Douglas M-2 model
The Post Office Department began using some Douglas M-2 airplanes to replace its sturdy but aged de Havilland fleet in the mid-1920s, just prior to the transfer of airmail service from the Department to private carriers. Airmail pilots welcomed the new airplanes, which were stronger and more stable than the de Havilland and more solidly constructed.
Douglas Aircraft Company designed and produced this style of airplane primarily for airmail service. Other early Douglas aircraft included observation airplanes, military transports, and aerial tankers.
The Douglas M-2’s fuselage included a detachable engine section, which helped inspectors reach the 400-hp Liberty engine more easily, helping to ensure that fewer problems went undiscovered. The compartment in front of the pilot’s cockpit held the mail, which was separated from the engine by a fireproof bulkhead. The M-2 could carry one thousand pounds of mail. The mail compartment was also equipped with removable seats so that a reserve pilot could be carried, along with mail, if necessary. Some Douglas M-2 airplanes were modified with a third cockpit for passenger service. This model, however, does not have that feature.
This model carries the Western Air Service, Inc., logo. Western Air Service operated Contract Air Mail Route #4 (CAM-4) between Los Angeles, California, and Salt Lake City, Utah, a distance of 650 miles. The M-2 traveled that distance in an average of just over six hours.
Jackson, Donald Dale. Flying the Mail. Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1982.
Leary, William M. Aerial Pioneers: The US Air Mail Service, 1918-1927. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1986.