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Dayton Daily News

Written and designed by Ted Pitts Photography by Skip Peterson For more information contact View this and other pages in the Great Planes series at


1903 ~ 2003

A series of special pages focusing on the significant machines, events and people of powered flights first 100 years

The rear passenger door of the DC-3 was replaced with large split cargo doors on the C-47. The doors were often removed during operations.

The vertical tail and rudder area on the DC-3 was increased to solve directional control problems encountered in the DC-2. The DC-3 wingspan was 10 ft. wider than the DC-2, and the tips were tapered and rounded. The increased size allowed for additional internal fuel capacity, thereby increasing range.


Manufacturer: Douglas Company



In the mid-1960s the Air Force built 47 AC-47 (attack/cargo) Spooky gunships with several .30-caliber machine guns mounted in the rear fuselage to fill the need for a low, slow, night-flying support aircraft during the Vietnam War.

Number ordered: More than 10,000 Span: 95 ft. 6 in. Length: 63 ft. 9 in. Height: 17 ft. Engine: Two 1,050 hp Pratt & Whitney 1830-92 Twin Wasp air-cooled radial engines Speed: 230 mph Passengers: 4 crew, 27 troops



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DC-3 engines, either two 1,000 hp Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasps or two 1,000 hp Wright SGR-1820 Cyclones, were replaced with more powerful 1200 hp War Emergency Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp engines.



Engine: Either two 1,000 hp Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasps or two 1,000 hp Wright SGR-1820 Cyclones Cruising speed: 185 mph Passengers: 21 passengers, 3 crew. 14 passengers in bunks for long distance night flights.




Sources: Band of Brothers by Stephen A. Ambrose (Simon & Schuster, 1992), C-47 Skytrain In Action by Larry Davis (Squadron/Signal Publications, 1995), Aircraft and Airports, Donald Clarke, ed. (Marshall Cavendish Books Ltd.), Flight, 100 Years of Aviation by R.G. Grant (Dorling Kindersley Ltd., 2002),,


The Douglas Commercial Transport DC-1, designed and built by the Douglas Aircraft Co. in 1933, was a direct response to the introduction of the Boeing 247, developed for and offered exclusively to United Airlines. Transcontinental and Western Airlines (TWA) needed a competitive airplane and commissioned the DC-1. The new design, and that of the subsequent DC-2s and DC-3s, combined safety, speed and reliability, and added a new concept passenger comfort. Its smooth ride and ease of maintenance an engine could be completely replaced in less than two hours threw open the door to the era of modern commercial passenger flight. American Airlines wanted a larger version of the DC-2 in use at TWA, and commissioned Douglas to produce what would become the DC-3. The Douglas Sleeper Transport had a larger cabin area and was wider, longer and capable of greater range than its predecessors. It could carry either 14 passengers in sleeper berths, or up to 28 in its day coach version. The DC-3 became the dominant passenger and cargo transport plane of the era. It was the first airplane to make a profit solely on passenger operations. By 1939, four-fifths of all American commercial transport planes were DC-3s, and three out of every four American airline passengers were flying in DC-3s, with 90 percent of all American airline passengers in either a DC-2 or DC-3. The Douglas company, on the wings of the DC-2 and DC-3, became the worlds largest civil aircraft manufacturer, a position it held until the 1950s.

Landing gear, when retracted, left the tires partially exposed so that an emergency landing could be made without too much damage even if the gear failed to lower.


Donald Douglas
A product of the United States Naval Academy (he dropped out after three years) and MIT (earning a four-year degree in aeronautical engineering in just two years), Donald W. Douglas became chief engineer of the Martin Airplane Company in 1915. After service as aircraft engineer in WWI and another stint with Martin, Douglas headed west in 1920 and formed Davis-Douglas Aircraft Co. with millionaire David Davis. The company quickly distinguished itself with military and commercial aircraft: The Armys Douglas World Cruiser made the first around-the world-flight in 1924, and the Douglas M-1 Mailplane was the Air Mail Service standard. By 1928 the company was worth $28 million and designing some of the worlds finest planes: The DC-3 is considered the most successful aircraft ever built. Douglas sold the company to McDonnell in 1967.

C-47 Skytrain
"The bazooka, the jeep, the atom bomb, and the DC-3" was how Gen. Dwight Eisenhower described the pivotal equipment of the Allied victory in World War II. The C-47 in all its variations was the military version of the DC-3. It served as a heavy cargo and paratroop carrier, a seaplane, a glider, a glider tug, and post-WWII as an electronic reconnaissance plane and a gunship. Around 13,000 were produced, and their adaptability and reliability were legendary. The most numerous variant was the C-47A with a total of 5,233 produced. The major exterior changes to the DC-3 were the replacement of the rear passenger door with a large twopiece cargo door that opened outward from the middle both to the rear and to the front. Additionally, a smaller passenger door was inset into the front half of the larger door. The doors were often removed during operations. A small astrodome observation bubble was added to the top front of the fuselage just behind the cockpit, and the wingspan of the C-47 was six inches wider than the DC-3. The Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial engines each developed 200 more horsepower than their civilian counterparts. Inside, the passenger seats were replaced first with folding canvas seats attached to the interior of the fuselage, then later with folding metal seats. The C-47 continued its military service in Korea and as the AC-47, a radio and radar monitoring aircraft in Cold War Europe, and the EC-47N Electric Goons in the Vietnam War. Additionally, the Air Force built 47 AC47Ds (attack/cargo) variations of the C47, each with several .30-caliber machine guns mounted in the rear fuselage as low, slow, night-flying gunships designed to defend villages and hamlets in South Vietnam. The converted C-47s flew 5,000 missions and are credited with inflicting 50,000 to 75,000 casualties on Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops.

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They were special in their values. They put a premium on physical well-being, hierarchical authority, and being part of an elite unit. They were idealists, eager to merge themselves into a group fighting for a cause, actively seeking an outfit with which they could identify, join, be a part of, relate to as family. ~ Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose Among the most precious cargo carried by the WWII-

era C-47s were the D-Day paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines on June 6, 1944 in the long-awaited attack to liberate western Europe from German occupation. The concept of airborne infantry first proposed by Gen. Billy Mitchell following WWI was not initially embraced by the United States military. After both the British and Germans successfully demonstrated the value of paratrooper infantry at the outset of war in Europe, however, the U.S. Army in 1940 authorized

The first American Airlines Douglas DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport) in 1936. This plane is considered the first of the profoundly successful DC-3 series.

20,000 paratroopers of the 101st, 82nd and British 1st Division dropped into Holland in September 1944 as part of the Operation Market Garden assault on Arnhem.

the raising of 2 Airborne Infantry Divisions; the 82nd Airborne and the 101st Airborne. At 10:15 p.m. June 5, 1944, 13,400 volunteer paratroopers boarded more than 1,000 C-47s and were dropped onto the Cherbourg Peninsula on the coast of occupied France - the 101st behind the area designated Utah Beach to help secure the beach for the main shipborne invasion force and to defend against a German attack from the east, the 82nd farther inland to secure bridges and blunt any German counterattack from the west. Many of the C-47 pilots had no combat experience, and the formation broke up when they entered a cloud bank as they reached the coast of France. In an attempt to avoid German anti-aircraft fire, the planes carrying the 101st increased speed and dropped altitude near the drop zones. Consequently, many of the paratroopers jumped 101st paratroopers prepare to board a C-47 transport from 500 ft. and lower at speeds approaching 150 mph, for the D-Day invasion on June 5, 1944. hitting the ground hard within seconds of their chutes opening. Despite the confusion of the initial jump only WHAT THEY CARRIED one sixth of the men of the 101st reached their destination D-Day paratroopers weighed in at 90-120 pounds points the troops regrouped on the ground and were over their body weight. Typically a parachutist jumped from the plane with: able to help secure the beachhead for the main invasion force. The 82nd fared slightly better, but half the force M-1 Garand Rifle with 8-round clip, cartridge belt was left without much of their supplies. with canteen, hand grenades, parachute and pack, Until the final defeat of the Germans in Europe, the anti-flash headgear and gloves, pocket compass, airborne infantry was at the forefront of the Allied advance, machete, .45 caliber Colt automatic rifle, flares, (the 17th Airborne Division later joined the 82nd and message book, a loaded .45 automatic pistol, medical 101st) dealing with the worst conditions and taking heavy kit, knife, escape/survival kit, toggle rope, additional casualties. From the failed September 1944 Operation personal items, emergency rations including: 4 pieces Market Garden assault on Arnhem, Holland, through the of chewing gum, 2 bouillon cubes, 2 instant coffees, full fury of the German counteroffensive in the Ardennes 2 sugar cubes, and creamers, 4 chocolate bars, 1 pack forest at Bastogne, Belgium in December, 1944, and on of candy, 1 package pipe tobacco, 1 bottle of water into a defeated Germany in 1945, they distinguished purification (Halazone) tablets to purify water. themselves as among the best and bravest soldiers in American military history.