|MAILPLANE||Virtual Aircraft Museum / USA / Northrop|
In January 1932 John Northrop and Donald Douglas formed the Northrop Corporation as a partly-owned subsidiary of the Douglas Aircraft Co. The first aircraft from the new corporation was the Northrop Gamma, several of which were built to special order for record-breaking flights and research work. The first two aircraft, a Gamma 2A and a Gamma 2B, were powered respectively by a 585kW Wright and 373kW Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial; both were delivered at the end of 1932, the first to Texaco who loaned it to Frank Hawks for record-breaking flights and the second to Lincoln Ellsworth, who eventually used it for a transantarctic flight. TWA bought three Gamma 2D aircraft with 529kW Wright Cyclone engines as single-seat mailplanes in 1934. The second was later reengined with a 578kW Wright and was used by Texaco to test oil temperatures and flows before being sold to the US Army Air Corps, which designated it UC-100.
A number of Gammas were delivered to individual customers, including two to the UK, a 2E for the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment and a Gamma 2L, the last to be built, was used by the Bristol Aeroplane Co. as a test-bed for its Hercules engines. The Chinese government ordered 24 Gamma 2E aircraft as light bombers, with 529kW Wright engines; they could carry a 726kg bombload and had four 7.62mm forward-firing machine-guns in the wings, and one rearward-firing in the rear cockpit. A further 25 Gamma 2Es were assembled in China from components provided by Northrop.