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Weapons of World War Two

Douglas C 47 Dakota

Douglas C 47 Dakota

The fame of the DC 3, the twin-engined transport aircraft projected by Douglas Aircraft Corporation in the 1930s, is so big that probably there would not be need for a presentation of this very famous aircraft. Devised by A. E. Raymond and E. F. Burton, the DC 3 effectuated its first flight the 22nd December 1935. It promptly showed itsel as an aircraft of excellent qualities, able of carrying a large load, fast, safe, of a foolproof robustness. For the rest, also its predecessor DC 2 had demonstrated its gifts in such sense. Regarding robustness, there is a curious anecdote which is worthy to recall. Few know that between the DC 2 and the DC 3 existed a DC 2 1/2.

The thing was like that: during the war a malfunctioning DC 3 performed an emergency landing. The last phase was specially unfortunate because, either due to the damages suffered or the fatigue and tension of the pilot, the aircraft hit the runway with one of its wings. The pilot managed to keep control, but the wing was completely destroyed. But the pilot and the crew had to leave immediately towards another location, and they decided to attempt a provisional reparation. But there was little to do. Finally arrived someone with the news that few kilometers from the landing point there was another aircraft, formerly damaged, from which maybe some piece could be taken.

Unfortunately, the aircraft was a DC 2, whose wings were substantially smaller, but the crew of the DC 3, with the strength of despair, decided to make an attempt. Disassembling the corresponding wing, they carried it to the accident site and replaced the broken one. The appearance of the ensemble had to be rather funny, for the wing of the DC 2 was about two meters shorter. However, the aircraft, renamed "on the way" as DC 2 1/2, took off normally, and after a very quiet flight it landed, this time happily, in the runway of its own base.

The DC 3, better known as "Dakota", was "militarized" at the beginning of the war, and the 500 exemplars in service with the American airlines were yielded to the Armed Forces and used with the denomination C 47 "Skytrain". The nickname "Dakota" would be born in the Royal Air Force, which would use about 2000 of them, of which 1300 were obtained with the Lend and Lease Act. This aircraft, which would be produced in 10123 exemplars, entered production even in Russia, which built about 2000 exemplars with the denomination Li 2 (after Engineer Boris Lisunov, who in practice reproduced "screw by screw" the C 47), and in Japan, which would build 487 exemplars of the Showa (name of the manufacturer company) L2D. These would differ from the original in the engines (Kinsei of national production, while the Russian copycats used the M 62, which were American Wright produced under license).

Let us observe now the C 47 in a more technical aspect. It was a twin-engined low-winged aircraft of entirely metallic construction. The landing gear, retractable, did not fully hide, but protruded partially outside the cavities located in the lower part of the engines bodywork. The floor of the stowage compartment was reinforced, and it could support the weight of two Jeeps, or 2725 kilograms of load, or 28 fully equipped soldiers, or even 18 wounded in stretcher along with three sanitarians.

The formula of this aircraft was so successful that the DC 3 spread worlwide in the postwar, and many airlines still used it decades after the war. Militarily speaking, the aircraft started to operate in the Spanish Civil War, where it served with both the "reds" and the "blues", and it ended its war cycle in Vietnam, where, armed with machine guns of very high rate of fire, it was in charge of "cleaning" from above the alleged refuges of the Viet Cong.

Douglas C 47 Dakota
Designer: Engineers A. E. Raymond and E. F. Burton

First flight: 22 December 1935 (C 47B)

Wingspan: 28.96 meters

Wing area: 91.70 square meters

Length: 19.63 meters (C 47B); 19.65 meters (C 53)

Height: 5.20 meters (C 47B); 5.16 meters (C 53)

Full load/Empty weight: 11805/7705 kilograms (C 47B); 13290/7388 kilograms (C 53)

Payload/Crew: 4100 kilograms/3 (C 47B); 5902 kilograms/3 (C 53)

Engines: Two Pratt and Whitney R-1830-92 of 1217 horsepower each

Cruising speed: 296 kilometers/hour (C 47B); 298 kilometers/hour (C 53)

Maximum speed: 368 kilometers/hour (C 47B); 338 kilometers/hour (C 53)

Service ceiling: 7076 meters (C 47B); 7346 meters (C 53)

Operational range: 2400 kilometers (C 47B); 2173 kilometers (C 53)

(a) The C 53 was the version for paratroopers and glider towing

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