DC-3, also called Douglas DC-3, Skytrain, C-47 (U.S. Army), R4D (U.S. Navy), or Dakota (Royal Air Force), transport aircraft, the world’s first successful commercial airliner, readily adapted to military use during World War II. The DC-3, first flown in 1935, was a low-wing twin-engine monoplane that in various conformations could seat 21 or 28 passengers or carry 6,000 pounds (2,725 kg) of cargo. It was over 64 feet (19.5 metres) long, with a wingspan of 95 feet (29 metres). It was manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Company, Inc.
The DC-3 served, indeed dominated, the infant airline business from its first appearance. In the mid-1940s all but 25 of the 300 airline planes operating in the United States were DC-3s. Its wartime adaptations were simple and effective. It was used to transport passengers (28), fully armed paratroopers (28), wounded troops (18 stretchers and a medical crew of three), military cargo (e.g., two light trucks), and anything else that could fit through its cargo doors and weighed not much more than three tons. A version that carried only troops was called the C-53. The aeroplane was also used to tow gliders and was even converted to an efficient, high-speed glider by simply removing its engines (and fairing over their empty cowls) and other nonessential weight. As a glider, it could carry 40 fully armed troops at a top towing speed of 290 miles per hour (464 km per hour)—90 mph faster than any previous transport glider and 26 percent faster than its own top speed as a transport aeroplane.
In civilian service, the DC-3 was operated by a two-man crew, usually with a cabin attendant. The military version used larger engines and a flight crew of three. The DC-3’s main landing gear was retractable, but its steerable tail-wheel was not.
Pilots, both military and civilian, loved the DC-3. It took off easily, cruised comfortably at 185 mph at 10,000 feet, and had a ceiling of 23,200 feet and a low stalling speed (67 mph). Pilots said it landed itself, and it had a cruising range of 1,500–2,100 miles. When production of the DC-3 ended in 1945, more than 13,000 of them had been built. The DC-3’s ease of handling and maintenance, its facility at taking off and landing on short runways, and its remarkable reliability combined to keep it flying in many regions of the world into the 21st century.
Thirty years ago the current owners and a small group of entrepreneurial friends decided that something leftfield needed to be done to ensure that both their current business and the township of Mangaweka became cemented into the minds and memories of the public.
And so the DC3 was purchased from a Manawatu Aviation company, refurbished and towed to its current site at Mangaweka, beside what was then a petrol station and base for the adventure tourism company Rangitikei River Adventures. The plane achieved its goal and it is now a State Highway One icon, a must-stop for many travellers, particularly those with young children.
Six years ago the petrol station was closed and the cafe expanded to sit under the old forecourt, making the coffee and services available to those passing through as well as those looking for a refreshing break.
And this is how she looked a decade prior 🙂
Mangaweka is an intimate ville, on the North Island of New Zealand, which lies between Wellington and Palmerston North for those familiar. Mangaweka sits within the hills of the rugged Rangitikei Hill Country, halfway through the Rangitikei District.
3 hours north of Wellington
1 hour North of Palmerston North
2 hours South of Taupo
Closest Centre: Taihape approx. 15 mins
Mangaweka has had a long and chequered history, once a thriving railhead, the population has swelled a number of times throughout the last century as development of the main transport routes has changed as our ability to tackle the problems of the rugged geology has changed. The town is now on a modern highway with no more options for deviating from its current route.
The population of the township itself sits at around 300 and it also serves a larger farming community with a 20k or so radius.
Its position beside the beautiful Rangitikei River has given the area expanding opportunities in the tourism industry with an increasingly popular riverside campground, a large new tourist facility and well-established adventure tourism businesses.
Town loses ‘heart’ after iconic plane removed for repairs
The absence of Mangaweka’s DC-3, one of New Zealand’s most iconic roadside attractions, has put the town in the middle of what feels like a heart transplant, one resident says.
The DC-3 put the small central North Island town on the map and had been a landmark for travellers on State Highway 1 for nearly four decades. It was taken away to undergo repairs last Thursday.
Its owner Brendan “Mintie” Cottle said the plane had landed safely at a property he owned in Shannon, where the DC-3 was still a bit of a roadside attraction – sitting near the Highway 57 Bakery and Cafe.
A team of retired aviation engineers and DC-3 enthusiasts had begun work, and once they were done, Cottle intended to bring it back to Mangaweka in a purpose-built hangar to protect it from the elements.
Its departure felt like the town was having a heart transplant, she said. You know the doctors need to take the heart out to fix things, and the plan is to replace it, but you can’t help worrying during the operation. Dorrian said Mangaweka was in decline in the early 1980s, the new road and railway line were finished and the workers who had brought a bit of heyday to the town had moved on. Many “doubted the wisdom” of the Eames’ bold plan, but in hindsight, it was hard to argue it hadn’t paid off spectacularly for the town, she said.“Mangaweka was featured in magazines, reporters wanted to talk to everyone and tourist groups were interested in us.“New jobs were created… the plane gave us a renewed vigour and a sense of pride.”