C-47 Skytrain Wartime Piloting

by Herbert Holeman, Colonel, USA(Ret)

C-47 Skytrain Photo

Compared to previous aircraft, the C-47 revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. It was fast, had a good range and could operate from short runways. Its construction was all-metal and had a wingspan of 95 feet, a length of 64 feet 5 inches. The aircraft had a cruise speed of 155 miles per hour and a range of 1,600 miles with a normal payload of 5,000 pounds. It was powered by two 1,200-horsepower Pratt and Whitney radial engines.
C-47 Skytrain Photo
The aircraft's first flight was in 1935, and from January 1942 to the summer of 1945, 10,000 C47's were produced for the war effort. The aircraft designation (C-47) consists of a letter indicating the type / mission of the aircraft. Hence, C = Cargo transport and 47 = Sequence number for U.S. Army Air Force cargo transport aircraft.


For U.S. Army Air Force Training Films on pilot cockpit procedures flying the C-47 Troop Carrier Airplane for paratrooper operations.

Click here for Part One
Click here for Part Two
Click here for Part Three

Click here for a pilot telling his story during Normandy D-Day. He flew in a 2,000 plane formation at 1,500 feet, and encountered heavy flak when decending to drop the paratroopers at 600 feet, and on the two-hour return flight to England.

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