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In the mid 1930's competition in the airline industry was fierce. American Airlines requested Douglas build a "Flying Pullman Railway Car" for its non-stop New York to Chicago route.
A new aircraft was developed in two versions, the Douglas Sleeper Transport (DST) a fourteen-passenger luxury sleeper and the day version, the DC-3. These aircraft receive most of the credit for a near 600% increase in airline passenger traffic from 1936-1941.
Although many DC-3's were pressed into military service, the C-47 Skytrain is the first full military version of the DC-3, the major modifications include the addition of a large cargo door, reinforced floor, accommodations for troops and cargo and the glider tow cleat was added.
The other variants of the C-47 included a sea plane, ski plane, bomber, search and rescue and VIP transport.
The "Gooney Bird" was used in every combat theater of WWII and is probably the most widely known and used aircraft by the USAF. Most famous for flying "The Hump" in India, China and Burma, it also in just over two days carried 60,000 troops into Normandy.
With the large production numbers and worldwide popularity of this aircraft, many are still in use today.