Douglas C-41

The Douglas C-41 was the designation given to a single transport aircraft produced as a transport for the Chief of Staff of the Army Air Corps, and that was probably the first DC-3 to be purchased for the USAAC.

Most sources state that the C-41 was based on the DC-2 and was similar to the C-39 with the fuselage and outer wing of the DC-2 and the central wing section, engine nacelles and tail unit of the DC-3, but differing from the C-39 in having a standard airline passenger door instead of the cargo door, and more powerful R-1830 Twin Wasp engines which increased its top speed by 10mph, but its cruising speed by nearly 50mph.

However the aircraft itself still exists (complete with the Douglas Data Plate). Modern photographs of the aircraft (N41HQ) match USAAF pictures of the C-41, and front views of the aircraft show very clearly that it has the rounded fuseage of the DC-3, not the flat sided fuselage of the DC-2/ C-39. Interior shots show that it can fit three seats across, again matching the DC-3, not the DC-2. Its Douglas serial number (2053) comes in the middle of a run of DC-3s (but just before the C-39). The reported Douglas designation for the aircraft was DC-2-253, but the -253 designation was also used for at least one DC-3A. The C-41 is very obviously a DC-3, despite being ordered amongst a batch DC-2 variants (its military serial number of 38-502 is in the middle of the range allocated to the C-39 and the sole C-42 (38-499 to 38-535). The C-42 was also a staff transport, again said to be based on the DC-2/ C-39 (photographs of this aircraft show the flatter fuselage sides of the DC-2). This would suggest that the C-41 and C-42 were deliberately ordered to test out the capabilities of the DC-3 and DC-2 as staff transports (it is also possible that the DC-2-253 designation was a contemporary typo, or that Douglas used the DC-3 as the basis of the C-41 in an attempt to sell the newer aircraft to the Air Corps).

The C-41 was based at Washington, and for some time was used by General Henry “Hap” Arnold. The second DC-3 to be purchased for the Army Air Corps was designated the C-41A, and was also used by senior staff.

Engines: Pratt and Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp x2
Power: 1,200hp (war emergency setting)
Wing span: 85ft 0in
Length: 61ft 10in
Height: 18ft 8in
Empty weight: 17,525lb
Loaded weight: 21,000lb
Maximum weight: 26,300lb
Maximum speed: 225 mph at 7,500 ft
Cruising speed: 204 mph at 5,000ft
Normal range: 1,285 miles
Maximum range: 2,350 miles

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (10 November 2008, modified 11 April 2016), Douglas C-41 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_douglas_C-41.html

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