The DHC-3 Otter is a single engine, high-wing propeller aircraft designed and built by De Havilland Canada as a larger aircraft to fulfil similar roles to the DHC-2 Beaver.
Like the Beaver, it is a rugged short take-off and landing (STOL) utility aircraft ideally suited for bush operations from unprepared airfields. Built near at Downsview near Toronto during the 1950's, it was initially designated as a 'King Beaver' in order to extend the company's portfolio of rugged, utility aircraft.
Passenger capacity had been increased to around 10 seats, plus two crew, and power is provided by the 600hp Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp radial engine. It can be equipped with wheels, skis, floats or amphibious floats to suit operating conditions.
The prototype (CF-SKX-X) was flown for the first time on 12th December 1951 and overall some 466 were built, finding a ready market with both civilian and military users.
Military users included the US Army (200 aircraft as U-1A); Canada (66 as CSR-123); US Navy (four aircraft as UC-1 (later U-1C)) together with many other nations, including Australia, Burma, Chile, Colombia, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Indonesia, and Norway. Production ceased in 1967.
A number of aircraft have been modified to turbo-prop power or fitted with larger piston engines such as the 1,000hp PZL ASz-62 radial engine.
A reasonable number of aircraft continue in service, particularly in Canada and Alaska and 67 were still listed on the FAA register in 2017, most of these being based in Alaska.
The US Army became the largest operator of the Otter (designated U-1A Otter) when delivery numbers reached 184 aircraft. Additional military users included Australia and India, operating in its primary role as a rugged 'bush' plane which it still continues to this day. A more unusual application is as a Skydiving platform where it proved popular due to its stability even at low airspeeds.
117 were still listed on the Canadian Civil register in 2017, these numbers representing some 40% the fleet still registered and an amazing 65-years after the type’s first flight (although not all of these aircraft are likely to be active).
|Powerplant||One 600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Twin Wasp radial piston engine|
|Span||58 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||7,981 lb|
|Capacity||Two crew and up to 10 passengers|
|Maximum Speed||160 mph|
|Cruise Speed||138 mph|
|Range||820 nm with reserves; 720 nm with reserves with 2,100 lb payload|
Number built and Survivors
|466||De Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter|