Review Douglas Propliners: Skyleaders, DC-1 to DC-7- René J. Francillion
The first airplane I ever flew on was a Douglas DC-6. My father, mother and older sister flew from communist Cuba on our way to freedom in Miami, Florida, USA on December 4, 1970. I was 6 years old. We were part of the Freedom Flights (1965-1973), which brought Cuban refugees to the United States. The DC-6 was also responsible for transporting Germans from communist Berlin to the West during the Berlin airlift of 1948-1949.
One of the best books on the Douglas DC- to DC-7 series of airplanes is René J. Francillion’s Douglas Propliners: Skyleaders, Dc-1 to DC-7. In the estimation of this writer, Francillion’s book on Douglas propliners is the definitive work on the subject.
The best-known Douglas propliners are the DC-3, 6 and 7. Beginning with the DC-8, the DC-9 and 10 were jets. DC-3’s, 6 and 7 are still flying throughout many parts of the world. A DC-3 flies over the university where I teach in Miami, Florida every morning, on its way to the Caribbean. The Douglas series of propliners has a loyal following among aircraft enthusiasts. Aviation enthusiasts all have their favorite airplanes, and in the case of the Douglas DC series, they recognize the merits of these well-built airplanes.
The legacy of the Douglas Aircraft Company can be traced to the 1930s, a time when commercial aviation was developing in earnest, and extends through the 1950s. Beginning with the DC-1 (Douglas Commercial 1), first flew in Santa Monica, California on July 1, 1933. The DC-1 was the competitor of Boeing’s Model 247 aircraft. The DC-1 and 2 evolved into the DC-3, of which Douglas built 10,655. The creation of the DC-3 made Douglas the financial leader in commercial aviation at the time. The DC-3 saw many interior configurations, including the sleeper and “club” that offered the burgeoning aviation industry a novelty that attracted the flying class. The DC-3 offered those who could afford it a comfortable and safe way to travel. During WWII, the DC-3 was configured to serve in the capacity of cargo and troop transport and was known as the C-47 “war horse.”
In 1946 Douglas Corporation created the DC-6 to be utilized as a cargo transport. Not long after, the DC-6 became a successful airliner that competed against the Lockheed Constellation in the heyday of commercial aviation in the 1950s. The DC-6 was built between 1946 and 1958. A larger and improved version of the DC-6 was the DC-7. The DC-7 had more powerful engines and greater range.
Douglas Propliners: Skyleaders, DC-1 to DC-7 is a meticulously researched work of 360 pages that contains lots of specs and many relevant details about Douglas Propliners. The book does justice to these early work horses of commercial aviation. It contains lots of intelligent and insightful text and an abundance of color photographs that highlight these marvelous machines. This book is the work of a gifted writer and photographer who has contributed greatly to the archives of aviation history.
Mr. Francillion published over 50 books on aviation history. René J. Francillion was born in Italy in March 1937 and died in California March 8, 2018.