Max. Speed (Vne):
4 x 2,500 hp ea.
105 ft. 7 in.
117 ft. 6 in.
The DC-6 (DC = Douglas Commercial), produce by Douglas, carried larger payloads with more speed and economy than any other aircraft of its time. It was flown by every major airline in the world, plus the U.S. Air Force and Navy. It was used as a passenger and cargo transport, and as a water bomber, with 2,800 gallons of retardant capacity.
The DC-6 and its predecessor share identical wingspans. However the engines of the airplane were more powerful and its fuselage longer. In addition to more powerful engines, the new aircraft has a stronger airframe, a pressurized interior, and three bladed propellers capable of reversing pitch for braking.
The DC-6 was one of the primary airliners regularly flying passengers around the world in previously unknown comfort. Its powerful radial engines and three bladed propellers made it capable of speeds and distances nearly one third greater, while carrying 1.5 tons more payload, than its predecessor.
The engines of the DC-6 incorporated anti detonation injection for cooling. This increased take off power by about twenty percent. It works by streaming a mixture of water and methanol through a regulator valve into the engine’s intake manifold. When mixed with an incoming air and fuel charge in the engine’s cylinders, it produces greater power by enabling the presence of a greater density of air to produce more complete combustion. When power is reduced for normal cruising, the injection automatically ceases.
DC-6 aircraft were appreciated by their air and ground crews, operators and passengers. Flying the aircraft was a pleasure. Its controls are well balanced and responsive, while its engines are powerful, reliable, and economical to operate. The cockpit is large with controls and instruments logically placed.
The airplane has a respectable climb speed of around 185 mph, and generally cruises between 16,000 and 20,000 feet at around 287 mph. Due to its strong airframe, it is possible to maintain cruising speed throughout its landing descent.
One model of the DC-6 served in the USAF as the official aircraft for President Harry Truman. During the Korean War some 167 of the aircraft were pressed into military service.
The DC-6 proved so popular with airlines that its manufacture continued for a short time after its successor stopped being built.
All military versions of the DC-6 were retired from service around 1985. However civilian versions of the aircraft have been used as water bombers, and some 50 of the aircraft continue in use today in air charter and cargo service.
A total of over 700 DC-6 aircraft of all types were produced.