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DC3 Dakota

The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing, propeller-driven aircraft whose speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Because of its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II, it is generally regarded as one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made.


The DC-3 was engineered by a team led by chief engineer Arthur E. Raymond, and first flew on December 17, 1935 (the 32nd anniversary of the Wright Brothers flight at Kitty Hawk).

 The aircraft was the result of a marathon phone call from American Airlines CEO Cyrus Smith to Donald Douglas requesting the design of an improved successor to the DC-2. The amenities of the DC-3 (including sleeping berths on early "DST" -- Douglas Sleeper Transport -- models and an in-flight kitchen) popularized air travel in the United States. With only three refueling stops, eastbound transcontinental flights across the US taking approximately 15 hours became possible. Westbound trips took 17 hours 30 minutes due to typical prevailing headwinds - still a significant improvement over the competing Boeing 247. Before the arrival of the DC-3, such a trip would entail short hops in commuter aircraft, during the day, coupled with train travel overnight.
Early U.S. airlines like United, American, TWA and Eastern ordered over 400 DC-3s. These fleets paved the way for the modern American air travel industry, quickly replacing trains as the favored means of long-distance travel across the United States. Piedmont Airlines operated DC-3s from 1948 to 1963. One of Piedmont's DC-3s, operated by the Carolinas Aviation Museum, continues to fly to air shows today and has been used in various movies. Both Delta and Continental Airlines operate "commemorative" DC-3s.
During World War II, many civilian DC-3s were drafted for the war effort and nearly 10,000 military versions of the DC-3 were built, under the designations C-47, C-53, R4D and Dakota. Peak production of the type was reached in 1944 with 4853 being delivered. The armed forces of many countries used the DC-3 and its military variants for the transport of troops, cargo and wounded. Licensed copies were built in Japan as Showa L2D (487 aircraft) and in the USSR as the Lisunov Li-2 (between 2200 and 4900 aircraft, per varying sources).

After the war, thousands of surplus C-47s were converted to civil service and became the standard equipment of almost all the world's airlines, remaining in front-line service for many years.  The ready availability of ex-military examples of this cheap, easily-maintained aircraft (it was both large and fast by the standards of the day) jump-started the worldwide, post-war air transport industry.

Douglas had developed an improved version, with a greater cargo capacity and a different wing, which it attempted to sell during this time frame but with all these surplus aircraft, the Super DC-3 did not sell in the civil market. The US Navy had 100 of their early R4Ds converted to Super DC-3 standard as the R4D-8, later C-117D.

Numerous attempts were made to design a "DC-3 replacement", over the next three decades (including the very successful Fokker Friendship) but no single type could match the versatility, rugged reliability and economy of the DC-3

 and it remained a significant part of air transport systems, well into the 1970s. Even today, over 70 years after the DC-3 first flew, there are still small operators with DC-3s in revenue service and as cargo planes. The common saying among aviation buffs and pilots is that "the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3." The aircraft's legendary ruggedness is enshrined in the lighthearted description of the DC-3 as "a collection of parts flying in loose formation." Its ability to take off and land on grass or dirt runways also makes it popular in developing countries, where the runways may not always be a paved surface.

Some of the more common uses of the DC3 have been aerial spraying, freight transport, passenger service, military transport and sport skydiving shuttling.


10,655 DC-3s were built at Santa Monica, California and Long Beach, California in both civil and military versions. Over 2000 were built in Russia, under license, as the Lisunov Li-2 (NATO reporting name: Cab). 485 were built in Japan, as the L2D Type 0 transport. More than 400 remained in commercial service, in 1998.

A wide variety of engines was fitted to the DC-3 throughout the course of production. The original civilian airplanes used Wright R-1820 Cyclone 9s, but later aircraft (and the majority of military ships) used the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Double Wasp radial which offered better high-altitude and single engine performance. A few Pratt & Whitney R-2000 radials saw use. Some DC-3s were upgraded to use Rolls-Royce Dart (as in the Conroy Turbo Three), Armstrong Siddeley Mamba, or Pratt & Whitney PT6A turbines.

In 1987, Airtech Canada offered aircraft re-engined with current-production PZL ASz-62IT radial engines of 1,000 hp (745 kW) as the DC-3/2000.

The Basler BT-67 is a conversion of the DC-3. Basler refurbishes DC-3s, fitting them with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6 turbo-prop engines, lengthening the fuselage by over 3 feet (0.91 m) and strengthening the airframes in selected areas.


General characteristics
  • Crew: 2
  • Capacity: 21-32 passengers
  • Length: 64 ft 5 in (19.7 m)
  • Wingspan: 95 ft 0 in (29.0 m)
  • Height: 16 ft 11 in (5.16 m)
  • Wing area: 987 ft (91.7 m)
  • Empty weight: 18,300 lb (8,300 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 25,200 lb (25,346 with deicing boots, 26,900 in some freight versions) (11,400 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 Wright Cyclone 9 R-1820 series (earliest aircraft) or Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S1C3G in the C-47 and later civilian aircraft, 1,100 or 1,200 hp (890 kW) max rating, depending upon engine and model (895 kW) each
  • Propellers: 3-bladed Hamilton Standard 23E50 series hydraulically controlled constant speed, feathering


  • Maximum speed: 237 mph (206 knots, 381 km/h (=Never Exceed Speed (VNE), or Redline speed))
  • Cruise speed: 150 mph (130 knots, 240 km/h)
  • Range: 1,025 mi (890 nm, 1,650 km)
  • Service ceiling 24,000 ft (7,300 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,130 ft/min (5.73 m/s) initial
  • Wing loading: 25.5 lb/ft (125 kg/m)
  • Power/mass:0.0952 hp/lb (157 W/kg)



The General Aircraft G.A.L. 49 Hamilcar or Hamilcar Mk I was a large British military glider of World War 11 which was capable of carrying seven tons of cargo, a light tank such as the Tetrarch or Locust, or two Universal Carriers.


The G.A.L.49 was designed to Air Ministry Specification X,27/40, entered service in 1942 and was used with success in Operation Overlord. 412 were built in total. Construction was almost entirely of wood, while ailerons as well as elevators were fabric covered. They were built in various woodworking shops in Britain under the supervision of General Aircraft Ltd.

The Mark X Hamilcar was an experimental powered version of the Mark I designed for Pacific operations. Tow was still necessary for take-off at full load, but it could return under the power of its own two 965 hp Bristol Mercury radial piston engines. Production was ordered, as conversions from Hamilcar I gliders, and 20 of this variant were built before the end of the war. It saw no action.

Hamilcar glider on tow. Hamilcars lined up ready for a launch.

Hamilcar Glider



Airspeed Horsa.

The Airspeed AS.51 Horsa Mk I was a British World War II troop-carrying glider built by Airspeed Limited and subcontractors and used for air assault by British and Allied armed forces. It was named after Horsa the legendary 5th century conqueror of Southern Britain.

 Design and development

The Horsa was designed to meet specification X.26/40 and built from 1940 onwards. It first flew on 12 September 1941. The Horsa was a high-wing cantilever monoplane with wooden wings and a wooden semi-monoqoue fuselage. The fuselage was built in three sections bolted together, the front section was the pilot's compartment and main freight loading door, the main section was accommodation for troops or freight, the rear section supported the tail unit. It had a fixed tricycle landing gear and it was one of the first gliders equipped with a tricycle undercarriage for take off. On operational flights this could be jettisoned and landing was then on a sprung skid under the fuselage. The wing carried large "barn door" flaps which, when lowered, made a steep, high rate-of-descent landing possible allowing the pilots to land in constricted spaces. The pilot's compartment had two side-by-side seats and dual controls. Aft of the pilot's compartment was the freight loading door on the port side. The hinged door could also be used as a loading ramp. The main compartment could accommodate 15 troops on benches along the sides with another access door on the starboard side. The fuselage joint at the rear end of the main section could be broken on landing to assist in rapid unloading of troops and equipment on landing. Supply containers could also be fitted under the centre-section of the wing, three on each side. The later AS.58 Horsa II had a hinged nose section, reinforced floor and double nose wheels to support the extra weight of vehicles. The tow was attached to the nose-wheel strut, rather than the dual wing points of the Horsa I.

The Horsa was considered sturdy and very manoeuvrable for a glider. Production was by Airspeed and subcontractors including Austin Motors and the furniture manufacturers Harris Lebus A total of 3655 were built. The specification for the gliders had demanded that they were built in a number of sections, and to use facilities not needed for more urgent production, and as a result production was spread across separate factories which limited the likely loss in case of German attack.

 Operational history

Horsas on the ground at Arnhem

The use of assault gliders by the British was prompted by the use by Germany of the DFS 230 which was first used in May 1940 to successfully assault the Eban Emanel fort in Belgium Their advantage compared to parachute assault was that the troops were landed together in one place, rather than being dispersed.

With around 28 troop seats, the Horsa was much bigger than the 13-troop American Waco CG-4A (known as the Hadrian by the British), and the 8-troop General Aircraft Hotspur glider which was intended for training duties only. As well as troops, the AS.51 could carry a jeep or a 6 pounder anti tank gun

The Horsa was first used operationally on the night of 19/20 November 1942 in the unsuccessful attack on the German Heavy Water Plant in Norway (Operation Freshman) The two Horsa gliders, and one of the Halifax tug aircraft, crashed in Norway due to bad weather. All 23 survivors from the glider crashes were executed on the orders of Hitler in direct breach of the Geneva Convention which protects POWs from summary execution. After this Hitler called the airborne soldiers "Red Devils" due to their maroon berets.The name stuck with them.

On 10 July ,1943 27 Horsas were used in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. Large numbers were subsequently used in Operation Tonga and the American airborne landings in Normandy. (Battle of Normandy) Operation Dragoon (southern France), Operation Market Garden (Arnhem) and Operation Varsity (crossing the river Rhine). In Normandy, the first units to land in France, did so by Horsas, capturing Pegasus Bridge.

On operations they were towed variously by Stirling, Halifax, Albarmarl Whitley and Dakota tugs, using a harness that attached to both wings. The pilots were usually from the Glider Pilot Regiment. part of the Army Air Corps, although Royal Air Force,pilots were used on occasion. The Horsa was also used in service by the USAAF. On 5 June 2004, as part of the 60th anniversary commemoration of D-Day, Prince Charles, unveiled a replica Horsa on the site of the first landing at Pegasus Bridge, and talked with the original pilot of the aircraft, Jim Wallwork.


The Waco CG-4 Haig (named Hadrian in Royal Air Force service) was the most widely used United States troop/cargo military glider of World War II Designed by Weaver Aircraft Company of Ohio (commonly known by the acronym WACO, or Waco), CG-4 flight testing began in May of 1942 and eventually more than 13,900 CG-4As were delivered. Sixteen companies were prime contractors for manufacturing CG-4A's. Wicks Aircraft Company of Kansas City, Missouri was a sub-contractor while Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation of Kansas City, Kansas and the WACO Company of Troy, Ohio were two of the 16 prime contractors.


Design and development

The CG-4 was constructed of fabric-covered wood and metal and was crewed by a pilot and copilot. It could carry 13 troops and their equipment, or a quarter ton truck (Jeep), or a 75 mm howitzer, or a 1/4 ton trailer, loaded through the upward-hinged nose section. Also, a small bulldozer was loaded into some of these gliders. C-47s were usually used as tow aircraft. A few C-46 tugs were used for the Wesel mission.

The USAAF CG-4A tow line was 11/16" diameter nylon, 350' (107 m) long. The CG-4A pickup line was 15\16"- (24 mm)-diameter nylon, but only 225' (69 m) long including the doubled loop.

 Operational history

Whiteman Air Force Base was originally activated on 6 August 1942, as Sedalia Glider Base. In November 1942, the installation became Sedalia Army Air Field and was assigned to the 12th Troop Carrier Command of the United States Army Air Forces. The field served as a training site for glider pilots and paratroopers. Assigned aircraft included the CG-4A glider, and the Curtiss C-46s and Douglas C-47s. However, the C-46 was not used as a glider tug in combat until the Wesel mission.

CG-4As went into operation in July 1943 during the Allied invasion of Sicily. They participated in the American airborne landings in Normandy on 6 June 1944, and in other important airborne operations in Europe and in the China-Burma-India Theater. Although not the intention of the AAF, gliders were generally considered expendable by high ranking European theater officers and combat personnel and were abandoned or destroyed after landing. While equipment and methods for extracting flyable gliders was developed and was delivered to Europe, half of that equipment was rendered unavailable by certain higher ranked officers. Despite this lack of support for the recovery system several gliders were recovered from Normandy and even more from Holland and Wesel.

The CG-4A found favor where its small size was a benefit; the larger Airspeed Horsa could carry more troops (seating for 28 or a jeep or an anti-tank gun) and the General Aircraft Hamilcar could carry a light tank but the CG-4A could land in smaller spaces. It was used to send supplies to partisans in Yugoslavia.


Prototypes, two built, plus one stress test article.
Main Production variant, survivors became G-4A in 1948, 13,903 built by 16 various contractors.
One CG-4A built with a plywood structure.
One CG-4A converted with two Franklin 6AC-298-N3 engines by Northwestern.
One CG-4A converted with two 175hp L-440-1 engines by Ridgefield.
Two articles: XPG-2 engines changed to 200hp. plus one CG-4A converted also with 200hp engines..
production PG-2A with two 200hp L-440-7s, redesignated G-2A in 1948, ten built by Northwestern.
Cancelled variant with two R-775-9 engines.
13 CG-4A transferred to the United States Navy.
PG-2A re-designated in 1948.
CG-4A re-designated in 1948.
G-4A with different tow-bar, 35 conversions.
Hadrian Mk.I
Royal Air Force designation for the CG-4A, 25 delivered.
Hadrian Mk.II
Royal Air Force designation for the CG-4A with equipment changes.


A Royal Air Force CG-4A Hadrian

General characteristics

  • Crew: two (pilot and co-pilot)
  • Capacity: 13 troops, or quarter-ton truck and 3 troops, or 6 litters
  • Length: 48 ft 8 in (14.8 m)
  • Wingspan: 83 ft 8 in (25.5 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 4 in (4.7 m)
  • Wing area: 900 ft (83.6 m)
  • Empty weight: 3,790 lb (1,719 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 7,500 lb maximum design gross weight (normal load) / 9,000 lb maximum emergency gross weight (not to be exceeded) (3,400 kg / 4,091 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 7,500 lb (3,400 kg)
  • *Max take off (Emergency Load): 9,000 lb (4,091 kg)


  • Maximum speed: 150 mph @ 7,500 lb (240 km/h @ 3,400 kg;)
  • Cruise speed: CAS 72.6 mph (CAS 117 km/h)
  • Stall speed: CAS 49 mph with design load 7,500 lb (CAS 79 km/h with design load 3,400 kg)
  • Wing loading: 8.81 lb/ft ()
  • Rate of sink: About 400 ft/min (122 m/min) at tactical glide speed (CAS 60 mph/96 km/h)
  • Landing run: 600-800 feet (180-244 m) for normal three-point landing