Tag Archives: Transport

30 June 1975

The last operational U.S. Air Force C-47 Skytrain, 43-49507, on display at NMUSAF. (U.S. Air Force)

30 June 1975: The last operational Douglas C-47 Skytrain transport in service with the United States Air Force, 43-49507, was retired and flown to the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

A C-47D, it is on display in the World War II Gallery, painted and marked as C-47A-80-DL 43-15213 of the 91st Troop Carrier Squadron, 439th Troop Carrier Group, during World War II. At the time it was withdrawn from service, 43-49507 had flown a total of 20,831 hours.

43-49507 (Douglas serial number 26768) was built at Oklahoma City as a C-47B-15-DK Skytrain. The C-47B differed from the C-47A in that it was powered by Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S3C4-G (R-1830-90) engines. These engines were equipped with two-speed superchargers for improved high-altitude performance. Following World War II, the second speed (“high blower”) was either disabled or removed. Following this modification, the airplane was redesignated C-47D.

A group of new Douglas C-47 Skytrains. The airplane closest to the camera is C-47-DL 41-18415. (Douglas Aircraft Company)

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain is a military transport variant of the Douglas Aircraft Company DC-3 commercial airliner. It is an all-metal, twin-engine, low-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear. It was operated by a minimum flight crew of two pilots, navigator, radio operator and mechanic/load master. The airplane’s control surfaces are covered with doped-fabric. The primary differences between the civil DC-3 and military C-47 was the addition of a cargo door on the left side of the fuselage, a strengthened cargo floor, a navigator’s astrodome and provisions for glider towing.

The DC-3 made its first flight 17 December 1935, while the C-47 flew for the first time six years later, 23 December 1941.

Two Douglas C-47 Skytrains. Nearest the camera is C-47A-90-DL 43-15661. The further airplane is C-47A-65-DL 42-100550. (U.S. Air Force)

The C-47 is 64 feet, 5½ inches (19.647 meters) long with a wingspan of 95 feet (28.956 meters) and height of 17 feet (5.182 meters). The total wing area is 988.9 square feet (91.872 square meters). The angle of incidence is 2°. The wing center section is straight, but outboard of the engine nacelles there is 5º dihedral. The wings’ leading edges are swept aft 15.5°. The trailing edges have no sweep.  Empty weight of the C-47D is 17,865 pounds (8,103 kilograms) and the maximum takeoff weight is 33,000 pounds (14,969 kilograms).

The C-47A was powered by two 1,829.4-cubic-inch-displacement (29.978 liter) air-cooled, supercharged R-1830-92 (Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S1C3-G) two-row 14-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 6.7:1. These were rated at 1,060 horsepower at 2,550 r.pm., up to 7,500 feet (2,286 meters), maximum continuous power, and 1,200 horsepower at 2,700 r.p.m. at Sea Level for takeoff. Each engine drives a three-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic constant-speed full-feathering propeller with a diameter of 11 feet, 6 inches (3.505 meters) through a 16:9 gear reduction. The R-1830-92 is 48.19 inches (1.224 meters) long, 61.67 inches (1.566 meters) in diameter, and weighs 1,465 pounds (665 kilograms).

U.S. Army paratroopers jump from Douglas C-47-DL Skytrain 41-7805, over England, May 1944. (U.S. Air Force)

The specifications of the  Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S3C4-G (R-1830-90) installed on the C-47B and C-47D were nearly the same as the -92 engine of the C-47A. Displacement and compression ratio were identical. The engines’ diameters were the same, though the -90 was very slightly longer than the -92—1.85–2.74 inches (4.699–6.960 centimeters), depending on specific variant. Also, the -90 was heavier than the -92 by 25–30 pounds (11.34–13.61 kilograms), again, depending on the specific variant. The R-1830-90 could maintain 1,000 horsepower at 2,550 r.p.m. at 12,500 feet (3,810 meters), and 1,000 horsepower at 2,700 r.p.m. at 14,000 feet (4,267 meters), a significant increase over the -92.

The C-47D has a cruising speed of 161 knots (185 miles per hour/298 kilometers per hour) at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), and maximum speed of 202 knots (232 miles per hour/374 kilometers per hour) at 3,500 feet (1,067 meters). Its service ceiling was 22,150 feet (6,751 meters). The Skytrain had a maximum range of 1,026 nautical miles (1,181 miles/1,900 kilometers) with full cargo.

The C-47 could carry 9,485 pounds (4,302 kilograms) of cargo, or 27 fully-equipped paratroopers. Alternatively, 24 patients on stretchers could be carried, along with two attendants.

C-47 Skytrains in Vee-of Vees formation.

On D-Day, The Sixth of June, 1944, a formation of C-47 Skytrains, nine airplanes abreast, 100 feet (30 meters) from wing tip to wing tip, 1,000 feet (305 meters) in trail, stretching for over 300 miles (483 kilometers), airdropped 13,348 paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, United States Army, and another 7,900 men of the British Army 6th Airborne Division and the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, behind the beaches at Normandy, France.

During the Vietnam War, 53 C-47s were converted from their transport role to AC-47 Spooky gunships. These were armed with three fixed, electrically-powered General Electric  GAU-2/A .30-caliber (7.62 NATO) Gatling guns firing out the left side of the fuselage. These aircraft were highly effective at providing close air support. The three Miniguns could fire a total of 12,000 rounds per minute.

Douglas AC-47D Spooky gunship, 45-0927, 4th Special Operations Squadron, Nha Trang, Republic of Vietnam, September 1968. (U.S. Air Force)

Douglas Aircraft Company built 10,174 C-47 Skytrains at its factories in Santa Monica and Long Beach, California, and at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Douglas DC-3 (C-47B) three-view drawing. (NASA)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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26 June 1948

U.S. Air Force Douglas C-47 Skytrain transports unloading supples at Templehof Airport, Berlin, 1948. (U.S. Air Force)
U.S. Air Force Douglas C-47 Skytrain transports unloading supplies at Flughafen Berlin-Templehof, Berlin, 1948. (U.S. Air Force)

26 June 1948: 32 United States Air Force Douglas C-47 Skytrain transports flew 80 tons of supplies to Berlin, the first day of the Berlin Airlift.

At the height of the Cold War, the Union of Soviet Soviet Socialist Republics, occupying eastern Germany following World War II, blockaded the Allied portions of the city of Berlin, cutting off all transportation by land and water. This was followed by the building of the Berlin Wall. The western part of the city was now completely isolated. Josef Stalin hoped to force Britain, France and the United States to abandon Berlin, giving the communists complete control of the devastated country.

Soviet T-55 tanks at Checkpoint Charlie, one of just three access points to the Allied sectors of Berlin. (Central Intelligence Agency)

General Curtis LeMay was asked to transport the needs of the city by air. It was calculated that they would need to supply seventeen hundred calories per person per day, giving a grand total of 646 tons of flour and wheat, 125 tons of cereal, 64 tons of fat, 109 tons of meat and fish, 180 tons of dehydrated potatoes, 180 tons of sugar, 11 tons of coffee, 19 tons of powdered milk, 5 tons of whole milk for children, 3 tons of fresh yeast for baking, 144 tons of dehydrated vegetables, 38 tons of salt and 10 tons of cheese. In total, 1,534 tons were needed daily to keep the over two million people alive. Additionally, the city needed to be kept heated and powered, which would require another 3,475 tons of coal and gasoline.

At the height of the airlift, one airplane was landing every 30 seconds. By the end, more supplies were arriving by air than had previously come by rail. The airlift ended 30 September 1949.

2,326,406 tons of food, medicine and coal had been delivered.

101 aviators lost their lives.

A Douglas C-47 Skytrain clears the rooftops after takeoff from Berlin-Templehof. (Unattributed)
A Douglas C-47 Skytrain clears the rooftops after takeoff from Berlin-Templehof. (Unattributed)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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15 June 1969

Lockheed C-5A Galaxy 66-8304, the second one built, during a test flight near Edwards AFB. (U.S. Air Force)

15 June 1969: At Edwards Air Force Base, California, the second Lockheed C-5A Galaxy transport, 66-8304, set several records, including the heaviest takeoff weight, 762,800 pounds (346,000 kilograms), and the heaviest landing weight, 600,000 pounds (272,155 kilograms).

Lockheed C-5A Galaxy 66-8304 arrived at The Boneyard, 2004. It was the fifth C-5 to be retired. (Phillip Michaels via AMARC)
Lockheed C-5A Galaxy 66-8304 arrived at The Boneyard, 2004. It was the fifth C-5 to be retired. (Phillip Michaels/AMARC)
Lockheed C-5A Galaxy 66-8304 in teh reclamation area at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona. (Phillip Michaels/AMARC)
Lockheed C-5A Galaxy 66-8304 in the reclamation area at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona. (Phillip Michaels/AMARC)

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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5 June 1989

Antonov An-225 Mriya with Buran at Paris Air Show, 5 June 1989. (Ralf Manteufel)

5 June 1989: The Antonov An-225 Мрия (MriyaDream in the Ukranian language) took off from Kiev with the space shuttle Buran, enroute to the Paris Air Show. The total weight at takeoff was a 1,234,600 pounds (560,005 kilograms)—the greatest weight ever lifted by an aircraft.

The An-225 was derived from the earlier four-engine An-124. It is operated by a flight crew of 6–7. The airplane is 84.00 meters (275.59 feet) long, with a wingspan of 88.40 meters (290.03 feet) and height of 18.10 meters (59.38 feet). The total wing area is 905.0 square meters (9,741.3 square feet).

Mriya weighs approximately 250,000 kilograms (551,156 pounds), empty, and its maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) is 600,000 kilograms (1,322,774 pounds). The maximum payload is 250,000 kilograms (551,156 pounds pounds).

The cargo hold of the An-225 is 43.35 meters (142.22 feet) long, 6.40 meters (21.00 feet) wide and 4.40 meters (14.44 feet) high. The usable volume is 1,300 cubic meters (45,909 cubic feet).

The Antonov An-225 climbing out. (Flightradar24)

The An-225 is powered by six Ivchenko Progress (Lotarev) D-18T turbofan engines producing 229.848 kilonewtons (51,672 pounds of thrust), each. The D-18T is a three-spool axial-flow high-bypass turbofan engine. The 15-stage compressor has a single-stage fan, 7 intermediate-pressure-, and 7 high-pressure stages). The 6-stage turbine consists of 1 high- and 1 intermediate-pressure stages, and 4-stage fan turbine. The engines are 5.400 meters (17.717 feet) long, 2.937 meters (9.636 feet) high and 2.792 meters (9.160 feet) wide. they weigh 4,100 kilograms (9,039 pounds), each.

The transport has cruise speed of 700 kilometers per hour (435 miles per hour) and its maximum speed is 850 kilometers per hour (528 miles per hour). The service ceiling is 11,145 meters (36,565 feet). Mriya carries a maximum fuel load of 300,000 kilograms (661,387 pounds, or 98,567 U.S. gallons, Jet A-1), and has a practical range of 4,500 kilometers (2,796 miles). Its maximum range of 15,400 kilometers (9,569 miles).

four view illustration

The world’s heaviest airplane, Mriya is the only one in existence. It was built specifically to transport Buran. A second An-225 was partially constructed, but never finished.

Buran, the Soviet space shuttle, made one unmanned flight into orbit, 15 November 1988. It was destroyed 12 May 2002 when its hangar collapsed, killing eight Workers.

© 2015, Bryan R. Swopes

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5 June 1944

General Dwight D. Eisenhower talking with Lieutenant Wallace C. Strobel and paratroopers of Co. E, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, United States Army (the legendary “Band of Brothers”), at Greenham Common, 2030 hours, 5 June 1944 (U.S. Army)

5–6 June 1944 (D-Day -1): Beginning in the late evening, 821 Douglas C-47 Skytrain twin-engine transports, and 516 Waco CG-4A and Airspeed AS.51 Horsa gliders of the IXth Troop Carrier Command, airlifted 13,348 paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, United States Army, and another 7,900 men of the British Army 6th Airborne Division and the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion.

C-47 Skytrains in Vee-of Vees formation.
C-47 Skytrains in Vee-of-Vees formation.

The airplanes flew in a Vee-of Vees formation, nine airplanes abreast, 100 feet (30 meters) from wing tip to wing tip, 1,000 feet (305 meters) in trail, stretching for over 300 miles (483 kilometers). They flew in darkness at an altitude of 500 to 1,000 feet (152–305 meters).

Their mission was to drop the paratroopers behind the invasion beaches of Normandy during the hours before the amphibious assault began on D-Day.

Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door. . . .

Allied air assault on Normandy, 5–6 June 1944. (Army Air Forces in World War II)
A restored Douglas C-47A-80-DL Skytrain, serial number 43-15211, of the 92nd Troop Carrier Squadron, 439th Troop Carrier Group, 50th Troop Carrier Wing, IX Troop Carrier Command, United States Army Air Force, in its original markings and invasion stripes, with re-enactors at USAAF Station AAF-462 (RAF Station Upottery), 28 July 2007. © Mac Hawkins

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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