DOUGLAS C47 DAKOTA/SKYTRAIN

DOUGLAS C47 DAKOTADOUGLAS C47 DAKOTADOUGLAS C47 DAKOTADOUGLAS C47 DAKOTA

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota (RAF designation) is a military transport aircraft developed from the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliner. It was used extensively by the Allies during World War II and remained in front line service with various military operators through the 1950s.

 
 

Design and development

The C-47 differed from the civilian DC-3 in numerous modifications, including being fitted with a cargo door and a strengthened floor.During World War II, the armed forces of many countries used the C-47 and modified DC-3s for the transport of troops, cargo, and wounded. The U.S. Naval designation was R4D. More than 10,000 aircraft were produced in Long Beach nd Santa Monica, California and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Between March 1943 and August 1945 the Oklahoma City plant produced 5,354 C-47s.

Operational history

The C-47 was vital to the success of many Allied campaigns, in particular those at Guadalcanal and in the jungles of New Guinea and Burma, where the C-47 (and its naval version, the R4D) made it possible for Allied troops to counter the mobility of the light-traveling Japanese army. Additionally, C-47s were used to airlift supplies to the embattled American forces during the Battle of Bastogne. Possibly its most influential role in military aviation, however, was flying “The Hump” from India into China. The expertise gained flying “The Hump” was later be used in the Berlin Airlift, in which the C-47 played a major role, until the aircraft were replaced by Douglas C-54 Skymasters.

In Europe, the C-47 and a specialized paratroop variant, the C-53 Skytrooper, were used in vast numbers in the later stages of the war, particularly to tow gliders and drop paratroops. In the Pacific, with careful use of the island landing strips of the Pacific Ocean, C-47s were even used for ferrying soldiers serving in the Pacific theatre back to the United States.

C-47s (about 2,000 received under lend-lease) in British and Commonwealth service took the name Dakota, possibly inspired by the acronym “DACoTA” for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft. The C-47 also earned the informal nickname “Gooney Bird” in the European theatre of operations.

Other sources attribute this name to the first plane, a USMC R2D—the military version of the DC-2—being the first plane to land on Midway Island, previously home to the native long-winged albatross known as the gooney bird, which was native to Midway.

The United States Air Force‘s Strategic Air Command had Skytrains in service from 1946 through 1967.

With all of the aircraft and pilots having been part of the Indian Air Force prior to independence, both the Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force used C-47s to transport supplies to their soldiers fighting in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947.

Several C-47 variations were used in the Vietnam War by the United States Air Force, including three advanced electronic warfare variations, which sometimes were called “Electric Gooneys” designated EC-47N, EC-47P, or EC-47Q depending on the engine used. EC-47s were also operated by the Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian Air Forces.  A gunship variation, using three 7.62 mm Mini guns, designated AC-47 “Spooky”, often nicknamed “Puff the Magic Dragon”, also was deployed.

The Royal Canadian Air Force and later, the Canadian Armed Forces employed the C-47 for transportation, navigation, and radar training, as well as for search and rescue operations from the 1940s to the 1980s.

  •  Role: Military Transport Aircraft