On our round-the-world journey we will be using a vintage, twin-engined Douglas C-47 Skytrain, also known as the DC-3 when used as a civilian airliner. The DC-3 is arguably the most famous and perhaps the most successful aircraft design of all time. First flown in 1935, DC-3s first served as airliners. Introduced by American Airlines in 1936, the DC-3 set new standards for comfort and reliability, paving the way for air travel to be widely accepted by the public.
Once the Second World War broke out, DC-3s were produced for the US Army Air Corps (under designations like C-47 and C-53) and the Royal Air Force of Britain (under the name "Dakota"), flying troops and cargo. They particularly distinguished themselves as the aircraft used for taking airborne troops to Normandy, France in the early hours of June 6th, 1944 as part of the so-called "Operation Overlord" (or what is often referred to as the "D-Day") and flying supplies in the Himalayas ("over the hump" was the expression used at the time).
After the war, surplused C-47s were sold in Europe to many airlines and the aircraft almost single-handedly helped relaunch the European airline industry. With the advent of the jet age in the 1950s, many of the DC-3 airliners were sold on to serve as cargo carriers. There are still hundreds of DC-3s flying around the world, not just as restored museum planes, but doing "real work" hauling people and cargo to hard-to-reach airfields around the world (including the Antarctica).
Over the years versions of the DC-3 have been used in many different roles, not limited to carrying passengers and cargo. For example, during the Vietnam War some C-47s were outfitted as "gunships", equipped with three 6-barrel Gatling guns. DC-3s have also been converted to use turbine engines, and many of those modernized versions are still being produced, 85 years after the type's first flight.
All in all, over 10,000 DC-3s/C-47s were built in the United States, about 5,000 in Soviet Union under license (where the aircraft was called PS-84 or Li-2) and about 500 in Japan under license. They say that the only aircraft that can replace a DC-3 is... another DC-3!
There are a number of ongoing projects to restore more DC-3s into flying condition and to "keep history alive". For example, Vintage Wings, Inc. in Pennsylvania is restoring a long-ignored C-53 back to her former glory. This aircraft flew some of the very first survey and ferry flights to and from England, laying the groundwork for the North Atlantic ferry routes. She also participated in the Operation Torch in North Africa, later flew with the Danish Air Lines and after returning to the US, was the Governor of Ohio's official transport.
Most of the old DC-3s have similar, incredible histories. Consider, for example, the one shown below: