Those who visited the SceneryDesign.org forums in the past might recognise my old avatar in the picture on the left. This aircraft is (one of) my favorite aircraft and as it is a little unknown I was thinking about writing a blog post about it for a while already. So here is that blog post.
For those that have not yet recognised hte aircraft from this little avatar, I am talking about the Douglas DC-5. Ever since I once borrowed the book “De Douglas DC-5” from Piet Kok from the library, I have liked this aircraft a lot. Currently I own the book as well, but I think it is only available in Dutch.
Why has such an book been published in Dutch? This is probably best explained by the fact that only 12 DC-5 aircraft have been build, of which 4 have been used the the KLM, the Dutch airline. Due to the outbrake of the second world war these aircraft have never been used in the Netherlands itself, they have been used in the Dutch West Indies (Curacao) and the Dutch East Indies (Java, Indonesia). The other 8 have been used by the US Navy as R3D. A funny note is that one of the aircraft has been the personal aircraft of William Boeing for a while, before it went to the US Navy as well. At that moment William Boeing was no longer working for the Boeing Company though.
Unlike most other civil Douglas aircraft of that time, the DC-5 was designed by the El Sequndo division of Douglas (this division also build the SBD Dauntless for example). For its time the DC-5 was a quite advanced aircraft, having a nose landing gear for example. It still had a tailwheel as well, but that was mainly mounted to prevent damage in case the pilot was not really used to flying with a nosewheel. The aircraft has been designed as a feeder aircraft to be used on smaller lines, it could carry a maximum of 22 passengers.
So what went wrong for this aircraft? It must be called the forgotten Douglas now because it never really became a success. This is mainly due to the outbrake of the second world war. At the time the DC-5 was still a very new aircraft (first flight 20 february 1939) and some time would be needed to perfect the design. Due to the war this time was not there and it was decided that the DC-3 would become the standard transport aircraft. Besides that the El Sequndo division needed to be produce the Dauntless as well. So after only 12 aircraft had been build, the program was cancelled.
A last funny fact is that the DC-5 flew before the DC-4 as we know it know flew. This is because before the current design of the DC-4, Douglas was also working on a DC-4E. But as this aircraft proved to be too complex, it never went into production.