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Uncovering the Enduring Repurposing of the DC-3/C-47: From Paratroopers to Passengers & Cargo

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Source- Airwolfhound (CC BY-SA 4.0)

CR Smith, CEO of American Airlines, developed the Douglas DC-3/C-47 to compete with other airlines in 1934. The DC-3/C-47 was the first airliner not to require mail subsidies to make a profit, as it was reliable, fast, and had a good range.

Developed after the DC-1, the DC-2 was quickly considered the best passenger aircraft in the world. When the DC-3 was modified to become a military transport, it resulted in the development of the C-47 Skytrain.

The C-47 was able to carry 27 combat-ready troops with a strengthened floor, rear cargo door, and hoist attachment. The Pratt & Whitney R-2000 Twin Wasps replaced the Wright R-1820 Cyclones used on the DC-3 airliner.

During World War II, the Pacific Islands and the jungles of Burma and New Guinea played host to the vital role played by the C-47. The Allies countered the mobility of the light-traveling Japanese Army by using the C-47. The C-47 was extensively used in Europe to tow gliders and deploy paratroopers. First place in the MacRobertson International Air Derby was taken by a KLM DC-2 in the handicap division.

The KLM DC-2 flew the airliner’s regular route, which was 12,300 statute miles, in 71 hours and 28 minutes. In the mid-1930s, the US aircraft manufacturers focused on improving their aircraft for commercial aviation rather than building better military aircraft.

Over 4,000 Allied paratroopers were dropped onto Sicily by the C-47 during the invasion in 1943. More than 50, 000 paratroopers were dropped into France by the C-47 during the D-Day Normandy landings. C-47s were used to supply besieged American forces during the Battle of Bastogne in Belgium.

All road and rail links into Allied-occupied areas of Berlin were blocked by the Soviet Union on June 4, 1948. The Allies organized an airlift to transport supplies to Berlin during the Berlin Airlift, using the C-47s. The Berlin Airlift delivered over 2 million tons of supplies, lasting over a year.

Nicknames given to the C-47 were “Gooney Bird” and “Dakota”. After the war, the C-47 was used for civilian purposes such as cargo and passenger transport. The C-47 was used by the US until the 1970s. The C-47 is considered one of the most important aircraft ever built.

Militaries in some countries still use the C-47 even today. C-47s were used in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Arab-Israeli conflict. A significant place in aviation history is held by the type design recognized as the DC-3/C-47.

The C-47 was used for airlifting and other purposes by civilian operators. The C-47 is a versatile and sustainable aircraft that has played a significant role in aviation and military history.


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Govind Tekale

Embarking on a new journey post-retirement, Govind, once a dedicated teacher, has transformed his enduring passion for current affairs and general knowledge into a conduit for expression through writing. His historical love affair with reading, which borders on addiction, has evolved into a medium to articulate his thoughts and disseminate vital information. Govind pens down his insights on a myriad of crucial topics, including the environment, wildlife, energy, sustainability, and health, weaving through every aspect that is quintessential for both our existence and that of our planet. His writings not only mirror his profound understanding and curiosity but also serve as a valuable resource, offering a deep dive into issues that are critical to our collective future and well-being.

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