Gooney Bird: Britain’s The Economist has an interesting look back at The Gooney Bird, one of the affectionate names of the Douglas DC-3.
Any aviation enthusiast knows the DC-3 has a unique place in history, a description that is often over-used but which is true in this case. The feats, particularly during World War II, are legendary. The plane has been withdrawn from service in all of Europe (the article explains why) but remains in operation elsewhere in the world, including here in the United States.
After WW II, Douglas tried to breath new life into the airplane, creating the Super DC-3, with a square tail, wheel covers, a small fuselage stretch and more powerful engines. Capital Airlines bought a small number (three, if memory serves) but with cheap, surplus DC-3s left over from the War and modern competitors in the form of the Convair 240 and Martin 202, airline sales were a bust. The Navy bought a fair number.
Unmanned Helicopter: Sikorsky has entered the unmanned helicopter business to provide the military with heavy lift capability at no risk to the troops.
There were only about 600 true DC-3/A/B/C/DSTs actually built for airline service. Most of the rest of the line were C-47 and R4D and other military versions used for WWII. Even Imperial Japan licensed built some 500 of the C-47 version called the Showa/Nakajima L2D. The Russians built about 5,000 C-47s, which they called the Lisunov Li-2, which included a Russian bomber version. The USAAC had about 40 B-23 bomber versions built (the more famous B-18 was a DC-2 derivative). But all of these were counted in the total build numbers for the DC-3/C-47, which was about 16,500 airplanes,
The DC-3 itself was a larger derivative version of the earlier build DC-1 and DC-2, which about 200 were built and sold to airlines.
DC2s, DC3 changed aviation / whiped away Fokker as the biggest OEM in the thirties. KLM introduced DC2/3 in the thirties, also in Asia. Senior poster Rudy Hillinga probably flew them there as a kid. Haven’t seen him around here recently, any update?
Now that you mentioned it, I have not seen any posts from Rudy in a long time. I hope everything is alright.
Truly a standout aircraft by any measure.
And for some perspective, the DC-3 was the ubiquitous Alaska transport and we never called it a Gooneybird. I suspect that is something of an urban myth that term was wide-spread (we had a heavy population of WWII combat vets in the state and they did not use that term). Maybe a select few on Midway would make that reference but it did not catch on.
It always was simply and still is referred to as DC-3. And there continue to be some flying up here.