The Douglas C-47 Skytrain

United States of America
United States of America

side view front view under view

The DC-3 (or Skytrain, or Dakota) is probably the most famous military airtransport ever. This is no coincidence, for the C-47 is since it was introduced in military aviation still in service, as are numerous civil aircraft. The somewhat stubby apearance with it's broad wings has a classic profile (see above), setting the trend in transport design. Even modern transports follow it's design more or less, and is instantly recognizable.

During the War it hauled God knows how many millions of tons of cargo, tenthousands of troops and wounded, and still does. It wasn't one of the fastest, but it sure delivered its goods in one piece. One of the most famous operations it featured in was the Airbridge to Berlin at the end of World War 2 and start of the Cold War.

Need I say more?

Versions:

Further pictures:

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain in full flight
The Douglas C-47 Skytrain in full flight

 

Technical data on the Douglas C-47A Skytrain
Powerplant 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 radials, rated at 1200 hp (894.59 kW) each Role during war
  • Transport
Length 64 ft 6 inch Height 16 ft 11.5 inch
Empty weight 18190 lb Operational weight 29300 lb max
Wing Span 95 ft 6 inch Wing Aspect ratio 9.24
Wing Area 987 sq ft Service ceiling 24000 ft
Maximum speed 230 mph at 8800 ft Cruising speed 160 mph at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate Climb to 10,000 ft in 9 min 36 sec Range 1600 miles typical,
3800 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 669.5 Imp gal (804 US gal), plus an additional 9 tanks in cabin of 83,25 Imp gal (100 US gal) each, total (of 9 tanks) 749,4 Imp gal (900 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns - Cannons -
Cargo load up to 10,000 lb, or 28 troops, or 14 litters plus 3 attendants Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 3: pilot, co-pilot, radio operator Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 17 December 1935 Operational Service December 1941 - present day (year 2000!)
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company Number produced 13.650 total, 5.253 this version
Metric system
Length 19.66 m Height 5.17 m
Empty weight 8251 kg Operational weight 13290 kg max
Wing Span 29.11 m Wing Aspect ratio 9.24
Wing Area 91.69 m² Service ceiling 7315 m
Maximum speed 370 km/h at 2682 m Cruising speed 257 km/h at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate Climb to 3050 m in 9 min 36 sec Range 2575 km typical,
6115 km max
Fuel capacity internal 3.044 liters, plus an additional 9 tanks in cabin of 378,5 liters each, total (of 9 tanks) 3.407 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns - Cannons -
Cargo load up to 4.536 kg, or 28 troops, or 14 litters plus 3 attendants Torpedoes/rockets -

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Douglas C-47  Skytrain
Douglas DC-3 The civil forefather of the C-47, the DC-3 revolutionized air transport in the mid-1930's.
Douglas AC-47D Skytrain Conversions from the C-47D meant for calibration test undertaken by Military Air Transport Service in 1953 and further
Number converted: 26
Douglas AC-47D Spooky Conversion to a Gunship with 3 × 0.3 in (7,62 mm) General Electric GAU-2 Mini-gun rotary barrel machineguns firing laterally from the port side, used during the Vietnam War
Number converted: unknown
Douglas C-41A Command transport, powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-21 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each.
Number built: 1
Douglas C-47 Skytrain Based on the civil DC-3A, powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. It differed from it's civil brother in having a large 2-part freightdoor on the port side, reinforced cabin floor with tie-down rings, increased wingspan by 6 in (0,152 m), a little less fuel capacity of 669.5 Imp gal (804 US gal/3111 l, 15 Imp gal/18 US gal/295 l less then DC-3), provision for 9 auxiliary cabin fuel tanks (see specs table above), and an astrodome in the top of the fuselage behind the flightdeck.
Later aircraft of this version also featured attachments under the center of the wings for large loads that could be paradropped, and revision of the tail so it could tug gliders.
Number built: 965
Douglas C-47A Skytrain Identical to the C-47, but with improved cabin heating, and the electical system's voltage increased from 12 Volts to 24 Volts.
Number built: 5.253
Douglas C-47B Skytrain More or less identical to the C-47A. This version was meant for high altitude transport over large and high mountain ranges. It was powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90C radials fitted with two-stage superchargers, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each.
Number built: 3.232
Douglas C-47D Skytrain Converted form C-47B's for lower altitudes, by removing the high blowers of the engine's superchargers.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas C-47E Skytrain Conversions meant for airline navaid calibration tests, powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2000-4 radials, rated at 1,290 hp (962 kW) each.
Number converted: 8
Douglas C-47H Surviving R4D-5's were redesignated in 1947 to C-47H
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas C-47J Redesignated R4D-6's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas C-47M Skytrain Designations given to C-47H and C-47J aircraft fitted with special electronic warfare equipment during the Vietnam War.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas C-48 Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3A powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-82 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 21-seat transport.
Number built: 1
Douglas C-48A Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3A powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-82 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 18-seat staff transport.
Number built: 3
Douglas C-48B Impressed into military service, this was a DST-3A (DST = Douglas Sleeper Transport) powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-51 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 16-litter air ambulance.
Number built: 16
Douglas C-48C Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3A powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-51 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 21-seat transport.
Number built: 16
Douglas C-49 Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3A powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-71 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 24-seat transport. These were later refitted with 2× Pratt & Whitney R-1830-51 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each (with better medium altitude preformance).
Number built: 6
Douglas C-49A Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-71 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 24-seat transport, by the RAAF during 1943-1944.
Number built: 1
Douglas C-49B Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-71 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 21-seat staff transport, by the RAAF during 1943-1944.
Number built: 3
Douglas C-49C Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-71 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat troop transport.
Number built: 2
Douglas C-49D Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-71 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat troop transport.
Number built: 11
Douglas C-49E Impressed into military service, these were DST's, DC-3's and DC-3B's powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-79 radials, rated at 1,100 hp (820 kW) each. Used as a 14-litter air ambulance.
Number built: 22
Douglas C-49F Impressed into military service, these were DST's, DC-3's and DC-3B's powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-71 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 14-litter air ambulance.
Number built: 9
Douglas C-49G Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-97 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 21-seat transport.
Number built: 8
Douglas C-49H Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-97 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 21-seat troop transport.
Number built: 19
Douglas C-49J Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-1820-71 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat troop transport
Number built: 28
Douglas C-49K Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-71 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat troop transport.
Number built: 23
Douglas C-50 Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-85 radials, rated at 1,100 hp (820 kW) each. Used as a 21-seat transport.
Number built: 4
Douglas C-50A Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-85 radials, rated at 1,100 hp (820 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat transport.
Number built: 2
Douglas C-50B Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-81 radials, rated at 1,100 hp (820 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat transport.
Number built: 3
Douglas C-50C Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-79 radials, rated at 1,100 hp (820 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat transport.
Number built: 1
Douglas C-50D Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-79 radials, rated at 1,100 hp (820 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat transport.
Number built: 4
Douglas C-51 Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-83 radials, rated at 1,100 hp (820 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat transport.
Number built: 1
Douglas C-52 Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3A powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-51 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat troop transport.
Number built: 1
Douglas C-52A Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3A powered by 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-1830-51 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat troop transport.
Number built: 1
Douglas C-52B Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3A powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-51 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat troop transport.
Number built: 2
Douglas C-52C Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-51 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat troop transport.
Number built: 1
Douglas C-52D Original designation of one of the C-48C's
Douglas C-53 Skytrooper Identical to the C-47 series, but powered with 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. These were solely intended for use of troop transport (28-seat with metal seats, and for glider tug duties.
Number built: 221
Douglas C-53B Skytrooper Conversion of C-53's for arctic operations. They had winterized equipment and additional fuel capacity.
Number converted: 8
Douglas C-53C Skytrooper Impressed into military service, further details unknown
Number built: 17
Douglas C-53D Skytrooper Identical to the C-53, except for the placement of the seats (along the sides of the cabin in stead of transverse rows).
Number built: 159
Douglas C-68 Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3A powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 21-seat transport.
Number built: 2
Douglas C-84 Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3B powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-71 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a 28-seat passenger transport.
Number built: 4
Douglas C-117A The final newly constructed C-47 derivative. It was equal to the C-47B, except that the cabin was more "airliner"-fashion, lacked the great side door and enforced floor. Like the C-47B, it was powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90C radials fitted with two-stage superchargers, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each.
Number built: 17
Douglas C-117B Conversions form the 117A, except that the high blowers were removed form the super chargers (see also C-47D).
Number converted: 11
Douglas C-117C Some VC-47 aircraft were upgraded to C-117B standard, receiving the designation C-117C.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas C-117D Redesignated R4D-8's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas Dakota Mk I for the RAF Redesignated by the RAF, concerning some 61 aircraft transferred from the USA and impressed civil aircraft.
Number built: 9
Douglas Dakota Mk II for the RAF Impressed into military service, this was a DC-2 or DC-3, further specifications unknown.
Number built: 7
Douglas Dakota Mk III for the RAF Redesignated by the RAF, concerning 962 C-47A's transferred from the USA.
Transferred aircraft
Douglas Dakota Mk IV for the RAF Redesignated by the RAF, concerning 896 C-47B's transferred from the USA.
Transferred aircraft
Douglas EC-47D Skytrain Redesignated AC-47D in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas EC-47H Redesignated R4D-5Q's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas EC-47J Redesignated R4D-6Q's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas HC-47A Skytrain Redesignated SC-47A Skytrain in 1962.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas HC-47D Skytrain Redesignated SC-47D Skytrain in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas LC-47H Redesignated R4D-5L's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas LC-47J Redesignated R4D-6L's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas LC-117D Redesignated R4D-8L's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas R4D-1 100 Aircraft. identical to the C-47 except for naval instrumentation and radio equipment. The remaining 34 aircraft were transfers and conversions from the USAAF and RAF.
Number built: 66
Douglas R4D-2 Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3 powered by 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1820-71 radials, rated at 1,200 hp (895 kW) each. Used as a naval staff transport.
Number built: 2
Douglas R4D-2F Redesignated R4D-2's
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas R4D-2Z (again) Redesignated R4D-2's
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas R4D-3 Navy designation of 20 transferred USAAF C-53's
Transferred aircraft
Douglas R4D-4 Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3, further specifications unknown
Number built: 10
Douglas R4D-4R Impressed into military service, this was a DC-3, further specifications unknown
Number built: 7
Douglas R4D-4Q Conversion from R4D-4 aircraft with radar countermeasures
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-5 Navy designation of 238 transferred USAAF C-47A's
Transferred aircraft
Douglas R4D-5E Conversion from the R4D-5, concerning special electronic purposes
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-5L Conversion from the R4D-5, concerning extreme weather environments
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-5Q Conversion from R4D-5 aircraft with radar countermeasures
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-5R Conversion from the R4D-5, concerning personnel transport
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-5S Conversion from the R4D-5, concerning Air/Sea warfare training
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-5T 5T Conversion from the R4D-5, concerning navigation training
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-5Z Conversion from the R4D-5, concerning staff transport
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-6 Navy designation of 161 transferred USAAF C-47B's
Transferred aircraft
Douglas R4D-6E Conversion from the R4D-6, concerning special electronic purposes
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-6L Conversion from the R4D-6, concerning extreme weather conditions
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-6Q Conversion from the R4D-6, concerning radar countermeasures
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-6R Conversion from the R4D-6, concerning personnel transport
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-6S Conversion from the R4D-6, concerning Air/Sea warfare training
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-6T Conversion from the R4D-6, concerning navigation training
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-6Z Conversion from the R4D-6, concerning staff transport
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-7 Navy designation of 44 transferred USAAF TC-47B's
Transferred aircraft
Douglas R4D-8 Post war conversion of 100 R4D-5's and R4D-6's. They were upgraded with modified wings of greater sweep and shifted slightly farther aft, a redesigned tail unit, fully retractable main landing gear units, and a powerplant of 2 × Wright R-1820-80 engines, rated at 1,535 hp (1.145 kW) each.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-8L Conversion from the R4D-8, concerning extreme weather conditions
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-8T Conversion from the R4D-8, concerning crew training
Number converted: unknown
Douglas R4D-8Z Conversion from the R4D-8, concerning staff transport
Number converted: unknown
Douglas RC-47A Skytrain Adopted C-47A for reconnaissance and flare dropping (Korean War).
Number converted: unknown
Douglas RC-47D Skytrain Adopted C-47D for reconnaissance and flare dropping.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas SC-47A Skytrain Adopted C-47A for Search and Rescue.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas SC-47D Skytrain Adopted C-47D for Search and Rescue.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas SC-47H Redesignated R4D-5S's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas SC-47J Redesignated R4D-6S's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas TC-47B Skytrain Specialized Navigational trainer with specific equipment, based on the C-47B.
Number built: 133
Douglas TC-47D Skytrain Specialized Navigational trainer with specific equipment, based on the C-47D.
Number converted: unknown
Douglas TC-47H Redesignated R4D-5R's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas TC-47J Redesignated R4D-6R's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas TC-47K Redesignated R4D-7's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas TC-117D Redesignated R4D-8T's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas VC-47A Skytrain Adopted C-47A for Staff transport (V stands for VIP?).
Number converted: unknown
Douglas VC-47B Skytrain Adopted C-47B for Staff transport (V stands for VIP?).
Number converted: unknown
Douglas VC-47D Skytrain Adopted C-47D for Staff transport (V stands for VIP?).
Number converted: unknown
Douglas VC-47H Redesignated R4D-5Z's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas VC-47J Redesignated R4D-6Z's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Douglas VC-117D Redesignated R4D-8Z's in 1962.
Redesignated aircraft
Lisunov Li-2 Soviet license built C-47 Dakota. It was powered by 2 × Shvetsov ASh-62 radial, rated at 1,000 hp (746 kW) each. Dimensions and performance differed slightly. Some aircraft were fitted with a dorsal gun turret.
Number built: about 2000
Lisunov PS-84 Original designation of the Li-2
Redesignated aircraft
Showa L2D Tabby In 1937 Japan ordered 20 DC-3, and shortly after secured a license to build them themselves. Various types were built. The Allied gave it the code-name Tabby
Number built: 487 (total of all versions)
Showa L2D1 Tabby Prototypes built from parts imported from the USA.
Number built: 2
Showa L2D2 Tabby L2D1 fitted with 2 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 43 radials, rated at 1,000 hp (746 kW) each.
Number built: unknown
Showa L2D2-1 Tabby Reinforced cabin floor and a large cargo door on the port side.
Number built: 487
Showa L2D3 Tabby Personnel transport, powered by 2 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 51 radials, rated at 1,300 hp (969 kW) each.
Number built: unknown
Showa L2D3a Tabby Personnel transport, powered by 2 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 53 radials, rated at 1,300 hp (969 kW) each.
Number built: unknown
Showa L2D3-1 Tabby Freight transport, powered by 2 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 51 radials, rated at 1,300 hp (969 kW) each.
Number built: unknown
Showa L2D3-1a Tabby Freight transport, powered by 2 × Mitsubishi Kinsei 53 radials, rated at 1,300 hp (969 kW) each.
Number built: unknown

Remarks:

The C-47 was considered the most important weapon of World War 2 by Mr. Eisenhower. In this War logistics were almost more important than weapons and troops. It hauled cargo, delivered (para-)troopers, and acted as Glider tug. Almost anything could be crammed inside, including vehicles. It is still operational in a number of Air Forces all over the World.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

 

© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 9/20/00