Douglas DC-3 Dakota Owners' Workshop Manual

Published: January 3rd, 2012     
Product Image
Author: Paul and Louise Blackah
Reviewed by: Brian R. Baker - IPMS# 43146
Company: Zenith Press
ISBN #: 978-0-7603-4291-6
Other Publication Information: Hardcover, 8.5” x 11”, 160 pages, 250 color and 50 bw photos
Price: $28.00
Product / Stock #: 194817


The Douglas DC-3, with its numerous aliases, was probably the most famous and influential transport airplane ever made, and a case can be made for even more praise than that. First appearing in the mid-thirties, it became standard equipment for nearly all major airlines until the outbreak of World War II, and then the plane was mass-produced in very large numbers as a military transport. It was also produced in the Soviet Union and in Japan. DC-3s were very common sights at airports postwar as they continued in airline and corporate service for many years, and many are still flying throughout the world. A current aviation enthusiast who is unfamiliar with the DC-3 has to be a rare breed, as the plane is still famous today.

The Book

This book is not a definitive history of the DC-3 - that task has been accomplished by Jennifer Gradidge among others - but is rather a book dealing with the operation and maintenance of these airplanes, as well over 100 are still flying today. There is, however, considerable historical information on the development and service use of the DC-3. The author, an aircraft restoration expert associated with the RAF's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and who has been involved in the restoration and operation of several DC-3's, tackles the subject mainly from the British viewpoint. Nevertheless, a rather complete history of Allied use of the aircraft is presented, although there is no mention of Russian or Japanese wartime usage. In addition, the main thrust of the book is the Pratt and Whitney-powered versions, and little mention is made of Wright-powered versions that I helped load for Capital Airlines when I was in high school.

Probably the most interesting part of the book, from a pilot's perspective, is the account of the flight characteristics of the type. Having had a brother who flew the type in airline service, I was naturally interested in the procedures used to operate the DC-3, even though these were limited to what the RAF crews did when flying their Dakota to various air displays. However, an airplane of this complexity has to be flown in a certain way to preserve it, and the procedures sounded similar to those my brother related to me years ago.

Other sections of the book include a detailed description of the specifics of the airplane's systems, suggestions to individuals interested in owning and operating one, and issues of maintenance, rebuilding, and airframe preservation. Most of this, again, describes British procedures, but the whole idea is to convey to the reader the feeling of owning, operating, and maintaining such a complex vintage aircraft. This it does extremely well. This is an author who has excellent writing skills.

I found the book fascinating and fun to read, a break from the usual history of military types and their operational careers. It contains everything you could possibly want to know about owning and operating a DC-3, and probably a whole lot more. If you are interested in DC-3's, this is a good book to have. Highly recommended.

Thanks to John Wurm of Zenith Press and Steve Collins of IPMS/USA for the review copy. I will treasure it.

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