Military Wiki
US Navy Douglas R3D-2
Role Transport
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
Designer Donald Douglas
First flight 20 February 1939
Introduction 1940
Retired 1949
Primary users KLM
United States Navy
United States Marine Corps
Number built 12
Developed from Douglas DB-7

The Douglas DC-5, the least known of the famous DC airliner series, was a 16-22 seat, twin-propeller aircraft intended for shorter routes than the DC-3 or DC-4. However, by the time it entered commercial service in 1940, many airlines were canceling orders; consequently, only five civilian DC-5s were ever built. With the Douglas Aircraft Company already converting to war production, the DC-5 was soon overtaken by events, although a limited number of military variants were produced.

Design and development

A Douglas DC-5, circa 1939.

The Douglas Commercial Model 5 was developed in 1938 as a 18/24 passenger civilian airliner, designed to use either Pratt & Whitney R-1690 or Wright Cyclone engines.[1] Innovative features for the time included a high wing and tricycle landing gear, the relatively unique configuration providing for ease of passenger entry, loading and engine servicing.[2] A very early change in design was changing the horizontal tail group from straight to a 15-degree dihedral to improve stability while another significant modification was in altering the nacelles to have exhaust stacks, retroactively incorporated after the series entered production.[3] An unusual "optical trick" applied to the profile of the prototype was painting the top of the vertical stabilizer and outline of the engine nacelles a darker color, the shapes curving to follow the aircraft's contour, thus making the tail and engines appear somewhat smaller and the aircraft sleeker.[4]

Prior to the US entry into World War II, one prototype and four production aircraft were constructed.

US C-110 transport aircraft carrying supplies from the Australian mainland to Allied troops in Port Moresby, New Guinea, August 1942

Operational history

The prototype DC-5, Douglas serial 411, built at El Segundo with Wright Cyclone 1,000 hp R-1820-44 engines, made its first flight on February 20, 1939 with Carl A. Cover at the controls. The sole prototype (configured in April 1940 with just eight seats) became the personal aircraft of William E. Boeing which he named "Rover". It was later impressed into the US Navy and converted for military use as an R3D variant in February 1942.[4]

The first customer for the DC-5 was KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij) of The Netherlands. A US domestic carrier, Pennsylvania Central (later renamed Capital, then incorporated into United Air Lines), ordered six and SCADTA, (Sociedad Colomba-Alemana de Transportes Aéreos) ancestor of today's Avianca in Colombia, another two. The other four aircraft were sold to KLM and used by their colonial subsidiaries, Indonesia in particular. When Douglas went on a war footing, DC-5 production was curtailed to build additional Dauntless dive bombers for the Navy and Marines with only KLM receiving the high-winged airliner. A dozen DC-5s were completed but the SBD contracts prevailed. The first two airliners initially flew the Paramaribo-Curaçao route, and the other two operated from Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia). All four were used for the 1942 evacuation of civilians from Java to Australia, during which "PK-ADA" at Batavia Kemajoran airport was damaged in an air strike by the JAAF on February 9, 1942 and abandoned. Japanese forces captured "PK-ADA", subsequently repaired and tested it in Tachikawa and Haneda, later during 1943, operating the DC-5 in camouflage with Japanese Imperial Army Air Force markings as a transport from bases back in the Home Islands.[4]

The captured KLM DC-5 (PK-ADA) in service with the Japanese Imperial Army Air Force

The three remaining aircraft, "ADB", "ADC" and "ADD" made their way safely to Australia where the aircraft were interned by the Allied Directorate of Air Transport there and operated by the USAAF as the C-110. The wartime history of "PK-ADC" was brief, however, for it was destroyed in a landing accident shortly after its arrival "down under". "ADD" flew for the balance of the war under the aegis of Australian National Airways, on support missions inside the country with the temporary license "VH-CXC".

In 1939, the US Navy ordered seven aircraft; three of the R3D-1 version (the first of which crashed before delivery), and four R3D-2s. The latter were used by the US Marine Corps because of the 1,015 HP R-1820-44 engines, the large cargo holds and the 22 seats for paratroops.[4]

After World War II, production of the DC-5 was not resumed because of the abundance of surplus DC-3/C-47 aircraft released into civil service. In 1948, the last surviving DC-5 (c/n 426) VH-ARD of Australian National Airways was sold and smuggled to Israel for military use. The aircraft arrived at Haifa in May 1948, and from there went to Sde Dov, where its markings were removed and the name "Yankee Pasha - The Bagel Lancer" was crudely painted on the nose by hand. The aircraft joined 103 transport squadron at Ramat David, but as Israel was in the midst of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, it was occasionally used as a bomber as well. This was achieved by removing the aft loading door and rolling the bombs out of the opening "by a judicious shove from a crewman's foot."[5]

The operational record of the aircraft is in dispute as authoritative sources do not verify its combat service. Nonetheless, when the war ended and the 103rd squadron moved, the DC-5 was left behind.[6] It eventually found its way to the Airline Technical School where it was used extensively as a ground instruction airframe at Haifa Airport. When it was no longer serviceable due to a lack of spares, the airframe was stripped of its engines and instruments and the last DC-5 was reduced to scrap in Israel sometime after 1955.[7]


Prototype DC-5
The prototype was sold to William E. Boeing as a personal aircraft, modified to fit 16 passenger seats.
Basic passenger version, five aircraft were built, one prototype and four production series.
Two former Indonesian registered KLM aircraft that had been used by the RAAF impressed into United States Army Air Corps service in Australia in March 1942.
Military version of the DC-5 built for the Navy as 16-seat personnel carriers, three were produced. Douglas #606 crashed at Mines Field, June 1, 1940 -- #607 retired January 1946 and #608, believed to have been used briefly by Gen. MacArthur; retired January 1945
Military version of the DC-5 built for the US Marine Corps as 22-seat paratrooper version, four were produced. Douglas #609 crashed in Jan. 1942 on island off Australian coast under enemy submarine fire. Stricken from inventory January 31, 1942. # 610, 611 and 612 retired October 1946.
The prototype registered NC-21701 was impressed into military service, February 1942; thought to have been lost off Australia due to enemy action in 1943.


Military operators

 United States

Civil operators

  • KLM received four DC-5.
 Dutch East Indies
  • KNILM bought two planes from the KLM.
 United States
  • Boeing operated one DC-5.

Specifications (DC-5)

Data from McDonnell Aircraft since 1920 [8]

General characteristics

  • Crew: three
  • Capacity: 18-24 passengers
  • Length: 62 ft 2 in (18.96 m)
  • Wingspan: 78 ft (23.77 m)
  • Height: 19 ft 10 in (6.04 m)
  • Wing area: 824 ft² (76.55 m²)
  • Empty weight: 13,674 lb (6,243 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 20,000 lb (9,072 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Wright GR-1820-F62 Cyclone radials, 900 hp (671 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 230 mph (200 kn, 370 km/h) at 7,700 ft (2,345 m)
  • Cruise speed: 202 mph (176 kn, 325 km/h)
  • Range: 1,600 mi (1,391 nmi, 2,575 km)
  • Service ceiling: 23,700 ft (7,225 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,585 ft/min (8.1 m/s)

See also


  1. Delta 1993, p. 14.
  2. Delta 1993, p. 15.
  3. Delta 1993, pp. 15–16.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Verstappen, Harrie. "Douglas DC-5: 'The Forgotten Douglas'." Curassow: The Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao. via, September 4, 2001. Retrieved: June 6, 2010.
  5. Delta 1993, p. 65.
  6. Norton 2004, p. 109.
  7. Delta 1993, pp. 64–65.
  8. Francillon 1979, p. 313.
  • Delta, Mike. "Forgotten Five: The history of the very limited production of the Douglas DC-5 Airliner." Air Classics, Volume 29, Number 7, July 1993. ISSN 0002-2241.
  • Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. London: Putnam, 1979. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.
  • Norton, Bill. On The Edge: A History of the Israeli Air Force and its Aircraft since 1947. Hinckley, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 2004. ISBN 1-85780-088-5.
  • Pearcy, Arthur. Douglas Propliners: DC-1 – DC-7. London: Airlife, 1995. ISBN 1-85310-261-X.

External links

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