More Douglas Commercials
Douglas DC-4 – Douglas DC-5 – Douglas DC-6
Ten weeks ago we looked at the first three Douglas Commercial airliners, the DC-1, DC-2 and DC-3. They had a major effect on the development of air travel in the 1930s and 1940s. Let’s now look at the next three Douglas airliners. Two of them, the DC-4 and DC-6, had a major impact on air travel in the 1940s and 1950s while the DC-5 might have been just as influential had it not been for war.
Douglas DC-4 in 1/144 by Minicraft with decals by Hawkeye
Development of the DC-4 began in the mid 1930s to make an airliner with accommodation for over 40 passengers. It made its first flight in June 1938 but test showed it was inefficient and that aircraft was sold to Japan (where it became the basis for the Nakajima G5N bomber.
Design work began on an improved version but, with the United States entry into World War II, all production was taken over by the miliary and it was manufactured primarily as the C-54. During the war 1,163 military versions of this aircraft were manufactured and many of them were converted for civil use after the war. A further eighty fully civil versions were also built. Together these airliners played an important part in the establishment of international air transport in the late 1940s and 1950s. The DC-4 depicted was one of the aircraft to fly the first air services between Australia and North America.
There appear to be only two kits of the DC-4/C-54 in 1/144, one published by Minicraft and the other by Welsh Models. The latter is as vacformed kit so only suitable for the bold and the brave. The Minicraft kit makes into quite an attractive little model without too much fuss. The reviewed for IPM/USA found it ‘very relaxing’ and continued ‘I took a vacation from superdetail, photo etched belt buckles and resin parts and just plain enjoyed this project’. However, if you want to go for all that extra trouble and have the room for it, the Revell 1/72 C-54 kit is highly recommended according to Brett Green in Hyperscale.
Douglas DC-5 in 1/14 by F-Rsin
This aircraft was designed by Douglas to carry 16 to 22 passengers over shorter routes than those flown by the DC-3. The first one flew in February 1939. However, with the beginning of World War II and a subsequent fall in airline interest, and the production facilities being taken over to build Douglas SBD dive bombers, only twelve were made. Four of then were flown by KNILM, a Dutch airline flying in what is now Indonesia. Three of them survived to take part in evacuations to Australia ahead of the Japanese invasion. They were then flown by Australian National Airways for the war effort. One survived the war and went to Israel where it was part of the struggles at the founding of that nation.
It seems that the only kit of this aircraft in 1/144 was published by F-Rsin some years ago and the only review I could find of it is the Workbench Note that I wrote about it. There was also a 1/72 Planet resin kit of the DC-5 published in 2013. While I haven’t seen a copy, my experience with Planet kits is usually positive. There is a review of the Planet kit on the IPMS Deutschland website and, while my German is limited to a few choice words, the good photos included suggest that this would be an okay built. So it might be worth trying to find a copy of the kit to fill this gap in your Douglas collection.
Douglas DC-6 in 1/144 by Roden with decals by Oldmodels
This aircraft began as a military requirement for a larger, pressurized DC-4. By the time the first one flew in February 1946 the war was over so Douglas reworked it as a civil airliner. Seven hundred and four were build between 1946 and 1958, some seeing military service as C-118s but most flying for airlines on the longest air routes in competition with Lockheed Constellations. The DC-6 depicted here began flying with an combined Australian and New Zealand airline (note the two flags on the tail) on the trans-Pacific air service and later with Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) which later became Air New Zealand.
There are a couple of kits of the DC-6 in 1/144, a DC-6B published by Minicraft first in 1997 and a DC-6 published by Roden in 2010. This model was made from the Roden kit which I though was more detailed and refined than the Minicraft kit. You can find a detailed build review of this kit on mmmscalemodels which puts my model to shame. In 1/144 any visual differences between a DC-6 and a DC-6B are negligible and the Minicraft kit is more than adequate in this scale if that’s all you can find. If you have the skill, patience and room for it, there is a Heller kit of the DC-6 in 1/72 which was published first in 1984. Most comments I seen about this kit favour it so it might be worth a go if you don’t like the smaller scale.