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Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando

United States (1941)
Picture of Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft
Picture of Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft Picture of Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft
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The often overshadowed Curtiss C-46 Commando of World War 2 fame superseded the Douglas DC-3 transports of the era.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/21/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The United States Air Force utilized the C-46 Commando series as their primary transport workhorse in the Pacific Theater of War during the Second World War. The system was initiated to replace the Douglas series of DC-3 transports and first appeared in prototype form in March of 1940 as the twin-rudder CW-20T. Design specifications called for the Commando to feature a pressurized cabin for up to 36 combat-ready troops, longer range than anything available to the USAAF (United States Army Air Forces) and an above average cruising speed.

The CW-20T prototype later evolved into the CW-20A that featured a revised tail in the form of the more recognizable single rudder assembly. Later development focused in on the requirements as put forth by the United States Army Air Corps which put the CW-20A under trials with the designation of C-55, which consequently ordered a production version of the model now designated as the CW-20B.

The CW-20B was redesignated to the more familiar C-46 identification. Final trial models were provisioned to fit up to 45 combat-ready troops and fitted with two Pratt & Whitney-brand R-2800-51 radial engines. The C-46 entered service with the plain designation of simply "C-46" in the Pacific Theater - and used almost exclusively there up until about March of 1945, to which the Commando would be seen across the European Theater as well. From its initial acceptance into service with the USAAF, the C-46 system would become the heaviest aircraft in that branch of service and make a name for itself as a true warrior workhorse, transplanting troops and cargo alike, across battlefields and beyond.

Variants abound with the C-46 Commando. The United States Navy utilized a designation of R5C for their own Commando version with 160 models of the R5C-1 going to the United States Marine Corps. Specialized utility and troop models would be produced from the hundreds to the thousands. The C-46A Commando itself could carry up to 50 infantrymen and load/unload cargo through a large cargo door on the port side of the aircraft.

The C-46 was officially retired from service in 1968, replaced by the equally effective C-130 series of transports.


Picture of the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft
Picture of the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft



Any available statistics for the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).




Cockpit picture from the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft
Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Cockpit Picture


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 (270mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Curtiss-Wright C-46A'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
3181
3181


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
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Origin: United States
Year: 1941
Type: Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Curtiss-Wright - USA
Production: 3,181
Status: Active, Limited Service
Global Operators:
Argentina; Bolivia; Brazil; Cambodia; Canada; China (Taiwan); Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Curacao; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; Egypt; West Germany; Haiti; Honduras; Hong Kong; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Japan; Jordan; Kenya; Laos; Lebanon; Luxembourg; Mexico; Nicaragua; Norway; Paraguay; Peru; Republic of the Congo; South Korea; Soviet Union; Sweden; United Kingdom; United States; Uruguay; Venezuela
Historical 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 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 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
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Curtiss-Wright C-46A model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
4


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
76.44 ft


Meters
23.3 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
78.54 ft


Meters
23.94 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
21.75 ft


Meters
6.63 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
32,408 lb


Kilograms
14,700 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
45,007 lb


Kilograms
20,415 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-51 "Double Wasp" 18-cylinder, air-cooled, radial piston engines developing 2,000 horsepower each and driving four-bladed propeller units.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
270 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
435 kph


Knots
235 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
3,150 mi


Kilometers
5,070 km


Nautical Miles
2,738 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
27,559 ft


Meters
8,400 m


Miles
5.22 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
1,175 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
358 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

None.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• CW-20T - Twin-Finned Prototype Model
• CW-20A - Converted from the CW-20T Prototype Model; revised tail unit now featured single rudder fin assembly; flattened tailplane halves.
• C-55 - US Army Air Corps evaluation designation of the CW-20A model.
• CW-20B - US Army Air Corps militarized order production model of the CW-20A/C-55 evaluation model; redesignated to the C-46.
• C-46 - Curtiss Model CW-20B based on the CW-20B.
• C-46A - Improved and definitive C-46 model; 1,493 produced; fitted with R-2800-51 radial engines; reinforced fuselage flooring; accommodations for up to 50 troops; large port-side loading/unloading door.
• XC-46B - Stepped windshield
• XC-46C - Became C-46G, then XC-113
• C-46D - Improved C-46A; troop transport; double-door model with modified nose assembly.
• C-46E - Single Door Model; 17 produced.
• C-46F - Improved C-46A; utility transport; 234 produced.
• C-46G - XC-46C model
• XC-113 - C-46G model
• R5C - United States Navy Model
• R5C-1 - United States Marine Corps Model; 160 produced.