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
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
[Rumerman, Judy. "The Douglas World Cruiser - Around the World in 175 Days." ''U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission,'' 2003.]
The DTs were taken from the assembly lines at the company's manufacturing plants in Rock Island, Illinois
, and Dayton, Ohio
, to be modified.
[Wendell 1999/2000, p. 356.]
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.
["Douglas World Cruiser Transport."](_blank)
''Boeing.'' Retrieved: 7 July 2012.
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 airport
s along the route. The last of these aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Army on 11 March 1924.
The four aircraft left Seattle
, 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.
[Francillon 1979, p. 75.] [Swanborough and Bowers 1963, p. 548.]
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 initially used a logo that combined two letter Ds and wings, and two Ds joined as a heart as a reference to the Clan Douglas
. After the success of the DWC, the company adopted a logo that showed three airplanes circling a globe. The logo eventually evolved into an aircraft, a missile, 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.
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 plane
s 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
, Carl Cover
, 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
and Midwest City
, Oklahoma, and Chicago, Illinois
[Parker 2013, pp. 13, 25, 35.]
In 1934, Douglas produced a commercial twin-engine
d transport plane
, the Douglas DC-2
, followed by the famous DC-3 in 1936. The wide range of aircraft produced by Douglas included airliner
s, light and medium bomber
s, fighter aircraft
, transports, reconnaissance aircraft, and experimental aircraft.
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.
World War II
During World War II
, Douglas joined the BVD (Boeing
-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.
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.
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. On April 28, 1967, after almost four years of merger talks, the two companies merged as McDonnell Douglas Corporation.
The two companies seemed to be a good match for each other. McDonnell was a major defense contractor, but had almost no civilian business. Douglas' commercial contracts would allow McDonnell to withstand any downturns in procurement.
Conversely, McDonnell had enough revenue to help solve Douglas' financial problems; soon after the merger was announced, McDonnell bought 1.5 million shares of Douglas stock to help Douglas meet "immediate financial requirements."
The merged company was based at McDonnell's facility in St. Louis, Missouri. It adopted a modified version of Douglas' logo. Donald Douglas became honorary chairman of the merged company, a post he would hold until his death in 1981. Douglas Aircraft continued as a wholly owned subsidiary of McDonnell Douglas, with Douglas' son, Donald Jr., as president. [ Later, former McDonnell president David Lewis became chairman of Douglas Aircraft. His successful turnaround of the division allowed him to become president of McDonnell Douglas in 1969. Meanwhile, Douglas' 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 Chronology, 1997–2001] Boeing merged Douglas Aircraft into the Boeing Commercial Airplanes division, and the Douglas Aircraft name was retired after 76 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, the Douglas' former logo is preserved on the facility though no longer used by Boeing.
*Douglas A-1 Skyraider (1945)
*Douglas XA-2 (c. 1926)
*Douglas A-3 Skywarrior (1952)
*Douglas A-4 Skyhawk (1954)
*Douglas A-20 Havoc (1938)
*Douglas A-26 Invader (1942)
*Douglas A-33 (1941)
*Douglas A2D Skyshark (1950)
*Douglas Y1B-7, B-7, O-35 (1931)
*Douglas B-18 Bolo (1935)
*Douglas XB-19 (1941)
*Douglas XB-22 (1930s)
*Douglas B-23 Dragon (1939)
*Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster, XA-42 Mixmaster (1944)
*Douglas XB-43 Jetmaster (1946)
*Douglas B-66 Destroyer (1954)
*Douglas BTD Destroyer
*Douglas C-1 (1925)
*Douglas C-47 Skytrain
**Douglas AC-47 Spooky
*Douglas C-54 Skymaster (1942)
*Douglas C-74 Globemaster (1945)
*Douglas C-124 Globemaster II (1949)
*Douglas C-132 (1957, canceled)
*Douglas C-133 Cargomaster (1956)
*Douglas Cloudster (1921)
*Douglas Cloudster II (1947)
*Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak (1947)
*Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket (1948)
*Douglas DA-1 Ambassador (1928)
*Douglas DC-1 (1933)
*Douglas DC-2 (1934)
*Douglas DC-3 (1935)
**List of Douglas DC-3 family variants
*Douglas DC-4E (1938)
*Douglas DC-4 (1939; new design unrelated to DC-4E)
**List of Douglas DC-4 variants
*Douglas DC-5 (1939)
*Douglas DC-6 (1946)
*Douglas DC-7 (1953)
*Douglas DC-8 (piston airliner)
*Douglas DC-8 (1958)
*Douglas DF (1930s)
*Douglas DT (1921)
*Douglas Dolphin (1930)
*Douglas XFD (1933)
*Douglas F3D Skyknight (1948)
*Douglas F4D Skyray (1951)
*Douglas F5D Skylancer (1956)
*Douglas F6D Missileer (1959, canceled)
*Douglas M-1 (1925)
*Douglas O-2 (1924)
*Douglas O-31 (1930)
*Douglas O-38 (1931)
*Douglas O-43 (1934)
*Douglas O-46 (1936)
*Douglas O2D (1934)
*Douglas YOA-5 (1935)
*Douglas XP3D (1935)
*Douglas SBD Dauntless (1938)
*Douglas T2D (1927)
*Douglas XT3D (1931)
*Douglas TBD Devastator (1935)
*Douglas XTB2D Skypirate (1945)
*Douglas World Cruiser (DWC) (1923)
*Douglas X-3 Stiletto (1952)
McDonnell Douglas aircraft
*C-17 Globemaster III (1991)
Missiles and spacecraft
*AAM-N-2 Sparrow I (1948)
*MIM-4 Nike Ajax (1959)
*MIM-14 Nike Hercules
*Thor (rocket family)
*LIM-49 Nike Zeus
*MGR-1 Honest John
*AIR-2 Genie (1956)
*MGR-3 Little John
*Saturn S-IV stage
*Saturn S-IVB stage
*Manned Orbiting Laboratory space station
*California during World War II
* Borth, Christy. ''Masters of Mass Production''. Indianapolis, Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1945.
* Boyne, Walter J. ''The Aircraft Treasures Of Silver Hill: The Behind-The-Scenes Workshop Of The National Air And Space Museum.'' New York: Rawson Associates, 1982. .
* Cunningham, Frank. ''Sky Master: The Story of Donald Douglas and the Douglas Aircraft Company.'' Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Dorrance and Company, 1943.
* Donald, David, ed. ''Encyclopedia of World Aircraft''. Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada: Prospero Books, 1997. .
* Francillon, René J. ''McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume I''. London: Putnam, 1979. .
* Haber, Barbara Angle. ''The National Air and Space Museum.'' London: Bison Group, 1995. .
* Herman, Arthur. ''Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II''. New York: Random House, 2012. .
* Parker, Dana T. ''Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II''. Cypress, California: Dana T. Parker Books, 2013. .
* Sobel, Robert. "Donald Douglas: The Fortunes of War". ''The Entrepreneurs: Explorations Within the American Business Tradition''. New York: Weybright & Talley, 1974. .
* Swanborough, F. Gordon. and Peter M. Bowers. ''United States Military Aircraft since 1909''. London: Putnam, 1963.
* Wasserzieher, Bill. ''Douglas: The Santa Monica Years''. Santa Monica, California: The Douglas White Oaks Ranch Trust., 2009. .
* Wendell, David V
"Getting Its Wings: Chicago as the Cradle of Aviation in America."
''Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society'', Volume 92, No. 4, Winter 1999/2000, pp. 339–372.
Douglas Aircraft Company Photographs at Baker Library Historical Collections, Harvard Business School
Category:Aerospace companies of the United States
Category:Defense companies of the United States
Category:Technology companies based in Greater Los Angeles
Category:Companies based in Long Beach, California
Category:Defunct aircraft manufacturers of the United States
Category:Defunct helicopter manufacturers of the United States
Category:Defunct manufacturing companies based in Greater Los Angeles
Category:McDonnell Douglas mergers and acquisitions
Category:History of Long Beach, California
Category:History of Santa Monica, California
Category:Manufacturing companies established in 1921
Category:Technology companies established in 1921
Category:1921 establishments in California
Category:Manufacturing companies disestablished in 1967
Category:Companies based in Santa Monica, California
Category:1967 disestablishments in California
Category:1967 mergers and acquisitions
Category:Technology companies disestablished in 1967