any doubt the C-47 and its civilian version DC-3 are the most
famous planes of the aviation history. Almost everybody is
familiar with the name Dakota.
military career of the Douglas DC series (Douglas Cargo) began
in 1936 when the Army Air Corps ordered a pair of DC-2s under
the designation C-32. A contract followed for 18 DC-2s in the
C-33 freighter configuration and two more as C-34 staff
transports. Then, in 1937, the Army ordered a plane built to its
own specifications. It was a hybrid design that combined the
fuselage of the DC-2 with a DC-3 tail. This was the sole C-38
prototype and it led to 35 production versions called the C-39.
The C-39 represented the first serious effort by the Army to
establish an airlift capability.
1941 the old Air Corps had been transformed into the Army Air
Force and it selected a modified version of the DC-3 - the C-47
Skytrain - to become its standard transport aircraft. A
reinforced fuselage floor and the addition of a large cargo door
were the only major modifications. Other changes included the
fitting of cargo hooks beneath the center wing section and the
removal of the tail cone to mount a hook for towing gliders.
a supply plane, the C-47 could carry up to 2,700 kilos of cargo.
It could also hold a fully assembled jeep or a 37-mm cannon. As
a troop transport, it carried 28 soldiers in full combat gear.
As a medical airlift plane, it could accommodate 14 stretcher
patients and three nurses. Seven basic versions were built, and
the aircraft was given at least 22 designations.
branch of the U.S military and all the major allied powers flew
it. The U.S. Navy version was the R4D. The British and the
Australians designated it the Dakota (a clever acronym comprised
of the letters DACoTA for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport
Aircraft). The aircraft operated from every continent in the
world and participated in every major battle. By the end of
World War II, more than 10,000 had been built.
remained in active military service long after the end of
World War II. They played a critical role in the 1948 Berlin
Airlift and saw action in the Korean and Vietnam wars. One of
the most famous postwar roles of the C-47 was its service with
the US Air Force in Vietnam as the AC-47D gunship. The AC-47D
was fitted with three 7.62 millimeter MXU-470A Miniguns firing
out the side of the aircraft. The Miniguns had a rate of fire
of 6,000 rounds per minute. Many C-47s are still in service in
many airforces of the world.