Original U.S. Framed Fabric Piece from Douglas World Cruiser #2 "Chicago" - First Round-the-World Flight in 1924

Item Description

Original Items: One-of-a-kind set. This is a great piece of Early U.S. Aviation history!  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. Five aircraft were ordered for the round-the-world flight: one for testing and training and four for the actual expedition. The success of the World Cruiser bolstered the international reputation of the Douglas Aircraft Company. The design of the DWC was later modified to create the O-5 observation aircraft, which was operated by the Army Air Service.

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. Eventually 5 Aircraft were produced, with the assumption that mechanical problems and other issues would result in aircraft being unable to continue the circumnavigation.

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, departed Sand Point, Washington, near Seattle, Washington. 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. The Boston was forced down and damaged beyond repair in the Atlantic, off the Faroe Islands. The remaining two aircraft continued across the Atlantic to North America, where they were joined by the Boston II at Pictou, Nova Scotia.  The recently re-christened prototype continued with the flight back to Washington and on the World Flight's ceremonial flypast across the United States. The three surviving aircraft returned to Seattle on 28 September 1924. The flight covered 23,942 nm (44,342 km). Time in flight was 371 hours, 11 minutes and average speed, 70 miles per hour.

What we have here is a 2" x 2" framed piece of original fabric from the Douglas World Cruiser #2 "Chicago". These were apparently being sold to help further the restoration efforts on the historic plane, as the fabric will only last so long, and eventually needs replacement. It is mounted inside a frame, under a picture of the aircraft, and is captioned as follows:

Pilots: Lts. Lowell H. Smith and Leslie P. Arnold

The "Chicago" was the flag plane of the first route-the-world flight. In the company of three similar aircraft, it departed from Seattle, Washington, on April 6, 1924, returning September 28, 1924, after covering 26,345 miles in a total flying time of 363 hours and 7 minutes. The "Chicago" is now a part of the Collection of the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

All of this is very nicely mounted and matte glazed in a wooden frame. It measures about 21 1/2" x 17 1/2" x 3/4", and is in wonderful display condition. A great piece of early aviation history memorabilia!

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