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Douglas O-46A at National Museum of the United States Air Force
Role Observation
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
First flight 1935
Introduced 1936
Primary user United States Army Air Corps
Produced 1936-1937
Number built 90
Unit cost US $28,000

The United States Douglas O-46 was an observation airplane used by the United States Army Air Corps and the Philippine Army Air Corps.[1]

The O-46A, the last of a long line of Douglas observation planes, was a victim of progress. It was designed to operate from established airfields behind fairly static battle lines as in WW I. However, in 1939, a report was issued on the O-46A which stated that it was too slow and heavy to outrun and outmaneuver enemy pursuit planes, too heavy to operate from small, wet, unprepared fields, and too large to conceal beneath trees. This report was a forecast of the future, for World War II with its rapidly changing battle lines proved the need for light, maneuverable observation aircraft which could operate from unimproved airstrips. Consequently, in 1942, the "O" (observation) designation was changed to "L" (liaison).

The O-46 was a development of the earlier Douglas O-43. The 24th airframe of the O-43A contract was completed as the XO-46 prototype, with a revised wing and an engine switch, from the O-43's inline engine to a radial engine, the Pratt & Whitney R-1535-7. The Air Corps ordered 90 O-46As in 1935. They were built between May 1936 and April 1937. At least 11 saw overseas duty; two were destroyed in the Japanese raid on Clark Field in the Philippines on December 8, 1941. The remainder were declared obsolete in late 1942 and after that were used primarily in training and utility roles.

A proposed variant with a Wright R-1670-3 engine received the designation O-48 but was not built.



Specifications (O-46A)

Data from McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920 [2]

General characteristics

  • Length: 34 ft 6¾ in (10.54 m)
  • Wingspan: 45 ft 9 in (13.94 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 8½ in (3.25 m)
  • Wing area: 332 ft² (30.8 m²)
  • Empty weight: 4,776 lb (2,166 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 6,639 lb (3,011 kg)
  • Powerplant:Pratt & Whitney R-1535-7 14-cylinder radial engine, 725 hp (541 kW)



See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists


  1. ^ U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. "Douglas Aircraft Builds the DC-1 and DC-2" (in English). U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. Retrieved September 28 2007.  
  2. ^ Francillon 1979, p.134.
  • Francillon, René J. (1979). McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.  

External links



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