Douglas C-47 Skytrain

YouTube – Douglas C-47 Skytrain

Primary Function:
Weight Empty:
Max. Weight:
Max. Cruise:
Initial Climb:
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Year Deployed:
28 troops
P&W R-1830-90C
2 x 1,200 hp. ea.
63 ft. 9 in.
95 ft. 6 in.
17,060 lbs.
31,000 lbs.
8,000 lbs.
202 mph
1,100 fpm
26,000 feet
1,600 miles

Douglas C-47 Skytrain

Douglas C-47 Skytrain

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain was the primary United States transport aircraft during World War II. It was also used extensively by U.S. allies. Not only were they used to transport troops and cargo, but for paratroop drops, as air ambulances, glider tugs and executive transports. Generals Eisenhower and Montgomery are two of its more famous passengers.

The Douglas C-47 Sktrain was involved in virtually every World War II action where air transportation was necessary, and in virtually every theater of the war. Among their more notable exploits were their participation in the invasion of Sicily, the Normandy landings and their missions over the Himalaya Mountains, flying to supply the Chinese from basis out of India.

The ability to fly in difficult weather conditions, ease of maintenance, and rugged construction of the Douglas C-47 Skytrain made it a powerful asset in the Allied war effort. Its strong landing gear and high propeller clearance made it ideal for flying from unprepared landing strips.

The aircraft proved itself extremely adaptable. A C-47 Skytrain received so much damage from enemy fighter shells that a wing had to be replaced. The only wing available was from a C-46 that was some eight feet shorter in length. The Douglas C-47 fflew with the shorter wing without any problems so long as full aileron trim was used.

After World War II many former military Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft were sold to civil operators.

The C-47 Skytrain again saw action in 1945, when flown by the French over Vietnam. In addition to being used for parachute drops and as transports, they were used as makeshift bombers against the Viet Nimh, dropping napalm from their cargo doors.

In 1948 some 100 Couglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft participated in the Berlin Airlift.

In the 1961 War for Independence, the Portuguese Air Force used the C-47 Skytrain for extensive parachute drops of troops. This was done to relieve towns under siege by the MPLA. Skytrains were also used to bomb the MPLA.

During the early part of the Vietnam War, American C-47 Skytrain aircraft equipped with mini guns were used against enemy truck convoys. Other C-47’s were used as electronic warfare and AWACS aircraft.

Flying the Douglas C-47 Skytrain is not for the faint of heart. The tail dragger sits high on its main landing gear. This makes getting from the entrance door into the cockpit like climbing a flight of stairs.

Just starting the big radials of the aircraft can be an adventure. Standard procedure is to hold the starter and then counting until twelve propeller blades have revolved before you. Turn on the magnetos and you should be rewarded with clouds of black smoke as each of 14 engine cylinders comes alive.

The airframe of the Douglas C-47 Skytrain protests being taxied, with sounds like the inside of an old clipper ship during a storm. Once the aircraft is moving on a long straight path, the best way to keep from wandering is to engage the tail wheel lock. This is especially important during strong cross winds. Failure to lock the wheel will result in the aircraft turning into the wind.

Even though the cockpit of the C-47 Skytrain sits high, while the aircraft is on the ground, vision is acceptable due to its extreme forward position in the nose of the fuselage.

The brakes of the Douglas C-47 are effective without being overly sensitive. It should be noted that because the wheels hang about a foot below the wing after gear up, and can still rotate, even a wheels up landing can have some brake and steering control.

For takeoff, the aircraft is lined up with the center of the runway, tail wheel locked, main wheels brakes locked, and manifold pressure brought up to 25 in. If nothing shakes off the wings, the brakes are unlocked and pressure brought up to 45 1/2 in. at 2,500 rpm.

Forward pressure must be applied on the control column to keep the C-47 level and prevent it from trying to get into the air before its ready to fly. At 97 mph you can reduce the forward pressure and the aircraft will become airborne. Manifold pressure is 39 1/2 in. at 2,300 rpm for climbing. Once this is set, the cowl flaps are closed.

Once cruising altitude is reached the Douglas C-47 Skytrain can be trimmed for level flight. Typical cruise is 180 mph at half power. During level flight, you will soon find the Skytrain is very much a transport. It must be muscled around the sky.

Should you be bold enough to test the stall characteristics of the C-47 Skytrain, be prepared for a quick wing drop accompanied by a corresponding loss of altitude. If your arms and shoulders are strong enough, recovery will be accomplished without any hysterics.

When its time for a landing, dropping the flaps are like lowering the anchor of a boat. Drag is increased by about 300%. Typically power is reduced gradually on approach and cut when about ten feet over the end of the runway. Providing the approach speed has been kept up, the aircraft will ease right onto its main wheels.

A total of over 15,000 Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft of all types were produced through 1947. Through the use of advanced assembly techniques, it was possible to built a single aircraft in just over four days. Most were made at three locations in the United States, with about one third being produced in the U.S.S.R. and an additional 500 in Japan. Interestingly, the Japanese produced 20 C-47 Skytrain aircraft prior to the start World War II and employed them as civilian transports during the war. The remainder were built after the war.

RC Douglas C-47 Skytrain

RC Douglas C-47 Skytrain

The RC Douglas C-47 Skytrain built from plans by Nick Ziroli as a wingspan of 11 1/2 feet. To power the 45 lb. model you will need a pair of .45 cc engines.

Top Flite has a RC Douglas C-47 Skytrain kit.  The all wood kit builds to a wingspan of 82 1/2 in. with a length of 55 1/2 in.  All up weight is about 10 lbs.  Power can come from .25 to .40 two cycle or .40 to .52 four cycle engines.

Cleveland Model has plans for a RC Douglas C-47 Skytrain for sale with wingspans of 35.5, 47, 71, 95, 142, 189 and 284 inches.

2 thoughts on “Douglas C-47 Skytrain”

  1. Please note that the Douglas C-47 Skytrain (i.e. DC-3) that needed a wing, received one from a DC-2 – and was called the DC-2 1/2. My time with Air America was mainly in the C-46 – with the Douglas C-47 next, then C-123, then a variety of others.


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