Howard DGA-15 - Development and Design

Development and Design

The Howard Aircraft Company (later Howard Aircraft Corporation) was formed in 1936 to build commercial derivatives of the Howard DGA-6 (named Mister Mulligan), a successful four seat racing aircraft which had won both the Bendix and the Thompson Trophies in 1935, the only aircraft ever to win both races. These successes did indeed bring the DGA series much attention, and Howard produced a series of closely related differing mainly in the engine type, consisting of the DGA-7, 8, 9, 11 and 12. Offering high performance and comprehensively equipped, despite a high purchase price (with the DGA-11 selling for $17,865, these emerged as coveted aircraft owned by corporations, wealthy individuals, and movie stars, such as Wallace Beery, who was himself a pilot. (In the movie Bugsy, Warren Beatty playing the title role is flown from Los Angeles to Las Vegas in a red Howard DGA-15.)

In 1939, the Howard Aircraft Corporation produced a new development of the basic design, the Howard DGA-15. Like its predecessors, the DGA-15 was a single engined high-winged monoplane with a wooden wing and a steel tube truss fuselage, but it was distinguished by a deeper and wider fuselage, allowing five people to be seated in comfort. It was available in several versions, differing in the engine fitted. The DGA-15P was powered by a Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior radial engine, while the DGA-15J used a Jacobs L6MB and the DGA-15W a Wright R-760-E2 Whirlwind. In an era when airlines were flying DC-3s, the Howards cruising at 160 to 170 mph could match their speed, range and comfort with the rear seat leg room exceeding airline standards with limousine-like capaciousness, and high wing loading allowing the Howards to ride through most turbulence comfortably.

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