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”. 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. The DTs to be modified were taken from the assembly lines at the company’s manufacturing plants in Rock Island, Illinois and Dayton, Ohio. 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
From 17 March 1924, the pilots practiced in the prototype which served as a training aircraft. 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
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.
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.