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de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou - Canada, 1959

Detailing the development and operational history of the de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou Tactical Transport Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 8/30/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou  
Picture of de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou

The United States military was the primary user of the Canadian Caribou aircraft - which went on to serve with distinction in the Vietnam War.

The Caribou series proved to be such an effective battlefield transport aircraft that more than a few were pressed into service as captured C-7's in the hands of the North Vietnamese. The type continues to serve in limited numbers and was seen in action as recent as 2000 with Australian forces in East Timor. By 1973, the Caribou series would see over 300 examples produced.

The Caribou was a twin-engine design undertaken by de Havilland Canada as a private project with hopes of enticing the military forces of both Canada and the United States of America. The initial design was designated as the DHC-4 and was engineered with short take-off and landing (STOL) capabilities in mind and was a naturally rugged design to boot, making most enticing to the United States Army, which went on to order five evaluation models as the YAC-1. From there, the Caribou emerged as a production model in the AC-1 series which would later become the CV-2. By the time the United States Air Force took over control of the Caribou aircraft in early 1967, the designation was changed once again to the more identifiable C-7 series.

Picture of the de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou
Picture of the de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou

At its core, the Caribou was powered by two Pratt & Whitney brand engines generating 1,450shp (DHC-4). Engines were mounted on a high-wing / straight-wing monoplane assembly allowing for optimal ground clearance around the fuselage and especially the three-bladed propeller systems. A large cargo hold door was mounted to the rear part of the main fuselage with the single-rudder tail assembly extending past and over the loading area door. Hold capabilities were very generous and could allow for the transport of 32 troops, 22 medevac litters, 2 vehicles or up to 4 tons of cargo in the form of equipment, supplies or artillery systems.

In the end, the United States became the largest operator of the Caribou system in operation with both the United States Army and the United States Air Force. Australia also operated (and in some cases continues to do so) the type along with Canada, Spain, Columbia and India among others. The system proved quite capable in the rugged Vietnamese battlefront and was a highly prized vehicle for having the ability to land on short airstrips to deliver supplies / manpower and retrieve the wounded.

de Havilland Canada DHC-4A Caribou Specifications

Service Year: 1959
Type: Tactical Transport Aircraft
National Origin: Canada
Manufacturer(s): de Havilland Aircraft of Canada, LTD - Canada
Total Production: 307

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 3 + 32
Overall Length: 72.60 feet (22.13 meters)
Overall Width: 95.64 feet (29.15 meters)
Overall Height: 31.76 feet (9.68 meters)

Weight (Empty): 18,283 lb (8,293 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 31,295 lb (14,195 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2000-7M2 14-cylinder twin row radial piston engines developing 1,450 shp.

Maximum Speed: 187 knots (216 mph; 347 kph)
Maximum Range: 1,137 nautical miles (1,308 miles; 2,105 km)
Service Ceiling: 24,800 feet (7,559 meters; 4.70 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,355 feet-per-minute (413 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload


Global Operators (Customers, Users)

Australia; Costa Rica; Liberia; Malaysia; Canada; Columbia; India; Spain; Tanzania; North Vietnam; United States

Model Variants

YAC-1 - US Army Evaluation Model Designation of which 5 examples were ordered.
AC-1A - Initial Production Model Designation later changed to CV-2B, then to C-7A.
CV-2B - US Army Series Designation
C-7A - US Air Force Series Designation
DHC-4A - Australian Base Model Series Designation.

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