Douglas Aircraft Company

Last updated
Douglas Aircraft Company
Industry Aerospace
FateMerged with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation
Successor McDonnell Douglas
Founded 1921
Founder Donald Douglas
Defunct1967
Headquarters Santa Monica, California, Long Beach, California
Products Aircraft

The Douglas Aircraft Company was an American aerospace manufacturer based in Southern California. It was founded in 1921 by Donald Wills Douglas Sr. and later merged with McDonnell Aircraft in 1967 to form McDonnell Douglas, when it then operated as a division of McDonnell Douglas. McDonnell Douglas later merged with Boeing in 1997.

Aerospace manufacturer company involved in manufacturing aircraft, aircraft parts, missiles, rockets, and/or spacecraft

An aerospace manufacturer is a company or individual involved in the various aspects of designing, building, testing, selling, and maintaining aircraft, aircraft parts, missiles, rockets, or spacecraft. Aerospace is a high technology industry.

Southern California Place in California, United States

Southern California is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises California's southernmost counties, and is the second most populous urban agglomeration in the United States. The region contains ten counties: Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, and Kern counties.

Donald Wills Douglas Sr. American businessman

Donald Wills Douglas Sr. was an American aircraft industrialist and engineer.

Contents

History

1920s

The company was founded by Donald Wills Douglas Sr. on July 22, 1921 in Santa Monica, California, following dissolution of the Davis-Douglas Company. [1] 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 carrying out a mission to circumnavigate the Earth for the first time by aircraft, a program called "World Flight". [2] Donald Douglas proposed a modified Douglas DT to meet the Army's needs. [3] The two-place, open cockpit DT biplane torpedo bomber had previously been produced for the U.S. Navy. [4] The DTs were taken from the assembly lines at the company's manufacturing plants in Rock Island, Illinois and Dayton, Ohio to be modified. [5]

Santa Monica, California City in California, United States

Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California, United States. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is bordered on three sides by the city of Los Angeles – Pacific Palisades to the north, Brentwood on the northeast, West Los Angeles on the east, Mar Vista on the southeast, and Venice on the south. The 2010 U.S. Census population was 89,736. Due in part to an agreeable climate, Santa Monica became a famed resort town by the early 20th century. The city has experienced a boom since the late 1980s through the revitalization of its downtown core, significant job growth and increased tourism. The Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Park remain popular destinations.

First aerial circumnavigation

The first aerial circumnavigation of the world was completed in 1924 by four aviators from an eight-man team of the United States Army Air Service, the precursor of the United States Air Force. The 175-day journey covered over 26,345 miles (42,398 km). The team generally traveled east to west, around the northern-Pacific Rim, through to South Asia and Europe and back to the United States. Airmen Lowell H. Smith and Leslie P. Arnold, and Erik H. Nelson and John Harding Jr. made the trip in two single-engined open-cockpit Douglas World Cruisers (DWC) configured as floatplanes for most of the journey. Four more flyers in two additional DWC began the journey but their aircraft crashed or were forced down. All airmen survived.

Aircraft machine that is able to fly by gaining support from the air other than the reactions of the air against the earth’s surface

An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air. It counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines. Common examples of aircraft include airplanes, helicopters, airships, gliders, paramotors and hot air balloons.

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. [6] 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. [7] 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 chosen. These were sent to airports along the route. The last of these aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Army on 11 March 1924. [4]

Jack Northrop Aircraft industrialist and designer, founder of Northrop Corporation

John Knudsen "Jack" Northrop was an American aircraft industrialist and designer, who founded the Northrop Corporation in 1939.

Liberty L-12 V-12 piston aircraft engine

The Liberty L-12 was an American 27-litre water-cooled 45° V-12 aircraft engine of 400 hp (300 kW) designed for a high power-to-weight ratio and ease of mass production. It was succeeded by the Packard 1A-2500.

Airport location where aircraft take off and land

An airport is an aerodrome with extended facilities, mostly for commercial air transport. Airports often have facilities to store and maintain aircraft, and a control tower. An airport consists of a landing area, which comprises an aerially accessible open space including at least one operationally active surface such as a runway for a plane to take off or a helipad, and often includes adjacent utility buildings such as control towers, hangars and terminals. Larger airports may have airport aprons, taxiway bridges, air traffic control centres, passenger facilities such as restaurants and lounges, and emergency services. In some countries, the US in particular, they also typically have one or more fixed-base operators, serving general aviation.

The four aircraft left Seattle, Washington, on 6 April 1924, flying west, and returned there on 28 September to great acclaim, although one plane was forced down over the Atlantic and sank. After the success of this flight, the Army Air Service ordered six similar aircraft as observation aircraft. [8] [8] [9] The success of the DWC established the 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". [10]

Seattle City in Washington, United States

Seattle is a seaport city on the West Coast of the United States. It is the seat of King County, Washington. With an estimated 744,955 residents as of 2018, Seattle is the largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. According to U.S. Census data released in 2018, the Seattle metropolitan area's population stands at 3.94 million, and ranks as the 15th largest in the United States. In July 2013, it was the fastest-growing major city in the United States and remained in the top 5 in May 2015 with an annual growth rate of 2.1%. In July 2016, Seattle was again the fastest-growing major U.S. city, with a 3.1% annual growth rate. Seattle is the northernmost large city in the United States.

Douglas originally adopted a logo that showed aircraft circling a globe, replacing the original winged heart logo. The logo evolved into an aircraft, a rocket, and a globe. This logo was later adopted by McDonnell Douglas in 1967, and became the basis of Boeing's current logo after their merger in 1997. [11]

Airplane A powered, flying vehicle

An airplane or aeroplane is a powered, fixed-wing aircraft that is propelled forward by thrust from a jet engine, propeller or rocket engine. Airplanes come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and wing configurations. The broad spectrum of uses for airplanes includes recreation, transportation of goods and people, military, and research. Worldwide, commercial aviation transports more than four billion passengers annually on airliners and transports more than 200 billion tonne-kilometres of cargo annually, which is less than 1% of the world's cargo movement. Most airplanes are flown by a pilot on board the aircraft, but some are designed to be remotely or computer-controlled such as drones.

McDonnell Douglas was a major American aerospace manufacturing corporation and defense contractor formed by the merger of McDonnell Aircraft and the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1967. Between then and its own merger with Boeing in 1997, it produced a number of well-known commercial and military aircraft such as the DC-10 airliner and F-15 Eagle air-superiority fighter.

Boeing Aerospace and defense manufacturer in the United States

The Boeing Company is an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells airplanes, rotorcraft, rockets, satellites, telecommunications equipment, and missiles worldwide. The company also provides leasing and product support services. Boeing is among the largest global aerospace manufacturers; it is the fifth-largest defense contractor in the world based on 2017 revenue, and is the largest exporter in the United States by dollar value. Boeing stock is included in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Boeing is incorporated in Delaware.

Pre-war

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 Douglas DC-3, which was also produced as a military transport known as the C-47 Skytrain or "Dakota" in British service. Many Douglas aircraft had long service lives.

Douglas DC-3 Airliner and military transport aircraft family

The Douglas DC-3 is a propeller-driven airliner which had a lasting effect on the airline industry in the 1930s/1940s and World War II. It was developed as a larger, improved 14-bed sleeper version of the Douglas DC-2. It is a low-wing metal monoplane with a tailwheel landing gear, powered by two 1,200 hp (890 kW) Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial piston engines. It has a cruise speed of 207 mph (333 km/h), capacity of 21 to 32 passengers or 6,000 lbs of cargo, a range of 1,500 mi (2,400 km), and could operate from short runways.

Douglas C-47 Skytrain Military transport aircraft derived from DC-3

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota is a military transport aircraft developed from the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliner. It was used extensively by the Allies during World War II and remains in front-line service with various military operators.

Douglas Aircraft designed and built a wide variety of aircraft for the U.S. military, including the Navy, Army Air Forces, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.

The company initially built torpedo bombers for the U.S. Navy, but it developed a number of different versions of these aircraft, including reconnaissance planes and airmail aircraft. Within five years, the company was building about 100 aircraft annually. Among the early employees at Douglas were Ed Heinemann, "Dutch" Kindelberger, and Jack Northrop, who later founded the Northrop Corporation. [12]

The company retained its military market and expanded into amphibian airplanes in the late 1920s, also moving its facilities to Clover Field at Santa Monica, California. The Santa Monica complex was so large, the mail girls used roller skates to deliver the intracompany 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. [13]

Machine tool operator at the Douglas Aircraft plant, Long Beach, California in World War II. After losing thousands of workers to military service, American manufacturers hired women for production positions, to the point where the typical aircraft plant's workforce was 40% female. Douglas Long Beach.jpg
Machine tool operator at the Douglas Aircraft plant, Long Beach, California in World War II. After losing thousands of workers to military service, American manufacturers hired women for production positions, to the point where the typical aircraft plant's workforce was 40% female.

In 1934, Douglas produced a commercial twin-engined transport plane, the Douglas DC-2, followed by the famous DC-3 in 1936. The wide range of aircraft produced by Douglas included airliners, light and medium bombers, fighter aircraft, transports, reconnaissance aircraft, and experimental aircraft.

World War II

Women at work on bomber, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California in October 1942 Women working at Douglas Aircraft.jpg
Women at work on bomber, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California in October 1942

During World War II, 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 turbojet-powered bomber, using a government-owned factory in Marietta, Georgia. [13]

World War II was a major boost for Douglas. Douglas ranked fifth among United States corporations in the value of wartime production contracts. [15] 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 Skytrain, the DB-7 (known as the A-20, Havoc or Boston), the SBD Dauntless dive bomber, and the A-26 Invader. [16] [17] [18]

Post-war

An ex-USAF C-47A Skytrain, the military version of the DC-3, on display in England in 2010. This aircraft flew from a base in Devon, England, during the Invasion of Normandy. Douglas c47-a skytrain n1944a cotswoldairshow 2010 arp.jpg
An ex-USAF C-47A Skytrain, the military version of the DC-3, on display in England in 2010. This aircraft flew from a base in Devon, England, during the Invasion of Normandy.

Douglas Aircraft suffered cutbacks at the end of the war, with an end to government aircraft orders and a surplus of aircraft. It was necessary to cut heavily into its workforce, letting go of nearly 100,000 workers.

The United States Army Air Forces established 'Project RAND' (Research ANd Development) [19] with the objective of looking into long-range planning of future weapons. [20] In March 1946, Douglas Aircraft Company was granted the contract to research on intercontinental warfare. [20] Project RAND later become the RAND Corporation.

Douglas continued to develop new aircraft, including the successful four-engined Douglas DC-6 (1946) and its last propeller-driven commercial aircraft, the Douglas DC-7 (1953). The company had moved into jet propulsion, producing its first for the U.S. Navy — the straight-winged F3D Skyknight in 1948 and then the more "jet age" style F4D Skyray in 1951. Douglas also made commercial jets, producing the Douglas 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 missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and air-to-surface missiles, launch rockets, bombs, and bomb racks.

The company was ready to enter the new missile business during the 1950s. Douglas moved from producing air-to-air rockets and missiles to entire missile systems under the 1956 Nike missile program and became the main contractor for the Skybolt air-launched ballistic missile program and the Thor ballistic missile program. Douglas also earned contracts from NASA, most notably for designing the S-IVB stage of the Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets.

Mergers

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. The company was also struggling with quality and cash flow problems and DC-10 development costs, as well as shortages due to the Vietnam War. Under the circumstances, Douglas was very receptive to an offer from McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. The two companies seemed to be a good match for each other. Although McDonnell was a major defense contractor, its civil aircraft business was almost nonexistent. Douglas would give McDonnell the civilian contracts it needed to weather any downturns in military procurement.

On April 28, 1967, the two companies merged as McDonnell Douglas Corporation, headquartered at McDonnell's old facility in St. Louis, Missouri. Douglas Aircraft continued as a wholly owned subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas, while 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. [21] Boeing merged Douglas Aircraft into the Boeing Commercial Airplanes division, and the Douglas Aircraft name was retired after 75 years. The last Long Beach-built commercial aircraft, the Boeing 717 (third generation version of the Douglas DC-9), ceased production in May 2006. By 2011, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III was the last aircraft being assembled at the Long Beach facility; the final C-17 was assembled in late 2015. [22] However, as mentioned above, Boeing uses Douglas' former logo.

Aircraft

Douglas DC-3 Douglas-DC3---Catalina.1024.jpg
Douglas DC-3
Douglas DC-6 DC-6.jpg
Douglas DC-6
Passengers disembarking from a SAS DC-6 Douglas DC 6 , SAS , SE-BDC , Kodachrome by Chalmers Butterfield.jpg
Passengers disembarking from a SAS DC-6

McDonnell Douglas aircraft

Missiles and spacecraft

See also

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References

Notes

  1. Parker 2013, pp. 5, 7–10, 13–14.
  2. Haber 1995, p. 73.
  3. Sobel 1974, p. 309.
  4. 1 2 Rumerman, Judy. "The Douglas World Cruiser - Around the World in 175 Days." U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, 2003.
  5. Wendell 1999/2000, p. 356.
  6. Boyne 1982, p. 80.
  7. "Douglas World Cruiser Transport." Archived 2012-06-25 at the Wayback Machine Boeing. Retrieved: 7 July 2012.
  8. 1 2 Francillon 1979, p. 75.
  9. Swanborough and Bowers 1963, p. 548.
  10. Haber 1995, pp. 72–73.
  11. "Trademarks and Copyrights: Boeing logo." Archived 2012-06-21 at the Wayback Machine Boeing Trademark Management Group, Boeing. Retrieved: 5 July 2012.
  12. Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, pp. 13-48, 77, 93, 107, Cypress, CA, 2013.
  13. 1 2 Parker 2013, pp. 13, 25, 35.
  14. Parker 2013, pp. 2, 8.
  15. Peck, Merton J. & Scherer, Frederic M. The Weapons Acquisition Process: An Economic Analysis (1962) Harvard Business School p.619
  16. Herman 2012, pp. 3–13, 335–337.
  17. Parker 2013, pp. 7–8, 13, 25, 35.
  18. Borth 1945, pp. 13–33.
  19. RAND History and Mission. Accessed 13 April 2009.
  20. 1 2 Johnson, Stephen B. (2002). The United States Air Force and the culture of innovation 1945-1965. Diane Publishing Co. p. 32.
  21. Boeing Chronology, 1997–2001 Archived January 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine , Boeing
  22. Boeing. "Last C-17 Built in Long Beach" . Retrieved 29 December 2015.

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