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.
| ENGINE||2 x 1200hp Pratt Whitney R-1830-93 Twin Wasp|
| Take-off weight||12700 kg||27999 lb|
| Empty weight||7697 kg||16969 lb|
| Wingspan||28.96 m||95 ft 0 in|
| Length||19.57 m||64 ft 2 in|
| Height||5.16 m||17 ft 11 in|
| Wing area||91.69 m2||986.94 sq ft|
| Max. speed||369 km/h||229 mph|
| Cruise speed||293 km/h||182 mph|
| Ceiling||7071 m||23200 ft|
| Range||2414 km||1500 miles|
|Mick Brown, starhillgolf=mynetrocks.com, 24.11.2010|
Flew the C-117 (Super DC-3) out of Cubi Point, PI in early 70s. What a great, great airplane.
|Mike Routledge, supercoupe=mcloudteleco.com, 16.11.2010|
Served @ Nha Trang as FE on AC-47, Jul 68-Jul 69. Super airplanes. Most of our airplanes were about 25 years old. Didn't have any bad experiences, in 850 hours of mostly night missions..My aircraft commander, LtCol Tillman did a nice job of keeping us safe.
|D.L. Bradford, brad1454=msn.com, 12.11.2010|
After Tech school at Lackland in 61 I was assigned to Base Flight at Beale. We had 4 Gooneys and they were great a/c. I checked in with my tools to the Quonset and this burly staff sgt. took me to the back door pointed at a Gooney on the ramp and said go change the #1 jug on #1 eng. I got within 20ft of the bird and was already dirty. I loved working on those ol girls and Gooneys have a place in my heart today. I retired from Western/Delta in 06 after nearly 39 years having worked on all kinds of a/c and finally finishing in Q/C. Loved the work and planes.
|John, jh_bonner=yahoo.com, 10.11.2010|
Contrary to most references which indicate the last USAF AC-47D flight was Dec '69, it actually was six months later, beginning with: "This briefing is classified TOP SECRET. Gentlemen, you are not here, you are not going where you are going, and you are definitely not doing what you will do." This Udorn RTAB mission was unclassified ten years later, but flying it was a gas, the most fun I had in forty years of flying.
|John Setser CMS USAF, RET, mjrestes=cox.net, 16.10.2010|
First flight was on C47 from Lackland to Chanute 1953. Sent to Korea in June 56 as engine mech on "Gooney". Got to crew one from Feb to Jun 57 when I rotated. A very easy craft to "crew". Got to several sites in Korea and Japan several times.Took the bird to Manila for overhaul just before rotating. Stationed at Offutt in 1965 as eng mech and got to work on the old gal again. Tail # was 4348158. Would love to hear where it is now if anyone knows.
|Roy Nisja, ren383=sonic.net, 13.10.2010|
My first flight in an airplane was in 1946 at age 12 with my mother and brother from San Francisco to Chicago. What a thrill it was for this youngster to get to go forward into the "greenhouse" at night and talk with the pilots. I was amazed at all the gauges etc., but I will never forget that first flight in one of the greatest airplanes ever made. I have a picture of one next to my computer right now.
|Roger W. Swift, jjbodan=grandecom.net, 30.09.2010|
1st time up in a C-47 was in 1959. Flew from Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, Nevada, to Kansas City. Next time up in one, it was an EC-47 in Viet Nam,1966-1967, 106 combat missions as a Radio Operator, Back Ender, Silent Warrior. Located and had an awful lot of the enemy killed. DFC and 5 air medals. Would have had more missions, but was grounded by my Commander my last two months there as the White Mice had an arrest warrent out for me. (Had a vehical accident), so he would not let me leave the base until I got on the big blue (Pan Am) to come home. Never had the sligest doubt about those Grand Ladys bringing me back to the base. 6994th Security Squadron, TSN. Nick named Antique Airlins because of the age of the aircraft and also of our pilots, the youngest being 45. When I was stationed in Reno. Nev. 1960-1961, we had the oldest C-47 still in commision assigned there, but I never got up in her.
|Ralph McRae, RMR53144=aol.com, 22.09.2010|
I flew the DC-3/R4D over 1,800 hrs out of LBAD in Lexington KY in the late 60's and early 70's. All over the eastern half of the US in all kinds of weather. The one I flew the most was Army 43-17168 which was made a yr before I was born and it still soldiers on as a mosquito fighter in FL today.
|Jay Friedman, jaysfriedman=yahoo.com, 19.09.2010|
I'm 70 years old, so have flown in many DC3s. There must have been flights previous to this, but the first I definitely remember was with North Central Airlines from Milwaukee to Chigago in 1963. In 1972 I went to work for the World Health Organization in Nepal, where Royal Nepal Airlines had several in their fleet, which the crews referred to as a "Dakota". Since I constantly traveled all over the country in my job, frequently taking a bicycle with me to use at the destination, I became friendly with many of that airline's pilots. On one trip I was going from Dhangadi in SW Nepal to Nepalganj about 100 miles to the east in an aircraft that was in C-47 configuration in which the passengers sat in rows on each side with their backs to the windows and baggage was carried in strapped down piles in the middle. The pilot was Capt. Ratna Shahnker Shrestha, now living in London UK, whose family I'm still friendly with. I was standing in the back of the cockpit, watching him and his co-pilot fly the plane, when I looked to my left. There a brass plaque screwed into the wall said this particular aircraft had been built or assembled by Hindustan Aviation in India in April 1940, my month of birth! Anyway, Ratna then said to me that the flight was way behind schedule, so he was going to overfly Nepalganj as he had to get back to the airline's base in Kathmandu before dark (where there were no runway lights). I said something like "Come on, man, I gotta get to Nepalganj, and I only have my knapsack and a bicycle. Can't you just quickly land and let me jump out with my stuff?" The Nepalganj airport was a very long unpaved strip, so he did just that. He landed, braked to a stop partway down the field, the stewardess opened the door, I threw out my knapsack and climbed down, she handed me down my bike and Ratna opened the throttles and took right off again. All this took just a couple of minutes.
|Charles, k4vud=hotmail.com, 14.09.2010|
My first flight was in the University of Ky's DC-3, which was used mostly to transport the football or basketball teams. It smelled of stale beer, and I marveled at having to climb UP to get to my seat.
We flew into that W. Va. airport made by cutting the top off of a mountain. Looking down, I saw a valley and a moment later, I saw the runway about 10 feet below our wheels.
As it rev-ed up, each panel and other items in the plane found its resonance and vibrated, but as the engines built up, one panel would quiet down while others took up the song of vibration. I was thrilled !
Flying out of that airport, the DC-3 sank a bit after leaving the end of the mountain runway. My debate team beat W.Va. and we flew home.
Then, in love with it, I built the DC-3 model kit.
|Jim Hamilton, hamiltonjames15=gmail.com, 21.08.2010|
I flew the C-47 in ww 2 dropped troops and towed gliders in all the operations never had a bit of trouble what a great plane
|James C. "J.C." Wheeler, jc=ec47.com, 07.08.2010|
I served as a Flight Mechanic and SEFE at Sheppard AFB, Texas in 1963-1966. Then I was selected to join the group at war in Vietnam.
In Vietnam with the 361st Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron, I again served as a Flight Mechanic and as Standardization Evaluation Flight Examiner (SEFE). I was part of a Ferry Flight Crew to take I believe the 3rd of some 70 EC-47 versions of the C-47 to Veitnam across the Pacific using the northern route.
During my tour, 1966/67, I remained with the crew I had ferried over with and flew 114 of the 7 hour Airborne Radio Direction Finding Missions over South Vietnam, Laos and the Ho Chi Mihn Trail and along the southern cost of North Vietnam. We were the only crew during the 8 years of this mission to ferry over and remain and fly as a CREW for the entire tour, each member was SEFE for their particular crew position. I believe the EC-47 Mission was the last Combat Flying for the C-47, the mission ended on May 15th, 1974 as it was flying out of Thailand in the end. Today I am the sole survivor of my crew.
I have a 13 year old Web-Site "The EC-47 History Site" on this Last Mission for the C-47. If you care to visit, go to ec47.com Be advised this is a Very Large Web-Site, be prepared to spend several hours to see it all. Hope you enjoy it.
James C. Wheeler
|Wiliam Ramsey, ramseyastc47=aol.com, 24.06.2010|
The immortal C-47 was my first operational acft. out of flight school in 1944. We flew 'em over the hump and to deliver food, ammo, med supplies, etc. to Chinese troops in Burma. It was the best time of my pilot life. Later we flew 'em in Korea as flare ships doing night interdiction on roads, tunnels, vast supply yards, etc. What an airplane.
|d france, frenchcon2=aol.com, 18.06.2010|
First job at 22 was flying the DC-3 out of Pontiac & Willow Run MI. Century Airlines. Logged 1000 hrs between 1988-90. Best A/C ever flown so far including B-767. ALBERT- Do you remember the sound the tires made on the concrete when you greased it on ?
|Jim Chandler, n427c=gte.net, 03.05.2010|
I spent about 1200 hours (11 Air Medals and 2 DFC's) on the AC-47 variant at Bien Hoa, RVN in 1967/68. This ship was also known as "Puff The Magic Dragon". I started out in "BS Bombers", C-47's with speakers and leaflet chutes, but I figured if I was going to get shot at, I wanted to be able to shoot back. I was a Loadmaster and my job was to stand in the open rear door and kick flares out. I never felt unsafe in the C-47 and the only time we had a problem with one of our birds was when a rocket attack started on Bien Hoa just as our main gear touched down after seven hours of flying CAP out north of the base. I think the pilots blew every seal out of both engines when they cobbed them to get the heck out of Dodge.
|Darryl Johnston, lyrrad_sa=yahoo.com, 15.04.2010|
There is a song about the bird - "Methusela With Wings". SAA still has an operational one, used along with a Ju52 for nostalgic flights. If I recall correctly, Atlas Aircraft Corporation modified some SAAF ones to turboprops.
|Dave Masson, DMasson207=aol.com, 15.03.2010|
Truly an outstanding aircraft. I have 208 combat missions in southeast asia on EC-47's and have witnessed the tough
AC-47 in action.
|John Hancocks, woolfie=westnet.com.au, 07.03.2010|
What an incredible aircraft whether flying along the West African coast in 1956 deafened by the rain striking the fuselage or in 1967, Libya, watching the sky outside turn yellow/orange as the pilot strove to climb above the sand storm - and most passengers fell asleep through lack of oxygen, and yet another safe landing. Truly an amazing feat.
|joe bernabo, joeandphil=sbcglobal.net, 27.02.2010|
Did and how did this plane ever fly across the Pacific orr
portiions of it??? STUPID ME - I had a close friend who
was a Flight Engineer on one in ww2 ( he also even trained
a pilot the well known movie-star flier TYRONE POWER the
basics of a C3 or c47.. BUT IT NEVER OCCURED TO ASK HIM any details of THESE LONG FLIGHTS he was on. Thank you
|Robert L. Willett, willettr=att.net, 25.02.2010|
In the CBI China National Aviation Corpration flew 26 lend-lease C-47s. On one trip, Capt Moon Chin was unknowingly taking Jimmy Doolittle out of China after the Doolittle Raid. They were landing in Myitkyina, Burma as the Japanese were almost at the airport. Moon Chinn loaded 72 in his C-47, took off for Calcutta and unloaded, finding 4 more in the lavatory. Doolittle's comment was "I should have gone home the way I cxame!"
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