Apart from perhaps the first airplane to ever take to the sky, the Douglas DC-3 and its military counterpart, the C-47 Skytrain is quite possibly the most important aircraft to have ever flown. Almost nine decades after it first took flight, DC-3s are still in service with cargo transport services in remote regions across the world. There’s always been one glaring problem with the DC-3, however, it’s pretty gosh darn slow.
This is where Basler Turbo Conversions of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, comes into its own. Founded in 1990, Basler’s made its name modifying and remanufacturing existing DC-3 airframes by removing the existing Pratt&Whitney R 1830 piston engines.
They’re replaced by upgraded Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turboprop jet engines. That’s right folks, these fully reworked Bassler BT-67s share the same restomod spirit as that LS swapped muscle car you’ve no doubt spent hours lusting over.
The process of converting an old DC-3 to turboprop power sounds simple enough in principle. But just like engine swaps in cars, there’s more work involved than us non-engineering inclined types could possibly fathom.
Every aspect of the DC-3s construction from the metal skin, to the fuselage, the wings, and of course, the engines are meticulously overhauled to ensure the airframe is sturdy enough to withstand the added power of jet propulsion. The overhaul is so substantial, the completed airframe shows “zero accumulated fatigue damage,” according to Bassler. In short, the BT-67 should be ready for another 90 years of flight.