In 1932, Douglas Aircraft Company Inc. started the development of a twelve-seat, two-engined, all-metal mono-plane with retractable
landing-gear. The prototype of this first Douglas Commercial, the DC-1 flew first on 1 July 1933 and was delivered to Transcontinental
& Western Air. However just only one DC-1 was built, this aircraft became the start of a succesfull series of airliners.
TWA ordered twenty production aircraft, which were designated DC-2. The Douglas DC-2 had a larger engine and seated 14 passengers. The plane made
its maiden flight on 11 May 1934 and entered service with TWA on 18 May 1934. Due to its performance in airliner service a growing number of
orders were placed by airlines all over the world, including by K.L.M. Due to the succes of the DC-2, Douglas developed and built what
many consider to be one of the greatest planes ever—the DC-3. The prototype Douglas DC-3 flew first on 22 December 1935, and this transport
aircraft was built in larger numbers than any before or since. In its initial form, the Douglas DC-3 was powered by 1.000 hp Wright R-1820-G2
Cyclones and accomodated twenty-one passengers. In 1936, the DC-3 was joined in production by the DC-3A with two 1.050 hp Pratt and Whitney
R-1830-SC-G Twin Wasps, and maximum accomodation in this model being increased over the years to twenty-eight passengers. The DC-3B entered
production in 1937. This version was similar to the DC-3A apart from 1,100 hp Wright GR-1820-G102A engines. The bulk of the aircraft producted
became the Douglas C-47, a military transport version of the commercial DC-3 airliner. A 7500-lb. cargo load or twenty-eight troops may be accomodated.
With the breakout of WW II, a fast growing number of the C-47 and its variants were ordered. The C-47 entered service service with the U.S.A.A.F. in 1941
and became the world's most widely-used general-purpose military transport aircraft. When production termintated, 10,926 C-47s and its variants having
been built in the U.S.A. Licence manufacture also having been undertaken in Japan and the U.S.S.R. The Russian licensed copies of the DC-3 were built near
Moscow and in Tashkent and designated Lisunov Li-2 (4,937 built). Licensed copies of the DC-3 built in Japan were designated Showa L2D (487 built).
The Douglas DC-3 / C-47 and their variants were known under more than two dozen nicknames; wellknown nicknames were Skytrain, Gooney Bird, Dakota and Dak.
After the war ended, large numbers of C-47s and its variant entered the civil market, a number of these C-47s were remanufactured and known as Douglas DC-3C.
K.L.M.-Royal Dutch Airlines in the
Netherlands was a Douglas DC-2 operator and used no less than eighteen
aircraft of that type. Therefore it was not surprising that KLM was
interested in the DC-3. In 1936, K.L.M. placed an order for eleven
aircraft with an option on another thirteen. Already on 21 September
1936, their first Douglas DC-3-G2 PH-ALI "Ibis" was delivered. This
airframe was shipped from the USA to Rotterdam, unloaded in the
Waalhaven and assembled at the airport next to the Waalhaven and flown
to Amsterdam Airport. This was not the route choosen for most of the
European DC-3s as they were shipped from the USA to Cherbourg in France;
assembled in France and flown to Fokker at Amsterdam prior the delivery
to the customers in Europe. In that days, Fokker was an agent for
Douglas and sold 65 DC-3s in Europe to airlines as KLM, SABENA, Swissair, etc.
KLM operated twenty two Douglas DC-3 airliners before WW II. Three of these DC-3s survived WW II and
returned to the Netherlands in 1945. Next to these airframes, KLM received 45 DC-3s and C-47s in 1946 and 1947,
mainly out of the British and American military surplus stocks. Soon, the DC-3 was replaced on
the passenger services by the DC-4 and Convair CV-240 and a growing number DC-3s were sold. The remaining
aircraft were used on cargo services. In 1965 the last DC-3 left the KLM fleet, but two DC-3 aircraft continued services at KLM
Aerocarto. The last Dutch registered Douglas C-47A in service with KLM Aerocarto, C-47A PH-DAW was re-registered PZ-TLA with KLM
Aerocarto on 15 July 1970. Due to the importance of the Douglas DC-3 in service with the KLM, DC-3C PH-PBA was repainted in a
1960s KLM livery. Despite the KLM - Royal Dutch Airlines colours this aircraft was never operated by KLM.
On 7 December 2010, Douglas
DC-3C-S1C3G c/n 19434 PH-PBA, painted in the 1960's KLM colours, was
officialy baptised "Prinses Amalia". The aircraft started its carrier as
a Douglas C-47A-75-DL and served as 42-100971 with the U.S. Army Air Force
(USAAF) in 1944. C-47A '42-100971' was one of the about 12.000 aircraft used during
the Invasion of Normandy in June 1944. After being withdrawn from
military service 1946, the C-47A was stored untill it went to the Netherlands.
On 25 February 1947, the C-47A was registered PH-PBA with Ministerie van
Verkeer en Waterstaat (Rijksluchtvaartdienst), Scheveningen. The PH-PBA
was commissioned as government aircraft but was often seen as the personal aircraft of Prince Bernhard.
When used by the Dutch Royal family,the PH-PBA (Prins Bernhard Alpha)
was mostly flown by Prince Bernhard, husband of Queen Juliana of the
Netherlands. On 19 May 1960, Douglas C-47A PH-PBA was replaced by Fokker
F-27-100 PH-PBF "Gerben Sonderman" as Government aircraft used by the
Dutch Royal family. Douglas C-47A PH-PBA was transferred to the
Department of Air Traffic of the Dutch-CAA and registration PH-RLD was
requested but not allocated. In service with the Dutch-CAA the PH-PBA
was operated as a calibration aircraft and registered as a DC-3C with Staat
der Nederlanden/Rijksluchtvaartdienst, Afd. Luchtverkeersbeveiliging, Schiphol-Centrum, on 21 September 1970.
In 1975, Douglas DC-3C PH-PBA was withdrawn from use and replaced in service as calibration aircraft with the
Dutch-CAA by Hamburger Flugzeugbau HFB-320 Hansa PH-HFC. Registration PH-PBA was cancelled on 31 July 1975.
The airframe went to the aviation museum Aviodome at Schiphol and was painted as PH-TCB in 1986.
After over twenty years on exhibition, restoration to airworthiness started by Air Atlantique in Coventry.
Parts of DC-3 G-BVOL (c/n 9836) were used to restore PH-PBA and the aircraft was restored to the register as
PH-PBA with Stichting Prins Bernhard Alpha, Schiphol, on 31 July 1995. Dutch Dakota Association BV, Schiphol-Oost,
was registered as holder of the PH-PBA on 16 September 1997 and the type was changed to DC-3C-S1C3G on 24 March 1999.
Since 25 April 2006, the PH-PBA is registered with AllPlanes B.V.,
Schiphol, as holder and Stichting Prins Bernhard Alpha, Schiphol, as
owner. In 2010, DDA Classic Airlines' Douglas DC-3C PH-PBA was repainted
in a 1960s KLM livery.