Douglas A-33

The Douglas A-33-DE was the designation given to thirty-one Douglas 8A-5s that had been ordered by the Norwegian government in 1940, but were taken over by the US Army Air Force after the German invasion of Norway.

The Douglas 8A-5 was an improved version of the Air Corps’ Northrop A-17 attack aircraft, which by 1940 was on the verge of being declared surplus to requirement. The Northrop Corporation had been formed as a partly-owned subsidiary of Douglas in 1932, and had been responsible for the production of the Northrop Gamma and the related A-17, but in April 1937 Douglas had been forced to buy the remaining 49% of Northrop, and in September the Northrop Corporation had become the El Segundo Division of Douglas aircraft. The series of military aircraft based on the Gamma then became known as the Douglas 8A (having been the Northrop model 8)

The 8A-5 was the most powerful and best armed of the series. It was powered by a 1,200hp Wright R-1820-87 engine, a big improvement on the 825hp engine of the A-17A. It was armed with four wing mounted 0.30in machine guns, two 0.50in machine guns in pods below the wing and two rear-firing flexibly mounted 0.30in guns, and could carry up to 1,800lb of bombs.

The Norwegian Government ordered thirty-six 8A-5s early in 1940, but not had been delivered before Norway was invaded by the Germans. The aircraft were completed between October 1940 and January 1941, and were delivered to a training centre that had been set up for the Norwegian Government in Exile at Island Airport, Ontario. It was then decided to train Norwegian aircrew in standard RAF and RCAF facilities, making the 8A-5 surplus to requirements. Thirty-one of them were given to the USAAF, given the designation A-33-DE, and used as training aircraft in the Zone of the Interior.

Engine: Wright R-1820-87
Power: 1,200hp
Span: 47ft 9in
Length: 32ft 6in
Height: 9ft 4in
Empty Weight: 5,510lb
Loaded Weight: 8,600lb
Maximum Weight: 9,200lb
Maximum Speed: 248mph at 15,700ft
Climb rate: 5.8 minutes to 10,000ft
Ceiling: 29,000ft
Guns: two 0.50in and four 0.30in forward firing machine guns, two rear firing 0.30in machine guns
Bomb load: 1,800lb

Suggested Reading
McDonnell Douglas: v.1, Rene J. Francillon (
McDonnell Douglas: v.1, Rene J. Francillon (

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (6 October 2008), Douglas A-33 ,

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