The Douglas Aircraft Co. ... Launching the DC-6
Scientist and mechanic alike have a heritage and tradition with which there is no compromise. Together they work; together they plan ahead and look ahead.
-- Donald Douglas Sr.
Within six months of the end of World War II, Douglas had trimmed its workforce by 99,000 and closed its plants in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., and Chicago, Ill.
Not only did the war's end bring cancellation of government aircraft orders, it also created huge surpluses of aircraft. The Douglas Aircraft Co. found itself competing against converted C-47s and C-54s, the same planes it produced during the war.
Douglas reorganized its three remaining plants along customer and product lines. In California, Santa Monica became the center for production of commercial transports and their military derivatives, El Segundo for Navy aircraft, and Long Beach for Air Force programs.
As the war ended, Douglas developed a pressurized version of the C-54 Skymaster that was more than 80 inches longer and had large rectangular windows, rather than round portholes. It made its first flight Feb. 15, 1946. It evolved into Douglas' first new post-war passenger transport, the DC-6, using four Pratt & Whitney engines that were twice as powerful as those used on the DC-4/C-54.
The DC-6, like its equivalent, the Boeing Stratocruiser (based on the C-97 military transport), was advertised as being able to "fly over the weather." To help market the new airplane, Douglas public relations staff photographed models inside the DC-6 cabin. Among them was Norma Jean Baker -- before she was known as Marilyn Monroe. The demand for the DC-6 vastly exceeded sales estimates.
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