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Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando

Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft

United States | 1941

"The often overshadowed Curtiss C-46 Commando of World War 2 fame superseded the Douglas DC-3 transports of the era."

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Curtiss-Wright C-46A Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft.
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.
270 mph
435 kph | 235 kts
Max Speed
27,559 ft
8,400 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
3,150 miles
5,070 km | 2,738 nm
Operational Range
1,175 ft/min
358 m/min
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Curtiss-Wright C-46A Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft.
76.4 ft
23.30 m
O/A Length
78.5 ft
(23.94 m)
O/A Width
21.8 ft
(6.63 m)
O/A Height
32,408 lb
(14,700 kg)
Empty Weight
45,007 lb
(20,415 kg)
Notable series variants as part of the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando family line.
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.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/21/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

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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Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 3,181 Units

Contractor(s): Curtiss-Wright - USA
National flag of Argentina National flag of Bolivia National flag of Brazil National flag of Canada National flag of Chile National flag of China National flag of Colombia National flag of Cuba National flag of the Dominican Republic National flag of Ecuador National flag of Egypt National flag of modern Germany National flag of Ireland National flag of Israel National flag of Italy National flag of modern Japan National flag of Jordan National flag of Lebanon National flag of Luxembourg National flag of Mexico National flag of Nicaragua National flag of Norway National flag of Peru National flag of South Korea National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Sweden National flag of Taiwan National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States National flag of Uruguay National flag of Venezuela

[ 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 ]
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Image of the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando
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Going Further...
The Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Twin-Engine Long-Range Transport Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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