C-47 "SKYTRAIN"

[42-92813] [42-92816] [42-24395] [42-100629] [43-47995] [43-49810]
Serial Numbers in gray were either lost or heavily damaged during the war

Other Squadron aircraft: [OA-10A "Catalina"] [B-17H "Flying Dutchman"] [L-5 "Sentinel"] [R-6A "Hoverfly"]

Few aircraft are as well known or were so widely used for so long as the Douglas C-47 or "Gooney Bird" as it was affectionately nicknamed. The first C-47s were ordered in 1940 and by the end of WW II, 9,348 had been procured for AAF use. They carried personnel and cargo, and in a combat role, towed troop-carrying gliders and dropped paratroops into enemy territory. After WW II, many C-47s remained in USAF service, participating in the Berlin Airlift and other peacetime activities. During the Korean War, C-47s hauled supplies, dropped paratroops, evacuated wounded and dropped flares for night bombing attacks. In Vietnam, the C-47 served again as a transport, but it was also used in a variety of other ways which included flying ground attack (gunship), (Visit website for "Spooky" gunship .. Uncle Gary also flew these aircraft in Vietnam!) reconnaissance, and psychological warfare missions.

HISTORY - "The bazooka, the jeep, the atom bomb, and the DC-3" was Dwight Eisenhower's phrase, summing up the key equipment of the Allied victory in World War II. This immortal plane was designed by A. E. Raymond and E. F. Burton in 1935. More than 13,000 were built. Of these 10,123 were built for the military, 487 on license by Japan, almost 2,000 in Russia, and more than 800 for civil airlines just before the war. Many of these planes saw service after the war as military and civil pianes around the world. The plane played an important role in the 1948 Berlin Airlift.  Today there are C-47s and DC-3s still flying. This may well be the finest plane in the history of aviation. The origin of the C-47 is closely and directly connected with the appearance of the Douglas DC-3, which made its first flight on December 17, 1935, and first went into service with American Airways in June, 1936, on the New York-Chicago run.

Because of their worldwide popularity, there was scarcely a maritime battle in WW II in which they were not involved. The PBY had its vulnerabilities: it was slow, with a maximum speed of 180 mph, and with no crew armor or self-sealing tanks, it was highly vulnerable to anti-aircraft attack. However it was these weaknesses, coincident with the development of effective radar, and Japanese reliance on night transport, which led to the development of the "Black Cat Squadrons." The military had acquired a few of the earlier plane, the DC-2, and proceeded to order the new plane as well, in a reinforced and higher-powered version adapted to military service. The first orders were placed in 1940, and the first production models were delivered to units the following year. When the United States went to war, the need for transport planes increased, especially in the Pacific theater. Better performance at high altitude was required in order to fly over the Himalayas between India and China. For this purpose the C-47B was developed, with more powerful engines and greater fuel capacity.

The other main production version was the C-53, the Skytrooper, which was expressly designed for troop transport, parachute drops, and glider towing. Several other versions were produced. Although they had different designations, they varied only in engines, cabin arrangement, and cargo capacity.

The two-engine Douglas was the only transport available in substantial numbers when the United States entered the war, and it was used on all fronts. Before large-scale offensive operations such as the Sicilian landing, the Burma offensive, and the Normandy landing (with more than 1,000 C-47s present), these planes played an essential role in transporting supplies and materiel to Allied powers. During the first years of the war the main routes were from the United States to Great Britain and the Soviet Union, and from India to China. The RAF employed about 2,000 of these planes, some of them in other parts of the Commonwealth. This version was called the Dakota. After the war many C-47s were declared surplus and sold. The rest stayed in service in the American air force for another two decades. The last RAF Dakota made its final flight on April 4, 1970.
(Source: (Enzo Angelucci & Paolo Matricardi, in "World War II Airplanes, Volume 2)

One problem the consistently plagued the slow and unmanageable aircraft was the large dorsal blisters. Since the dorsal guns fired canisters instead of belted ammunition, the gunner was required to travel up to the next compartment to bring back a new canister, since the guns were in large glass blisters, the pilots of attacking fighters could actually see when the gunners would run out of ammo and would attack as the gunner went forward to get more ammo. This was sometimes remedied by replacing the canister guns with guns capable of firing belts of ammo, but the problem still persisted as a wary fighter pilot could see when the gunners belt expired and would attack as he loaded a new one.  The early PBY's were very different than the PBY 5 and 6 models which came later and saw so much service in the Second World War. The original PBY's had no landing gear and were strictly flying boats. They could be brought on shore by adding beaching gear, a set of removable wheels. The early PBY's was primarily serviced by ships called seaplane tenders that could lift the plane out of the water and bring it on board for service. The early PBY’s also did not have dorsal blisters but instead had small windows that could be pulled back exposing the gun and the pilot to the air stream. The PBY's’ primary goal was maritime patrol and anti shipping, although as the war developed it was quickly show to be very vulnerable to air attacks and anti aircraft artillery and ceased heavy bombing and anti shipping attacks because of massive losses. However the PBY's initial work as a patrol aircraft was to prove invaluable as the aircraft took part in almost every major sea battle in the early part of the war. It was responsible for sighting the Bismarck and leading to its eventual destruction, for spotting the Japanese fleets at both Midway and Wake Island and a variety of other critical battles. 

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