Military Factory logo
Icon of F-15 Eagle military combat fighter aircraft
Icon of Abrams Main Battle Tank
Icon of AK-47 assault rifle
Icon of navy warships
Icon of a dollar sign
Icon of military officer saluting

Douglas C-47 (Skytrain / Dakota)

Medium Transport Aircraft

Douglas C-47 (Skytrain / Dakota)

Medium Transport Aircraft


The Douglas C-47 Skytrain was perhaps the most famous of the many transport aircraft employed during World War 2 - seeing combat service into the Vietnam War years.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1942
STATUS: Active, Limited Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Douglas Aircraft Company - USA / Lisunov - Soviet Union / Japan
OPERATORS: Argentina; Australia; Belgium; Benin; Biafra; Bangladesh; Bolivia; Brazil; Burma; Cambodia; Canada; Chad; Chile; China; Colombia; Republic of the Congo; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Cuba; Czechslovakia; Denmark; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Egypt; El Slavador; Ethiopia; Finland; France; Gabon; Nazi Germany; West Germany; Greece; Guatemala; Haiti; Honduras; Hungary; Iceland; India; Indonesia; Iran; Israel; Kingdom of Italy; Ivory Coast; Jordan; Japan; Laos; Libya; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mexico; Monaco; Morocco; Netherlands; New Zealand; Nicaragua; Niger; Nigeria; Northern Rhodesia; Norway; Oman; Pakistan; Panama; Papua New Guinea; Paraguay; Peru; Philippines; Poland; Portugal; Rhodesia; Romania; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; South Africa; South Korea; Somalia; Soviet Union; Sri Lanka; Spain; Sweden; Syria; Taiwan; Thailand; Togo; Turkey; Uganda; Uruguay; United Kingdom; United States; Venezuela; Vietnam; South Vietnam; Yemen Yugoslavia; Zaire; Zambia

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Douglas C-47 Skytrain / Dakota Mk I model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 63.75 feet (19.43 meters)
WIDTH: 95.51 feet (29.11 meters)
HEIGHT: 16.99 feet (5.18 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 18,199 pounds (8,255 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 25,999 pounds (11,793 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Pratt & Whintey R-1830-92 14-cylinder radial piston engines developing 1,200 horsepower each.
SPEED (MAX): 230 miles-per-hour (370 kilometers-per-hour; 200 knots)
RANGE: 1,600 miles (2,575 kilometers; 1,390 nautical miles)
CEILING: 23,999 feet (7,315 meters; 4.55 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 1,041 feet-per-minute (317 meters-per-minute)

None. Post-war gunship models were outfitted with miniguns for close support work.

Series Model Variants
• DC-3 - Civilian Airliner Passenger Transport on which the militarized C-47 is based on; entered commercial service in 1935; fitted with Wright Cyclone engines.
• C-47 - Initial Production Model Designation for the US Army Air Corps; adopted for service in 1940; redesigned interior passenger compartment; fitted with Pratt & Whitney R-1830 radial piston engines; 93 examples produced.
• C-47A - Revised electrical system; 4,931 examples produced.
• C-47B - "Southeast Asia" models with improved supercharged engines of R-1830-90 type; improved high altitude performance; 3,241 examples produced.
• TC-47B - Trainer Variant of the C-47B production model; some 133 examples produced.
• C-53 "Skytrooper" - Multi-purpose Variant.
• Lisunov Li-2 (PS-84) - Soviet license-production model; between 5,000 and 6,200 examples produced.
• L2D - Japanese Production Designation
• Dakota Mk I - British Model Designation for the C-47.
• Dakota Mk II - British Model Designation for the C-53 "Skytrooper" multi-purpose variant.
• Dakota Mk III - British Model Designation for the C-47A production models.
• Dakota Mk IV - British Model Designation for the C-47B production models.
• R4D - United States Navy Variant Designation


Detailing the development and operational history of the Douglas C-47 (Skytrain / Dakota) Medium Transport Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/25/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The C-47 Skytrain was a product of the Douglas Aircraft Company and achieved its first flight in prototype form on December 23rd, 1941. Earlier that same month, the United States officially committed to World War 2 after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7th). The C-47 transport series is regarded as the best transport of the entire conflict. The aircraft held its roots in the Douglas DC-3 passenger hauler which began operations in the 1930s, setting new levels of performance for a commercial aircraft of the period. The series would become an instrumental component of the American and Allied war effort concerning the Second World War as the C-47 entered into service during 1942 and would serve throughout the war and beyond while seeing service with a plethora of nations and in a variety of combat and peace time roles.

The product was also produced locally, under license, by the Soviet Union as the Lisunov Li-2. Total C-47 production was greater than 10,000 units before the end.

The original DC-3 was modified from commercial airliner to military transport which required some changes to her base design - the passenger cabin was revised to carry 27 combat-ready personnel in more spartan conditions. The passenger seats were removed to make room for bench-style seating where the passenger now faced centerline, seated in bucket seats. Pratt & Whitney radial engines were then added in place of the Wright "Cyclones" found in the DC-3.

Initial production revealed the original "C-47" and the name of "Skytrain" was afforded to it. No sooner were 93 examples of this base model manufactured that the line evolved to become the "C-47A" - her changes including improved electrical capacity for the various onboard systems. One of the more definitive production marks in the series was the "C-47B" which improved engine performance and this stock was earmarked for service in Southeast Asia as it offered better high-altitude capability which were required for flights to China from the U.S. The product was also developed into a trainer with the designation of "TC-47B".

Externally, the C-47 was of a fundamental form and function, exhibiting smooth rolling contours, a low-monoplane wing set, tubular fuselage, and single vertical tail surface. The two radial engines were mounted at each wing leading edge outputting 1,200 horsepower each. The pilot and co-pilot sat at the extreme front of the fuselage with an observation blister directly behind the cockpit. Entry / exit doors were situated at the forward and aft sides of the fuselage for loading troops and exiting paratroopers. In service, the design was noted for its ability to withstand extreme amounts of damage and still keep its flying qualities about her.

The C-47 appeared in similar and varied forms for the United States Navy (as the "R4D"), the British Royal Air Force (through the "Dakota" marks), the Soviet Air Force (produced by Lisunov as the "Li-2") and with Japan as the "L2D". The fleet saw consistent use up until the 1960s to which their airframes had reached or exceeded theirrecommended service lives. The C-47was known under various names besides Skytrain - "Gooney Bird" and "Old Bucket" were just two of the more notable nicknames given.

Whether in civilian or military service, the Douglas product reached a level of stardom few aircraft ever do. Its rugged and reliable design ensured it a place in military history as the platform proved to be up to the many challenges facing warplanners and became one of the more influential designs of her time.

Beyond her wartime contributions (which included time in the hands of WASP pilots as well), the C-47 played a vital role in the Berlin Airlift (1948-1949) and became an ad hoc gunship during the Vietnam War (1955-1975). For the latter, a stock of fifty-three aircraft were reworked with large caliber guns firing from portside and carried the designation of AC-47 "Spooky".

The XCG-17 was an offshhot development of the C-47 and developed as an assault glider. It only reached prototype form and first flew in June of 1944.

Some DC-3s continue to fly today.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (230mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Douglas C-47 Skytrain / Dakota Mk I's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
In the Cockpit...
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.