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NOTE: THE RC C-47 CAN BE FOUND ON THE BOTTOM HALF OF THIS PAGE.
The Douglas C-47, nicknamed the 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. Eisenhower and Montgomery are two of its more famous passengers.
Douglas C-47 aircraft were involved in virtually every World War II action where air transportation was necessary, and in virtually every theatre 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 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 Douglas C-47 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 flew with the shorter wing without any problems so long as full aileron trim was used.
We received the following email:
Please note that the Douglas C-47 (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 Douglas C-47 next, then C-123k, then a variety of others. - E. G. Adams (no city given).
After the war many Douglas C-47 aircraft were sold to civil operators.
Douglas C-47 aircraft 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 Douglas C-47 aircraft participated in the Berlin Airlift.
In the 1961 War for Independence, the Portuguese Air Force used Douglas C-47 aircraft 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 Douglas C-47 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 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 Douglas C-47 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 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 Douglas C-47 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 Douglas C-47 is lined up with the center of the runway, tail wheel locked, main wheels brakes locked, and manifold pressure brought up to 25”. If nothing shakes off the wings, the brakes are unlocked and pressure brought up to 45 1/2” at 2,500 rpm.
Forward pressure must be applied on the control column to keep the Douglas 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” at 2,300 rpm for climbing. Once this is set, the cowl flaps are closed.
Once cruising altitude is reached the Douglas C-47 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 Douglas C-47, 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 Douglas C-47 will ease right onto its main wheels.
A total of over 15,000 Douglas C-47 aircraft of all types were produced through 1947. Through the use of advanced assembly techniques, it was possible to built a single Douglas C-47 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 Douglas C-47 aircraft prior to the start World War II and employed them as civilian transports during the war. The remainder were built after the war.
The rc C-47 from NitroPlanes.
The rc C-47 from Nitroplanes wingspan is 58", length is 39" and weight is around 42 oz. Power is by brushless motors.
Pictured first below is rc C-47 from GWS. It has a 47" wingspan with a 32" length and weighs about 19 oz. It uses EM 300H motors.
The next picture is of the rc C-47 built from plans for sale by Ziroli. Its wingspan is 11 1/2 feet. To power the 45 lb. model you will need a pair of .45 cc engines.
Kondor Model Products has the rc C-47 that is shown third below. Its wingspan is 104". Power comes from two .91 four stroke enginesl It appears that KMP no longer sells the rc C-47, however we have seen them offered on eBay and various rc modelers sites.
The final picture on this page is of Larry Single and his rc C-47 built from a kit for sale from Top Flite. Wingspan of the rc airplane is 81" and length is 55". Larry powers his model with Saito 56 four strokes. Weight is about 13 lbs.
The rc C-47 by GWS.
A rc C-47 built from Ziroli Plans.
Kondor Model Products rc C-47.
Larry Single and his rc C-47.
You can find plans for sale from the RC store for a rc C-47 with a 75" wingspan.
Polk's Hobby had a rc C-47 with a 72" wingspan and a 48" length. It came Speed 600 motors and weighed around 60 oz. Although Polk's no longer sells the scale rc model airplane, it can sometimes be found for sale at various rc websites and on eBay.
Kit Cutters has a giant scale 11.5 foot wingspan rc C-47 made from Nick Ziroli plans.
Cleveland Model has plans for sale of the rc C-47 with wingspans of 35.5", 47", 71", 95", 142", 189" and 284".