Aircraft By Type

Aircraft Make & Model:
Douglas DC-3
25,200 lb.
500 miles
170 mph
65 ft.
95 ft.
16 ft.
2 Wright Cyclone GR-1820G-202A engines
HP or Thrust:
1200 hp.
No. flown by DL:
23 including 3 Douglas C-47s in all-cargo configuration
6 more seats than DC-2, cargo capacity, food galley
Not pressurized
First Delivery:
Nov. 29, 1940
First Scheduled Service:
December 24, 1940
Reason Aquired:
Most airlines were flying DC-3 fleets by 1940
Last Retirement:
October 29, 1960
Reason Disposed:
Replaced by Convair 340/440

Narrative:  Douglas DC-3 1940-1960

The DC-3 revolutionized commercial aviation. Its passenger capacity, speed, and economical operation finally made passenger travel profitable for the airlines. Introduced into service by American Airlines in 1936. 

Fun Facts

  • By 1940, DC-3's carried 80% of the world's airline traffic.   
  • First airplane with fuel capacity to fly New York-Chicago scheduled nonstop service.
  • Delta christened a DC-3 (Ship 40) as "City of Atlanta" with Coca-Cola. 
  • Delta christened Ship 43 as "City of Miami" with orange juice.
Early Delta Service
Delta purchased its first five DC-3s new from Douglas Aircraft Company. They cost $115,000 each. The rest of Delta's DC-3 passenger and cargo fleet, acquired in 1944-1949, were ex-military. According to Douglas records:
  • Ship 40, N28340, was delivered on November 29, 1940
  • Ship 41, N28341, was delivered on January 4, 1941.
  • Ship 42, N28342, was delivered on January 6, 1941
  • Ship 43, N28343, was delivered on January 4, 1941
  • Ship 44, N28344, was delivered on January 12, 1941

According to Delta Air Corporation Daily Flight Logs for Route A.M. 24, the first-delivered DC-3, Ship 40, named “City of Atlanta,” was the first DC-3 to go into scheduled service with Delta on December 24, 1940, from Atlanta, Georgia, to Birmingham, Alabama. Ship 41, now housed at the Delta Flight Museum, went into service on January 19, 1941, flying from Atlanta to Ft. Worth, Texas.  

In December 1940, Delta's route stretched from Ft. Worth, Texas, to Charleston, South Carolina. Smaller 10-passenger Lockheed Electras flew the Charleston-Atlanta section. DC-3 flying Atlanta to Ft. Worth took 6 hours, made 4 stops and cost $38.50 ($69.30 roundtrip).
Meal service included boxed lunches of fried chicken or ham, salad and cookies. Tall thermos jugs in the galley held coffee, soup, ice water and hot water for tea. Bottles of Coca-Cola were also available. Crackers and chewing gum helped prevent airsickness and ear problems in the unpressurized cabins.

With six Delta planes in military service during World War II, a fleet of four DC-3's kept the airline flying.

Post-War Service
DC-3 aircraft launched Delta's early cargo service. In 1945, an unconverted military freighter flew Delta's first experimental cargo flight of live tomato plants in 1945. Modified DC-3s, or Douglas C-47, with reinforced fuselage floors and large cargo doors started flying air freight in 1946, and scheduled all-cargo services began in 1947.

In 1947, DC-3 NC49657 was destroyed in mid-air collision with a small aircraft at Columbus, Georgia, on April 22. The DC-3 was not in scheduled service, but on a survey flight with eight of Delta's senior managers and a pilot on board, who were all killed.

In 1950, Delta modified its DC-3s to hold 25 passengers. Boarding stairs were incorporated into aircraft doors. Exteriors shone with bright new updated "white top" paint job.

The final DC-3 left Delta service on October 29, 1960. All were sold by end of April 1963.

More  Information 

  • Delta DC-3 & C-47 Fleet Lists: Ship, registration and serial numbers and service history for each aircraft.
  • 1940 Delta DC-3 Mailer: Announces the DC-3's arrival at Delta
  • 1950 Delta Restyled DC-3 Brochure: Introduces the DC-3 modification that Delta customers help design.
  • Boeing.comDevelopment and specifications of the Douglas DC-3 
  • dc-3_pilot_in_cockpit
  • dc-3_FA_greets_pax_porter_loads_bags_ca1941
  • Douglas DC-3
  • dc-3_galley_coca-cola_1941
  • dc-3_interior
  • The DC-3 The Plane That Changed The World
  • DC-3 Mass Flyover Oshkosh 2010