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Type F.32
Type of aircraft
Country U.S.
Date first flight 1929
Crew 2-3
Wingspan in metres 30.2 m
Lenght 22.2 m
Height 5.1 m
number of passengers 32
Gross weight 11000 kg
Enginetype 4 x Pratt & Whitney "Wasp" 4xPratt & Whitney "Hornet"

Max. speed 250 km/h
Cruise speed 195 km/h
Cruise ceiling 5485 m
Range: 1360 km
Service Western Air Express, TWA.


Fokker F.32/YC-20

Fokker F.32, build in the U.S.

Fokker F.32, build in the U.S.

Sleepingcabin of the Fokker F.32, the largest aircraft ever build by Fokker

Fokker F.32, build in the U.S.


American airliner

The first F-32 prototype flew on September 27, 1929. The aircraft entered service in 1930.

Although a total of 10 F-32 were built, only 2 were actually in carrier service because of the high cost of operation (F-32 was priced at $110000 making it the most expensive aircraft of the time, and it cost $1.25 per mile to operate it).

In 1930, the Army Air Corps borrowed the Fokker F.32 transport for evaluation and assigned it the YC-20 designation. Like the Boeing Y1C-18, the aircraft remained company property and was returned after completion of testing.

The YC-20 was by far the largest transport plane tested by the Air Corps during the early 1930's.

It wouldn't be until World War II that the Army would have similar size aircraft like the Curtiss C-46 & Douglas C-47. The passenger cabin had thirty seats; seven rows of four seats split by an aisleway plus two additional seats below the cockpit in the forward fuselage.

The YC-20 featured an unusual engine arrangement. The four Pratt & Whitney Hornet radial engines were mounted in tandem pairs on the engine nacelles. The forward engines had large diameter 2 blade "tractor" propellers while the aft engines had a smaller three blade "pusher" propellers.

The goal of this engine nacelle design was to increase the speed of the aircraft by generating more thrust without the added drag of two additional engine nacelles.

Unfortunately, the design had two major drawbacks.
First, the aft engines did not get enough cooling air flow to keep from overheating.

Fokker F.32 Western Air Express

Fokker F.32, build in the U.S.

Fokker F.32, build in the U.S.

Fokker F.32, build in the U.S.

Second, the aft propeller operated in the the turbulent air flow of the forward propeller and was very inefficient. These two problems combined to give the aircraft high operating and maintenance costs and unspectacular performance.

The Air Corps decided not to buy any YC-20s and returned the the evaluation aircraft to Fokker after a brief test period.


Fokker built 10 F.32's and several were used during the early 1930s with the civilian airline Western Air Express on the San Francisco to Los Angeles route. Although the YC-20 was unsuccessful, it was generally considered to be an aircraft that was ahead of its time. It had such innovative features (for 1930) as in-flight radio transmitting and receiving capability and two toilets for passenger comfort.