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Douglas C-47 Skytrain

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The Douglas C-47 Skytrain (known as Dakota in British service) was the main transport aircraft for the United States forces during World War II.

==Description==

It had a crew of three and was capable of holding 2,721.5 kg of cargo, 14 wounded on stretchers with three attendants or 28 paratroopers.[2] It had dual 1,200 hp each, Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engines capable of propelling the C-47 at speeds of up to 370.1 km/h.

History

The design of the Skytrain originated from the Douglass DC-3 civilian transport aircraft. It is well known for its service during Operation Overlord, in which a large force of these aircraft transported U.S. paratroopers from the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions into France in order to eliminate German artillery positions. It was also used in Operation Market Garden and Operation Varsity to transport paratroopers. The aircraft was used even after the Second World War, in the Berlin Airlift, Korea, and Vietnam. It still is used today, in limited service with a few countries.

Experimental use

One example, RAF Dakota FD900, was used used for an experimental flight, conducted in stages between 23 June and 1 July 1943, to evaluate the possibility of using gliders for carrying freight and transporting returning ferry crews.[3]

Variants

Two USAAF C-47A Skytrains, 1944

A pair of C-47A Skytrains flying over France in 1944.

The first major variant was the C-47 (A.K.A. R4D-1 and Dakota I). This was an all purpose transport powered by two R-1830-92 engines. The aircraft was equipped with a 12 volt electrical system, large cargo loading doors, reinforced metal floor with tie down fittings, and wood seats designed to fold against the side of the cabin. The tail unit was fitted with glider towing cleat. The C-47A (A.K.A.R4D-5 and Dakota II was basically a C-47 with a 24 volt electrical system.[4]
  • One example of the C-47A was converted to XCG-17 glider configuration at Wright Field as an experiment. The engines and airscrews were replaced with hemispherical fairings, all excess weight and unnecessary fittings were removed, and a towing cleat was fitted under the centre section front spar. The modifications resulted in a clean and efficient glider with max towing speed of 290 mph (464kph), stall speed of 35 mph (56kph) and glide angle of 14/1. With a gross weight of 26,000 lb (11,805 kg),the XCG-17 could carry payloads up to 14,000 lb (6,356 kg), or 40 fully equipped troops. The glider could be flown at minimum weight without ballast.[5]

The next variant, the C-47B (A.K.A. R4D-6 and Dakota III), was as the C-47A, but with R-1830-90C engines with two stage blowers, and provision for extra fuel in cabin. This variant was developed for Indo-China use. Some were converted into navigational trainers as the TC-47B (A.K.A R4D-7)

  • A single example was fitted with Edo twin single step float installation for amphibious operation as the C-47C. Each float was equipped with two retractable wheels - one under the nose and one under the step - and an auxiliary 300 US gallon fuel tank between the two midship bulkheads.[4]

References

  1. Gunston, Bill (Forward). Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. Tiger Books. 1989. ISBN 1-85501-996-5. (Reprint of Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1945/1946. Bridgeman, Leonard (Editor). 1946). Pages 223-224
  2. http://www.boeing.com/history/mdc/skytrain.htm
  3. Aeroplane Monthly. Key Publishing. October 2014 Pages 24-26
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gunston, Bill (Forward). Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. Tiger Books. 1989. ISBN 1-85501-996-5. (Reprint of Jane's All The World's Aircraft 1945/1946. Bridgeman, Leonard (Editor). 1946). Page 223
  5. Bridgeman, Leonard. 1946 (1988). Page 224


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