Douglas C-47 Skytrain
The Douglas Aircraft Company produced the C-47 Skytrain military transport aircraft. The C-47 was developed from the civilian, and Douglas built, DC-3 airliner and is widely regarded as not only the most successful military transport aircraft of the Second World War but also well into the Cold War.
Capable of carrying men, heavy cargo or pulling a glider, the C-47, and its many variants, proved versatile as well as rugged and reliable. Well over 10,000 C-47s were built at aircraft plants in California and Oklahoma. The most common variant to serve during the Second World War was the C-47A, with 5,254 of this model manufactured. One of the great strengths of American aircraft was and remains to this day their engines, and the C-47 was no exception. Powered by two Pratt & Whitney radial engines the C-47A completely outclassed the German Ju-52 miltary transport aircraft in range (1,597 miles to 682 miles), payload (10,000 lbs. or 28 paratroopers or 14 stretchers, to only 4,400 lbs. for the Ju-52) and service ceiling (24,000 ft. to 19,300 ft.).
During World War II the ubiquitous Skytrain proved equally adept at ferrying supplies from India into China, carrying thousands of paratroopers through Europe's dangerous airspace, or landing and taking off from makeshift runways on countless Pacific islands. After World War II the Skytrain proved its worth yet again during the Berlin Airlift, and the United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command employed C-47's until late into the 1960s. Vietnam era variants even served as flying AC-47 gunships. Dozens of nations have used, and continue to use the C-47 in a multitude of roles further enhancing a reputation already placing the C-47 among history's most useful military aircraft.
Picture Courtesy of Steven Douglas Mercatante