McDonnell / Douglas

World Cruiser (DWC)

Douglas World Cruiser (DWC)

McDonnell / Douglas


The Douglas World Cruiser (DWC) was developed to meet a requirement from the United States Army Air Service for an aircraft suitable for an attempt at the first flight around the world

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World Cruiser (DWC)

In 1923, the U.S. Army Air Service was interested in pursuing a mission to be the first to circumnavigate the earth by aircraft, a program called “World Flight”.[2] Donald Douglas proposed a modified Douglas Aircraft Company DT to meet the Army’s needs. The two-place, open cockpit DT biplane torpedo bomber had previously been supplied to the Navy, thus shortening production time for the new series.[3] The DTs to be modified were taken from the assembly lines at the company’s manufacturing plants in Rock Island, Illinois and Dayton, Ohio.[4] Douglas promised that the design could be completed within 45 days after receiving a contract. The Air Service agreed and lent Lieutenant Erik Nelson, a member of the War Department planning group, to assist Douglas. Nelson worked directly with Douglas at the Santa Monica, California factory, to formulate the new proposal

Operational use

From 17 March 1924, the pilots practiced in the prototype which served as a training aircraft.[6] On 6 April 1924, the four expedition aircraft, named Boston, Chicago, New Orleans and Seattle,[N 2] departed Sand Point, Washington, near Seattle, Washington. [N 3]Seattle, the lead aircraft, crashed in Alaska on 30 April. The other three aircraft with Chicago assuming the lead, continued west across Asia and Europe relying on a carefully planned logistics system, including prepositioned spare engines and fuel caches maintained by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, to keep the aircraft flying



ManufacturerDouglas Aircraft Company
DesignerDonald Douglas
First flightNovember 1923
Primary userU.S. Army Air Service
Number built5
Developed fromDouglas DT

RAF designations

Reproduction aircraft

Bob Dempster of Seattle, Washington, built an airworthy reproduction Douglas World Cruiser, the Seattle II, powered by a restored Liberty engine, which made its maiden flight on 29 June 2016. He plans to repeat the around-the-world flight in Seattle II, starting in April 2017.[30][31]


 United States

Specifications (Douglas DWC)

  • General characteristics

    • Crew: 2
    • Length: 35 ft 6 in (10.82 m) (landplane)
    39 ft (12 m) (floatplane)
    • Wingspan: 50 ft 0 in (15.24 m)
    • Height: 13 ft 7 in (4.14 m) (landplane)
    15 ft 1 in (4.60 m) (floatplane)
    • Wing area: 707 sq ft (65.7 m2)
    • Airfoil: USA 27[34]
    • Empty weight: 4,380 lb (1,987 kg) (landplane)
    5,180 lb (2,350 kg) (floatplane)
    • Gross weight: 6,995 lb (3,173 kg) (landplane)
    7,795 lb (3,536 kg) (floatplane)
    • Fuel capacity: 644 US gal (536 imp gal; 2,440 l) in 6 tanks; DOS 110 US gal (92 imp gal; 420 l)
    • Powerplant: 1 × Liberty L-12 V-12 water-cooled piston engine, 420 hp (310 kW)
    • Propellers: 2-bladed fixed-pitch wooden propellers

Specifications (Douglas (DWC))



  • Maximum speed: 103 mph (166 km/h, 90 kn) at sea level (landplane)100 mph (87 kn; 160 km/h) (floatplane)
  • Ferry range: 2,200 mi (3,500 km, 1,900 nmi) (landplane)1,650 mi (1,430 nmi; 2,660 km) (floatplane)
  • Service ceiling: 10,000 ft (3,000 m) (landplane)7,700 ft (2,300 m) (floatplane)
  • Wing loading: 9.9 lb/sq ft (48 kg/m2) (landplane)11 lb/sq ft (54 kg/m2) (floatplane)
  • Power/mass: 0.06 hp/lb (0.099 kW/kg) (landplane)0.054 hp/lb (0.089 kW/kg) (floatplane)



  • Guns: DOS 2x 0.3 in (7.6 mm) machine-guns on a flexible mount in the rear cockpit

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Aircrafttoaal encyclopedia

The Douglas World Cruiser (DWC) was developed to meet a requirement from the United States Army Air Service for an aircraft suitable for an attempt at the first flight around the world. The Douglas Aircraft Company responded with a modified variant of their DT torpedo bomber, the DWC.