Douglas DC-3

N1945

OVERVIEW

This Douglas DC-3-G202A, registration number NC1945, serial number 3294, was built in Santa Monica, California, in February 1941. It was delivered to Transcontinental and Western Airlines (TWA) at Kansas City, Missouri on March 4, 1941.

Approximately sixty percent of all DC-3 aircraft went to war as military transports (C-47s) in WWII.  Our aircraft served as a civilian airliner through and beyond the war years.  NC1945 is one of the very few existing DC-3s with the rare 24-passenger, 8-window configuration.  Most DC-3s are the 21-passenger, 7-window configuration.  This airplane flew with TWA as ship 386, from 1941 until 1952.  It then spent 14 years with North Central Airlines.  In 1968 it went into charter operations, and later was a travel club airplane with Coronado Airlines in California.

The airplane did geo survey work in Torrance, California, and then sat in the desert west of Palmdale for a few years in storage, as part of an estate.  Last, she was flown to Roswell, New Mexico in the mid-1980’s for storage.

In 1993, AHM members became aware of it, and “old 386” was purchased from a Denver museum.  An AHM crew made three trips down to Roswell to take the fuselage off the center section and load the parts on trailers for the highway trip to Kansas City, Missouri.

After locating work space that would hold the airplane, restoration work started.  Stripping paint from the fuselage was the first step in determining the condition of the outside fuselage skin.  Removal of insulation from the inside of the fuselage skin showed the real problems that lay ahead.  Corrosion had played havoc with the skin panels, rings, stringers, and many other parts.  Rational evaluation would have dictated that the aircraft’s condition did not justify putting any more labor or money into this airplane. However, the sentimental and historic value of the airplane’s ties to Kansas City’s aviation history and to the KC “hometown airline” (TWA), AHM decided to continue with the project.

The frame was in good shape, with minor corrosion. This was caused by glue used on the cabin insulation.  Old frames and parts were used as templates and patterns for the new ones. So, it was a matter of basically building a new airplane, from the inside out.  The majority of the exterior skin has been replaced with new materials.

Both of the Wright 1820 Cyclone engines have been re-manufactured to better than original specifications. The exterior and interior restoration are nearing completion. The installation of new carpeting and beautifully restored seats is complete.  After all of its travels, this DC-3 has come home.

HISTORY OF THE AIRCRAFT
  • 1941—Our plane was delivered here to TWA, one of the 40% of DC-3s that did not serve as a war transport. It flew for TWA 1941-1952.
  • Over 13,000 DC-3s/C-47s built, majority 7/21 configuration; ours one of the only 600 more rare 8 window/24 passenger configuration built (believed very few of this configuration left).
  • 1993—AHM acquired and hauled here from Roswell, New Mexico .
  • Restoration began and airframe corrosion was found to be a major issue.  New frames were built and much of the exterior skin was replaced.
  • Over 500,000 rivets were used–if laid end-to-end, the rivets would cover a distance of more than three miles.
IMAGES
AIRCRAFT SPECS

General Characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Capacity: 21-32 passengers
  • Length: 64 ft 5 in (19.7 m)
  • Wingspan: 95 ft 0 in (29.0 m)
  • Height: 16 ft 11 in (5.16 m)
  • Wing area: 987 ft² (91.7 m²)

Cockpit of DC-3 operated by FAA to verify operation of navaids (VORs and NDBs) along federal airways

  • Empty weight: 18,300 lb (8,300 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 25,200 lb (25,346 with deicing boots, 26,900 in some freight versions) (11,400 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Wright R-1820 Cyclone 9 series (earliest aircraft) or Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S1C3G in the C-47 and later civilian aircraft, 1,100 or 1,200 hp max rating, depending upon engine and model (895 kW) each
  • Propellers: 3-bladed Hamilton Standard 23E50 series hydraulically controlled constant speed, feathering

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 237 mph (206 kn, 381 km/h (=Never Exceed Speed (VNE), or Redline speed))
  • Cruise speed: 150 mph (130 kn, 240 km/h)
  • Range: 1,025 mi (890 nmi, 1,650 km)
  • Service ceiling: 24,000 ft (7,300 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,130 ft/min (5.73 m/s) initial
  • Wing loading: 25.5 lb/ft² (125 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.0952 hp/lb (157 W/kg)