Manufacturer: Douglas

Model: DC-20

Name: Sky Sovereign

Type: Airliner


Status: Operational

Country: United States of America

Service: Commercial

Designation: none


In the late 1930s, Douglas Aircraft of Santa Monica, Calif., developed the largest aircraft ever built, the XB-19 "Hemisphere Defender" bomber. Although the aircraft never saw operational service, it firmly established Douglas as a potent rival to Boeing on the military market.

What if World War II had not happened? Douglas could have had the lion's share of a booming airline market, offering a whole line of aircraft with the small DC-3 for local lines, the new DC-4 for coast-to-coast flights... and at the upper end, the DC-20 Sky Sovereign, a civilian version of the XB-19 for international lines: two decks of seats, sleeper compartments, special windows in the nose to enjoy the view... And of course, United Airlines, Douglas's foremost customer, would have made the DC-20 their spearhead, adding to its DC-3 Mainliner and DC-4 Super Mainliner the new DC-20 Hyper Mainliner...


CREATIVE PROCESS (simplified):

1°) Started from a nice photograph of the XB-19 bomber in front of hangars during the war (see below right) and found here [link]. First task was to erase the turrets, windows and markings and to round off both the tail tip and nose.

2°) Once I had a "clean" aircraft, I cut around it, flipped it horizontally and pasted it over a photo of a cloudy sky.

3°) Now that the aircraft was in its proper setting, I snatched windows from a pic of the pre-war DC-4, enlarged them and copy-pasted them several times to cover the aircraft's side.

4°) The aircraft needed markings, so I used a period Douglas logo, modified the "Super Mainliner" logo into "Hyper Mainliner", wrote the tail and wing markings with an appropriate font.

5°) Last retouches on the aircraft consisted in highlighting some bits of the tail to make them more shiny, darken part of the the nose tip to obtain the paint scheme used by United, and draw some propellers to which I applied a "movement" blur filter.

6°) Last but not least, logos and titles were added to make the image look like a promotional photo of the 1940s.

NOTE: The name "Sky Sovereign" was actually used as a mere nickname on an original ad for the pre-war DC-4. I thought it would be cool to turn it into a proper aircraft name, especially since Douglas made a habit of using names starting in "Sky...". Hope you enjoy it!

Viewers' comments:
  • A wonderful bit of what-iffery, and a very plausible one as well! ^_^ However, the question is, would it have happened anyway? As history tells us, the airlines at the time thought the original DC-4E to be a far too large design to be practical (leading to the scaled-down and simplified 'regular' DC-4), and post-war, the same fate befell the Convair 37 "Super Clipper", and the civilian Lockheed Constitution projects... (kanyiko)
  • Nice airliner! Thanks! Thumbs Up (Tophe)
  • excellent! the DC-20 is great (pyro-manic)
  • Beautiful!!!  Now we need the Sky Sovereign crossed with the original, and unsuccessful, DC-4E, especially the DC-4E tail. (elmayerle)

My comments:

Nah... The DC-20 is meant to have been developed three or four years after the DC-4 (which was only called the DC-4E retroactively, by the way), and Douglas had now opted for single-fins only (besides, it would have been awkward to keep the triple fin with the Constellation now on the market!). From an aesthetic viewpoint, I can't really picture that weak-looking triple-fin tail on such a huge and sturdy aircraft.