Douglas DC-5 / R3D
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Douglas DC-5 / R3D

Designed at Douglas Aircraft Company's El Segundo facility, the Douglas DC-5 was developed as a 16/22-passenger commercial transport for local service operations out of smaller airports. Interestingly, at a time when the low-wing configuration was in the ascendant, the DC-5 was a high-wing monoplane, although it also featured the then relatively novel tricycle-type landing gear. With a design gross weight of 8391kg, the DC-5 was offered with either Pratt & Whitney R-1690 or Wright Cyclone radial engines.

The prototype, powered by two 850hp Wright GR-1820-F62 Cyclones, flew for the first time on 20 February 1939, piloted by Carl Cover. Orders were placed by KLM (four aircraft), Pennsylvania Central Airways (six) and SCADTA of Columbia (two), but the programme was overtaken by the war and only the KLM aircraft were delivered. Although intended for service in Europe, two went first to the Netherlands West Indies to link Curacao and Surinam and the other two to Batavia in the Netherlands East Indies. All four were used to evacuate civilians from Java to Australia in 1942 and one, damaged at Kemajoran Airport, Batavia, on 9 February 1942, was captured by the Japanese and extensively test-flown at Tachikawa Air Force Base. The three surviving DC-5s were operated in Australia by the Allied Directorate of Air Transport and were given the USAAF designation C-110.

The earliest DC-5 military operations, however, were by the US Navy which had ordered seven examples in 1939. Three were R3D-1 16-seat personnel transports, the first of which crashed before delivery, and four were R3D-2 aircraft for the US Marine Corps with 1000hp R-1820-44 engines, a large sliding cargo door, and bucket seats for 22 paratroops. The prototype, after certification and development flying had been completed, was sold with a 16-seat executive interior to William E. Boeing, and was later impressed for US Navy use as the sole R3D-3.


Derived from the DB-7 bomber, the DC-5 was dramatically superior to Santa Monica's DC-3. Designer Ed Heinemann was told by General H. H. Arnold to cancel the programme because of the Army's selection of the C-47.

D.Donald "The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft", 1997

Douglas DC-5 / R3DA three-view drawing (600 x 408)

 ENGINE2 x 850hp Wright GR-1820-F62 radial piston engines
    Take-off weight9072 kg20000 lb
    Empty weight6202 kg13673 lb
    Wingspan23.77 m78 ft 0 in
    Length19.05 m63 ft 6 in
    Height6.05 m20 ft 10 in
    Wing area76.55 m2823.98 sq ft
    Max. speed356 km/h221 mph
    Cruise speed325 km/h202 mph
    Ceiling7225 m23700 ft
    Range2575 km1600 miles

Douglas DC-5 / R3D

Fred Fuentes, e-mail, 10.09.2015reply

The DC4/Navy R5D/Usaf C54, was certainly not pressurized. I flew as as plane capt. with VR 24 out of port Lyautey, Morocco. I flew with them for several thousand hours. I forgot, the DC6, Navy R6D/ Usaf C118 was pressurized.

Fred Fuentes, e-mail, 10.09.2015reply

The DC4/Navy R5D/Usaf C54, was certainly not pressurized. I flew as as plane capt. with VR 24 out of port Lyautey, Morocco. I flew with them for several thousand hours.

Bruce E. Willis, e-mail, 05.11.2011reply

I have 4 or 5 8x10 photos of the Marine R3Ds operating as Marine paratrooper training a/c In North Carolina. They were from the NYC USMC PIO around 1943. They have some original ditto press release stuff on the back They could be available for sale.

ED, e-mail, 13.12.2010reply

Hello Skip.
As I recall the DC4 ya mention started as a C54 for the military and the one I flew on (BRANIFF) was a pass/cargo combination and as we flew over the Andes we were required to us a oxygen mask.
May the DC6 be the first Douglas with pressured cabin?........emo

skip, e-mail, 09.03.2010reply

I believe the dc4 was pressurized. being the first US aircraft in service with that available.

Dr. Why?, e-mail, 02.02.2010reply

Last surviving DC-5 found its way to Israel in 1948 where it served briefly as a transport/bomber under the Nome de Guerre, of the "Bagel Lancer."

Wouter Hobe, e-mail, 25.09.2009reply

I was 8 years old in 1941 and flew as a passenger over Batavia, N.E.I. Beautiful view from the big oval windows.
I might be the only one still alive to have had that experience.

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