Thursday, 17 May 2007

Donald Wills Douglas 1892–1981

Graduated by Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1914, Donald Wills Douglas became chief engineer of the Glenn L Martin Co in 1915. He was appointed chief civilian aeronautical engineer of the Army's aviation section in 1916, then rejoined Martin in 1917, where designed the famous Martin Bomber.
Forming his own company in 1920, Douglas embarked on a career of manufacturing private, commercial, and military aircraft. His Cloudster was the first airplane to lift a payload equal to its own weight and, based on its design, in 1924 he built the DWC World Cruisers that made the first global flight. This brought him fame as an aircraft designer. In the mid-1920s he produced a remarkable series of observation, cargo, transport, mail, and amphibian airplanes. In 1932 came the development of his historic DC series of commercial transports—the DC-2 was an immediate success, and earned Douglas Co the 1935 Collier trophy. Its successor, DC-3, became the world's most widely-used airliner and helped make commercial aviation practical.

With the approach of WW2, his company mass-produced troop and cargo transports, as well as bombers, dive bombers, and attack planes for the Allied forces. After the war, Douglas Co developed new types of military aircraft and missiles, as well as important new multi-engine commercial transports that helped make possible the expansion of domestic and international passenger and cargo air service.