Planes of the Past - Douglas Aircraft Company and McDonnell Douglas - Part 6

Welcome to Part 6 of Planes of the Past - Douglas Aircraft Company and McDonnell Douglas and in this Topic we will talk about -


The Douglas DC-6 is a piston-powered airliner and transport aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company from 1946 to 1958. Originally intended as a military transport near the end of World War II, it was reworked after the war to compete with the Lockheed Constellation in the long-range commercial transport market. More than 700 were built and many still fly today in cargo, military, and wildfire control roles.

The DC-6 was known as the C-118 Liftmaster in United States Air Force service and as the R6D in United States Navy service prior to 1962, after which all U.S. Navy variants were also designated as the C-118.


The United States Army Air Forces commissioned the DC-6 project as the XC-112 in 1944. The Army Air Forces wanted a lengthened, pressurized version of the DC-4-based C-54 Skymaster transport with more powerful engines. By the time the prototype XC-112A flew on 15 February 1946 the war was over, the USAAF had rescinded its requirement, and the aircraft was converted to YC-112A, being sold in 1955.

Douglas Aircraft modified the design into a civil transport 80 in (200 cm) longer than the DC-4. The civil DC-6 first flew on 29 June 1946, being retained by Douglas for testing. The first airline deliveries were to American Airlines and United Airlines on 24 November 1946. A series of inflight fires (including the fatal crash of United Airlines Flight 608) grounded the DC-6 fleet in 1947. The cause was found to be a fuel vent next to the cabin cooling turbine intake; all DC-6s were modified and the fleet was flying again after four months on the ground.

Operational History

In April 1949, United, American, Delta, National, and Braniff were flying DC-6s in the United States. United flew them to Hawaii, Braniff flew them to Rio de Janeiro, and Panagra flew Miami-Buenos Aires; KLM, SAS, and Sabena flew DC-6s across the Atlantic. BCPA DC-6s flew Sydney to Vancouver, and Philippine flew Manila to London and Manila to San Francisco.

Pan Am used DC-6Bs to start transatlantic tourist-class flights in 1952. These were the first DC-6Bs that could gross 107,000 lb (49,000 kg), with CB-17 engines rated at 2,500 hp (1,900 kW) on 108/135 octane fuel. Several European airlines followed with their own transatlantic services. The DC-6A/B/C subtypes could perhaps fly nonstop from the eastern US to Europe, but needed to refuel in Newfoundland (and perhaps elsewhere) when flying westbound (into the wind).

Douglas designed four variants of the DC-6: the basic DC-6, and the longer-fuselage (60 in (150 cm)) higher-gross-weight, longer-range versions—the DC-6A with cargo doors forward and aft of the wing on the left side, with a cargo floor; the DC-6B for passenger work, with passenger doors only and a lighter floor; and the DC-6C convertible, with the two cargo doors and removable passenger seats.

The DC-6B, originally powered by Double Wasp engines with Hamilton Standard 43E60 constant-speed reversing propellers, was regarded as the ultimate piston-engine airliner from the standpoint of ruggedness, reliability, economical operation, and handling qualities.

The military version, similar to the DC-6A, was the USAF C-118 Liftmaster; the USN R6D version used the more powerful R-2800-CB-17 engines. These were later used on the commercial DC-6B to allow international flights. The R6D Navy version (in the late 1950s and early 1960s) had Curtiss Electric constant-speed reversing propellers.

The USAF and USN renewed their interest in the DC-6 during the Korean War, and ordered 167 C-118/R6D aircraft, some of which later found their way to civil airlines. Harry Truman’s first presidential aircraft was an Air Force short-fuselage DC-6 which was designated VC-118, and named “The Independence”. It is preserved in the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Dayton, Ohio.

Total production of the DC-6 series was 704, including military versions.

In the 1960s two DC-6s were used as transmitter platforms for educational television, based at Purdue University, in a program called the Midwest Program on Airborne Television Instruction.

Many older DC-6s were replaced in airline passenger service from the mid-1950s by the Douglas DC-7, but the simpler, more economical engines in the DC-6 have meant the type has outlived the DC-7, particularly for cargo operations. DC-6/7s surviving into the jet age were replaced in frontline intercontinental passenger service by the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8.

Basic prices of a new DC-6 in 1946–47 were around £210,000–£230,000 and had risen to £310,000 by 1951. By 1960, used prices were around £175,000 per aircraft. Prices for the DC-6A in 1957–58 were £460,000–£480,000. By 1960, used prices were around £296,000. Equivalent prices for the DC-6B in 1958 were around £500,000. Used prices in 1960 were around £227,000.

From 1977 to 1990 five yellow-painted Douglas DC-6Bs were used as water bombers in France by the Sécurité Civile. They were registered F-ZBAC, F-ZBAD, F-ZBAE, F-ZBAP, and F-ZBBU.


United States military designation of an improved version of the C-54 (DC-4); became the prototype DC-6. Eventually designated YC-112A, pressurized, P&W R-2800-83AM3 engines
Initial production variant produced in two versions.
DC-6-1156 a 53- to 68-seat domestic variant with 2,400 hp (1,800 kW) R-2800-CA15 engines
DC-6-1159 a 48- to 64-seat trans-ocean variant with extra crew, increased fuel capacity to 4,722 US gallons (17,870 l), increased takeoff weight to 97,200 lb (44,100 kg) and 2,400 hp (1,800 kW) R-2800-CB16 engines.
Freighter variant; fuselage slightly lengthened from DC-6; fitted with cargo door; some retained cabin windows, others had windows deleted. Originally called “Liftmaster” as USAF models. The rear cargo door came standard with a built in 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) lift elevator and a Jeep. The Jeep was a public relations stunt and shortly after, dropped.
All-passenger variant of DC-6A, without cargo door.
DC-6B-1198A a 60- to 89-seat domestic variant with 2,400 hp (1,800 kW) R-2800-CB16 engines
DC-6B-1225A a 42- to 89-seat trans-ocean variant with increased fuel capacity to 5,512 US gal (20,870 l), increased takeoff weight to 107,000 lb (49,000 kg) and 2,500 hp (1,900 kW) R-2800-CB17 engines.
Swing tail freighter conversion to the DC-6B done by Sabena. Two converted, only one still flies owned by Buffalo Airways
Convertible cargo/passenger variant.
United States military designation for one DC-6 bought as a presidential transport with special 25-seat interior and 12 beds.
Designation of DC-6As for the United States Air Force, 101 built.
C-118As converted as staff transports.
R6D-1s redesignated.
R6D-1Zs redesignated.
United States Navy designation for the DC-6A, 65 built.
Four R6D-1s converted as staff transports.

Current Operators

Today, most DC-6s are inactive, stored, or preserved in museums. A number are still flying in northern bush operations in Alaska and Canada, while several are based in Europe and a few are still in operation for small carriers in South America.

One DC-6A, G-APSA, is based in the UK and available for private charter.
One DC-6B is in use by Red Bull in Salzburg, Austria.
One DC-6B V5-NCG “Bateleur” is in use with Namibia Commercial Aviation. This was the last DC-6 off the Douglas production line and the last DC-6 in the world in passenger configuration still flying commercially.
As of 2010, several are in use as freighters or waterbombers in Canada. They are no longer used as retardant bombers in the western United States.
As of July 2016, Everts Air Cargo in Alaska operates eleven DC-6s and two C-46s, with several more in storage. Their sister company Everts Air Fuel operates three DC-6 and two C-46.

Surviving Aircraft

As of 2014, 147 DC-6s survived, of which 47 were airworthy; several were preserved in museums.


On Display

S/N 46-0505 Independence - on display in the Presidential Hangar at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. This aircraft served as President Harry S. Truman’s personal aircraft until he left office in 1953. It later served as a VIP aircraft for other air force personnel, before being retired to the Museum in 1965.

S/N 53-3240 - on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. This aircraft served as President John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One until 1962, when it was replaced as the primary presidential aircraft by VC-137C SAM 26000, and relegated to use as the backup presidential aircraft. It was the last propeller-driven aircraft to serve in the presidential fleet.

On Display

S/N 53-3255 - on display at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. Elvis Presley returned to the United States in this aircraft after serving in the US Army in Germany. as of October 2009 it was being restored.

S/N 51-17651 - on display at the Jimmy Doolittle Air & Space Museum, located at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California. This aircraft served first in the US Air Force and was later transferred to the US Navy as Bureau Number (BuNo) 131602.

In Storage

BuNo 131594 - in storage at the Pacific Coast Air Museum, located at Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, California. This aircraft served first in the US Air Force as S/N 51-17644 and was later transferred to the US Navy.

On Display

BuNo 128424 - on display at the National Museum of Naval Aviation at NAS Pensacola, Florida. This aircraft was delivered to VR-21 at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii, in February 1955, and later converted, along with six other R6Ds to VC-118B executive transport configuration. It was used as a flag transport for the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and remained in service until October 1, 1983.

In Storage

Scrapped in early 2016 to make room for future F-35 operating area at MCAS Cherry Point. BuNo 128427 - in derelict storage at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. This aircraft, at one time, served as the official aircraft of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The aircraft was often left open to the weather, and deteriorated considerably. The aircraft’s interior is damaged, but the airframe is largely intact. - Aircraft was offered to several museums but none were able to take the aircraft. Note there were two C-118s, one want the Commandant’s. Both were scrapped.



C/N 45563 - currently flying with Red Bull out of Salzburg, Austria. This aircraft was once the private luxury transport of Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito.

On Display

C/N 45329 Empress of Suva - preserved on a smallholding at Wallmanstahl, north of Pretoria South Africa. This aircraft was stored at Swartkop Air Force Base for over ten years. After two years of restoration by enthusiasts, it was ferried to Wallmanstahl, where a temporary runway had to be constructed.

C/N 45550 - displayed at Coventry Airport at Baginton, United Kingdom. Built in September 1958, this aircraft spent most of its life in Southeast Asia, and after serving with the CIA and Royal Air Lao, it was bought by Air Atlantique Group in 1987. Its last commercial flight was on October 26, 2004. It was featured in the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale. No longer flying, it was converted into a static restaurant at Coventry airport, the “DC-6 Diner”.

In Storage

Two DC-6 which belonged to Aerosur, an extinct Colombian airline, are abandoned and parked in Alfonso Bonilla Aragón International Airport of Cali, Colombia.



Crew - 3 to 4
Capacity - 48 to 68 Passengers
Length - 100 ft 7 in (30.66 m)
Wingspan - 117 ft 6 in (35.81 m)
Height - 28 ft 5 in (8.66 m)
Wing area - 1,463 sq ft (135.9 m2)
Empty Weight - 52,567 lb (23,844 kg)
Maximum Take-Off Weight - 97,200 lb (44,100 kg)
Powerplant (4x) - Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CA15 “Double Wasp” radial engine, 2,400 hp (1,800 kW) with water injection each
Propellers - Hamilton Standard 43E60 “Hydromatic” constant-speed props with autofeather and reverse thrust
Cruise Speed - 311 mph (501 km/h)
Range - 311 mph (501 km/h)


Source - File:Douglas DC-6 EC-AUC TASSA LGW 29.08.64 edited-2.jpg - Wikipedia

Source - File:Dc-6-g-apsa-far2008-01.jpg - Wikipedia

Source - File:DC-6 G-APSA.jpg - Wikipedia

Source - File:DC6-Redbull.jpg - Wikipedia

Source - File:DC-6 of Everts Air Cargo at Deadhorse Airport, 2016.jpg - Wikipedia

Source - File:6609-UAL-DC-6-NorthRampStapletonDEN.jpg - Wikipedia

Source - File:Western Airlines DC-6.tif - Wikipedia

Source - File:Douglas VC-118 Independence in flight c1947.jpg - Wikipedia

This topic was made by @B747fan wit the help of Wikipedia now I will begin working on DC-7 , Link to the last one -


MaxSez; Great Series, What ya gonna do when you hit the Boeing Merger?
The design team transitions and new blood for the 21 century leads the way!
If it ain’t Boeing it ain’t going!


With the DC-9 and MD-11 @Maxmustang

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MaxSez: Good show on the Boeing transition. Your research of boneyard, display and currant Ops are welcome. A lot of time and effort noted.

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It takes nearly 2 hours

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Yes read the 1st topic it says DC-9 and its new models

Wow. My sight must be going. Sorry about that. 😂

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Sorry to break it to you but i don’t ever read any of it 😅 I just look at the pictures. And I have to say this is the best looking MD in your series so far

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So Sorry today I was busy so tomorrow their will be `2 of them

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