What I know About The Douglas Factory Models (DFM’s)
What I know About The Douglas Factory Models (DFM’s)
wish I could say I was an expert on the history of the Douglas Factory Models
(DFM’s) but I’m not. Here is what I do know about these Beautiful
Models. Back in the 1940’s, or perhaps in the 1930’s, Douglas
Aircraft began making high quality, polished aluminum models of their aircraft
(commercial & some military). I know that there are many examples of DFM’s
of the DC-4, dating from the 1940’s through the DC-8 and DC-9 Series
that dated to the late 1960’s. I have seen DC-2 & DC-3 DFM’s
which are 1/2 of a fuselage cut down the middle and a single wing sticking
out from the plaque. The ½ model on the plaque is decorated appropriately
with a customer’s livery and has a polished aluminum surface. If
you would like to see an example of one of these plaque/models then please
click here. The only full size DFM DC-3 model I have seen is pictured
with Donald Douglas Sr. along with the other DC Variants up to the then proposed
DC-8. Click here if you would
like to see that photo. When I originally posted this article I had stated
"Other than that single DC-3, I have not seen
or heard of any DFM DC-1, 2 or 3 models being made, though I do know that
other model makers around the world, such as the master model maker Matthys
M. Verkuyl, have made some fine examples of these aircraft in metal, but not
polished aluminum. I imagine that Douglas didn’t make many, if any DC-3 DFM’s
back in the 1930’s & early 1940’s due to the depression &
World War II in which there was a scarcity of metal as well as money."
Since then I have heard from some collectors from around the world that have
identified DC-3 DFM’s at museum’s in Belgium and our own Smithsonian Air &
Space Museum in Washington D.C. Thus, Douglas evidently did make some DFM’s
of the DC-3 and perhaps the DC-2 and even the DC-1 as well. Thanks to my fellow
collectors to correcting me on this point.
Douglas Factory Models were made primarily for Airline Executives & Marketing
Offices, though some also wound up in larger Travel Agencies. I presume that
Douglas gave these models to prospective customers and also the confirmed
customers for their aircraft. I have heard stories that they gave a certain
number of DFM’s for each aircraft purchased by a customer. It could
be one DFM per aircraft bought or perhaps up to five or more DFM’s for
each aircraft bought for the big customer’s like United or Eastern –
I’m not really sure. Also, I have been told that the customer’s
could buy additional DFM’s from Douglas if they wanted more of them.
Back when I started collecting in 1973, I heard that the going rate for them
from Douglas in the early 1960’s was $250.00 for a 1/50 scale DC-8 model
and $195.00 for a 1/72 DC-8 model. Even considering the change in the value
of the dollar from 1960 to 2008, this was still a good investment.
the whole DFM enterprise was a venture headed by Donald Douglas Jr., son of
Douglas Aircraft Founder Donald Douglas Sr., and perhaps one or more partners.
However, when McDonnell Aircraft bought Douglas Aircraft in 1967, Donald Douglas
Jr. had to divest himself from the model organization and it then evolved
into a company named Marketing Aids (see logo at top right of page). Back
in 1973 I was lucky enough to visit Marketing Aids and acquire a few plastic/fiberglass
models, some 1/50 DC-8 & DC-9 decals & best of all, a 1/50 DFM DC-8-61
polished aluminum blank (unfinished model) for $50.00. What is really unfortunate
is that Marketing Aids went out of business in 1975 and they either gave away
or threw away the remaining Douglas Factory Polished Aluminum Blanks, many
of the DC-8-61/62/63 Series as well as DC-9-10 & 30 Series as well as
some older Douglas Propeller blanks. If only someone had saved these beautiful
blanks they would have a small fortune in their hands because these blanks
are now selling on eBay for anywhere from $500 to $1500 or more, depending
on the rarity & condition of the blank. I would love to have bought more
of these back in the 1970s but I was putting myself through college at the
time & this didn’t allow for such expenses.
people have contacted me about the numbering system of the DFM’s. What
I know for sure is that the fuselages & wings were matched and numbered
with the same number because each fuselage & wing were cast to fit each
other very tightly and thus were numbered with the same number to keep them
paired together. The big question in my mind is, did Douglas also use this
numbering system to keep track of what blank numbers where being finished
for a specific airline or company. I would think they did and I sure would
love to have that book showing just what DFM’s went to what airline
and when! Unfortunately, I don’t know if such a book ever existed or
still exists. With the above being said, I have seen DFM’s with different
wing & fuselage numbers but I think this was done by collectors and are
not original from the company.
I’m 99 percent sure that each Douglas Aircraft made (DC-4, DC-5, DC-6, DC-7,
DC-8 & DC-9) the DFM’s made for that aircraft type started at number
1. The lowest number in my collection is 6 (not 006 but just a 6 with a _
under it) and the highest is 1024 for the standard DC-8 Series 10 through
50. The Super Sixty Series DC-8s were numbered differently. The DC-8-61’s
had a 61- preceding the casting number (61-XX) and the same applies for the
-62 and –63. I don’t know if Douglas did subtype numbering similar to
the Super DC-8s for the DC-6 & DC-6B or DC-7, DC-7B, DC-7C but the few
prop DFM’s I have seen were not sub typed. For example a DC-7B would
have a regular number on it (like 537) and not a 7B-537 or similar on it.
However, they might have reserved a series of numbers for these old prop planes.
For example, 0-500 or the DC-7, 501-1000 for the DC-7B & 1001-1500 for
the DC-7C. I can’t confirm this but it would make sense. Keep in mind that
I’m giving this my best guess here and don’t know this for a fact.
Thus is the saga of the Douglas Factory Models, from what I know. In my option
these Beautiful Models are Second Only in Beauty & Detail to the Lockheed
Factory Models of the Constellation which were made from sheet metal, showing
nearly every rivet, finished off in fine detail of the airline and polished
out beautifully like the DFM’s were. However, DFM’s are first in durability
and many of them have survived in fine shape for over 50-60 years. Even when
a DFM is damaged it can many times be fixed because the aluminum used was
a softer aluminum which can be gently bent back where other metal models will
just break apart. There are some Beautiful Examples of Airliner Models (aka
Travel Agent Models) which were made in metal by other companies, such as
the above mentioned “master modeler” Matthys M. Verkuyl who was
simply a genius in model making. A couple of other companies worth mentioning
for beautiful models of the First Generation Jet Era was Fermo of Denmark
who made excellent polished aluminum & resin models, Westway models who
did wonderful Cut-Away style models – showing what the interior of the airplane
resembled, and last but certainly not least, the Tenshodo & Nemoto Models
which were made of wood or resin and hand painted with detail like no other.
All in all though, I’m happily “addicted “ to the DFM’s
and hope to continue collecting them as long as I can.
If you have any information about Douglas Factory Models and
their history please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org(new)
Any & All Information Will Be Most Appreciated & You Will Be Acknowledged
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