Douglas DC-3 / C-47
1935
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Douglas DC-3 / C-47

One of the world's truly outstanding aeroplanes, the DC-3 resulted from American Airlines' requirement for a sleeper aircraft for its US transcontinental route. The DC-2 fuselage was too small for this, so, reluctantly, in the autumn of 1934 Douglas agreed to build the DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport) as an enlarged DC-2, with lengthened fuselage, increased span and, most important, an increase of 66cm in fuselage width - allowing up to 28 seats or 14 sleeping berths.

The prototype DST, with 633.4-745kW Wright Cyclone SGR-1820 engines, made its first flight on 17 December 1935 (not inappropriately the 32nd anniversary of the first powered flight by the Wright Brothers). The type entered service with American Airlines on 25 June 1936 over the New York-Chicago route, with transcontinental sleeper services starting on 18 September. The DC-3/DST soon proved itself and orders grew rapidly, with KLM becoming the first operator outside the US. Including 40 DST, 430 DC-3 had been delivered when the USA entered the war - one flew more than 84,000 hours.

The aircraft had such enormous potential that it was ordered in very large numbers by the US armed forces and when production ceased in 1947 Douglas had built 10,654 examples of all civil and military variants; Nakajima and Showa in Japan had built 485 (L2D) and about 2,000 had been built in the USSR as PS-84, but later redesignated Lisunov Li-2 with 742kW Shvetsov engines.

The DC-3 was built in numerous versions and with a wide range of Wright Cyclone and Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp engines ranging in power from 742 to 894kW. The aircraft were operated on wheels and skis - one even had floats (the XC-47G-DL) - and there was the XCG-17 experimental troop-carrying glider version. Original US military contracts covered 10,047 aircraft of which more than 9,500 were versions of the C-47 Skytrain with reinforced floor and double doors, and 380 G-53 Skytroopers. The US Navy ordered the DC-3 as the R4D. A wide range of military designations was given to civil aircraft impressed by the services before delivery including G-48, C-49, C-50, C-51, G-52, G-68 and C-84. Many military DC-3 were supplied to the US's allies and the 1,900 plus supplied to the RAF were given the name Dakota - a name which has been widely used in place of the correct DC-3 designation.

C-47 made such an important contribution to the US war effort that General Eisenhower considered them to be one of the four most significant weapons of World War II. In the China-Burma-India theatre they 'humped' supplies over the Himalayas from India to China and carried airborne troops on all major invasions. Post-war they contributed to the Berlin Airlift, carried supplies and troops into and wounded men out of Korea, and even fought as heavily armed gun-ships in Vietnam.

After World War II very large numbers of military DC-3 became surplus and were acquired by most of the world's airlines. In the early post-war years they formed the backbone of most airline fleets, initially with austere interiors but later brought up to much higher standards. Some were equipped to carry as many as 36 passengers but 21-28 was standard. Many others were used for cargo and mail.

SEE ALSO

C-47A


Specification 
 MODELDC-3E
 CREW2-3
 PASSENGERS21-28
 ENGINE2 x 1200hp Pratt Whitney R-1830-93 Twin Wasp
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight12700 kg27999 lb
    Empty weight7697 kg16969 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan28.96 m95 ft 0 in
    Length19.57 m64 ft 2 in
    Height5.16 m17 ft 11 in
    Wing area91.69 m2986.94 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Max. speed369 km/h229 mph
    Cruise speed293 km/h182 mph
    Ceiling7071 m23200 ft
    Range2414 km1500 miles

Douglas DC-3 / C-47

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60 61-80 81-100
capt w kilburn ret, 11.06.2014

This aircraft was in service with trans canada airlined in 1955 when I joined their flight crew staff. It was not built for large pilots, and created a challenge for anyone with long legs. It was soon replaced with the prop/jets.

Don Gaffke, 27.05.2014

Flew as Flt Mech and crew chief on C-47's out of Lajes Field Azores, Richards-Gebaur AFB Missouri and Otis AFB Ma. Great aircraft--very few problems--hundreds of hours flying timeagreat job for a young guy.

Don Gaffke, 26.05.2014

Flew as Flt Mech and crew chief on C-47's out of Lajes Field Azores, Richards-Gebaur AFB Missouri and Otis AFB Ma. Great aircraft--very few problems--hundreds of hours flying timeagreat job for a young guy.

Dusty Rhodes, 27.01.2014

Flew the SC-47D (Rescue Version) at Thule Greenland 1964-65. Flew one mission to Griese Fiord on Elsmere Island, Canada in Jan 65. Landed on skis between Coleman lanterns set out by the RCMP. Took a pregnant eskimo (inuit?) back to the Thule AB hospital. Great airplane.

Richard L Hamel, 29.12.2013

There is an Eastern Ailines DC 3 hanging from the ceiling at The Smitstonian Instituition in Washington, DC

Ian Corby, 03.02.2013

The DC-3 was the first a/c I flew after finishing my commercial pilot's course at Oxford (UK) in 1971,I was lucky to get the job as I had 20hrs tail wheel experience on an ex-army Auster spotter plane! We flew mail and newspapers for the British Armed Forces based in Germany.I also flew a company DC-3 operated by Martin Baker until they sold it!Sad as the fuselage was eventually used as restaurant.I had the previledge of meeting a US Navy R4D pilot Master Chief Pommeroy based at Lakenheath (UK)in the 1960's.I retired in 1999 after 24 yrs with British Airways as Capt.on DC-10/A320/747.If I ever won the 'lottery' I'd buy a 'turbo dak'!!!!

Steve (Ron)Mihaly, 02.12.2012

While serviing as a Paratrooper/Jump Master with the 82nd Airborn Div. I jumped the C-47 shortly befor they were replaced by the C-119. I can recall on that last jump that the plate holding anchor cable to the floor of the aircraft was held in place by four (4) bolts. Two of the bolts were missing! Rather than cancel the jump after we were approaching the Drop Zone, the Jump Master in charge that day, Sgt. Labrac, secured the cable with a jump rope, and we completed the jump without incident. Indeed, quite an aircraft!

Lauren Eastwood, 01.12.2012

I worked on 2 of the assigned C-47's at Otis AFB, in Falmouth, Mass. from '69 to early '70 when the base went through closure.

Roger Byron-Collins, 17.11.2012

What a magnificent reliable workhorse. I bought my first DC3 in 1973 from British Aerospace at Filton Mristol England It was used to ferry workers on the Concorde project between Filton and Toulouse France. I formed Macedonian Aviation at Southend airport near London and acquired another three DC3 from BIA Jersy. G-AMRA,G-AMHJ and G-AMSV. These were operated out of Southend and Aberdeen Scotland with scheduled routes to Shetland Islands and work for Conoco and Ford Motors. I sold Macedonian Aviation and my beautiful Daks in the mid 1970s.

John Bonner, 08.08.2012

Okay, how about the AC-47, Spooky, Puff the Magic Dragon? With three side-firing GE Mini-guns each rated at 6000 rounds per minute (we always ran only one at switched down to half rate), this was the most fun I had in forty years of flying a variety of aircraft... Bien Hoa and Udorn RTAB, '69-'70.

Jeff Arnett, 31.07.2012

With the 11th Combat Cargo sqdn I flew this plane in Burma in WWII. It always brought us through the worst weather and rugged ,"bush" flying conditions. Great , great aircraft with no surprises for the pilot!

Roberto Mendieta, 16.06.2012

We had many of them at the Nicaragua Air Force, great transport planes, to me, the best plane ever built!!!!!!

Mike Kacka, 23.05.2012

In 1963 at 19 went to work for Ozark Airlines and spent the first 5 years of my 47 years as an A&P learning how to fix a real airplane with propellers. Finished on a A B777 no props and not as dirty or as much fun. Thanks DC 3 I grew up with you.

Vijay Fernandez, 09.05.2012

Capt Ian C. Boodrie was the Maharaja of Dharbangra's pilot, I met him in 1969 in Calcutta. He worked in Jamair an airline that had DC-3airplanes then; he trained me on the Dak. He was one cool guy and I have seen him land in Calcutta in a cyclone. His great friend is 'The Himalayan Rogue' Peter Goutiere a CNAC pilot in N.Y. another great DC-3 pilot.

alan schneider, 08.05.2012

as an army contractor in vietnam in '69, flew a number of times in Air America and Air Viet Nam versions. Air America versions set up very interestingly . . .

Bruce Huff USAF Ret MSGT, 10.04.2012

Crewed and flew as flt. mech VC-47-A at Larson AFB WN 1958-1963 .Ser. no. 42-100568. Very forgiving bird.

Jim Boodrie, 17.11.2011

My father, Captain Ian C. Boodrie, flew DC3s all over India after the war until the early 70s - when he registered with the CAA in London (early 70s) they were astounded over the number of hours flown in this aeroplane by him and were unable to find any records of anybody who had flown more - I do have some photographs of one especially being serviced and the interior of another kitted out to accommodate a Maharajah whom he was contracted to. My son Douglas C. Boodrie now holds his log books

Edward Gilbert, 16.11.2011

My brother flew a DC-3 converted to a United States Air Force anti-submarine bomber designated as a B-18A. I believe that he sank a submarine off the US coast in the Atlantic. He flew out of the Fort Lauderdale Army Air Corps Station in 1944 or early 1945. The B-18A carried a pilot, co-pilot, navigator, and Navy Ordnance crewman, who set the detonation depth settings on the twelve anti-submarine mines at the location determined by the navigator. It had additional fuel tanks to extend its operating flying time by 50%. I think it had both port and starboard 50-mm machine gun turrets to defend itself against surfaced German U-Boats.

Keith Gorzell, 12.11.2011

Greatly enjoyed and have fond memories of flying the C117 out of Cubi Pt, Philippines in 1972-73. We did twice daily “milk runs” to Clark and Manila on M-W-F, then Bagio Tue-Thur. A few trips to Vietnam and around the PI, plus twice monthly runs to Hong Kong and Taipei added to the joy. We also air dropped “Nutribuns” as food around Luzon during the severe PI flood of July-August 1972.

Surendra Mohan Singh, 09.11.2011

The great Vintage Jumbo is still flying and had landed in India territory at IGIA airport today on 09 Nov 2011........76 years of Operations....... Cheers. Good show Bell Geospace for maintaing this aircraft.

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