The Douglas DC-6 Association

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A brief history of the Douglas DC-6/C-118



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The Douglas DC-6 was one of the first airplanes to fly a regularly scheduled around-the-world route. With its higher performance, increased accommodation, greater payload and pressurized cabin, it was a natural evolution of the DC-4.

Although the DC-6 had the same wingspan as the DC-4, its engines helped it fly 90 mph faster than the DC-4, carry 3,000 pounds more payload and fly 850 miles farther. The DC-6 could maintain the cabin pressure of 5,000 feet while flying at 20,000 feet.

American Airlines and United Airlines ordered the commercial DC-6 in 1946, and Pan American Airways used the DC-6 to start tourist-class service across the North Atlantic. The 29th DC-6 was ordered by the Air Force, adapted as the presidential aircraft and designated the VC-118. It was delivered on July 1, 1947, and called The Independence after President Harry Truman's hometown, Independence, Mo.

The larger, all-cargo DC-6A first flew Sept. 29, 1949; the larger capacity DC-6B, which could seat up 102 people, first flew Feb. 10, 1951. After the Korean War broke out in 1951, the military ordered DC-6As modified as either C-118A "Liftmaster" personnel carriers, as the Navy's R6D transports or as MC-118As for aeromedical evacuation. Between 1947 and 1959, Douglas built a total of 704 DC-6s, 167 of them military versions. By 1998, the DC-6 was still flying with smaller airlines around the world.

First flight: Feb. 15, 1946
Model number: DC-6
Span: 117 feet 6 inches
Length: 100 feet 7 inches
Height: 28 feet 5 inches
Power: Four 2,400-horsepower Pratt & Whitney R2800CB engines
Weight: 107,000 pound
Operating altitude: 28,000 feet
Range: 2,990 miles
Speed: 308 mph
Accommodation: 3 crew, 52 to 102 passengers

Information courtesy




Designation of DC-6As for the United States Air Force. 101 built.


R6D-1s re-designated.


Initial production variant.


Freighter, longer fuselage than the DC-6 and fitted with a cargo door.


Passenger only version of DC-6A without a cargo door.


Convertible cargo / passenger version.


United States Navy designation for the DC-6A. 65 built.


Four R6D-1s converted for staff transport.


One DC-6 bought for presidential transport. Had special 25 seat interior and 12 bed cabin layout


C-118As converted for staff transport.


R6D-1Zs re-designated.


United States military designation of an improved version of the C-54 (DC-4) became the prototype DC-6. Eventually designated YC-112A it was pressurised and had four P&W R-2800-83AM3 radial engines.