To this day more than 400 DC3s still remain in service worldwide proving its durability, longevity and profitability. Over 10,000 were built in both civil and military versions in the US including licensed copies in Japan as the Showa L2D and in the USSR as the Lisunov Li-2.
Development of the DC3 began in 1934 after the initial single versions of the DC1 and DC2 which made their inaugural flights in 1933 and 1934 respectively. At the request of American Airlines, Douglas was asked to develop an improved version of the DC2 to be used on transcontinental sleeper flights. This variant of the DC3 flew for the first time on December 17, 1935.
Prior to World War 2 the DC3 became the aircraft of choice for US airlines such as United, American, TWA and Eastern. With its great versatility and profitability more than 400 were sold by the end of 1941.
With the United States entering World War 2 in late 1941 the production of the DC3 increased significantly. The US Army's requirement for a transport aircraft resulted in the production of more than 10,000 military DC3s known as the C47 Skytrain. This aircraft became the standard for the US and its allies.
After the war thousands of surplus C47s were converted to civil service and became the backbone of the airline industry worldwide. Many of them remained in regular service well into the 1950s. Even today, over 70 years after its first flight, the DC3 remains in operation with small operators all over the world primarily in the cargo industry.The common saying amongst pilots and aviation enthusiasts is that "the only replacement for the DC3 is another DC3."
Canadian Pacific Airlines (CPAL), the predecessor to CP Air, acquired a fleet of 17 surplus C47s during 1946 and 1947. The aircraft were refurbished and entered service on domestic routes mainly to remote communities in Canada. With the withdrawal of these services in the late 1950s CPAL began selling off its fleet of DC3s however, CF-CRX remained with CP Air for pilot training purposes.
On July 4 1974 CF-CRX was used to fly a group of Air Cadets on a tour of the Fraser Valley, BC. The group landed at Abbotsford and after taking off the pilot was unable to get a positive indication that the landing gear had retracted. The pilot had no alternative but to return to Abbotsford and the crew and passengers were taken to Vancouver by bus. The following day CF-CRX was ferried to Vancouver with its landing gear down and on October 23 1974 the aircraft was sold.