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Douglas C-47 (Skytrain / Dakota)

Medium Transport Aircraft

United States | 1942

"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."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/06/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this 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.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Douglas C-47 Skytrain / Dakota Mk I Medium Transport Aircraft.
2 x Pratt & Whintey R-1830-92 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,200 horsepower each driving three-bladed propeller units.
230 mph
370 kph | 200 kts
Max Speed
23,999 ft
7,315 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
1,600 miles
2,575 km | 1,390 nm
Operational Range
1,041 ft/min
317 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Douglas C-47 Skytrain / Dakota Mk I Medium Transport Aircraft.
63.7 ft
19.43 m
O/A Length
95.5 ft
(29.11 m)
O/A Width
17.0 ft
(5.18 m)
O/A Height
18,199 lb
(8,255 kg)
Empty Weight
25,999 lb
(11,793 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Douglas C-47 (Skytrain / Dakota) Medium Transport Aircraft .
None. Post-war gunship models were outfitted with miniguns for close support work.
Notable series variants as part of the Douglas C-47 (Skytrain / Dakota) family line.
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
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Douglas C-47 (Skytrain / Dakota). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 12,748 Units

Contractor(s): Douglas Aircraft Company - USA / Lisunov - Soviet Union / Japan
National flag of Argentina National flag of Australia National flag of Bangladesh National flag of Belgium National flag of Bolivia National flag of Brazil National flag of Canada National flag of Chad National flag of Chile National flag of China National flag of Colombia National flag of Cuba National flag of Denmark National flag of the Dominican Republic National flag of Ecuador National flag of Egypt National flag of Ethiopia National flag of France National flag of Finland National flag of Gabon National flag of modern Germany National flag of Nazi Germany National flag of Greece National flag of Hungary National flag of Iceland National flag of India National flag of Indonesia National flag of Iran National flag of Israel National flag of Italy National flag of the Kingdom of Italy National flag of modern Japan National flag of Jordan National flag of Libya National flag of Mexico National flag of Morocco National flag of the Netherlands National flag of New Zealand National flag of Nicaragua National flag of Niger National flag of Nigeria National flag of Norway National flag of Oman National flag of Pakistan National flag of Peru National flag of the Philippines National flag of Poland National flag of Portugal National flag of Romania National flag of Rwanda National flag of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia National flag of Senegal National flag of South Africa National flag of South Korea National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Spain National flag of Sri Lanka National flag of Somalia National flag of Sweden National flag of Syria National flag of Taiwan National flag of Thailand National flag of Turkey National flag of Uganda National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States National flag of Uruguay National flag of Vietnam National flag of Venezuela National flag of Yemen National flag of Yugoslavia National flag of Zaire National flag of Zambia

[ 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 ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (230mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Douglas C-47 (Skytrain / Dakota) Medium Transport Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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