First introduced in 1935, the Douglas Commercial 3 DC-3 is one of the most successful aircraft designs in history, with a few still operational in the 21st century. Well over 10,000 were built, in a variety of designations:
- C-47 Skytrain (transport): U.S. Army Air Corps, Air Force, and U.S. Air Force military transport version
- R-4D (transport): land-based U.S. Navy transport variant
- Dakota: Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force transport variant, derived from DACoTA for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft
- AC-47 Spooky (ground attack), also known as "Puff the Magic Dragon", Vietnam War gunship
It has many informal names, but perhaps "Gooney Bird" is best known. These Pacific birds fly gracefully but are comical when they land; the DC-3 has an old-style "tail dragging" landing gear system with two wing wheels that make the first contact, and a third wheel under the tail.
Other military variants served in electronic warfare, ski-equipped transport, search and rescue, air ambulance, signals intelligence, imagery intelligence, VIP transport, and trainers. Civilian applications have included airline passenger and cargo transport. A few fuselages were converted into restaurants near airports.
The original aircraft had two reciprocating propeller engines, with an operational range of 1,600 miles at 160 mph and a ceiling of 24,000 feet. Its maximum range was 3,800 miles.