Douglas Aircraft Company
|Fate||Merged with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation|
|Headquarters||Santa Monica, California|
The Douglas Aircraft Company was an American aerospace manufacturer, based in Long Beach, California. It was founded in 1921 by Donald Wills Douglas, Sr. and later merged with McDonnell Aircraft in 1967 to form McDonnell Douglas. Douglas Aircraft Company largely operated as a division of McDonnell Douglas after the merger.
The Douglas Aircraft Company was founded by Donald Wills Douglas, Sr. on July 22, 1921 in Santa Monica, California, following dissolution of the Davis-Douglas Company. An early claim to fame was the first circumnavigation of the world by air in Douglas airplanes in 1924. In 1923, the U.S. Army Air Service was interested in pursuing a mission to be the first to circumnavigate the earth by aircraft, a program called "World Flight". Donald Douglas proposed a modified Douglas Aircraft Company DT to meet the Army's needs. The two-place, open cockpit DT biplane torpedo bomber had previously been supplied to the Navy. The DTs to be modified were taken from the assembly lines at the company's manufacturing plants in Rock Island, Illinois and Dayton, Ohio.
The modified aircraft known as the Douglas World Cruiser (DWC), also was the first major project for Jack Northrop who designed the fuel system for the series. After the prototype was delivered in November 1923, upon the successful completion of tests on 19 November, the Army commissioned Douglas to build four production series aircraft. Due to the demanding expedition ahead, spare parts, including 15 extra Liberty L-12 engines, 14 extra sets of pontoons, and enough replacement airframe parts for two more aircraft were specified and sent to way points along the route. The last aircraft was delivered on 11 March 1924.
After the success of the World Cruiser, the Army Air Service ordered six similar aircraft as observation aircraft. The success of the DWC established Douglas Aircraft Company among the major aircraft companies of the world and led it to adopt the motto "First Around the World - First the World Around". The company also adopted a logo that showed aircraft circling a globe, replacing the original winged heart logo. The Douglas logo evolved into an aircraft, a rocket, and a globe and was later adopted by the McDonnell Douglas Corporation, and then became the basis of the logo of the Boeing Company.
The company is most famous for the "DC" ("Douglas Commercial") series of commercial aircraft, including what is often regarded as the most significant transport aircraft ever made: the DC-3, which was also produced as a military transport known as the C-47 Skytrain or "Dakota." Many Douglas aircraft had unusually long service lives, and many remain in service today. Douglas created a wide variety of aircraft for the US armed forces, the Navy in particular.
The company initially built torpedo bombers for the US Navy, but developed a number of variants of these aircraft, including observation aircraft and a commercial airmail variant. Within five years, the company was building over 100 aircraft annually. Among the early employees at Douglas were Edward Heinemann, "Dutch" Kindelberger, and Jack Northrop (who later founded Northrop).
The company retained its military market and expanded into amphibians in the late 1920s, also moving its facilities to Clover Field at Santa Monica. The Santa Monica complex was so large that the mail girls used roller skates to deliver the intra-company mail. By the end of World War II, Douglas had facilities at Santa Monica, El Segundo, Long Beach, and Torrance, California; Tulsa and Midwest City, Oklahoma; and Chicago, Illinois.
In 1934, Douglas produced a commercial two-engined transport, the DC-2, followed by the famous DC-3 in 1936. The wide range of aircraft produced by Douglas included airliners, light and medium bombers, fighters, transports, observation aircraft, and experimental aircraft. During WWII, Douglas joined the BVD (Boeing-Vega-Douglas) consortium to produce the B-17 Flying Fortress. After the war, Douglas built another Boeing design under license, the B-47 Stratojet.
World War II
World War II was a major boost for Douglas. Douglas ranked fifth among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts. The company produced almost 30,000 aircraft from 1942 to 1945, and its workforce swelled to 160,000. The company produced a number of aircraft including the C-47 (based on the DC-3), the DB-7 (known as the A-20, Havoc or Boston), the Dauntless and the A-26 Invader. The company suffered following the end of hostilities, with an end to government aircraft orders and a surplus of aircraft. It heavily cut its workforce, terminating almost 100,000 people.
The United States Army Air Forces established Project RAND (Research ANd Development) with the objective of looking into long range planning of future weapons. In March 1946, Douglas Aircraft Company was granted the contract to research on intercontinental warfare. Project RAND later become the RAND Corporation.
Douglas continued to develop new aircraft, including the successful four-engined DC-6 (1946) and its last prop-driven commercial aircraft, the DC-7 (1953). The company had moved into jet propulsion, producing its first for the military — the conventional F3D Skyknight in 1948 and then the more 'jet age' F4D Skyray in 1951. Douglas also made commercial jets, producing the DC-8 in 1958 to compete with the new Boeing 707.
Douglas was a pioneer in related fields, such as ejection seats, air-to-air, surface-to-air, and air-to-surface missiles, launch vehicles, bombs and bomb racks. Douglas was eager to enter the new missile business in the 1950s. Douglas moved from producing air-to-air rockets and missiles to entire missile systems under the 1956 Nike program and became the main contractor of the Skybolt air-launched ballistic missile program and the Thor ballistic missile program. Douglas also earned contracts from NASA, notably for designing the S-IVB stage of the Saturn V heavy-lift rocket.
In 1967, the company was struggling to expand production to meet demand for DC-8 and DC-9 airliners and the A-4 Skyhawk military attack aircraft. Quality and cash flow problems, DC-10 development costs, combined with shortages due to the Vietnam War, led Douglas to agree to a merger with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation to form McDonnell Douglas. Douglas Aircraft Company continued as a wholly owned subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas, but its space and missiles division became part of a new subsidiary called McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company.
McDonnell Douglas later merged with its rival Boeing in 1997. Boeing combined the Douglas Aircraft Company with the Boeing Commercial Airplanes division, ending more than 75 years of Douglas Aircraft Company history. The last Long Beach-built commercial aircraft, the Boeing 717 (a third generation version of the Douglas DC-9), ceased production in May 2006. In 2011, the C-17 Globemaster III is the last aircraft being assembled at the Long Beach facility.
- DT-1 (1921)
- DWC (1923)
- O-2 (1924)
- C-1 (1925)
- M-1 (1925)
- T2D (1927)
- BT-1/BT-2 (1930)
- Dolphin (1930)
- O-31 (1930)
- B-7/O-35 (1931)
- XT3D (1931)
- DC-1 (1933)
- DC-2 (1934)
- O-43 (1934)
- B-18 Bolo (1935)
- DC-3 (1935)
- TBD Devastator (1935)
- O-46 (1936)
- Douglas DB-7 Boston / A-20 Havoc (1938)
- SBD Dauntless (1938)
- DC-4E (1938)
- B-23 Dragon (1939)
- DC-4 (1939)
- DC-5 (1939)
- Douglas XB-19 (1941)
- A-26 Invader (1942)
- BTD Destroyer (1943)
- XA-42/XB-42 (1944)
- A-1 Skyraider (1945)
- C-74 Globemaster (1945)
- XB-43 (1946)
- DC-6 (1946)
- D-558-1 Skystreak (1947)
- D-558-2 Skyrocket (1948)
- F3D Skyknight (1948)
- C-124 Globemaster II (1949)
- A2D Skyshark (1950)
- F4D Skyray (1951)
- A-3 Skywarrior (1952)
- X-3 Stiletto (1952)
- A-4 Skyhawk (1954)
- B-66 Destroyer (1954)
- DC-7 (1953)
- F5D Skylancer (1956)
- C-133 Cargomaster (1956)
- F6D Missileer (1958)
- DC-8 (1958)
- DC-9 (1965)
- DC-10 (1971)
- YC-15 (1975)
- MD-80 (1980)
- MD-11 (1990)
- C-17 Globemaster III (1991)
- MD-90 (1993)
Missiles and Space Launch
- Roc I
- AAM-N-2 Sparrow I (1948)
- AIR-2 Genie (1956)
- Nike Ajax (1959)
- Nike Hercules
- Nike Zeus
- Honest John
- GAM-87 Skybolt
- Saturn S-IVB stage
- Haber 1995, p. 73.
- Rumerman, Judy."The Douglas World Cruiser - Around the World in 175 Days."U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, 2003. Retrieved: 7 July 2012.
- Wendell 1999/2000, p. 356.
- Boyne 1982, p. 80.
- "Douglas World Cruiser Transport." Boeing. Retrieved: 7 July 2012.
- Francillon 1979, p. 75.
- Swanborough and Bowers 1963, p. 548.
- Haber 1995, pp. 72–73.
- "Trademarks and Copyrights: Boeing logo." Boeing Trademark Management Group, Boeing. Retrieved: 5 July 2012.
- Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School p.619
- RAND History and Mission. Accessed 13 April 2009.
- Johnson, Stephen B. (2002). The United States Air Force and the culture of innovation 1945-1965. Diane Publishing Co. p. 32.
- Boeing Chronology, 1997–2001, Boeing
- Boyne, Walter J. The Aircraft Treasures Of Silver Hill: The Behind-The-Scenes Workshop Of The National Air And Space Museum. New York: Rawson Associates, 1982. ISBN 0-89256-216-1.
- Donald, David, ed. Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. Etobicoke, Ontario: Prospero Books, 1997. ISBN 1-85605-375-X.
- Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume I. London: Putnam, 1979. ISBN 0-87021-428-4.
- Haber, Barbara Angle. The National Air and Space Museum. London: Bison Group, 1995. ISBN 1-85841-088-6.
- Swanborough, F. Gordon. and Peter M. Bowers. United States Military Aircraft since 1909. London: Putnam, 1963.
- Wendell, David V. "Getting Its Wings: Chicago as the Cradle of Aviation in America." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Volume 92, No. 4, Winter 1999/2000, pp. 339–372.
- Sobel, Robert. "Donald Douglas: The Fortunes of War". The Entrepreneurs: Explorations Within the American Business Tradition. Weybright & Talley, 1974. ISBN 0-679-40064-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Douglas Aircraft Company|
- Douglas Aircraft history 1939-45
- Douglas Aircraft history 1946-56
- Douglas Aircraft history 1957-67
- Complete production list starting with the Cloudster
- Douglas Aircraft Company Photographs at Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School