Historical Snapshot

The success of the Dolphin, a military amphibian, helped the Douglas Aircraft Co. survive the Great Depression.

It began as the twin-engine "Sinbad," intended to be a luxury "air yacht." It was a high-wing monoplane, with its engines mounted above the wing. Its six to eight passengers looked out picture windows, and their baggage was stored in a 30-cubic-foot (9.14-cubic-meter) area.

Sinbad had no market during the luxury-deprived era. However, 59 of the next version, the Dolphin, were built between 1931 and 1934. The Dolphin retracted its landing gear for water landings and was adapted to meet customer requirements, both military and civilian. It evolved into 17 variants. Among the first purchasers were the Wilmington-Calantina Airline and Standard Oil of New Jersey.

The U.S. Army, Navy and Coast Guard bought the Dolphin in quantities. Some military Dolphins remained in service until World War II. The wealthy Vanderbilt family bought two. One, called "Rover," was sold to William Boeing, who took delivery of his Dolphin in 1934, just before he left the company he founded. Still flying in 1977, it was the last known survivor of the Dolphin series, and it is now part of the collection of the National Naval Aviation Museum.

Technical Specifications

First flight July 1930
Wingspan 60 feet
Length 43 feet 10 inches
Height 14 feet 1 inch
Ceiling 15,900 feet
Range 770 miles
Weight 9,387 pounds
Power plant Two 300- to 450-horsepower Wright air-cooled radial engines
Speed 153 mph (sea level)