USAAF Transport Aircraft used in the PTO photo gallery

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

USAAF 5th Air Force emblem

Pacific Theater Operations - 5AF

The Fifth Air Force (5 AF) is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). It is headquartered at Yokota Air Base, Japan. It is the U.S. Air Force's oldest continuously serving Numbered Air Force. The organization has provided 80 years of continuous air power to the Pacific since its establishment in September 1941.

Fifth Air Force is the Headquarters Pacific Air Forces forward element in Japan, and maximizes partnership capabilities and promotes bilateral defense cooperation. In addition, 5 AF is the air component to United States Forces Japan.

Its mission is three-fold. First, it plans, conducts, controls, and coordinates air operations assigned by the PACAF Commander. Fifth Air Force maintains a level of readiness necessary for successful completion of directed military operations. And last, but certainly not least, Fifth Air Force assists in the mutual defense of Japan and enhances regional stability by planning, exercising, and executing joint air operations in partnership with Japan. To achieve this mission, Fifth Air Force maintains its deterrent force posture to protect both U.S. and Japanese interests, and conducts appropriate air operations should deterrence fail.


Fourteen Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses that survived the Battle of the Philippines left Mindanao for Darwin, Australia, between 17 and 20 December 1941, the only aircraft of the Far East Air Force to escape. After its evacuation from the Philippines on 24 December 1941, FEAF headquarters moved to Australia and was reorganized and redesignated 5 Air Force on 5 February 1942, with most of its combat aircraft based on fields on Java. It seemed at the time that the Japanese were advancing just about everywhere. The remaining heavy bombers of the 19th Bombardment Group, based at Malang on Java, flew missions against the Japanese in an attempt to stop their advance. They were joined in January and February, two or three at a time, by 37 B-17Es and 12 LB-30s of the 7th Bombardment Group. The small force of bombers, never numbering more than 20 operational at any time, could do little to prevent the invasion of the Netherlands East Indies, launching valiant but futile attacks against the masses of Japanese shipping, with six lost in combat, six in accidents, and 26 destroyed on the ground.

The 7th Bombardment Group was withdrawn to India in March 1942, leaving the 19th to carry on as the only B-17 Fortress-equipped group in the South Pacific. About this time it was decided that replacement B-17s would not be sent to the southwest Pacific, but be sent exclusively to the Eighth Air Force which was building up in England. By May, Fifth Air Force's surviving personnel and aircraft were detached to other commands and the headquarters remained unmanned for several months, but elements played a small part in the Battle of the Coral Sea (7–8 May 1942) when the 435th Bomb Squadron of the 19th Bomb Group saw the Japanese fleet gathering in Rabaul area nearly two weeks before the battle actually took place. Because of the reconnaissance activity of the 435th Bomb Squadron, the US Navy was prepared to cope adequately with the situation. The squadron was commended by the US Navy for its valuable assistance not only for its excellent reconnaissance work but for the part played in the battle.

Headquarters Fifth Air Force was re-staffed at Brisbane, Australia on 18 September 1942 and placed under the command of Major General George Kenney. United States Army Air Forces units in Australia, including Fifth Air Force, were eventually reinforced and re-organised following their initial defeats in the Philippines and the East Indies. At the time that Kenney had arrived, Fifth Air Force was equipped with three fighter groups and five bombardment groups.

Fighter Groups:

8th FG (P-39) Townsville, Australia

35th FG (P-40) Port Moresby, New Guinea

49th FG (P-40) Darwin, Australia

Bomber Groups:

3rd BG (B-25, A-20, & A-24) Charters Towers, Australia

19th BG (Non-Operational. Battle scarred from Philippines & Java) Mareeba, Australia

22nd BG (B-26) Woodstock, Australia

38th BG (B-25) Charters Towers, Australia

43rd BG (B-17 until 1943; B-24 1943–1945) Port Moresby, New Guinea

In addition, Fifth Air Force controlled two transport squadrons and one photographic squadron comprising 1,602 officers and 18,116 men.

Kenney was later appointed commander of Allied air forces in the South West Pacific Area, reporting directly to General Douglas MacArthur. Under Kenney's leadership, the Fifth Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force provided the aerial spearhead for MacArthur's island hopping campaign.

US Far East Air Forces

On 4 November 1942, the Fifth Air Force commenced sustained action against the Japanese in Papua New Guinea and was a key component of the New Guinea campaign (1942–1945). Fifth Air Force engaged the Japanese again in the Philippines campaign (1944–45) as well as in the Battle of Okinawa (1945).

Fifth Air Force along with Thirteenth Air Force in the Central Pacific and Seventh Air Force in Hawaii were assigned to the newly created United States Far East Air Forces (FEAF) on 3 August 1944. FEAF was subordinate to the U.S. Army Forces Far East and served as the headquarters of Allied Air Forces Southwest Pacific Area. By 1945, the three numbered air forces were supporting operations throughout the Pacific. FEAF was the functional equivalent in the Pacific of the United States Strategic Air Forces (USSTAF) in the European Theater of Operations.

Order of battle, 1945

USAAF 5th Air Force emblem
5AF Order of battle, 1945
V Fighter Command Night Fighter Units V Bomber Command Photo Reconnaissance 54th Troop Carrier Wing
3d ACG (P-51, C-47) 418th NFS 3d BG (L) (B-25, A-20) 6th RG (F-5, F-7) 2d CCG
8th FG (P-40, P-38) 421st NFS 22d BG (M/H) (B-26 – B-24) 71st RG (B-25) 317th TCG
35th FG (P-47, P-51) 547th NFS 38th BG (M) (B-25)   374th TCG (1943 only)
49th FG (P-40, P-47, P-38)   43d BG (H) (B-24)   375th TCG
58th FG (P-47)   90th BG (H) (B-24)   433d TCG
348th FG (P-47, P-51)   312th BG (L) (A-20)    
475th FG (P-38)   345th BG (M) (B-25)    
    380th BG (H) (B-24)    
    417th BG (L) (A-20)    

LEGEND: ACG – Air Commando Group, FG – Fighter Group, NFS – Night Fighter Squadron, BG (L) – Light Bomb Group, BG (M) – Medium Bomb Group, BG (H) – Heavy Bomb Group, RG – Reconnaissance Group, CCG – Combat Cargo Group, TCG – Troop Carrier Group

When the war ended, Fifth Air Force had an unmatched record of 3,445 aerial victories, led by the nation's two top fighter aces Major Richard Bong and Major Thomas McGuire, with 40 and 38 confirmed victories respectively, and two of Fifth Air Force's ten Medal of Honor recipients.

Shortly after World War II ended in August, Fifth Air Force relocated to Irumagawa Air Base, Japan, about 25 September 1945 as part of the Allied occupation forces. The command remained in Japan until 1 December 1950 performing occupation duties.

Korean War

In 1950, Fifth Air Force was called upon again, becoming the main United Nations Command combat air command during the Korean War, and assisted in bringing about the Korean Armistice Agreement that formally ended the war in 1953.

In the early morning hours of 25 June, North Korea launched a sudden, all-out attack against the south. Reacting quickly to the invasion, Fifth Air Force units provided air cover over the skies of Seoul. The command transferred to Seoul on 1 December 1950, remaining in South Korea until 1 September 1954.

In this first Jet War, units assigned to the Fifth Air Force racked up an unprecedented 14.5 to 1 victory ratio. By the time the truce was signed in 1953, Fifth Air Force had flown over 625,000 missions, downing 953 North Korean and Chinese aircraft, while close air support accounted for 47 percent of all enemy troop casualties.

Thirty-eight fighter pilots were identified as aces, including Lieutenant Colonel James Jabara, America's first jet ace; and Captain Joseph McConnell, the leading Korean War ace with 16 confirmed victories. Additionally, four Medals of Honor were awarded to Fifth Air Force members. One other pilot of note was Marine Major John Glenn, who flew for Fifth Air Force as part of an exchange program.

With the end of combat in Korea, Fifth Air Force returned to normal peacetime readiness Japan in 1954.

Cold War

Not only concerned with maintaining a strong tactical posture for the defense of both Japan and South Korea, Fifth Air Force played a critical role in helping the establishment of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force as well as the Republic of Korea Air Force. These and other peacetime efforts lasted a decade before war clouds once again developed in the Pacific.

This time, the area of concern was Southeast Asia, beginning in 1964 with the Gulf of Tonkin Crisis. Fifth Air Force furnished aircraft, aircrews, Support personnel, and supplies throughout the eight years of combat operations in South Vietnam and Laos. Since 1972, the Pacific has seen relative calm, but that doesn't mean Fifth Air Force hasn't been active in other roles. The command has played active or supporting roles in a variety of issues ranging from being first on the scene at the Korean Air Lines Flight 007 shoot down in 1983 to deploying personnel and supplies for the Persian Gulf War in 1990.

During this time span, the size of Fifth Air Force changed as well. With the activation of Seventh Air Force in 1986, fifth left the Korean Peninsula and focused its energy on continuing the growing bilateral relationship with Japan.

The Fifth Air Force's efforts also go beyond combat operations. Fifth Air force has reacted to natural disasters in Japan and abroad. These efforts include the Great Hanshin earthquake in 1995 and Super Typhoon Paka which hit Guam in 1997. Fifth Air Force has reached out to provide assistance to victims of floods, typhoons, volcanoes, and earthquakes throughout the region.

The 432d Tactical Fighter Wing flew F-16s from Misawa Air Base from July 1, 1984 – October 31, 1994. On the inactivation of the wing, its personnel, aircraft, and other assets were used to reform the 35th Fighter Wing.

Present Day

Today, according to the organization's website, major components include the 18th Wing, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan; the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa Air Base, and the 374th Airlift Wing at Yokota Air Base. Kadena AB hosts the 18th Wing, the largest combat wing in the USAF. The Wing includes F-15 fighters, KC-135 refuelers, E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, and HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, and represents a major combat presence and capability in the Western Pacific. The 35th Fighter Wing, Misawa Air Base, Japan, includes two squadrons equipped with the most modern Block 50 F-16 variant, dedicated to the suppression of enemy air defenses. The final formation is the 374th Airlift Wing, at Yokota Air Base, Japan.

According to a 2017 study by two US Navy commanders, in case of a surprise Chinese ballistic missile attack against airbases in Japan, more than 200 U.S. aircraft would be trapped or destroyed on the ground in the first hours of the conflict.

Lineage, assignments, stations, and components


Established as Philippine Department Air Force on 16 August 1941

Activated on 20 September 1941

Redesignated: Far East Air Force on 16 November 1941

Redesignated: 5 Air Force on 5 February 1942

Redesignated: Fifth Air Force* on 18 September 1942.

Fifth Air Force is not to be confused with a second "Fifth" air force created as a temporary establishment to handle combat operations after the outbreak of hostilities on 25 June 1950, in Korea. This numbered air force was established as Fifth Air Force, Advance, and organized at Itazuki AB, Japan, assigned to Fifth Air Force, on 14 July 1950. It moved to Taegu AB, South Korea, on 24 July 1950, and was redesignated Fifth Air Force in Korea at the same time. After moving, it apparently received command control from U.S. Far East Air Forces. The establishment operated from Pusan, Taegu, and Seoul before being discontinued on 1 December 1950.


V Air Force Service: 18 June 1943 – 15 June 1944

V Air Service Area: 9 January 1944 – 15 June 1944

5 Bomber (later, V Bomber): 14 November 1941 – 31 May 1946

V Fighter: 25 August 1942 – 31 May 1946

5 Interceptor: 4 November 1941 – 6 April 1942

Became Army Air Force Infantry unit during Battle of the Philippines (1941–42) (20 December 1941 – 9 April 1942)

Far East Air Service (later, 5 Air Force Base; V Air Force Base): 28 October 1941 – 2 November 1942


39th Air Division: 1 September 1954 – 15 January 1968

41st Air Division: 1 September 1954 – 15 January 1968

43d Air Division: 1 September 1954 – 1 October 1957

313th Air Division: 1 March 1955 – 1 October 1991

314th Air Division: 31 May 1946 – 1 March 1950; 1 December 1950 – 18 May 1951; 15 March 1955 – 8 September 1986

315 Air Division (formerly, 315 Composite Wing): 1 June 1946 – 1 March 1950.


8th Fighter Wing, later 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, 1950s

18th Wing: 1 Oct 1991-.

35th Fighter Wing: 1 Oct 1994-.

51st Fighter Wing: 1955-September 1986

374th Airlift Wing: 1 Apr 1992-.

432d Tactical Fighter Wing, Misawa Air Base, Japan: July 1, 1984 – May 31, 1991; 432d Fighter Wing from June 1, 1991 - October 31, 1994 (wing personnel and assets thereafter used to reactivate 35th Fighter Wing)

6100th Support Wing, Tachikawa Air Base, Japan: "Brigadier General Thomas R. FORD Replaced Col. Lewis B. MENG as commander of 6100th Support Wing effective" 11 June 1962. "6100 Support Wing was Major Air Command control (MAJCON) unit directly subordinate to Headquarters (HQ) 5 Air Force. Contains.. functions of various subordinate elements of 6100 Support Wing (Kanto Base Command)."


2nd Combat Cargo Group: October 1944-15 January 1946


Philippine Department, U.S. Army, 20 September 1941

US Forces in Australia (USFIA), 23 December 1941

Redesignated: US Army Forces in Australia (USAFIA), 5 January 1942

American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM), 23 February 1942

Allied Air Force, Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA), 2 November 1942

Far East Air Forces (Provisional), 15 June 1944

Far East Air Forces, 3 August 1944

Redesignated: Pacific Air Command, United States Army, 6 December 1945

Redesignated: Far East Air Forces, 1 January 1947

Redesignated Pacific Air Forces, 1 July 1957—present


Nichols Field, Luzon, 20 September 1941

RAAF Base Darwin, Australia, 31 December 1941

Bandoeng, Java, 18 January 1942

Brisbane AAB, Australia,c 1 March 1942

Nadzab Airfield, New Guinea, 15 June 1944

Owi Airfield, Schouten Islands, Netherlands East Indies, 10 August 1944

Bayug Airfield, Leyte, Philippines, c. 20 November 1944

McGuire Field, Mindoro, Philippines, January 1945

Clark Field, Luzon, Philippines, April 1945

Hamasaki (Motobu Airfield), Okinawa, 4 August 1945

Irumagawa AB, Japan, c. 25 September 1945

Tokyo, Japan, 13 January 1946

Nagoya, Japan, 20 May 1946

Seoul AB (K-16), Korea, 1 December 1950

Taegu AB (K-2), Korea, 22 December 1950

Seoul AB (K-16), 15 June 1951

Osan AB, Korea, 25 January 1954

Nagoya AB (later, Nagoya AS; Moriyama AS), Japan, 1 September 1954

Fuchu AS, Japan, 1 July 1957

Yokota AB, Japan, 11 November 1974–present

Pacific Ocean theater of World War II

Pacific Ocean theater of World War II

The Pacific Ocean theater of World War II was a major theater of the Pacific War, the war between the Allies and the Empire of Japan. It was defined by the Allied powers' Pacific Ocean Area command, which included most of the Pacific Ocean and its islands, while mainland Asia was excluded, as were the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, Australia, most of the Territory of New Guinea, and the western part of the Solomon Islands.

It officially came into existence on March 30, 1942, when US Admiral Chester Nimitz was appointed Supreme Allied Commander Pacific Ocean Areas.[1] In the other major theater in the Pacific region, known as the South West Pacific theatre, Allied forces were commanded by US General Douglas MacArthur. Both Nimitz and MacArthur were overseen by the US Joint Chiefs and the Western Allies Combined Chiefs of Staff (CCoS).

Most Japanese forces in the theater were part of the Combined Fleet (連合艦隊, Rengō Kantai) of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), which was responsible for all Japanese warships, naval aircraft, and marine infantry units. The Rengō Kantai was led by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, until he was killed in an attack by U.S. fighter planes in April 1943.[2] Yamamoto was succeeded by Admiral Mineichi Koga (1943–44)[2] and Admiral Soemu Toyoda (1944–45).[3] The General Staff (参謀本部, Sanbō Honbu) of the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) was responsible for Imperial Japanese Army ground and air units in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. The IJN and IJA did not formally use joint/combined staff at the operational level, and their command structures/geographical areas of operations overlapped with each other and those of the Allies.

In the Pacific Ocean theater, Japanese forces fought primarily against the United States Navy, the U.S. Army, which had 6 Corps and 21 Divisions, and the U.S. Marine Corps, which had only 6 Divisions. The United Kingdom (British Pacific Fleet), New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and other Allied nations, also contributed forces.

Major campaigns and battles

Pacific Theater

Attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941[4]

Battle of Wake Island 7–23 December 1941[5]

Philippines campaign (1941–1942) 8 December 1941 – 8 May 1942

Doolittle Raid 18 April 1942[4]

Battle of Midway 4–7 June 1942[4]

Guadalcanal campaign 7 August 1942 to 9 February 1943

Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign 1943–44

Makin Island raid 17–18 August 1942[6]

Battle of Tarawa 20 November 1943[4]

Battle of Makin 20–23 November 1943

Battle of Kwajalein 14 February 1944[7]

Battle of Eniwetok 17 February 1944[8]

Attack on Truk Island 17–18 February 1944

Mariana and Palau Islands campaign 1944

Battle of Saipan 15 June 1944[9]

Battle of the Philippine Sea 19–21 June 1944[10]

Battle of Guam 21 July 1944[11]

Battle of Tinian 24 July 1944[11]

Battle of Peleliu 15 September 1944[12]

Battle of Angaur 17 September 1944[12]

Battle of Leyte 17 October 1944

Battle of Luzon 9 January 1945

Battle of Iwo Jima 19 February 1945[4]

Battle of Okinawa 1 April 1945[4]

North Pacific Theater

Aleutian Islands Campaign 1942–43

Battle of the Komandorski Islands 26 March 1943[4]

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


    Pacific Ocean theater of World War II Citations

  1. Cressman 2000, p. 84.
  2. Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 717.
  3. Potter & Nimitz 1960, pp. 759–60.
  4. Silverstone 1968, pp. 9–11.
  5. Potter & Nimitz 1960, pp. 651–62.
  6. Kafka & Pepperburg 1946, p. 185.
  7. Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 751.
  8. Ofstie 1946, p. 194.
  9. Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 761.
  10. Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 765.
  11. Potter & Nimitz 1960, p. 770.
  12. Ofstie 1946, p. 275..

    Pacific Ocean theater of World War II Bibliography:

  • Cressman, Robert J. (2000), The Official Chronology of the U.S. Navy in World War II, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, ISBN 1-55750-149-1.
  • Drea, Edward J. (1998), In the Service of the Emperor: Essays on the Imperial Japanese Army, NB: University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 0-8032-1708-0.
  • Hakim, Joy (1995), A History of Us: War, Peace and All That Jazz, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-509514-6.
  • Kafka, Roger; Pepperburg, Roy L. (1946), Warships of the World, New York: Cornell Maritime Press.
  • Miller, Edward S. (2007), War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897–1945, US Naval Institute Press, ISBN 978-1-59114-500-4.
  • Ofstie, Ralph A. (1946). The Campaigns of the Pacific War. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office..
  • Potter, E. B.; Nimitz, Chester W. (1960), Sea Power, Prentice-Hal.
  • Silverstone, Paul H. (1968), U.S. Warships of World War II, Doubleday & Co.
  • Toll, Ian W. (2011). Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941–1942. New York: W. W. Norton.
  • The Conquering Tide: War in the Pacific Islands, 1942–1944. New York: W. W. Norton.
  • Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944–1945. New York: W. W. Norton.

    Fifth Air Force Bibliography:

  • Bartsch, William H. Doomed at the Start: American Pursuit Pilots in the Philippines, 1941–1942. Reveille Books, 1995. ISBN 0-89096-679-6.
  • Birdsall, Steve. Flying Buccaneers: The Illustrated History of Kenney's Fifth Air Force. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1977. ISBN 0-385-03218-8.
  • Craven, Wesley F. and James L. Cate. The Army Air Forces in World War II. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948–58.
  • Holmes, Tony. "Twelve to One": V Fighter Command Aces of the Pacific. Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-84176-784-0.
  • Rust, Kenn C. Fifth Air Force World War II. Temple City, California: Historical Aviation Album, 1973. ISBN 0-911852-75-1.

    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