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de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter

Canada (1953)

Detailing the development and operational history of the de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter Floatplane Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 1/25/2018; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

Basic Specifications
National Flag Graphic
Year: 1953
Status: Active, In-Service
Type: Floatplane Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): de Havilland Canada - Canada
Production: 466

Despite its 1950s origins, the DHC-3 series floatplane is still in active service today.

The de Havilland Canada DHC-3 "Otter" became the evolutionary step for what was the earlier DHC-2 "Beaver" of 1948 (detailed elsewhere on this site). The DHC-3 was first-flown on December 12th, 1951 and introduced as soon as 1953. Production of the series, which reached 466 units, spanned from 1951 until 1967 with operators worldwide.

The Beaver had already proven itself a commercial success by this time with some 1,657 ultimately produced. This airframe utilized strong qualities allowing for excellent Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) capabilities. A braced, high-wing mainplane was fitted and the nose held the single engine installation. From this framework was born the dimensionally larger specimen, the DHC-3, that continued the excellent STOL traits with more power to boot. Work on the design began in January of 1951 and led to the aforementioned first-flight. Certification then followed in November of 1952.

Power was from a single Pratt & Whitney R-1340 air-cooled radial piston engine of 600 horsepower. The larger dimensions allowed for more passengers to be carrier (up to eleven) and the wider-spanning wing mainplane gave better control and additional lift/drag for short take-off and landing actions. The undercarriage was made to switch out wheeled legs, floats or even skis.
Seven named models of the Otter series ultimately emerged. DHC-3 was used for the initial production systems while the product was taken into service by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as the CSR-123 "Otter". The United States Army began their own evaluation of the platform and procured six of the type under the designation of YU-1. These became the U-1A in actual service. The United States Navy (USN) followed suit and adopted the series as the UC-1. These were later redesignated U-1B after the 1962 American military realignment. A PWC turbo-prop-powered form became the DHC-3-T "Turbo-Otter". Those Otter examples coming from Airtech Canada with Polish PZL "Kalisz ASz-62IR engines were designated DHC-3/1000.

There were a plethora of operators committed to the DHC-3 line ranging from Argentina and Australia to the United Kingdom and the United States. It served at both military and civilian levels where its qualities were put to the test. The DHC-3 went on to form the foundation for de Havilland Canada's next-in-line aircraft, the DHC-6 "Twin Otter" - a twin-engined offshoot of the original, detailed elsewhere on this site.
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 1
Length: 41.99 ft (12.8 m)
Width: 58.04 ft (17.69 m)
Height: 12.57 ft (3.83 m)
Empty Weight: 4,431 lb (2,010 kg)
MTOW: 8,001 lb (3,629 kg)

Installed Power
1 x Pratt & Whitney R-1340-S1H1-G Wasp 9-cylinder, air-cooled radial piston engine developing 600 horsepower.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 160 mph (257 kph; 139 kts)
Maximum Range: 944 mi (1,520 km; 821 nm)
Service Ceiling: 18,799 ft (5,730 m; 3.56 mi)
Rate-of-Climb: 850 ft/min (259 m/min)


Operators List
Argentina; Australia; Bangladesh; Burma; Cambodia; Canada; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ethiopia; Ghana; India; Indonesia; New Zealand; Nicaragua; Nigeria; Norway; Panama; Paraguay; Philippines; United Kingdom; United States

Series Model Variants
• DHC-3 - Base Series Designation
• DHC-3-T "Turbo-Otter" - Fitted with 1 x Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-27 or -34 turboprop engines.
• CSR-123 - Royal Canadian Air Force utility model.
• YU-1 - U.S. Army evaluation aircraft; six examples.
• UC-1 - United States Navy utility model.
• U-1A - U.S. Army utility model.
• U-1B - 1962 redesignation of USN UC-1 models.
• DHC-3/1000 "Otter" - Airtech Canada models fitted with PZL ASz-62IR series engines.