Pian San Giacomo in bad weather, killing all 13 on board.[18]
  • On January 14, 1936, American Airlines Flight 1, a DC-2-120 with registration NC14274, crashed into a swamp near Goodwin, Arkansas for reasons unknown, killing all 17 on board.
  • On April 7, 1936, TWA Flight 1, a DC-2-112 with registration NC13721, crashed into Chestnut Ridge near Uniontown, Pennsylvania in fog due to pilot error, killing 12 of 14 on board.
  • On December 9, 1936, a KLM DC-2-115E, registration PH-AKL and named Lijster, crashed on take off at Croydon Airport killing 15 of the 17 passengers and crew on board. The aircraft was operating a flight from London to Amsterdam. Juan de la Cierva, inventor of the autogiro, was among the dead.
  • On March 25, 1937, TWA Flight 15A, a DC-2-112 with registration NC13730, crashed into a small gully near Clifton, Pennsylvania due to icing, killing all 13 on board.
  • On July 28, 1937, a KLM DC-2-115L, registration PH-ALF and named Flamingo, crashed into a field near Belligen, Belgium after takeoff due to an in-flight fire, killing all 15 on board.
  • On August 10, 1937, Eastern Air Lines Flight 7, a DC-2-112 with registration NC13739, crashed on landing at Daytona Beach Airport after striking a power pole, killing four of nine on board.
  • On August 23, 1937, a Pan American-Grace Airways DC-2-118A, registration NC14298, crashed and burned 20 mi north of San Luis, Argentina in dense fog, killing all three on board.
  • On November 23, 1937, a PLL LOT DC-2-115D, registration SP-ASJ, crashed in the Pirin mountains, killing all six occupants. The aircraft was operating a flight from Thessaloniki to Bucharest.
  • On March 1, 1938, TWA Flight 8, a DC-2-112, crashed in Yosemite National Park due to severe weather, killing all nine on board; the wreckage was found three months later.
  • On July 19, 1938, a Pan American-Grace Airways DC-2-118A, registration NC14272 and named Santa Lucia, crashed into Mount Mercedario, killing all four on board; the wreckage was found in early 1941.
  • On October 25, 1938, an Australian National Airways DC-2-210, registration VH-UYC and named Kyeema, crashed into Mount Dandenong due to weather and navigation errors, killing all 18 on board.
  • On January 7, 1939, a Swissair DC-2-115B, registration, HB-ITA, crashed into a hill near Senlis, Oise killing five of 17 passengers and crew. The aircraft was operating a flight from Zurich to Paris.
  • On March 26, 1939, Braniff Airways Flight 1, a DC-2-112 with registration NC13237, lost control and crashed on takeoff at Oklahoma City after an engine cylinder blew, killing eight of 12 on board.
  • On August 9, 1940, a Deutsche Luft Hansa DC-2-115E, registration D-AIAV, crashed near Lämershagen, Germany due to pilot error, killing two of 13 on board.
  • On March 14, 1942, a China National Aviation Corporation DC-2 crashed near Kunming, killing thirteen of 17 on board.[19]


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.[20] 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.[20] 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 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.[21]
  • 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.[22][23] 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.[24] 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.[25]
  • C-39A (Serial Number 38-515) is at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. The aircraft is currently in storage at the museum.[26]

Notable appearances in media

The DC-2 was the "Good Ship Lollipop" that Shirley Temple sang about in the 1934 movie, Bright Eyes.[27] A DC-2 appears in the 1937 film Lost Horizon; the footage includes taxiing, take-off, and landing, as well as views in flight.[28]

Author Ernest K. Gann recounts his early days as a commercial pilot flying DC-2s in his memoir Fate Is the Hunter. This includes a particularly harrowing account of flying a DC-2 with heavy ice.

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


  • Maximum speed: 210 mph at 6,800ft (338 km/h)
  • Range: 1,085 mi (1,750 km)
  • Service ceiling: 22,750 ft (6,930 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,030 ft/min (310 m/min)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 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. 5.0 5.1 5.2 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. 12.0 12.1 Francillon 1979, p. 239.
  13. "Transportes Navales." Retrieved: August 5, 2010.
  14. Francillon 1970, p. 499.
  15. 11-III-1935 Llega a Barajas el primer Douglas DC-2 para las Líneas Aéreas Postales Españolas (LAPE)
  16. "De Uiver verongelukt bij Rutbah Wells (Irak)" (Dutch). Retrieved: December 6, 2011.
  17. "Major Airline Disasters: Involving Commercial Passenger Airlines 1920-2011". Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  18. "Major Airline Disasters: Involving Commercial Passenger Airlines". Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  19. "Major Airline Disasters: Involving Commercial Passenger Airlines 1920-2011". Retrieved 22 February 2013. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Collectieoverzicht:A–F." Aviodrome. Retrieved: November 23, 2010.
  21. "Douglas DC-2-118B." Retrieved: December 6, 2011.
  22. "DC-2." Finnish Aviation Museum. Retrieved: August 5, 2010.
  23. "Accident description, February 7, 1951." Retrieved: August 5, 2010.
  24. "DC-2." The Australian National Aviation Museum. Retrieved: August 5, 2010.
  25. "Douglas DC-2." Retrieved: November 27, 2010.
  26. "Factsheet: Douglas C-39". National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, November 30, 2007. Retrieved: October 19, 2011.
  27. Boyes, Laura. "Bright Eyes (1934)." Moviediva, October 2010. Retrieved: December 6, 2011.
  28. Photo Documentary section of the Special Features on the 1998 Columbia/Sony DVD release of the restored version.
  • 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.

External links

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