Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota and Douglas C-53 Skytrooper photo gallery

USAAF 10th Air Force emblem

China Burma India Theater (CBI)

China Burma India Theater (CBI) covered the following locations: China, Burma, India (also Thailand, French Indochina).

China Burma India Theater (CBI) was the United States military designation during World War II for the China and Southeast Asian or India–Burma (IBT) theaters. Operational command of Allied forces (including U.S. forces) in the CBI was officially the responsibility of the Supreme Commanders for South East Asia or China. However, US forces in practice were usually overseen by General Joseph Stilwell, the Deputy Allied Commander in China; the term 'CBI' was significant in logistical, material and personnel matters; it was and is commonly used within the US for these theaters.

U.S. and Chinese fighting forces in the CBI included the Chinese Expeditionary Force, the Flying Tigers,[1] transport and bomber units flying the Hump, including the Tenth Air Force, the 1st Air Commando Group, the engineers who built the Ledo Road, the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), popularly known as 'Merrill's Marauders', and the 5332d Brigade, Provisional or 'Mars Task Force', which assumed the Marauders' mission.

U.S. strategy for China

Japanese policy towards China had long been a source of international controversy. Western powers had exploited China through the open door policy, advocated by United States diplomat William Woodville Rockhill, while Japan intervened more directly, creating the puppet-state of Manchukuo. By 1937, Japan was engaged in a full-scale war of conquest in China. The infamous Rape of Nanking galvanized Western opinion and led to direct financial aid for the Kuomintang (Nationalists) and increasing economic sanctions against Japan.

In 1941, the U.S. made a series of decisions to support China in its war with Japan: Lend Lease supplies were provided after President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced the defense of China to be vital to the defense of the United States. Over the summer, as Japan moved south into French Indo-China, the U.S., Britain and the Netherlands instituted an oil embargo on Japan, cutting off 90% of its supplies. The embargo threatened the operations of the Kwantung Army, which had over a million soldiers deployed in China. Japan responded with a tightly co-ordinated offensive on 7/8 December, simultaneously attacking Pearl Harbor, the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, Hong Kong, Guam, Wake Island, and Thailand.

Japan cut off Allied supplies to China that had been coming through Burma. China could be supplied only by flying over the Himalaya mountains ('The Hump') from India,[2] or capturing territory in Burma and building a new road—the Ledo Road.[3][4]


In 1941 and 1942, Japan was overextended. Its naval base could not defend its conquests, and its industrial base could not strengthen its navy. To cut off China from Allied aid, it went into Burma and captured Rangoon on 8 March 1942, cutting off the Burma Road. Moving north, the Japanese took Tounggoo and captured Lashio in northern Burma on 29 April. The British, primarily concerned with India, looked to Burma as the main theater of action against Japan and wanted Chinese troops to fight there.[5] The United States conjured up visions of millions of Chinese soldiers who would hold the Japanese then throw them back, while providing close-in airbases for a systematic firebombing of Japanese cities. Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek realized it was all fantasy. On the other hand, there were vast sums of American dollars available if he collaborated. He did so and managed to feed his starving soldiers, but they were so poorly equipped and led that offensive operations against the Japanese in China were impossible. However, Chiang did release two Chinese armies for action in Burma under Stilwell. Due to conflicts between Chiang, the British, Stilwell, and American General Claire Chennault, as well as general ill-preparedness against the more proficient Japanese army, the Burma defense collapsed. Stilwell escaped to India, but the recovery of Burma and construction of the Ledo Road to supply China became a new obsession for him.[6][7]

'On April 14, 1942, William Donovan, as Coordinator of Information (forerunner of the Office of Strategic Services), activated Detachment 101 for action behind enemy lines in Burma. The first unit of its kind, the Detachment was charged with gathering intelligence, harassing the Japanese through guerrilla actions, identifying targets for the Army Air Force to bomb, and rescuing downed Allied airmen. Because Detachment 101 was never larger than a few hundred Americans, it relied on support from various tribal groups in Burma. In particular, the vigorously anti-Japanese Kachin people were vital to the unit's success.'[8]

Detachment 101's efforts opened the way for Stilwell's Chinese forces, Wingate's Raiders, Merrill's Marauders, and the counter-attack against the Japanese Imperial life-line.[9]

Allied command structure

U.S. and Allied land forces

US forces in the CBI were grouped together for administrative purposes under the command of General Joseph 'Vinegar Joe' Stilwell. However, unlike other combat theaters, for example the European Theater of Operations, the CBI was never a 'theater of operations' and did not have an overall operational command structure. Initially U.S. land units were split between those who came under the operational command of the India Command under General Sir Archibald Wavell, as the Commander-in-Chief in India, and those in China, which (technically at least) were commanded by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek,[10] as the Supreme Allied Commander in China. However, Stilwell often broke the chain of command and communicated directly with the US Joint Chiefs of Staff on operational matters. This continued after the formation of the South East Asia Command (SEAC) and the appointment of Admiral Lord Mountbatten as Supreme Allied Commander.

When joint allied command was agreed upon, it was decided that the senior position should be held by a member of the British military because the British dominated Allied operations on the South-East Asian Theatre by weight of numbers (in much the same way as the US did in the Pacific Theater of Operations). Admiral Lord Mountbatten was appointed as the Supreme Allied Commander of South-East Asia forces in October 1943.

Gen. Stilwell, who also had operational command of the Northern Combat Area Command (NCAC), a US-Chinese formation, was to report in theory to Gen. George Giffard – commander of Eleventh Army Group – so that NCAC and the British Fourteenth Army, under the command of General William Slim, could be co-ordinated. However, in practice, Gen. Stilwell never agreed to this arrangement. Stilwell was able to do this because of his multiple positions within complex command structures, including especially his simultaneous positions of Deputy Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia, and Chief of Staff to Chinese leader Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. As SEAC's deputy leader, Stilwell was Giffard's superior, but as operational commander of NCAC, Giffard was Stilwell's superior. As the two men did not get on, this inevitably lead to conflict and confusion.

Stilwell, however, bitterly resisted [taking orders from Giffard] ... To watch Stilwell, when hard pressed, shift his opposition from one of the several strong-points he held by virtue of his numerous Allied, American and Chinese offices, to another was a lesson in mobile offensive-defence.
— William Slim[11]

Eventually at a SEAC meeting to sort out the chain of command for NCAC, Stilwell astonished everyone by saying 'I am prepared to come under General Slim's operational control until I get to Kamaing'.[11] Although far from ideal, this compromise was accepted.[11]

Although Stilwell was the control and co-ordinating point for all command activity in the theater, his assumption of personal direction of the advance of the Chinese Ledo forces into north Burma in late 1943 meant that he was often out of touch with both his own headquarters and with the overall situation.[10]

Not until late 1944, after Stilwell was recalled to Washington, was the chain of command clarified. His overall role, and the CBI command, was then split among three people: Lt Gen. Raymond Wheeler became Deputy Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia; Major-General Albert Wedemeyer became Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek, and commander of US Forces, China Theater (USFCT). Lt Gen. Daniel Sultan was promoted, from deputy commander of CBI to commander of US Forces, India–Burma Theater (USFIBT) and commander of the NCAC. The 11th Army Group was redesignated Allied Land Forces South East Asia (ALFSEA), and NCAC was decisively placed under this formation. However, by the time the last phase of the Burma Campaign began in earnest, NCAC had become irrelevant, and it was dissolved in early 1945.

U.S. Army and Allied Air Forces

After consultation among the Allied governments, Air Command South-East Asia was formed in November 1943 to control all Allied air forces in the theater, with Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Peirse as Commander-in-Chief.[12] Under Peirse's deputy, USAAF Major General George E. Stratemeyer, Eastern Air Command (EAC) was organized in 1943 to control Allied air operations in Burma, with headquarters in Calcutta.[13] Unlike the strained relations and confusion encountered in coordinating Allied ground force commands, air force operations in the CBI proceeded relatively smoothly. Relations improved even further after new U.S. military aid began arriving, together with capable USAAF officers such as Brigadier General William D. Old of CGI Troop Carrier Command, and Colonels Philip Cochran and John R. Alison of the 1st Air Commando Group.[14] Within Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal Sir John Baldwin commanded the Third Tactical Air Force, originally formed to provide close air support to the Fourteenth Army. Baldwin was later succeeded by Air Marshal Sir Alec Coryton. U.S. Brigadier-General Howard C. Davidson and later Air Commodore F. J. W. Mellersh commanded the Strategic Air Force. In the new command, various units of the Royal Air Force and the U.S. Tenth Air Force worked side-by-side. In the autumn of 1943 SEAAC had 48 RAF and 17 USAAF squadrons; by the following May, the figures had risen to 64 and 28, respectively.[13]

At Eastern Air Command, Gen. Stratemeyer had a status comparable to that of Stilwell.[15] Coordinating the efforts of the various allied air components while maintaining relations with diverse command structures proved a daunting task. Part of Stratemeyer's command, the Tenth Air Force, had been integrated with the RAF Third Tactical Air Force in India in December 1943 and was tasked with a number of roles in support of a variety of allied forces. Another component, the US Fourteenth Air Force in China, was under the jurisdiction of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek as China theater commander. Although the India-China Division of the AAF's Air Transport Command received its tonnage allocations from Stratemeyer as Stilwell's deputy, ICD reported directly to Headquarters ATC in Washington, D.C.

In the spring of 1944, with the arrival of command B-29s in the theater, another factor would be added to air force operations. XX Bomber Command of the Twentieth Air Force was tasked with the strategic bombing of Japan under Operation Matterhorn, and reported directly to the JCS in Washington, D.C. However, XX Bomber Command remained totally dependent on Eastern Air Command for supplies, bases, ground staff, and infrastructure support.

After a period of reshuffling, Eastern Air Command's air operations began to show results. In August 1944, Admiral Mountbatten noted in a press conference that EAC fighter missions had practically swept the Japanese air force from Burmese skies. Between the formation of SEAAC in November 1943, and the middle of August 1944, American and British forces operating in Burma destroyed or damaged more than 700 Japanese aircraft with a further 100 aircraft probably destroyed.[16] This achievement considerably reduced dangers to Air Transport Command cargo planes flying in support of the Hump airlift operation. By May 1944, EAC resupply missions in support of the Allied ground offensive had carried 70,000 tons of supplies and transported a total of 93,000 men, including 25,500 casualties evacuated from the battle areas. These figures did not include tonnage flown in the Hump airlift missions to China.[16]

USAAF Order of Battle

USAAF 10th Air Force emblem

Tenth Air Force

  • 1st Air Commando Group (1944–1945)
    Burma, India (B-25, P-51, P-47, C-47)
  • 1st Combat Cargo Group (1944–1945)
    Burma, India, China (C-47, C-46).
  • 2nd Air Commando Group (1944–1945)
    Burma, India (P-51, C-47)
  • 3d Combat Cargo Group (1944–1945)
    Burma, India (C-47).
  • 4th Combat Cargo Group (1944–1945)
    Burma, India (C-47, C-46).
  • 7th Bombardment Group (1942–1945)
    India (B-17, B-24).
  • 12th Bombardment Group (1944–1945)
    India (B-25).
  • 33d Fighter Group (1944–1945)
    India (P-38, P-47)
  • 80th Fighter Group (1943–1945)
    India, Burma (P-38, P-40, P-47)

Transferred in 1944 to Fourteenth Air Force:

  • 311th Fighter Group (1943–1944)
    India, Burma (A-36, P-51)
  • 341st Bombardment Group (1943–1944)
    India, Burma (B-25)
  • 443d Troop Carrier Group (1944–1945)
    India (C-47/C-53)
  • 426th Night Fighter Squadron (1944)
    India (P-61)
  • 427th Night Fighter Squadron (1944)
    India (P-61)

USAAF 14th Air Force emblem

Fourteenth Air Force

  • 68th Composite Wing
    • 23d Fighter Group (1942–1945) (P-40, P-51)
      Formerly American Volunteer Group (AVG) Flying Tigers.
  • 69th Composite Wing
    • 51st Fighter Group: 1942–1945 (P-40, P-38, P-51).
    • 341st Bombardment Group 1944–1945 (B-25).
  • 312th Fighter Wing
    • 33rd Fighter Group: 1944 (P-38, P-47).
    • 81st Fighter Group: 1944–1945 (P-40, P-47).
    • 311th Fighter Group: 1944–1945 (A-36, P-51).
  • Chinese-American Composite Wing (Provisional) (1943–1945)
    • 3rd Fighter Group (Provisional) (P-40, P-51)
    • 5th Fighter Group (Provisional) (P-40, P-51)
    • 1st Bombardment Group (Medium, Provisional) (B-25)
  • Other assigned units:

    • 402d Fighter Group:
      May – July 1943. Assigned but never equipped.
    • 476th Fighter Group:
      May – July 1943. Assigned but never equipped.
    • 308th Bombardment Group:(B-24)
      March 1943 – February 1945

    From Tenth Air Force in 1944–1945:

    • 341st Bombardment Group: (B-25)
      January 1944 – November 1945
    • 443d Troop Carrier Group: (C-47/C-54)
      Aug – November 1945
    • 426th Night Fighter Squadron: P-61)
      1944 – 1945
    • 427th Night Fighter Squadron: (P-61)
      1944 – 1945

    USAAF 20th Air Force emblem

    Twentieth Air Force
    (Attached To CBI 1944–1945)

    • XX Bomber Command (1944–45)
      (Kharagpur, India)
      • 1st Photo Squadron
      • 58th Bombardment Wing
        (Chakulia, Kharagpur, Hijli AB, India) (B-29)
        • 40th Bombardment Group
        • 444th Bombardment Group
        • 462d Bombardment Group
        • 468th Bombardment Group

    Twentieth Air Force XX Bomber Command (XX BC) combat elements moved in the summer of 1944 from the United States to India where they engaged in very-long-range Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombardment operations against Japan, Formosa, China, Indochina and Burma. While in India, XX BC was supported logistically by Tenth Air Force and the India-China Division of the Air Transport Command. B-29 groups moved to West Field, Tinian, in early 1945.


    Early 1942 Stilwell was promoted to lieutenant general and tasked with establishing the CBI.

    25 February 1942 Stilwell arrived in India by which time Singapore and Burma had both been invaded by the Japanese Army.

    10 March 1942 Stilwell is named Chief of Staff of Allied armies in the Chinese theatre of operations.

    19 March 1942 Stilwell's command in China is extended to include the Chinese 5th and 6th Armies operating in Burma after Chiang Kai-shek gave his permission.

    20 March 1942 Chinese troops under Stilwell engage Japanese forces along the Sittang River in Burma.

    9 April 1942 Claire Chennault inducted into U.S. Army as a colonel, bringing the AVG Flying Tigers squadrons under Stilwell's nominal authority.

    16 April 1942 7,000 British soldiers, and 500 prisoners and civilians were encircled by the Japanese 33rd Division at Yenangyaung.

    19 April 1942 The 113th Regiment of the Chinese Expeditionary Force's New 38th Division led by General Sun Li-jen attacked and defeated the encircling Japanese troops rescuing the encircled British troops and civilians. This is historically called Battle of Yenangyaung.

    2 May 1942 The commander of Allied forces in Burma, General Harold Alexander, ordered a general retreat to India. Stilwell left his Chinese troops and began the long evacuation with his personal staff (he called it a 'walk out') to India. Most of the Chinese troops, who were supposed to be under Stilwell's command, were deserted in Burma without knowledge of the retreat. Under Chiang Kai-shek they made a hasty and disorganised retreat to India. Some of them tried to return to Yunnan through remote mountainous forests and out of these, at least half died.

    24 May 1942 Stilwell arrived in Delhi.

    New Delhi and Ramgarh became the main training centre for Chinese troops in India. Chiang Kai-shek gave Stilwell command of what was left of the 22nd and 38th Divisions of the Chinese Army. 1 December 1942 British General Sir Archibald Wavell, as Allied Supreme Commander South East Asia, agreed with Stilwell to make the Ledo Road an American operation.[17] August 1943 US creates a jungle commando unit, similar to the Chindits, to be commanded by Major General Frank Merrill; it is informally called 'Merrill's Marauders'.[18] Exhaustion and disease led to the early evacuation of many Chinese and American troops before the coming assault on Myitkyina.[19]

    21 December Stilwell assumed direct control of operations to capture Myitkyina, having built up forces for an offensive in Northern Burma.

    24 February 1944 Merrill's Marauders, attacked the Japanese 18th Division in Burma. This action enabled Stilwell to gain control of the Hakawing Valley.

    17 May 1944 British general Slim in command of the Burma Campaign handed control of the Chindits to Stilwell.

    17 May 1944 Chinese troops, with the help of Merrill's Marauders, captured Myitkina airfield.

    3 August 1944 Myitkina fell to the Allies. The Marauders had advanced 750 miles and fought in five major engagements and 32 skirmishes with the Japanese Army. They lost 700 men, only 1,300 Marauders reached their objective and of these, 679 had to be hospitalized. This included General Merrill who had suffered a second-heart attack before going down with malaria.

    Some time before 27 August 1944, Mountbatten supreme allied commander (SEAC) ordered General Stilwell to evacuate all the wounded Chindits.

    During 1944 the Japanese in Operation Ichi-Go overran US air bases in eastern China. Chiang Kai-shek blamed Stilwell for the Japanese success, and pressed the US high command to recall him. October 1944 Roosevelt recalled Stilwell, whose role was split (as was the CBI): Lieutenant General Raymond Wheeler became Deputy Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia. Major General Albert Wedemeyer became Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek and commander of the U.S. Forces, China Theater (USFCT).[20] Lieutenant General Daniel Sultan was promoted from deputy commander to become commander of US Forces India-Burma Theater (USFIBT) and commander of the Northern Combat Area Command

    12 January 1945, the first convoy over the Ledo Road of 113 vehicles led by General Pick from Ledo reached Kunming, China on 4 February 1945. Over the next seven months 35,000 tons of supplies in 5,000 vehicles were carried along it.[5]

    The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota and Douglas C-53 Skytrooper

    National origin:-    United States
    Role:- Military transport aircraft
    Manufacturer:- Douglas Aircraft Company
    Designer:- Donald Wills Douglas Sr. and Arthur Emmons Raymond
    First flight:- 23rd December 1941[1]
    Introduction:- 1942 Retired:- never
    Primary users:-   USAAF   RAF   RAAF,   RCAF   SAAF
    Status:- In service
    Number built:- 10,174
    Developed from:- Douglas DC-3 Dakota
    Developed into:- Douglas XCG-17; Douglas AC-47 Spooky; Douglas R4D-8

    Douglas C-47 Skytrain

    The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota (RAF, RAAF, RCAF, RNZAF, and SAAF designation) is a military transport aircraft developed from the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliner. It was used extensively by the Allies during World War II and remained in front-line service with various military operators for many years.[2]

    Design and development

    The C-47 differed from the civilian DC-3 by way of numerous modifications, including being fitted with a cargo door, hoist attachment and strengthened floor - along with a shortened tail cone for glider-towing shackles, and an astrodome in the cabin roof.[3][4]

    During World War II, the armed forces of many countries used the C-47 and modified DC-3s for the transport of troops, cargo, and wounded. The U.S. naval designation was R4D. More than 10,000 aircraft were produced in Long Beach and Santa Monica, California, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Between March 1943 and August 1945, the Oklahoma City plant produced 5,354 C-47s.[2][5]

    The specialized C-53 Skytrooper troop transport started production in October 1941 at Douglas Aircraft's Santa Monica plant. It lacked the cargo door, hoist attachment, and reinforced floor of the C-47. Only 380 aircraft were produced in all because the C-47 was found to be more versatile.

    Super DC-3 (R4D-8)

    Large numbers of DC-3s and surplus C-47s were in commercial use in the United States in the 1940s. In response to proposed changes to the Civil Air Regulations airworthiness requirements that would limit the continuing use of these aircraft, Douglas offered a late-1940s DC-3 conversion to improve takeoff and single-engine performance. This new model, the DC-3S or 'Super DC-3', was 39 in (0.99 m) longer. It allowed 30 passengers to be carried, with increased speed to compete with newer airliners. The rearward shift in the center of gravity led to larger tail surfaces and new outer, swept-back wings. More powerful engines were installed along with shorter, jet ejection-type exhaust stacks. These were either 1,475 hp (1,100 kW) Wright R-1820 Cyclones or 1,450 hp (1,081 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2000 Twin Wasps in larger engine nacelles. Minor changes included wheel-well doors, a partially retractable tailwheel, flush rivets, and low-drag antenna. These all contributed to an increased top speed of 250 mph (400 km/h; 220 kn). With greater than 75% of the original DC-3/C-47 configuration changed, the modified design was virtually a new aircraft.[6] The first DC-3S made its maiden flight on 23 June 1949.[7]

    The changes fully met the new FAR 4B airworthiness requirements, with significantly improved performance. However, little interest was expressed by commercial operators in the DC-3S. It was too expensive for the smaller operators that were its main target; only three were sold to Capital Airlines. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps had 100 of their R4D aircraft modified to Super DC-3 standards as the R4D-8, later redesignated the C-117D.[8]

    Operational history

    World War II

    The C-47 was vital to the success of many Allied campaigns, in particular, those at Guadalcanal and in the jungles of New Guinea and Burma, where the C-47 and its naval version, the R4D, made it possible for Allied troops to counter the mobility of the light-traveling Japanese Army. C-47s were used to airlift supplies to the encircled American forces during the Battle of Bastogne in Belgium. Possibly its most influential role in military aviation, however, was flying 'The Hump' from India into China. The expertise gained flying 'The Hump' was later used in the Berlin Airlift, in which the C-47 played a major role until the aircraft were replaced by Douglas C-54 Skymasters.

    In Europe, the C-47 and a specialized paratroop variant, the C-53 Skytrooper, were used in vast numbers in the later stages of the war, particularly to tow gliders and drop paratroops. During the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, C-47s dropped 4,381 Allied paratroops. More than 50,000 paratroops were dropped by C-47s during the first few days of the D-Day campaign also known as the invasion of Normandy, France, in June 1944.[9] In the Pacific War, with careful use of the island landing strips of the Pacific Ocean, C-47s were used for ferrying soldiers serving in the Pacific theater back to the United States.

    About 2,000 C-47s (received under Lend-Lease) in British and Commonwealth service took the name 'Dakota', possibly inspired by the acronym 'DACoTA' for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft.[10]

    The C-47 also earned the informal nickname 'gooney bird' in the European theatre of operations.[11] Other sources[12] attribute this name to the first aircraft, a USMC R2D—the military version of the DC-2—being the first aircraft to land on Midway Island, previously home to the long-winged albatross known as the gooney bird which was native to Midway.

    Postwar era

    The United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command had Skytrains in service from 1946 through 1967. The US Air Force's 6th Special Operations Squadron was flying the C-47 until 2008.

    With all of their aircraft and pilots having been part of the Indian Air Force prior to independence, both the Indian Air Force and Pakistan Air Force used C-47s to transport supplies to their soldiers fighting in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947.

    After World War II, thousands of surplus C-47s were converted to civilian airline use, some remaining in operation in 2012, as well as being used as private aircraft.

         Vietnam War

    Several C-47 variations were used in the Vietnam War by the United States Air Force, including three advanced electronic-warfare variations, which sometimes were called 'electric gooneys' designated EC-47N, EC-47P, or EC-47Q depending on the engine used. In addition, HC-47s were used by the 9th Special Operations Squadron to conduct psychological warfare operations over South Vietnam and Laos. Miami Air International, Miami International Airport was a USAF military depot used to convert the commercial DC-3s/C-47s into military use. They came in as commercial aircraft purchased from third-world airlines and were completely stripped, rebuilt, and reconditioned. Long-range fuel tanks were installed, along with upgraded avionics and gun mounts. They left as first-rate military aircraft headed for combat in Vietnam in a variety of missions. [Note 1] EC-47s were also operated by the Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian Air Forces.[14] A gunship variation, using three 7.62 mm miniguns, designated AC-47 'Spooky', often nicknamed 'Puff the magic dragon', also was deployed.[11]


    Initial military version of the DC-3 had four crew (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, and radio operator) and seats for 27 troops alongside the fuselage interior. 'Aerial Ambulances' fitted for casualty evacuation could carry 18 stretcher cases and a medical crew of three; 965 built (including 12 for the United States Navy as R4D-1).

    C-47 with a 24-volt electrical system, 5,254 built including USN aircraft designated R4D-5

    C-47A equipped for photographic reconnaissance and ELINT missions

    C-47A equipped for Search Air Rescue; redesignated HC-47A in 1962

    C-47A equipped for VIP transport role

    Powered by R-1830-90 engines with two-speed superchargers (better altitude performance) to cover the China-Burma-India routes, 3,364 built

    C-47B equipped for VIP transport role

    C-47 tested with Edo Model 78 floats for possible use as a seaplane [15][16]

    C-47B with second speed (high blower) of engine supercharger disabled or removed after the war

    AC-47D Spooky
    Gunship aircraft with three side-firing .30 in (7.62 mm) Minigun machine guns

    C-47D with equipment for the Electronics Calibration, of which 26 were so converted by Hayes in 1953; prior to 1962 was designated AC-47D

    C-47D modified for test roles

    C-47D equipped for photographic reconnaissance and ELINT missions

    C-47D equipped for Search Air Rescue; redesignated HC-47D in 1962

    C-47D equipped for VIP transport role

    Modified cargo variant with space for 27–28 passengers or 18–24 litters

    YC-129 redesignated, Super DC-3 prototype for evaluation by USAF later passed to USN as XR4D-8

    C-47H/Js equipped for the support of American Legation United States Naval Attache (ALUSNA) and Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG) missions

    C-47A and D aircraft modified for ELINT/ARDF mission, N and P differ in radio bands covered, while Q replaces analog equipment found on the N and P with a digital suite, redesigned antenna equipment and uprated engines

    One C-47M modified for high altitude work, specifically for missions in Ecuador

    C-53 Skytrooper
    Troop transport version of the C-47 that lacked the reinforced cargo floor, large cargo door, and hoist attachment of the C-47 Skytrain. It was dedicated for the troop transport role and could carry 28 passengers in fixed metal seats arranged in rows in the former cargo space; 221 built.

    XC-53A Skytrooper
    One testbed aircraft modified in March 1942 with full-span slotted flaps and hot-air leading edge de-icing. Converted to C-53 standard in 1949 and sold as surplus.

    C-53B Skytrooper
    Winterised and long-range Arctic version of the C-53 with extra fuel tanks in the fuselage and separate navigator's astrodome station for celestial navigation; eight built.

    C-53C Skytrooper
    C-53 with larger port-side access door; 17 built.

    C-53D Skytrooper
    C-53C with 24V DC electrical system and its 28 seats attached to the sides of the fuselage; 159 built.

    C-117A Skytrooper
    C-47B with 24-seat airline-type interior for staff transport use, 16 built.

    Three redesignated C-117s used in the VIP role

    One C-117C converted for air-sea rescue

    High-altitude two-speed superchargers replaced by one-speed superchargers, one built and conversions from C-117As all later VC-117B

    USN/USMC R4D-8 redesignated C-117D in 1962.

    USN/USMC R4D-8L redesignated LC-117D in 1962.

    USN/USMC R4D-8T redesignated TC-117D in 1962.

    USN R4D-8Z redesignated VC-117D in 1962.

    Super DC-3 prototype for evaluation by USAF redesignated C-47F and later passed to USN as XR4D-8. Wright R-1820 engines uprated to 1425 hp.

    Canadian Forces designation for the C-47 (post-1970)

    One C-47 tested as a 40-seat troop glider with engines removed and faired over

    R4D-1 Skytrain
    USN/USMC version of the C-47

    Twenty C-53Cs transferred to USN

    C-47A variant 24-volt electrical system replacing the 12-volt of the C-47; redesignated C-47H in 1962, 238 transferred from USAF

    R4D-5 for use in Antarctica. Redesignated LC-47H in 1962. Photos of this type show the removal of underslung engine oil coolers typical of the R-1830 engine installation; apparently not needed in the cold polar regions.

    R4D-5 for use as special ECM trainer. Redesignated EC-47H in 1962

    R4D-5 for use as a personnel transport for 21 passengers and as a trainer aircraft; redesignated TC-47H in 1962

    R4D-5 for use as a special ASW trainer; redesignated SC-47H in 1962

    R4D-5 for use as a VIP transport; redesignated VC-47H in 1962

    157 C-47Bs transferred to USN; redesignated C-47J in 1962

    R4D-6L, Q, R, S, and Z
    Variants as the R4D-5 series; redesignated LC-47J, EC-47J, TC-47J, SC-47J, and VC-47J respectively in 1962

    44 TC-47Bs transferred from USAF for use as a navigational trainer; redesignated TC-47K in 1962

    R4D-5 and R4D-6 remanufactured aircraft with stretched fuselage, Wright R-1820 engines, fitted with modified wings and redesigned tail surfaces; redesignated C-117D in 1962

    R4D-8 converted for Antarctic use, redesignated LC-117D in 1962

    R4D-8 converted as crew trainers, redesignated TC-117D in 1962

    R4D-8 converted as a staff transport, redesignated VC-117D in 1962

    C-47TP 'Turbo Dak'
    Refit with two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-67R engines and fuselage stretch for the South African Air Force

    Basler BT-67
    C-47 conversion with a stretched fuselage, strengthened structure, modern avionics, and powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6A-67R turboprops

     RAF designations

    Dakota I
    RAF designation for the C-47 and R4D-1.

    Dakota II
    RAF designation for nine C-53 Skytroopers received under the lend lease scheme. Unlike the majority of RAF Dakotas, these aircraft were therefore dedicated troop transports, lacking the wide cargo doors and reinforced floor of the C-47.

    Dakota III
    RAF designation for the C-47A.

    Dakota IV
    RAF designation for the C-47B.

    Airspeed AS.61
    Projected conversion of Dakota I aircraft by Airspeed. None built.

    Airspeed AS.62
    Projected conversion of Dakota II aircraft by Airspeed. None built.

    Airspeed AS.63
    Projected conversion of Dakota III aircraft by Airspeed. None built.

    BEA Pionair/Dart-Dakota
    Conversion of Dakota to Rolls-Royce Dart power and used by BEA to prove turboprop engines prior to entry into service of Vickers Viscount.[17]


    Burma Cambodia
    Republic of the Congo
    Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Dominican Republic
    El Salvador

    Ivory Coast

    New Zealand
    Northern Rhodesia[20]
    Papua New Guinea
    Saudi Arabia
    South Africa

    South Korea
    South Vietnam
    Soviet Union (also as Lisunov Li-2)
    Sri Lanka
    United Kingdom
    United States
    West Germany

    Surviving aircraft

    Large numbers of C-47s, C-117s and other variants survive, on display in museums or as monuments; operated as warbirds; or remaining in service.

    As part of the D-Day 75th-anniversary commemoration in June 2019, 14 American C-47s (including That's All, Brother; Betsy's Biscuit Bomber; Miss Montana; Spirit of Benovia; D-Day Doll; Boogie Baby; N47E Miss Virginia; and Whiskey 7 [21]), and another group of 'Daks' from Europe retraced the route across the English Channel to Normandy taken by roughly 850 of these aircraft on D-Day.[22][23]

    Specifications (Douglas C-47B-DK)

    Data from McDonnell Douglas aircraft since 1920 : Volume I,[24]

    General characteristics

    Crew: 4 (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, radio operator)
    Capacity: 28 troops
    Length: 63 ft 9 in (19.43 m)
    Wingspan: 95 ft 6 in (29.11 m)
    Height: 17 ft 0 in (5.18 m)
    Wing area: 987 sq ft (91.7 m2)
    Airfoil: root: NACA 2215; tip: NACA 2206[25]
    Empty weight: 18,135 lb (8,226 kg)
    Gross weight: 26,000 lb (11,793 kg)
    Max takeoff weight: 31,000 lb (14,061 kg)
    Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90C Twin Wasp 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 1,200 hp (890 kW) each
    Propellers: 3-bladed constant-speed propellers


    Maximum speed: 224 mph (360 km/h, 195 kn) at 10,000 ft (3,000 m)
    Range: 1,600 mi (2,600 km, 1,400 nmi)
    Ferry range: 3,600 mi (5,800 km, 3,100 nmi)
    Service ceiling: 26,400 ft (8,000 m)
    Time to altitude: 10,000 ft (3,000 m) in 9 minutes 30 seconds
    Wing loading: 26.3 lb/sq ft (128 kg/m2)
    Power/mass: 0.0926 hp/lb (0.1522 kW/kg)


    Guns: Only the Spooky versions were armed it was primary a transport aircraft with no armament


    not known

     Flight Simulators

       IL-2 Sturmovik 'Cliff's of Dover' Blitz - has no 3D model

       IL-2 Great Battles Series IL-2 - has no 3D model

       DCS World - has no 3D model



     Royal Air Force Debden Map

     Moscow Russia Map


        CBI Notes

    1. Rossi, J.R. (1998). 'The Flying Tigers – American Volunteer Group – Chinese Air Force'. AVG.
    2. Bliss K. Thorne, The Hump: The Great Military Airlift of World War II (1965)
    3. Michael Schaller, The U.S. Crusade in China, 1938–1945 (1982)
    4. Barbara W. Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911–45 (1971) ch 10
    5. Donovan Webster, The Burma Road: The Epic Story of the China–Burma–India Theater in World War II (2003)
    6. Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911–45 (1971) ch. 12–14
    7. Bernstein, Richard (2014). China 1945 : Mao's revolution and America's fateful choice (First ed.). New York. pp. 39–44. ISBN 9780307595881.
    8. Central Intelligence Agency. Behind Japanese Lines in Burma: The Stuff of Intelligence Legend (2001).
    9. Peers, William R. and Dean Brelis. Behind the Burma Road: The Story of America’s Most Successful Guerrilla Force. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1963, back cover.
    10. Chapter XIX: The Second Front and the Secondary War The CBI: January–May 1944. The Mounting of the B-29 Offensive in Maurice Matloff References Page 442
    11. Slim 1956, pp. 205–207.
    12. L, Klemen (1999–2000). 'Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Edmund Charles Peirse'. Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942.
    13. Roll of Honour, Britain at War, The Air Forces in Burma
    14. Masters, John. The Road Past Mandalay, Bantam Press (1979), pp. 146–148 and 308–309
    15. Air of Authority – A History of RAF Organisation: Overseas Commands – Iraq, India and the Far East Archived 6 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine
    16. Mountbatten, Admiral Lord Louis, Address to the Press, August 1944 Archived 29 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
    17. Adrian Fort, Archibald Wavell: The Life and Death of the Imperial Servant (2009)
    18. Edward Young, Merrill's Marauders (2009)
    19. assault on Myitkyina town Archived 9 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine
    20. Wedemeyer, Albert C. (1958). Wedemeyer Reports! Autobiography.

        Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota and Douglas C-53 Skytrooper Notes

    1. Air International out of Miami International Airport was a military depot used by the air force to convert the DC-3s into military use.[13]

        Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota and Douglas C-53 Skytrooper Citations

    1. C-47 Skytrain Military Transport Historical Snapshot Boeing.
    2. Parker 2013, pp. 13, 35, 37, 39, 45-47.
    3. Wilson, Stewart. Aircraft of WWII. Fyshwick, ACT, Australia: Aerospace Publications Pty Ltd., 1998. ISBN 1-875671-35-8.
    4. Parker 2013, pp. 37, 39, 45-47.
    5. Herman 2012, pp. 202-203, 227.
    6. 'Super DC-3'.
    7. Francillon 1979, pp. 464–465.
    8. Francillon 1979, pp. 466–467.
    9. Cacutt, Len. 'The World's Greatest Aircraft,' Exeter Books, New York, NY, 1988. ISBN 0-7917-0011-9.
    10. 'History: Douglas C-47 Skytrain Military Transport'. Boeing. Retrieved: 14 July 2015.
    11. O'Rourke, G.G, CAPT USN. 'Of Hosenoses, Stoofs, and Lefthanded Spads'. United States Naval Institute Proceedings, July 1968.
    12. C-47/R4D Skytrain units of the Pacific and CBI, David Isby, Osprey Combat Aircraft #66, Osprey Publishing Limited, 2007
    13. 'Chronological History of the EC-47's Location by Tail Number.' Retrieved: 7 April 2009.
    14. Rickard, J. 'Douglas EC-47N'., 12 November 2008. Retrieved: 7 April 2009.
    15. 'Aviation in Long Pants' (photo of XC-47C). Popular Mechanics, July 1944.
    16. 'DC-3s On Floats.' YouTube, 8 November 2008. Note: first part has rare World War II film footage and narration by project manager for the XC-47C.
    17. '1952 | 3204 | Flight Archive'. 1951-08-15. Retrieved 2018-06-27.
    18. 'Douglas DC-3 (CC-129) Dakota.' Archived 2011-06-11 at the Wayback Machine DND - Canada's Air Force.
    19. 'Das Archiv der Deutschen Luftwaffe.' (in German) Retrieved: 5 July 2010.
    20. 'Trade Registers'. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
    21. 'The Mighty Fifteen—The American Contingent Flying to Normandy'. The D-Day Squadron. DC-3 Society. Archived from the original on 2019-11-30. Retrieved January 7, 2021. See archive link for aircraft photos.
    22. 'Miss Montana – Miss Montana to Normandy'. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
    23. Golds, Alan (2 June 2019). 'A World War II-era veteran returns to the air'.
    24. Francillon, René J. (1988). McDonnell Douglas aircraft since 1920 : Volume I. London: Naval Institute Press. pp. 217–251. ISBN 0870214284.
    25. Lednicer, David. 'The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage'.

        Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota and Douglas C-53 Skytrooper Bibliography:

    • Anderson, C. E. 'Bud' (December 1981 – March 1982). 'Caught by the Wing-tip'. Air Enthusiast. No. 17. pp. 74–80. ISSN 0143-5450.
    • Chorlton, Martyn. Paths in the Wood. Cowbit, UK: Old Forge Publishing Ltd, 2003. ISBN 0-9544507-0-1.
    • De Vink, Hervé (August 1976). 'Adieu au 'Dakota' de la Force aérienne belge' [Farewell to the Dakotas of the Belgian Air Force]. Le Fana de l'Aviation (in French) (81): 17–19. ISSN 0757-4169.
    • Donald, David. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1997. ISBN 0-7607-0592-5.
    • Flintham, Victor. Air Wars and Aircraft: A Detailed Record of Air Combat, 1945 to the Present. New York: Facts on File, 1990. ISBN 0-8160-2356-5.
    • Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920. London: Putnam & Company, 1979. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.
    • Gradidge, Jennifer M. The Douglas DC-1, DC-2, DC-3: The First Seventy Years. Two volumes. Tonbridge, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 2006. ISBN 0-85130-332-3.
    • Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II. New York: Random House, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
    • Kaplan, Philip. Legend: A Celebration of the Douglas DC-3/C-47/Dakota. Peter Livanos & Philip Kaplan, 2009. ISBN 978-0-9557061-1-0.
    • Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II. Cypress, California: Dana Parker Enterprises, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9897906-0-4.
    • Pearcy, Arthur Jr. 'Douglas R4D variants (US Navy's DC-3/C-47)'. Aircraft in Profile, Volume 14. Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Profile Publications, 1974, pp. 49–73. ISBN 0-85383-023-1.
    • 'Pentagon Over the Islands: The Thirty-Year History of Indonesian Military Aviation'. Air Enthusiast Quarterly (2): 154–162. n.d. ISSN 0143-5450.
    • Serrano, José Luis González (March–April 1999). 'Fifty Years of DC Service: Douglas Transports Used by the Spanish Air Force'. Air Enthusiast (80): 61–71. ISSN 0143-5450.
    • Widfeldt, Bo (April–July 1980). ''Operation Ball': USAAF Operations in Sweden 1944–45'. Air Enthusiast. No. 12. pp. 51–53. ISSN 0143-5450.
    • Yenne, Bill. McDonnell Douglas: A Tale of Two Giants. Greenwich, Connecticut: Bison Books, 1985. ISBN 0-517-44287-6.

        Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota and Douglas C-53 Skytrooper further reading:

        Magazine References: +

    • Airfix Magazines (English) -
    • Avions (French) -
    • FlyPast (English) -
    • Flugzeug Publikations GmbH (German) -
    • Flugzeug Classic (German) -
    • Klassiker (German) -
    • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) -
    • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) -
    • Osprey (English) -
    • Revi Magazines (Czech) -

        Web References: +

    • Wikipedia Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota and Douglas C-53 Skytrooper:
    • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

    This webpage was updated 25th August 2022