One of the most famous airplanes ever built, the "Skytrain", more commonly called the "Gooney Bird", saw action in three wars - something only a handful of aircraft can claim. Other nicknames that stuck on this Douglas product were: Dakota, Dizzy Three and Spooky.
Used in every theater of the war, the C-47 was the backbone of the USAAF transport service. The Gooney Bird flew in the heat and the humidity of the Pacific to the frozen steppes of the Soviet Union. Not only did it simply carry cargo, it was the standard glider tug from 1942 onwards, playing a critical role in Operations Overlord - the invasion of France in 1944.
During the first two months of the battle for Guadalcanal, Allied forces there were depended on the C-47 for all fuel, bombs and small arms ammunition, which were flown in from bases 650 miles away. On return flights the C-47 often carried seriously injured Marines to the rear for additional medical treatment. During the Japanese invasion of Burma, one pilot reportedly crammed over 70 refugees into a Gooney Bird and flew them to safety.
This versatile aircraft also was the first weather reconnaissance aircraft to fly. It was used for photo reconnaissance , electronic warfare and as the platform for he first gunship, appearing in South Vietnam in the early 1960s.
Called "Puff, the Magic Dragon", the AC-47 could put a 20mm slug in every square foot of a football field with a 3-second burst from its three electrically operated miniguns.
|Jeff Slosson did not agree with the math: "Puff" had 3 Gatling guns in it which could each fire 6,000 per minute. That's 100 rounds per gun per second. Three guns could fire 300 rounds per second total and a 3 second burst from all 3 guns at the same time would put the number of rounds at 900 per second. As noted in a copy of your article, you state that: the AC-47 could put a 20mm slug in every square foot of a football field with a [which I assume to mean a single, or one] 3-second burst from its three . . . mini-guns. A football field has about 16,000 square feet (or about 5,333 yards) on the playing surface alone. In other words, it would take almost 18 3-second burst from the Dragon to cover every foot of a football field; or a single burst of about 54 seconds.|
|In another reaction I received: |
"Was reading the description about the minigun and its firing capability on the webpage for the AC-47. Interesting to note that the statement said 20mm slugs...
Actually, it is pretty well known that the AC-47 fired 7.62 mm slugs - every fifth one a tracer."
former crewchief, AC-47D S/N 43-49211,
Danang AB, RVN [1968-1969]
DC-3As and DCT-As commandeered from United Air Lines and 3 taken from the production line.
The DST-A were Pullman conversions of the DC-3, equipped with sleeping platforms that were used for overnight flights. These 36 impressed aircraft flew either as staff transports or as air ambulances.
C-48 (41-7681): one DC-3A intended for United Airlines, a 21-seater powered with 2 R-1830-82s
C-48A 41-7682/3/4): three impressed DC-3As, with R-1830-82 engines and 18-seat interiors
C-48B: sixteen impressed DST-A, 15 from United Airlines and one from Northwest Airlines, with R-1830-51 engines, 16-seat interiors, used as air ambulances. (42-38324 thru -38326, 42-56089 thru -56091, 42-56098 thru -56102, 42-56609 thru -56612, 42-56629)
C-48C: sixteen impressed DC-3As, with R-1830-51 and 21-seat interiors. (42-38258 thru -38260, 42-38627, 42-38332 thru -38338, 42-78026 thru 78028, 42-52990 and 42-52991.
138 examples, commandeered by the military from airlines.
Most were standard DC-3, but a few were the DCT version. All were flying with civilian airlines when the government impressed them in 1942 and 1943 for use in the war effort.
Maximum payload: 3.950 pounds (upto 24 passengers).
14 examples, commandeered by the military from airlines.
These aircraft were "made available" from American, Central and Braniff Airlines to the Army Air Corps and put to use for the war effort.
The C-50, named by the AAC, was an early version of the DC-3 airliner; reconfigurations were carried out to fit them for the military task.
C-50-DO, ex/American Airlines
C-50A-DO, special seating for 28 troops
C-50B-DO, ex/Braniff Airlines
C-50C-DO, ex/PA Central Airlines (1)
C-50D-DO, ex/PA Central Airlines (modified for 28 troops)
Max payload: 3.727 pounds (28 passengers)
C-50 serial numbers:
41-7695 thru 41-7696
41-7697 thru 41-7700
41-7703 thru 41-7705
41-7709 thru 41-7713
Only one Gooney Bird to receive the designation C-51 (41-7702). Like the C-50, this aircraft was commandeered from Canadian Colonel Airlines.
The plane carried a starboard-side door, seating 28 combat troops and a pair of Wright R-1820-83 engines. The plane was configured for carrying of paratroopers. It seems uncertain if the aircraft in fact was used for this task in combat. Records have shown that it was taken off the Army Air Corps rolls in 1943.
This Gooney Bird variant was basically the same as the C-49, only with larger powerplants.
The C-52 was mostly used for paratrooper operations. Only 5 were procured, they were commandeered from United Air Lines, Western, Eastern and Swiftline Airlines.
Engines were Pratt & Whitney R-1830s.
C-52-DO, ex/UAL (starboard-side door, 28 seats)
C-52A-DO, ex/Western A/l
C-52C-DO, ex/Eastern (port-side door, 29 troops)
Serial numbers: 41-7701, 41-7706, 41-7708, 41-7714, 42-6505.
Of this variant 404 were purchased or impressed. They were called Dakota Is and this version was powered by Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 (1.200 hp) engines. It was primarily used as a troop transport and glider tug.
C-53 : basically a troop transport version of the C-47, with side seating for 28 troops and a port-side passenger door. But no large cargo door. Total of 219 of this version were delivered.
C-53B: winterized version of the C-53, with extra fuel capacity and separate navigator's station; 8 were built (42-20047/50, 42-20052, 42-20057/59)
C-53C: same as C-53, but with a larger port-side door; specialized as a troop transport and glider tug; 17 were built (43-2018 thru -2034)
C-53D: same as C-53C, but with a 24-volt electrical system. Total of 159 were built (42-68693 thru -68851)
VC-53A: executive transport (41-15873)
XC-53A: a single aircraft (42-6480), with full-span, slotted flaps and hot-air leading edge de-icing equipment
ZC-53: designation given to surviving C-53s in 1948
ZC-53D: designation given to surviving C-53Ds in 1948
Max.payload: 4.000 pounds (upto 42 passengers / 26 paratroopers)
C-47 on floats (WW2 footage on YouTube)