STATUS: Active, Limited Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Curtiss-Wright - USA
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
LENGTH: 76.44 feet (23.3 meters)
WIDTH: 78.54 feet (23.94 meters)
HEIGHT: 21.75 feet (6.63 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 32,408 pounds (14,700 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 45,007 pounds (20,415 kilograms)
ENGINE: 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.
SPEED (MAX): 270 miles-per-hour (435 kilometers-per-hour; 235 knots)
RANGE: 3,150 miles (5,070 kilometers; 2,738 nautical miles)
CEILING: 27,559 feet (8,400 meters; 5.22 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 1,175 feet-per-minute (358 meters-per-minute)
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.
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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.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
This entry's maximum listed speed (270mph).
Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
Graph showcases the Curtiss-Wright C-46A's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
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