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Douglas Skytrain / Dakota

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain, also known as the Dakota under the RAF designation, is a military transport aircraft that was derived from the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliner.

It played a significant role in World War II as it was extensively utilized by the Allies.

The C-47 was employed for various purposes such as troop transport, cargo, paratroopers, towing gliders, and military cargo parachute drops.

Moreover, it remained in active service with several military operators for an extended period.

Notably, the C-47 was produced in approximately three times the quantity of the larger and heavier payload Curtiss C-46 Commando, which served a similar purpose for the U.S. military.

Furthermore, the C-47 has been operated by the armed forces of approximately 100 countries, with over 60 variants of the aircraft produced.

The C-47 aircraft was distinguished from the civilian DC-3 by a multitude of modifications, including the installation of a cargo door, hoist attachment, and reinforced floor.

Additionally, the tail cone was shortened to accommodate glider-towing shackles, and an astrodome was added to the cabin roof.

During World War II, the C-47 and modified DC-3s were utilized by numerous countries’ armed forces for the transportation of troops, cargo, and wounded.

The U.S. naval designation for this aircraft was R4D.

Production of the C-47 exceeded 10,000 units, with manufacturing taking place in Long Beach and Santa Monica, California, as well as Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Between March 1943 and August 1945, the Oklahoma City plant produced 5,354 C-47s.

The C-53 Skytrooper troop transport, which began production in October 1941 at Douglas Aircraft’s Santa Monica plant, was a specialized version of the C-47.

However, it lacked the cargo door, hoist attachment, and reinforced floor of the C-47, and only 380 units were produced due to the C-47’s superior versatility.
Initial military version of the DC-3 had four crew (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, and radio operator) and seats for 27 troops alongside the fuselage interior.
“Aerial Ambulances” fitted for casualty evacuation could carry 18 stretcher cases and a medical crew of three: 965 built (including 12 for the United States Navy as R4D-1).
C-47 with a 24-volt electrical system, 5,254 built including USN aircraft designated R4D-5
C-47A equipped for photographic reconnaissance and ELINT missions.
C-47A equipped for Search Air Rescue; redesignated HC-47A in 1962.
C-47A equipped for VIP transport role.
Powered by R-1830-90 engines with two-speed superchargers (better altitude performance) to cover the China-Burma-India routes, 3,364 built.
C-47B equipped for VIP transport role.
C-47 tested with Edo Model 78 floats for possible use as a seaplane.
C-47B with second speed (high blower) of engine supercharger disabled or removed after the war.
AC-47D Spooky
Gunship aircraft with three side-firing .30 in (7.62 mm) Minigun machine guns
C-47D with equipment for the Electronics Calibration, of which 26 were so converted by Hayes in 1953; prior to 1962 was designated AC-47D.
C-47D modified for test roles.
C-47D equipped for photographic reconnaissance and ELINT missions.
C-47D equipped for Search Air Rescue; redesignated HC-47D in 1962.
C-47D equipped for VIP transport role.
Modified cargo variant with space for 27–28 passengers or 18–24 litters
YC-129 redesignated, Super DC-3 prototype for evaluation by USAF later passed to USN as XR4D-8
C-47H/Js equipped for the support of American Legation United States Naval Attache (ALUSNA) and Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) missions.
C-47A and D aircraft modified for ELINT/ARDF mission, N and P differ in radio bands covered, while Q replaces analogue equipment found on the N and P with a digital suite, redesigned antenna equipment and uprated engines.
One C-47M modified for high-altitude work, specifically for missions in Ecuador.
C-53 Skytrooper
Troop transport version of the C-47 that lacked the reinforced cargo floor, large cargo door, and hoist attachment of the C-47 Skytrain.
It was dedicated to the troop transport role and could carry 28 passengers in fixed metal seats arranged in rows in the former cargo space; 221 were built.
XC-53A Skytrooper
One testbed aircraft was modified in March 1942 with full-span slotted flaps and hot-air leading edge de-icing.
Converted to C-53 standard in 1949 and sold as surplus.
C-53B Skytrooper
Winterised and long-range Arctic version of the C-53 with extra fuel tanks in the fuselage and separate navigator’s astrodome station for celestial navigation; eight built.
C-53C Skytrooper
C-53 with larger port-side access door; 17 built.
C-53D Skytrooper
C-53C with 24V DC electrical system and its 28 seats attached to the sides of the fuselage: 159 built.
C-117A Skytrooper
C-47B with 24-seat airline-type interior for staff transport use, 16 built.
Three redesignated C-117s used in the VIP role.
One C-117C converted for air-sea rescue.
High-altitude two-speed superchargers replaced by one-speed superchargers, one built and conversions from C-117As all later VC-117B.
USN/USMC R4D-8 redesignated C-117D in 1962.
USN/USMC R4D-8L redesignated LC-117D in 1962.
USN/USMC R4D-8T redesignated TC-117D in 1962.
USN R4D-8Z redesignated VC-117D in 1962.
Super DC-3 prototype for evaluation by USAF redesignated C-47F and later passed to USN as XR4D-8.

Wright R-1820 engines uprated to 1425 hp.
Canadian Forces designation for the C-47 (post-1970)
One C-47 tested as a 40-seat troop glider with engines removed and faired over.
R4D-1 Skytrain
USN/USMC version of the C-47
Twenty C-53Cs transferred to USN.
C-47A variant 24-volt electrical system replacing the 12-volt of the C-47;

Redesignated C-47H in 1962, 238 transferred from USAF.
R4D-5 for use in Antarctica.

Redesignated LC-47H in 1962.
R4D-5 for use as a special ECM trainer.

Redesignated EC-47H in 1962
R4D-5 for use as a personnel transport for 21 passengers and as a trainer aircraft.

Redesignated TC-47H in 1962
R4D-5 for use as a special ASW trainer; redesignated SC-47H in 1962
R4D-5 for use as a VIP transport; redesignated VC-47H in 1962
157 C-47Bs transferred to USN: redesignated C-47J in 1962.
R4D-6L, Q, R, S, and Z
Variants as the R4D-5 series.

Redesignated LC-47J, EC-47J, TC-47J, SC-47J, and VC-47J respectively in 1962
44 TC-47Bs transferred from USAF for use as a navigational trainer: redesignated TC-47K in 1962.
R4D-5 and R4D-6 remanufactured aircraft with stretched fuselage, Wright R-1820 engines, fitted with modified wings and redesigned tail surfaces; redesignated C-117D in 1962.
R4D-8 converted for Antarctic use, redesignated LC-117D in 1962.
R4D-8 converted as crew trainers, redesignated TC-117D in 1962.
R4D-8 converted as a staff transport, redesignated VC-117D in 1962.
C-47TP “Turbo Dak”
Refit with two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67R turboprops and fuselage stretch for the South African Air Force
Basler BT-67
C-47 conversion with a stretched fuselage, strengthened structure, modern avionics, and powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67R turboprops.
RAF designations
Dakota I
RAF designation for the C-47 and R4D-1.
Dakota II
RAF designation for nine C-53 Skytroopers received under the lend-lease scheme.
Unlike the majority of RAF Dakotas, these aircraft were therefore dedicated troop transports, lacking the wide cargo doors and reinforced floor of the C-47.
Dakota III
RAF designation for the C-47A.
Dakota IV
RAF designation for the C-47B.
Airspeed AS.61
Projected conversion of Dakota I aircraft by Airspeed.
None built.
Airspeed AS.62
Projected conversion of Dakota II aircraft by Airspeed.
None built.
Airspeed AS.63
Projected conversion of Dakota III aircraft by Airspeed.
None built.
BEA Pionair/Dart-Dakota
Conversion of Dakota to Rolls-Royce Dart power and used by BEA to prove turboprop engines prior to entry into service of Vickers Viscount.
28 troops
63 ft 9 in (19.43 m)
95 ft 6 in (29.11 m)
17 ft 0 in (5.18 m)
Wing area
987 sq ft (91.7 m2)
NACA 2215
NACA 2206
Empty weight
18,135 lb (8,226 kg)
Gross weight
26,000 lb (11,793 kg)
Max take-off weight
31,000 lb (14,061 kg)
2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90C Twin Wasp,

14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines,
1,200 hp (890 kW) each
3-bladed constant-speed propellers
Maximum speed
224 mph (360 km/h, 195 kn) at 10,000 ft (3,000 m)

1,600 mi (2,600 km, 1,400 nmi)
Ferry range
3,600 mi (5,800 km, 3,100 nmi)
Service ceiling
26,400 ft (8,000 m)
Time to altitude
10,000 ft (3,000 m) in 9 minutes 30 seconds
Wing loading
26.3 lb/sq ft (128 kg/m2)
0.0926 hp/lb (0.1522 kW/kg).

Aircraft Profile 096 – Douglas DC3,

Aircraft and Markings of the R.A.A.F. 1939-45-Geoffrey Pentland.
Douglas DC-3 / C-47 in Latin American Military Service-Dan Hagedorn & Mario Overall.
McDonnell Douglas aircraft since 1920: Volume 1-René J Francillon.
RAAF Camouflage & Markings 1939-1945 Vol 1-Geoffrey Pentland.
RAAF Camouflage & Markings 1939-1945 Vol 2-Geoffrey Pentland.
Royal Australian Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force in the Pacific-Rene J. Francillon & Frank F. Smith.
San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
Tips Wings Across Canada an Illustrated History of Canada-Peter Pigott.

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