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DC-3 enters ninth decade

written by australianaviation.com.au | December 22, 2015

Air Nostalgia DC-3 VH-TMQ at Essendon Airport on December 17 2015. (Gordon Reid)
Air Nostalgia DC-3 VH-TMQ at Essendon Airport on December 17 2015. (Gordon Reid)

The Douglas DC-3 is still going strong 80 years after its first flight took place on December 17 1935.

The first DC-3s were built for American Airlines and featured either eight sleeper berths (called the Douglas Sleeper Transport) or a standard configuration of 21 seats.

The DC-3 proved one of aviation’s most successful programs, with about 16,000 aircraft built between 1935 and 1946 – comprising 600 or so civil DC-3s, over 10,000 military C-47 Skytrain/Dakota variants plus aircraft licence-built in Russia and Japan. The C-47 provided the bulk of US and allied nations’ airlift capabilities in WW2, while after the war surplus C-47s were converted into DC-3 airliners in their thousands and they would play a central role in the development of the postwar airline industry across the world.

Australian Aviation Traffic columnist Gordon Reid captured some images of Air Nostalgia’s DC-3 VH-TMQ taking off from Essendon Airport on December 17 2015, 80 years to the day since DC-3’s thefirst flight.

The Air Nostalgia DC-3 was built as a C-47 for the US Army Air Force (serial 44-76552) before it headed to Australia to join the Royal Australian Air Force (as A65-91).


And after its service with the RAAF, the aircraft found a home with various Australian airlines and featured in an ABC television documentary, before being sold to Air Nostalgia in 1996.

With a completely restored and modernised interior, VH-TMQ has 28 seats and operates charter flights from Essendon.

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Comments (10)

  • Raymond


    80 years! Wow.

    What type of engines would be powering VH-TMQ now?

  • Ray S


    The DC-3/C-47 was powered by two R-1830 Pratt & Whitney engines producing 1,200 brake horsepower at takeoff and 1,050 maximum continuous bhp. The first DC-3 rolled off the assembly line in 1935 (the year I was born.) I have 3,500 hours in the airplane and loved every minute of it. By the way the pilot is landing with the tail too high. The aircraft lands best in a tail low attitude but not in a three point attitude.

  • John Alldis


    I was also born that year and have fond memories of the aircraft, spent my life working on aircraft of all types and was still working on a DC3 after my retirement

  • Jim Duff


    The photos were taken during take-off, not landing. The flaps are retracted for take-off.

  • John clark


    I flew the 3 for about 4000 hrs between 1957 and 1965. ..All the ones I flew had the Wright 1820s and my ears are still ringing…That bird got us in and out of a lot of places in all weatherconditions. Liong live the mighty 3….??



    I have worked on every part of this great aircraft. After getting my airframe and power plant certificate I joined North Central Airlines who had a fleet of DC-3s..The fabric control surfaces required frequent refurbishing and the Wright 1820 engines needed cylinder( jug) changes. The lower cylinders were messy to change due to the oil. .The aircraft had a locking tail wheel for flight. On the ground it could be unlocked for taxing or towing. If you forgot to unlock it you could shear the lock pin, nasty job to change.

  • Ted Horncastle


    Ref:-That tail wheel locking pin. Night shift, Towing aircraft to hanger, forgot to un-lock the pin,
    Jack North on the brakes in the cockpit “Blame him” Great Times, Wonderful memories, Not forgetting the best of work mates

  • Peter de Jarlais


    Was this the first aircraft with an aluminium skin ? My father has some beaut photos of the DC3/Dakota in Papua New Guinea some 74 years ago where they both were fighting the Japanese – how good was/is this aircraft !

  • Scott W


    My late father flew this particular aircraft in the 50’s as A65-91 whilst in 38 Squadron. Great to see it still in the air!

  • Kevin Francis


    Readers might be interested to know Air Chathams’ in New Zealand operate a Douglas DC-3 ZK-AWP between their base in Auckland and Whakatane

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