Douglas C-47 Skytrain
The C-47 transport, commonly referred to as "Gooney Bird," was one of four
weapons singled out by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower as the most instrumental in helping the
US win World War II. (The others were the bazooka, the jeep, and the atomic bomb.) The C-
47 (also next C-53
, C-84, R4D) was adapted from the DC-3
Dakota commercial airliner and was used to carry personnel and cargo, tow gliders (usually
one Waco CG-4A), and drop paratroopers.
Having great longevity, it was also used in Korea and in Vietnam, where it took on
additional roles of attack as the AC-47 "Spooky" gunship and for psychological
warfare missions. The need to take supplies over the Himalayas led to the C-47B version
with higher horsepower engines. Among the unusual variants of the C-47 was one where the
engines were removed and it was converted into a glider and another that was equipped with
floats. The C-47 towed gliders and dropped 4,381 paratroopers in the invasion of Sicily on
July 10, 1943; C-47 crews dropped 60,000 paratroopers and towed several thousand CG-4
gliders at Normandy on June 6, 1944.
C-47s were used extensively in the Berlin airlift. In one notable action in Korea, C-47
crews flew 4,689 casualties out of the Chosin Reservoir area in five days. In Vietnam, the
AC-47 gunships effectively suppressed enemy ground forces and picked up the secondary
nickname of "Puff, the Magic Dragon." On February 24, 1969, while flying in a
AC-47, A1C John L. Levitow, stunned and wounded by shrapnel, flung himself on an
activated, smoking magnesium flare, dragged himself and the flare to the open cargo door,
and tossed the flare out of the aircraft. For saving his fellow crew members and the
gunship, he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
AC-47s were replaced by AC-119s and AC-130s, and the last C-47 was retired from the Air
Force in 1975.
|General characteristics C-47
||Douglas Aircraft Co.
||Two Pratt&Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder, twin-
row radials engines
||2x 1,250 HP
||2x 932 kW
||987 sq ft
||91.69 sq m
||9,920 lb (4,500 kg) or 28 seats.
||December 17, 1935
||10,654 incl. civilian models, plus approx 2,500 aircraft
license-built in Japan and the Soviet Union (8,882).
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