Douglas Dakota C-47

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Douglas Dakota C-47
RAAF A65-89.jpg
RAAF photo
Type Douglas Dakota C 47-B
Role Military transport aircraft
Designer Douglas Aircraft
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
Produced Long Beach, Santa Monica, and Oklahoma City
Number built 10,174
Primary users USAF, RAF, USN, RCAF.
In service December 1941


102 countries have operated C-47 Skytrains in their various forms, developed from the earlier DC-3. They could carry 27 soldiers and their equipment. Alternatively when acting as aerial ambulances, they could accommodate 18 stretcher cases, along with a medical crew of three. Known by British Commonwealth forces as the Dakota, it was also known in the European theatre as the "gooney bird".

During WW2 the Dakota participated in many military campaigns, including Guadalcanal, and in the jungles of Burma and New Guinea. It flew supplies to encircled American forces in the Battle of Bastogne, and they 'flew the hump" with supplies from India to China. After the war it was used during the Berlin Airlift, playing a major role until replaced by DC-54 Skymasters.

Post war, the aircraft remained in use by US forces until 1967, and the US Air Forces 6th Special Operations Squadron retained them until 2008. Thousands of surplus C-47s were converted to civilian use, with some operational until 2012. Reconditioned aircraft participated in the Vietnam War, most famously the variant that was equipped as a gunship and known as "Spooky" or "Puff the magic dragon", equipped with three 7.62 mm miniguns.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 4 (pilot, co-plot, navigator, radio operator)
  • Length: 19.43m
  • Wingspan: 29.11m
  • Height: 5.18m
  • Empty weight: 8,226 kg
  • Max takeoff weight: 14,061 kg
  • Powerplant: 2 x Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp 14 cylinder air cooled engines
  • Maximum speed: 360 km/h at 3,000m
  • Range: 2,600 km
  • Service ceiling: 8,000m

Crew Members

Ground Crew

Individual Aircraft

Douglas Dakota C47 A65-89 was constructed under a USAAF Contract. It was the 7th of 10 C-47B Aircraft delivered from USA to Australia in April 1945. Renumbered and given call sign VH-RFF on 6 Apr 45, she joined No. 35 Squadron RAAF on 16 Apr 1945. Squadron Leader A.W Page flew the first of several missions to Singapore on 25 August 1945. Transferred to No. 36 Sqn RAAF from No. 35 Sqn RAAF on 12 Apr 1946, it was involved in an accident at 0830hrs on 25 Jun 1945 at Noha, Okinawa when the aircraft experienced engine problems and made a emergency landing there. Crew were not injured.

Transferred to No. 386 Squadron DAP Parafield from No. 36 Squadron RAAF on 10 Dec 46. At Sale on 19 Oct 1951 it was fitted out as a Navigational Trainer. Her Navigation Equipment was transferred to A65-30 on 14 Sep 1955.

Involved in an accident, at 0240Hrs 29Nov 1958, at East Sale Victoria when the aircraft, after taking off, crashed when flown by an unauthorised pilot. LAC Harold Vincent Pocock, an Engine Mechanic, being the only occupant, died in the crash.

Singapore to Labuan to Morotai to Townsville to Brisbane. 24-30 September 1945