Dakota C47

The Aircraft On Display

The Dakota on display in the Museum is a C-47B, serial number A65-124. It was the last Dakota received by the RAAF, commencing in 1945. Since then, it has served in Papua New Guinea, Korea, Malaysia and Australia - including a 5 year stint patrolling the North West Coast of WA. The Museum took delivery of the aircraft on June 7th, 1981 and it was placed on display undercover on 17th September 1983.

Type / History

Type Military transport (C47) or commercial transport (DC3)
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
Maiden Flight DC 1 (forerunner to development of C47) 1st July 1933
Introduced US Army Air Corps - 1941
RAAF - 1943
Retired RAAF - 1999
Still in extensive use by civil operators
Primary users United States Army Air Force, US Air Force, RAF, RAAF
and many other air forces and airlines.
Number built US Manufacture 10,655 +
Soviet (Li-2) 4,937 +
Japanese (L2D) 487 = Total 16,079
Variants Lisunov Li-2, Showa L2D, R4D-8 "Super Dakota",
Basler BT-67 Turboprop

The Dakota was descended from the early DC-1, DC-2 and DC-3 series of Douglas transport aircraft. The first of these, the DC-1, was produced in prototype form only, flying first in July 1, 1933. It was a response to an airline need for an all-metal replacement for their existing wooden airliners, which had gained a poor safety record. I proved to be not only safer and more comfortable, but also much faster, setting a transcontinental flight time record of just over 13 hours.

The DC-1 carried only 12 passengers, while the version delivered to the airlines, the DC-2, could accommodate 14, and gained better performance still from more powerful engines.

Apart from its ground-greaking role in US airline service, it also featured in the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race from London to Melbourne, in which a Dutch KLM DC-2 finished second only to the purpose-built De Havilland Comet racer. The DC-2 also saw US wartime service, various versions receiving designations from C-32 to C-42, and was manufactured under licence in Japan as the Nakajima Ki-34.

The origins of the DC-3 lay in a request from American Airlines for an improved version of the DC-2. The resulting design was large enough to include sleeping accommodation and an in-flight kitchen, and its greater range gave it a big competitive advantage in transcontinental flights.

Over 400 DC-3s were ordered by US airlines before World War II. When the war arrived, it was logical for it to form the backbone of the USAAF Air Transport Command. Wartime Service The DC-3, taken into USAAF service as the C-47 and by the US Navy as the R4D, was also used by many other countries, both during and after the war. In RAF wartime service, it was named the Dakota, a name which has prevailed in common usage over the US name, "Skytrain". The RAAF took delivery of its first Dakotas in February 1943 (in all about 124 were procured), and the RCAF also flew them.

The Dakota served in all theatres of World War II, notably flying supplies to from India to China over the mountains, known as "The Hump", and ferrying paratroops to Europe as part of the 1944 D-day landings.

Licence-built versions were also made in the Soviet Union as the Lisunov Li-2 and (pre-war) Japan as the Showa L2D. Post-War Over 10,000 Dakotas were manufactured during the war. With the its end, the survivors became available to civilian operators at very low prices. Along with their reliability, this meant that (re-badged as DC-3s) they became the predominant airliner of the immediate post-war era. Within Australia, they were operated by every major airline: Qantas, Trans-Australia Airlines, Ansett Airlines, MacRobertson Miller Airlines, Airlines of NSW, Airlines of SA and East-West Airlines.

DC-3s remain in service, generally in limited forms of operation (for example, special joy flights), to this day.

Dakotas remained in military service for many years. The RAAF found many uses for the aging but versatile Dakota, and did not retire its last until March 1999. The CSIRO made good use of the aircraft in its research work, in studies such as the use of cloud seeding for rainmaking, and laser mapping of coastal water depths. Improvements / Adaptations With the large numbers of slowly-aging DC-3s and C-47s in service, there were many attempts to introduce aircraft as "DC-3 replacements". These included re-engineered DC-3s and C-47s.

The US Navy uprated its R4D versions with new wings, tail surfaces and engines, to generate the R4D-8, with an 87 mph (140 km/hr) improvement in cruising speed; these were proposed for commercial release, but without success. There have been many turboprop conversions as well, possibly the best being the Basler BT-67, with airframe reinforcements and upgraded avionics.

During the Vietnam war, the C-47 was used not only as a transport, but also as an electronic countermeasures aircraft (the EC-47) and an airborne machine gun post (the AC-47 "Spooky"). In both of these applications, its robustness and slow speeds gave it advantages over more modern aircraft.

General Characteristics

General characteristics

Crew: 3
Capacity: 28 troops
Payload: 6,000 lb (2,700 kg) of cargo
Length: 63 ft 9 in (19.43 m)
Height: 17 ft 0 in (5.18 m)
Wingspan 95 ft 6 in (29.11 m)
Powerplant: 2, Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90C "Twin Wasp" 14-cylinder radial engines,
1,200 hp (895 kW) each
Weight: empty 8040 kg (17,720 lb), loaded 12,200 kg (26,900 lb)


Maximum speed: 224 mph (195 knots, 360 km/h)
Cruising speed: 160 mph (140 knots, 260 km/h)
Range: 1,600 mi (1,400 nm, 2,600 km)
Service ceiling: 26,400 ft (8,050 m)