De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter
Back to the Virtual Aircraft Museum
  UTILITY AIRCRAFTVirtual Aircraft Museum / Canada / De Havilland Canada  

De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter

Success with the DHC-2 Beaver persuaded de Havilland Canada in the late 1940s that there was room in the STOL utility market for a larger version of the Beaver, with cabin space for some 14 passengers or a freight load of up to 1016kg. The company therefore developed the de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter, which was essentially a scaled-up Beaver, with an all-metal airframe and a 447kW Pratt & Whitney R.1340 Wasp radial, and which was initially known as the King Beaver. The choice of a single engine for an aircraft designed to operate in Canada's harsh climate and sparsely populated hinterland regions may seem lacking in forethought. However, successful operations by the Beaver and other single-engined types had confirmed that the well-proven radials of Pratt & Whitney design were more than adequate for the task: they were universally familiar and, more importantly, were extremely reliable.

Notable for its parallel-chord wing with double-slotted flaps for good STOL performance, the Otter is an attractive high-wing monoplane with a single bracing strut on each side. The prototype first flew on 12 December 1951, and first deliveries were made in-1952. When production ceased in 1968, some 460 had been built, including 66 for the Royal Canadian Air Force and 227 for the US armed forces (223 of the U-1A for the US Army and four of the UC-1 [changed to U-1B in 1962] for the US Navy). When released by military operators, many Otters joined those already on the civil market, where again the type had found ready acceptance for its versatility. Like the Beaver, the Otter can operate on wheel, ski, float or amphibious float landing gears.

Despite its already impressive STOL peformance, the Otter was selected as the basis for a Canadian experiment in advanced STOL characteristics, a programme undertaken by the company in conjunction with the Defense Research Board. As part of this programme an Otter was fitted with extremely large flaps inboard of the strut/wing junction points; this also necessitated an enlargement of the tail surfaces, and ground stability was ensured by the replacement of the original tailwheel landing gear with a float chassis fitted with quadricycle wheels instead of the floats. The STOL modifications reduced the Otter's stalling speed by some 16km/h. The flaps were then removed, and a 1112kg thrust General Electric J85-GE-7 turbojet installed, in the fuselage aft of the wings, with adjustable nozzles protruding one through each side of the fuselage. This arrangement permitted far greater control of speed, and allowed spot landings. Finally, the single Wasp radial was replaced by a pair of wing-mounted Pratt & Whitney Aircraft of Canada PT6 turboprops, whose slipstream was found beneficial to the controllability of the aircraft.

Under the designation DHC-3-T Turbo-Otter, one aircraft has been modified by Cox Air Resources to turboprop power, a 494kW PT6A-27 replacing the standard Wasp. Empty weight is thus reduced to 1861kg, resulting in a useful payload increment.

Airtech Canada of Peterborough, Ontario, has recently converted a number of Otters to take either the 447kW PZL-3S or 746kW Kalisz ASz-621R nine-cylinder air-cooled radial engines manufactured in Poland, each driving a PZL four-bladed constant speed propeller. The re-engined aircraft offer increased climb rates and greater fuel economy at lower power settings. The first PZL-3S conversion flew in August 1983.

De Havilland Canada DHC-3 OtterA three-view drawing (1000 x 659)

 ENGINE1 x Pratt & Whitney R-1340-S1H1-G Wasp radial piston engine, 447kW
    Take-off weight3629 kg8001 lb
    Empty weight2010 kg4431 lb
    Wingspan17.68 m58 ft 0 in
    Length12.75 m42 ft 10 in
    Height3.84 m13 ft 7 in
    Wing area34.84 m2375.01 sq ft
    Max. speed246 km/h153 mph
    Cruise speed195 km/h121 mph
    Ceiling5485 m18000 ft
    Range w/max.payload1408 km875 miles

Comments1-20 21-40
Shannon, 22.10.2016

How I Got My Ex Husband Back...........

I am Shannon by name. Greetings to every one that is reading this testimony. I have been rejected by my husband after three(3) years of marriage just because another woman had a spell on him and he left me and the kid to suffer. one day when i was reading through the web, i saw a post on how this spell caster on this address , have help a woman to get back her husband and i gave him a reply to his address and he told me that a woman had a spell on my husband and he told me that he will help me and after 2 days that i will have my husband back. i believed him and today i am glad to let you all know that this spell caster have the power to bring lovers back. because i am now happy with my husband. Thanks for Dr.Mako. His email: OR. his phone number: +2347054263874.

Jack Frost, 17.07.2014

Introduced to the Otter whilst serving as an RAF fitter at Woomera 59/62. Took delivery of the a/c and enjoyed a few tourist familiarsation flights out of Bankstown and up the east coast. Off to Woomera creating a long distance gliding record for an Otter when the engine gave out with a bang and clatter over Victoria. Removed the engine and took it back to Bankstown in the back of a VW pick up!Eventually enjoyed many trips in the outback from Woomera.

Brian Hall, 26.06.2014

I spent the summer of 1958 at Cold Lake AB as a F/C with Navigator's wings, and had the good fortune to spend a large part of the time flying around the Northwest Territories in a float equipped Otter (VR661) with Mac Willard as pilot. We were visiting all the Ground Observer Corps stations, and the Otter was absolutely the best aircraft for the job. Of course, the fact that Mac was an ex bush pilot from BC made it look easy. There were many of the small lakes that required taxiing at speed in circles to create enough waves so we could take off.

larry patch, 13.06.2013

1 yr in VN...54th Aviation Co..Otter was best flying assignment ever...very safe for us non-hero types

larry patch, 13.06.2013

1 yr in VN...54th Aviation Co..Otter was best flying assignment ever...very safe for us non-hero types

McCan, 29.04.2013

When were you there? I was XO of "Big Daddy" in 1970. We flew out of Log Than North. I even flew "Fat Albert" when she wasn't in the hanger!

Raymond Beauregard,, 16.02.2013
Flew the Otter in RVN, 54th Airplane Co. Great airplane, slow, low and reliable.

Raymond Beauregard, 16.02.2013

Flew the Otter in RVN, 54th Airplane Co. Great airplane, slow, low and reliable.

Ben LaVigne, 13.02.2013

All you people with comments about the otter are NOT true!! If you left a comment here and think your an otter pilot and have something neg to say even if its against the standard otter, you simply havnt flown this incredible airplane enouph. Its all inexperience and no respect. My father has been operating this airplane for 40 years and no accidents.It comes down to pilots and there capibilites.
He has also flown this plane with me in it, for thousands of hour and NO accidents. I guess these pilots today are really FAKE. Except a Few Like John Kaartinen!!! Any comments, you fake otter pilots, PLEASE EMAIL me @

Norman Dack, 17.09.2012

I was in the RCAF stationed in Cold Lake, Alberta in 1955 and 1956 and used to fly in the Otter back and forth to Primrose Lake to the Velvet Glove missile range. I was told this aircraft could take off in the width of the runway, not sure if that is true. I know they could land on water, ice, or land.

Roberto Mendieta, 16.06.2012

We had a couple of them in the Nicaraguan Air Force back in 1977, great planes!!!!!!!

mike, 08.05.2012

I made a jump from a Army UA-1 in Thailand in 1969 with the 46th SFCA. The plane would hold about 8 paratroopers. I am interested in building a 1/6th scale RC model. If anyone knows where I can get plans please let me know.

Roy Hannah, 11.04.2012

I was a crew chief on the U1A in the 12th Av. Co. Ft. Sill -1958/60. My brother, Jerry, was also a crew chief. Flew all over the U.S. Great plane. We lost one plane in 2 1/2 yrs. Blown jug , Accident on landing at night. Anyone remember us?

Bob Anderson, 18.08.2011

IN the mid 1950's I ferried many of these from Toronto to Mobile AL for shipment to Europe for the U.S. Army. Also had Army friends that were killed in Demo flight Toronto 195? when flaps suddenly retracted from full at slow flight and A/C rolled on back and wings folded. Still one of the best A/C I have ever flown.

ROGER FETZER, 19.07.2011

1966-67 18th av. co.--256th trans det. I engine mechanic for the otter--stationed at Qui-Nhon. Changed out a lot of r-1340's --great sounding engine. If you were there, like to hear from you. rkf/out.

luson, 20.06.2011

Carried so much fuel when topped off that it was also used for loitering on station as a radio relay. It was limited by consistently high oil consumption.

, 20.06.2011

De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter

David Darbyshire, 25.01.2011

I learned more about flying while piloting the Otter in Nam, than in any other plane in my 40 year flying career. Great airplane.

Bill, 11.01.2011

I believe the PWC conversion you mentioned in your note was done by Kenmore Air Harbor. Kenmore Washington. They have several STC's for Turbin's in Beaver's and Otter's

John, 03.01.2011

From my previous post:
" ... The radials can overfly mountain ranges with pilot + passenger oxygen well above FL12, something the radials have serous issues with. ..."

Should read:
" ... The turbos can overfly mountain ranges ... something the radials have serious issues with ..."

John, 03.01.2011

Working in the far north for many years, I probably have made roughly 3000 flights in single Otters, all on floats. I've flown in the PW Radial, the PZL Radial (which we called "the Polish Otter"), and three versions of turbo conversions: the original turbo mentioned in the article, the PWC conversions done in Washington State (don't know the company) and a Walter turbo conversion. The PZL radial, at 1000 HP vs the PW radial at 600 HP, is similar to turbo performance. The turbos are of course superior, not the least of which is the 3000+ hour TBO vs 800 for the PW Radial, but also in performance, in particular climb. The radials can overfly mountain ranges with pilot + passenger oxygen well above FL12, something the radials have serous issues with.
The plane is also very crash-worthy ... and the four incidents I know of crashing in bush resulted in no injuries or deaths. I can't say that for the Cessena 185, DC-3 and various helicopter crashes I've witnessed or was on search parties for. For search, the Otter is outstanding; you can put one wing down pointing essentially at a single point on the ground and circle all day if you want, or do the usual patterns with excellent visibility in every window. These aircraft are invaluable ... you can't dock Twin Otters safely or practically at an ordinary dock, unless making firewood is your goal, nor are open-water pickups nearly as safe with both engines running (typical need in rough weather).

Outstanding aircraft, unbelievably rugged cargo ability, and there is no practical replacement anywhere ... the Russians have a single engine biplane with similar STOL and Bush performance but the docking issue exists with the lower wing. Cessena Caravans look good on paper but need a mile for water takeoff and are nowhere near as tough. They will be running well into the 21st Century; there is no alternative on the market to do the work this plane does with ease.

1-20 21-40

Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?

Name    E-mail


All the World's Rotorcraft

Virtual Aircraft Museum

All rhe World's Rotorcraft AVIATION TOP 100 -