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.
|Douglas Aircraft Company|
|Fate||Merged with McDonnell Aircraft Corporation|
|Headquarters||Santa Monica, California, Long Beach, California|
The 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 carrying out a mission to circumnavigate the Earth for the first time by aircraft, a program called "World Flight". Donald Douglas proposed a modified Douglas DT to meet the Army's needs. The two-place, open cockpit DT biplane torpedo bomber had previously been produced for the U.S. Navy. The DTs were taken from the assembly lines at the company's manufacturing plants in Rock Island, Illinois and Dayton, Ohio to be modified.
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 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.
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. 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".
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Skytrain, the DB-7 (known as the A-20, Havoc or Boston), the SBD Dauntless dive bomber, and the A-26 Invader.
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) 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 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.
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.
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. 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. However, as mentioned above, Boeing uses Douglas' former logo.
Donald Wills Douglas Sr. (April 6, 1892 – February 1, 1981) was an American aircraft industrialist and engineer.
An aviation pioneer, he designed and built the Douglas Cloudster. Though it failed in its intended purpose—being the first to fly non-stop across the United States—it became the first airplane with a payload greater than its own weight.He founded the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1921 (the company later merged with McDonnell Aircraft to form McDonnell Douglas Corporation). Under his leadership, the company became one of the leaders of the commercial aircraft industry, engaging in a decades-long struggle for supremacy with arch-rival William Boeing and the company he founded, Boeing. Douglas gained the upper hand, particularly with his revolutionary and highly successful Douglas DC-3 airliner and its equally popular World War II military transport version, the C-47; at the start of the war, his airplanes made up 80% of all commercial aircraft in service. However, he lagged behind in the jet age and was overtaken and surpassed by Boeing. He retired in 1957.Douglas A2D Skyshark
The Douglas A2D Skyshark is an American turboprop-powered attack aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the United States Navy.Douglas B-23 Dragon
The Douglas B-23 Dragon is an American twin-engined bomber developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company as a successor to (and a refinement of) the B-18 Bolo.Douglas C-74 Globemaster
The Douglas C-74 Globemaster was a United States heavy-lift cargo aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company in Long Beach, California. The aircraft was developed after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The long distances across the Atlantic and, especially, Pacific oceans to combat areas indicated a need for a transoceanic heavy-lift military transport aircraft. Douglas Aircraft Company responded in 1942 with a giant four-engined design. Development and production modifications issues with the aircraft caused the first flight to be delayed until 5 September 1945, and production was limited to 14 aircraft when the production contract was canceled following V-J Day.Although not produced in large numbers, the C-74 did fill the need for a long-range strategic airlifter, in which the subsequent Douglas C-124 Globemaster II was used by the Air Force for many years.Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak
The Douglas Skystreak (D-558-1 or D-558-I) was an American single-engine jet research aircraft of the 1940s. It was designed in 1945 by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, in conjunction with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The Skystreaks were turbojet-powered aircraft that took off from the ground under their own power and had unswept flying surfaces.Douglas DC-4
The Douglas DC-4 is a four-engine (piston) propeller-driven airliner developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company. Military versions of the plane, the C-54 and R5D, served during World War II, in the Berlin Airlift and into the 1960s. From 1945, many civil airlines operated the DC-4 worldwide.Douglas F4D Skyray
The Douglas F4D Skyray (later redesignated F-6 Skyray) is an American carrier-based fighter/interceptor built by the Douglas Aircraft Company. Although it was in service for a relatively short time (1956-1964) and never entered combat, it was the first carrier-launched aircraft to hold the world's absolute speed record, at 752.943 mph, and was the first United States Navy and United States Marine Corps fighter that could exceed Mach 1 in level flight. It was the last fighter produced by the Douglas Aircraft Company before it merged with McDonnell Aircraft and became McDonnell Douglas. The F5D Skylancer was an advanced development of the F4D Skyray that did not go into service.Douglas World Cruiser
The Douglas World Cruiser (DWC) was developed to meet a requirement from the United States Army Air Service for an aircraft suitable for an attempt at the first flight around the world. The Douglas Aircraft Company responded with a modified variant of their DT torpedo bomber, the DWC.
Five aircraft were ordered for the round-the-world flight, one for testing and training and four for the actual expedition. The success of the World Cruiser bolstered the international reputation of the Douglas Aircraft Company. The design of the DWC was later modified to create the O-5 observation aircraft, which was operated by the Army Air Service.Douglas XFD
The Douglas XFD was a carrier-based biplane fighter aircraft designed for the United States Navy, and the first fighter to be built by the Douglas Aircraft Company. A victim of changing requirements, no production was undertaken.Douglas XP3D
The Douglas XP3D was a prototype American patrol flying boat of the 1930s. A twin-engined high-winged monoplane, the P3D was produced by the Douglas Aircraft Company to equip the US Navy's Patrol squadrons, but despite meeting the Navy's requirements, the rival Consolidated PBY was preferred owing to a lower price.Douglas XT3D
The Douglas XT3D was an American three-seat torpedo bomber biplane developed by the Douglas Aircraft Company to meet a United States Navy requirement.Ed Heinemann
Edward Henry Heinemann (March 14, 1908 – November 26, 1991) was a noted military aircraft designer for the Douglas Aircraft Company.McDonnell Aircraft Corporation
The McDonnell Aircraft Corporation was an American aerospace manufacturer based in St. Louis, Missouri. The company was founded on July 6, 1939 by James Smith McDonnell, and was best known for its military fighters, including the F-4 Phantom II, and manned spacecraft including the Mercury capsule and Gemini capsule. McDonnell Aircraft later merged with the Douglas Aircraft Company to form McDonnell Douglas in 1967.Piaggio PD.808
The Piaggio PD.808 was an Italian business jet built by Piaggio. It was designed as a joint venture between Piaggio and Douglas Aircraft Company of Long Beach, California, United States.RAND Corporation
RAND Corporation ("Research ANd Development") is an American nonprofit global policy think tank created in 1948 by Douglas Aircraft Company to offer research and analysis to the United States Armed Forces. It is financed by the U.S. government and private endowment, corporations, universities and private individuals. The company has grown to assist other governments, international organizations, private companies and foundations, with a host of defense and non-defense issues, including healthcare. RAND aims for interdisciplinary and quantitative problem solving by translating theoretical concepts from formal economics and the physical sciences into novel applications in other areas, using applied science and operations research.S-IV
The S-IV was the second stage of the Saturn I rocket used by NASA for early flights in the Apollo program.
The S-IV was manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Company and later modified by them to the S-IVB, a similar but distinct stage used on the Saturn IB and Saturn V rockets.The S-IV stage was a large LOX/LH2-fueled rocket stage used for the early test flights of the Saturn I rocket. It formed the second stage of the Saturn I and was powered by a cluster of six RL-10A-3 engines. Each one of the engines supplied 66.7 kilonewtons (15,000 lbf) of thrust for a total of about 400 kilonewtons (90,000 lbf). The cryogenic LH2 (liquid hydrogen) and LOX (liquid oxygen) tanks were separated by a common bulkhead. The forward bulkhead of the LOX tank formed the aft bulkhead of the LH2 tank. This saved up to 20% of structural weight.S-IVB
The S-IVB was the third stage on the Saturn V and second stage on the Saturn IB launch vehicles. Built by the Douglas Aircraft Company, it had one J-2 rocket engine. For lunar missions it was fired twice: first for Earth orbit insertion after second stage cutoff, and then for translunar injection (TLI).Saturn IB-D
Studied by Douglas Aircraft Company in 1965, this rocket consisted of a whole Saturn IB with 4 strap-on SRBs that have flown on the Titan 3E interplanetary missile carriers. All components of the vehicle have flown, but not together for this concept.WAC Corporal
The WAC or WAC Corporal was the first sounding rocket developed in the United States. Begun as a spinoff of the Corporal program, the WAC was a "little sister" to the larger Corporal. It was designed and built jointly by the Douglas Aircraft Company and the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory.The WAC Corporal was a hypergolic liquid-fuel rocket. Fuming nitric acid was the oxidizer and a mixture of aniline and furfuryl alcohol (with the later addition of hydrazine) was the fuel. It was launched by a solid fuel Tiny Tim booster.
The first WAC Corporal dummy round was launched on September 16, 1945 from White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces, New Mexico. After a White Sands V-2 rocket had reached 111 kilometres (69 mi) on May 10, a White Sands WAC Corporal reached 80 kilometres (50 mi) on May 22, 1946 — the first U.S.-designed rocket to reach the edge of space (under the U.S. definition of space at the time). On February 24, 1949, a Bumper (a German V-2 rocket acting as first stage) bearing a WAC Corporal at White Sands accelerated to 8,290 kilometres per hour (5,150 mph) to become the first flight of more than five times the speed of sound.Scientists were later surprised when almost a year after the launch, tail fragments of the WAC Corporal rocket that reached 8,290 kilometres per hour (5,150 mph) and an altitude of over 400 kilometres (250 mi), were found and identified in the New Mexico desert near the launch site.A few WAC Corporals survive in museums, including one at the National Air and Space Museum and another in the White Sands Missile Range Museum.
Douglas military aircraft
Douglas and McDonnell Douglas airliners
See also: McDonnell 119 / 220