Douglas Dakota


Douglas Dakota

Derived from a commercial airliner, the Douglas C-47 “Skytrain” became one of the most widely used military transport aircraft in the World. The C-47 saw service in the Second World War, during the Berlin Airlift, and then in Korea and Vietnam—where it was used both as a transport and a gunship.

The Douglas Sleeper Transport (DST) was developed from the DC-2 series of passenger airliners, largely at the request of American Airlines CEO, Cyrus R. Smith. The “day” version had 21 seats and was known as the DC-3. By 1938, 95 percent of all U.S. commercial airline traffic was on DC-3s.

After the Americans entered the Second World War in 1942, the US government requisitioned many commercial DC-3s for military use, and the C-47 was derived for use in the war. Production of the C-47 was so rapid that by May 1945 only 500 of the 10,000 aircraft constructed to date had been original civilian DC-3s. The wide-body of the DC-3 made the aircraft especially suitable for carrying stretchers.

By 1944 all surviving airliners had been returned to their owners, and when hostilities ended there was a large number of surplus C-47s, many of which became commercial airliners or cargo transports. Some small airlines and a few military air forces around the World were still using the C-47 as recently as the mid-1980s.

The US Navy had 100 of their R4Ds converted to Super DC-3s, but the variant was not a great success due to the high cost of converting existing airframes, and the large number of C-47s that were commercially available.

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