Douglas DC-4 / C-54
1942
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Douglas DC-4 / C-54

In response to the requirements of five major US airlines, Douglas designed and built the large 52-passenger DC-4, which made its first flight on 7 June 1938. This type was not put into production; instead a smaller unpressurised development was ordered by American, Eastern and United Air Lines. This, too, bore the designation DC-4 and the original aeroplane became the DC-4E. The new aircraft flew on 14 February 1942, by which time the US was at war and all 24 DC-4A built were taken by the armed forces.

The DC-4 had a retractable nosewheel undercarriage and was powered by four 820-1,080kW Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasps. It was, for its time, an ideal long-range heavy logistic transport with a payload of up to 9,980kg. The military production version was the C-54. A total of 207 C-54A were built, followed by increased-capacity C-54B, similar C-54D with Pratt & Whitney R-2000-11 radials, C-54E with convertible cargo/passenger interiors, and C-54G with new engines. Nine hundred and fifty-two Skymasters were completed for the USAAF and 211 for the US Navy which designated them as R5D Skymasters.

Used in all theatres of war, none achieved a more impressive record than those operated by the USAAF's Air Transport Command. With this Command C-54 established the first regular transport service across the North Atlantic, averaging for a long period 20 double-crossings per day. One, the VC-54C-DO Sacred Cow, served as President Roosevelt's special aircraft and a C-54B-1-DO was used by Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

After the war Douglas built 79 civil DC-4-1009 and many of the military aircraft became available for airline operation - mostly with 44 seats but later with as many as 86. On 7 March 1946 American Airlines was first to introduce DC-4 on US domestic services, between New York and Los Angeles. However in October 1945 American Overseas Airlines had introduced DC-4 on North Atlantic services.

C-54A


Specification 
 CREW4
 PASSENGERS40-44
 ENGINE4 x P+W R-2000-25, 1065kW
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight33140 kg73062 lb
    Empty weight20000 kg44093 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan35.8 m117 ft 5 in
    Length28.6 m94 ft 10 in
    Height8.4 m28 ft 7 in
    Wing area136.0 m21463.89 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Max. speed450 km/h280 mph
    Cruise speed365 km/h227 mph
    Ceiling6900 m22650 ft
    Range w/max.fuel6000 km3728 miles
    Range w/max.payload2200 km1367 miles

Douglas DC-4 / C-54

Comments1-20 21-40 41-60
Chuck Williams, 28.08.2010

I flew on C-54s out of Kodiak Alaska in 1963. We flew all over Alaska, and down to the lower 48 on "milk and bread" runs. We flew the USO shows out to Adak and Shemia (sp?) Islands, on the Aleutian chain. I flew as an orderly and load-master. We flew with an "all" enlisted crew, which stirred some heads at some of our destinations. One US military base, which will remain nameless, thought we had stolen the aircraft. Chief Drum was the Plane Commander, I believe. We operated two or three C-54s and one HU-16D Albatross. "Big AL" was one of our radio operators. The flight engineers were called "Plane Captains" in those days. I'd love to hear from anyone that was stationed at AMD NS Kodiak Alaska in 1962-63. Chuck Williams AMSC USN Ret.

George Detraz, 19.08.2010

During 1959-1961 while stationed at Patuxtant River MD in VR-1 the Navy called it a R5D. I remember that there were two R5D's, one (last three numbers of the BU NO) was 390. According to the craft log book it had carried coal in the Berlin air lift. When we had it it had been completely refurbished to a VIP craft. It was used to carry high ranking Admirals and Sec Navy etc. The other oas numbered 505. It had been bellied in in Greenland, salvaged and we were using it as a cargo plane. I remember on one trip to GITMO Cuba we ran into a storm and lightening hit us and water was running all over the deck inside. We had passangers and cargo on board. The passengers's eyes were wide open. But we made it safetly. As an Aviation Electrician and certified as an Orderly I spent much time airborne in that craft.

Leroy McVay, 19.06.2010

My last flight in a military fixed wing was a Navy R5D / C54. Head up his butt pilot got us into trouble at Sand Point Naval Air Station, Seattle. Made 4 approached to land under GCA rules. Waved off on #1, too far off course. Approach #2 got on deck, too fast for snow covered runway, full power at last moment, rt gear struck drainage ditch, broke right wing, don't know what held it on. Approach #3 waved off, crash equipment not in position. Stayed on on approach #4, rt wing snapped off, slow rolled to right and slid on top. All hands walked down the ceiling to get out, all okay, no injuries. Testiment to Douglas engineers for a very sturdy plane!

John Hancocks, 14.05.2010

BOAC used the Merlin powered Canadair variant (Argonaut) extensively, I flew as a passenger Heathrow/Accra in one, it was a "lollipop special" in that it was packed with boarding school kids myself included, out to visit parents. Somewhere over the French Alps a pillow flight errupted using the head rests, as battle surged back and forth the skipper asked us to resume our seats, we'd upset the aircraft's trim. It was pressurised and we cruised at 18,000 feet as I recall. The aircraft was said to be underpowered...perhaps this was so for one was lost on that route in rather strange circumstances, it was the subject of much speculation. Anyway, the Argonaut had replaced the Handley Page Hermes - a real lemon - so I suppose anything would have been seen as an improvement.

Bud Smith ADCS USN (Ret), 08.03.2010

Was crew chief for USN Project RAINBO at NAS Anacostia then Project RAM at NAS PT MUGU CA. Flew C-54 Buno 90413,
special project A/C with VIP section aft and electronics package fwd section of the A/C. Flew it all over the US and across the Atlantic to Paris for an International Aerospace medical convention circa 1961. Great memories of
duty in a small special project team.

Eddie Stough, 22.02.2010

Berline Airlift 1948-1949 at Frankfort and Wiesbaden, Germany (333rd Troop Carrier Sqdn.)

Don Wilson, 07.02.2010

Another great airplane that I was priveleged to fly for about 1200 hours, including doing the airlift from the British Zone (Celle) to the French Zone airport in Berlin. That was a dirty job (as we flew nothing but COAL) and the poor aircraft were dirty as we. When overhauls were done at Burtonwwood, England, I heard that as much as a ton of coal dust was removed from underneath the floor boards in the belly. Subsequently I flew the C-54 for admin purposes out of Puerto Rico (Ramey AFB) and other assignements. It was a good airplane but as ALL Douglas products, the designers didn't leave much room for the pilots. In that at the gooney I kept bumping my head on the overhead radio controls getting in and out of the pilot's seat!! Then they came along withe the B-29 and 50 that gave us a cockpit with the windshield about five feet ahead and three feet in front of the instrument panel.

Joe Roberts, 26.01.2010

I was radio officer in C-54s 1943 unil end of WW2 Flying Air Transport Command from Miami to India. Crews were employees of Pan American Airways and the planes were government owned We were not in the US Air Force, but wore military style uniforms and in many respects were treated as military. We carried military cargo and personnel from Miamito Natal, Brazil, to Ascension Island, to Accra, Gold Coast, Africa (now Ghana) across Africa to Chabua, eastern India. Pan Amerian flew four flights a day from Miami on this route. US Air Force aircraft took the passengers and cargo from Chabua into China. The C-54 was a beautiful airplane for its time.

Joe ciavardone, 15.01.2010

When I was in the Air Force I was stationed in Alaska at Elemndorf AFB, and was a flight engineer on General Frank Armstrong's VC-54E, he was head of the Alaska Air Command. he was also the man the picture Twelve O"clock High was about.

Roy b, 08.01.2010

Where did RC-54D tail No. 42-72536 go? She was my bird while in GB Lab. I shipped into Det (2) 48th ARS in 61 and a month later we were 54th ARS. SAC was still doing their "broken Arrows", and I would catch a round robin to Pease (home) on a KC-97 back in 62

Jack Wichmann, 29.09.2009

My cousins husband was the stewart on the Sacred Cow with F.D.R. and Harry Truman.His name was Rodrick ROBITAILLE,TECH SGT.

Wouter Hobe, 25.09.2009

I flew as a paseenger from Lisboa to Madrid on Iberia, No pressurized cabin, flying low over the mountains, almost shearing the trees.

Leo Rudnicki, 28.08.2009

Rolls- Royce salesmen were superior to Bristol salesmen. A special model was custom-built for the North Star and it actually worked better than one might presume. The cumulative effect of noise in the pre-rock concert days was not appreciated and attempts to quiet the engines were indeed unsuccessful. Hearing aid sales in later years flourished. A connection???

Steve, 28.08.2009

Postwar, Canadair built a modified version powered by Rolls-Royce Merlins, supposedly to keep some of the money within the sterling area. While politically-inspired industrial offsets are a way of life in the aviation industry, why did they choose the Merlin? The Bristol Hercules offered the same output, and was a less uncomfortably noisy engine. (For the latter, see C.F. Rawnsley's "Night Fighter", in which the flight comfort of the Mosquito was compared unfavorably with that of the Beaufighter on that account.)

Pam Shewan, 03.07.2009

When did Eastern Airlines stop using the DC-4 ? Thanks for your reply ?

ed nowakowski, 28.07.2008

my dad built this c54 at chicago 1942

Mark Grudt, 14.03.2008

When did the last DC-3 and DC-4 roll off their production lines?

Dave Buckerfield, 03.05.2007

Buffalo Airways in the Northweste Territories of Canada still offers daily DC-3 scheduled service and uses DC-4 and DC-6 for cargo and firefighting. The radial engines sound great roaring overhead everyday.

Tom Setcoski, 19.12.2006

Dear Sirs: My Dad was the flight engineer for many years on this plane. Do you know where he can see one, or better yet, fly in one. He's
michigans most decoreated world war 2 vet, he's getting old now,,,. I'am doing a doucumentary, and would love for him to talk inside one near to him.. He lives in Michigan now.... Thanks for your help... Rom

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