VC-47 Skytrain

Manufacturer: Douglas
Designation: VC-47, DC-3
Version: A
Nickname: Skytrain
Type: Staff Transport
Specifications
Length: 64' 5"  
Height: 16' 11"  
Wingspan: 95'  0"  
Cost: $138,000  
Gross Weight: 33,000 lbs  
Propulsion
No. of Engines: 2
Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney R-1830
Horsepower (each): 1,200  hp
Performance
Range: 1513 miles  
Cruise Speed: 175 mph    
Max Speed: 232 Mph    
Ceiling: 24,450 Ft  

 

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota is a low-wing twin-engine, all metal,
military transport aircraft developed directly from the Douglas DC-3 civilian
airliner. Engineered by a Douglas Aviation team, led by chief engineer Arthur E.
Raymond, its simple, reliable design revolutionized air transport making it one
of the most significant airliners in aviation history. First flown on December
17, 1935, by 1941 the DC-3 entered military service as the C-47 or as the R4D,
its US Navy designation. Minor modifications that included strengthening the
floor, installing a cargo door and fitting two Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin
Wasp radial engines to improve high-altitude and single engine performance
allowed the C-47 to become the most versitile cargo aircraft of the war.

In the words of General Dwight D. Eisenhower "The atomic bomb, the bazooka,
the jeep and the DC-3 were the four things that won the war for the Allies…"
Over 10,000 C-47 aircraft were produced for use in every theater of the war,
from flying "The Hump" in the China-Burma-India theater to dropping paratroopers
in Europe. The C-47 also carries the distinction of being the only aircraft ever
licensed for production in the Soviet Union. As a supply plane, the C-47 could
carry up to 6,000 pounds of cargo or hold a fully assembled jeep or a 37 mm
cannon. Twenty-eight fully equipped soldiers could be transported in its
standard personnel configuration or as a medical airlift; the C-47 could
accommodate fourteen stretchers and three nurses.

Widely versatile, seven basic versions of the C-47 were built, and the
aircraft was given at least 22 designations before its service life ended;
including the AC-47D gunship nicknamed "Puff the Magic Dragon" (armament
consisted of three 7.62mm miniguns firing 6000 rpm each), the EC-47 electronic
reconnaissance aircraft, the EC-47Q antiaircraft systems evaluation aircraft and
the C-53 Skytrooper.

March Field Air Museum's VC-47A serial number 43-15579 was manufactured by
Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, California and delivered to the Army Air Force
on April 12, 1944. It served in the Air Transport Command before it was
transferred to the California Air National Guard. Until its retirement in
October of 1972, 43-15579 carried the nickname "Grizzly," and served as the
Governors personal aircraft during the tenures of governors Warren, Knight and
Edmund G. "Pat" Brown. After acquisition by the museum, the aircraft was
disassembled with the fuselage being used as a trailer, it was brought to the
museum on freeways where it was re-assembled and restored by volunteers. This
aircraft is on loan from the USAF.

- - - - - - - - - - - -

According to the Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA/RSA), Maxwell
AFB, AL, the museum's VC-47A has the following history:

VC-47A, s/n 43-15579 was manufactured by Douglas Aircraft, Long Beach, CA and
delivered to the USAAF on 12 Apr 1944. Its assignments were:

Apr 1944  - To 560th AAF Base Unit (Troop Carrier Command), Palm Springs AAF
FL

Mar 1945  - To 591st AAF Base Unit (Air Transport Command), Stockton AAF CA

Nov 1945  - To 554th AAF Base Unit (ATC), Memphis AAF TN

Dec 1945  - To 555th AAF Base Unit (ATC), Love AAF TX

Mar 1946  - To 4105th AAF Base Unit (Air Technical Service Command),
Davis-Monthan AAF AZ (storage)

Feb 1947  - To 4126th AAF Base Unit, San Bernardino Air Materiel Center

Mar 1947  - To 195th Fighter Squadron (ANG), Van Nuys AP CA

Oct 1949  - To 115th Bombardment (Light) Squadron (ANG), Van Nuys AP CA

Jan 1950  - Unit moved to Lockheed Air Terminal, Burbank CA

Dec 1950 -  To 146th Composite Wing (ANG), Lockheed AT CA

Feb 1951  - To 144th Fighter Wing (ANG), Hayward AP CA

Jan 1953  - To 115th Fighter-Bomber Squadron (ANG), Van Nuys AP CA

May 1961  - To 129th Troop Carrier (Medium) Squadron (ANG), Hayward AP CA

May 1967  - To 163rd Fighter Group (ANG), Ontario AP CA

Oct 1972  - To 144th Fighter-Interceptor Group (ANG), Fresno Air Terminal CA
and dropped from USAF inventory by transfer to school or museum

Below shows the aircraft as of year 2000 when it was painted in a WWII paint
scheme. It has since been painted as it looked when it was assigned to the
California National Guard, and used for official trips of the Governor of
California.