The Douglas DC-5, probably the least known of the famous DC airliner series, was a 16-to-22-seat, twin-engine propeller aircraft intended for shorter routes than the Douglas DC-3 or Douglas DC-4. However, by the time it entered commercial service in 1940, many airlines were canceling orders for aircraft. Consequently, only five civilian DC-5s were built. With the Douglas Aircraft Company already converting to World War II military production, the DC-5 was soon overtaken by world events, although a limited number of military variants were produced.
The prototype DC-5, Douglas serial 411, was built at El Segundo, California with Wright Cyclone 1,000 hp R-1820-44 engines. The aircraft made its first flight on February 20, 1939 with Carl A. Cover at the controls. This sole prototype (originally configured with just eight seats) became the personal aircraft of William Boeing which he named "Rover". It was later impressed into the US Navy and converted for military use as an R3D-3 variant in February 1942.
The first customer for the DC-5 was KLM (Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij) of The Netherlands. A US domestic carrier, Pennsylvania Central (later renamed Capital Airlines), ordered six and SCADTA, (Sociedad Colomba-Alemana de Transportes Aéreos), ancestor of today's Avianca in Colombia, another two. The four aircraft sold to KLM were used by their colonial subsidiaries. When Douglas factories went into war production, DC-5 production was curtailed to build additional SBD Dauntless dive bombers for the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps and only KLM received the high-winged airliner.
A dozen DC-5s were completed. The first two initially flew the Paramaribo-Curaçao route, and the other two operated from Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia). Three aircraft were used for the 1942 evacuation of civilians from Java to Australia, during which PK-ADA was damaged in an air strike by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force at Batavia Kemajoran Airport on February 9, 1942 and it was abandoned. Japanese forces captured PK-ADA, subsequently repaired and tested it at Tachikawa Airfield and Haneda Airport during 1943. This DC-5, painted in camouflage with Japanese Imperial Army Air Force markings, was later used as a transport in the Japanese Home Islands.
The captured KLM DC-5 (PK-ADA) in service with the Japanese Imperial Army Air Force
The three remaining aircraft, PK-ADB, PK-ADC and PK-ADD made their way safely to Australia where the aircraft were interned by the Allied Directorate of Air Transport and operated by the United States Army Air Forces as the C-110. The wartime history of PK-ADC was brief, because it was destroyed in a landing accident shortly after its arrival in Australia. PK-ADD flew for the balance of the war under the aegis of Australian National Airways, on support missions inside the country with the temporary license VH-CXC.
In 1939, the US Navy ordered seven aircraft. Three were delivered as R3D-1s, the first of which crashed before delivery. The remaining four were R3D-2s for the U.S. Marine Corps and were equipped with 1,015 HP R-1820-44 engines, a large cargo hold and 22 seats for paratroopers.
After World War II, production of the DC-5 was not resumed because of the abundance of surplus C-47 aircraft released into civil service. In 1948, the last surviving DC-5 (c/n 426) VH-ARD of Australian National Airways was sold and smuggled to Israel for military use. The aircraft arrived at Haifa in May 1948, and from there it went to Sde Dov, where its markings were removed and the name "Yankee Pasha - The Bagel Lancer" was crudely painted on the nose by hand. The aircraft joined 103 Squadron (Israel) at Ramat David Airbase. Because Israel was in the midst of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, it was occasionally used as a bomber as well as flying transport missions. On bomber missions the aft loading door was removed and bombs were rolled out of the opening "by a judicious shove from a crewman's foot." The operational record of the aircraft is in dispute as authoritative sources do not verify its combat service.
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