Specifications of DC-3 vs C-47

According to the history section of Boeing (which acquired the legacy corporation which had merged with the Douglas Aircraft Company), only 455 DC-3 commercial aircraft were actually built for the airlines. After making requested modifications to the DC-3 design, a further 10,174 aircraft were produced for the armed forces as the C-47 military transports during World War II.

The design specifications are slightly different as you will see in the chart below:

DC-3 C-47
Wingspan 95 feet 95 feet 6 inches
Length 64 feet 5.5 inches 63 feet 9 inches
Height 16 feet 3.6 inches 17 feet
Ceiling 20,800 feet 24,000 feet
Range 1,495 miles 1,600 miles
Weight 30,000 pounds 31,000 pounds
Power Plant 2 1,200 horsepower Wright Cyclone radial engines 2 1,200 horsepower Wright Cyclone radial engines
Speed 192 mph 160 mph
Accomodation 14 sleeper passengers, 21-28 day passengers, or 3,725-4,500 pounds freight 14 stretcher patients with 3 attendants, 28 airborne troops, or 6,000 pounds freight
Crew 3 3

[Source: Boeing]

C-47 Carried the Paratroopers On D-Day

Most of us are familiar with the C-47, or the Dakota as it was called by British and Commonwealth forces, because it’s the plane paratroopers jump out of in movies or longer productions about D-Day such as Band of Brothers. In the movie, A Bridge Too Far, about the British drop on Arnhem, there is a magnificent scene of C-47s rolling slowly to the runway then taking off.

These two photographs show C-47s during World War Two:

The pilot of a C-47 cargo transport crash lands safely after having dropped supplies to elements of the 101st Airborne Division which has successfully repulsed all attempts to capture the besieged city of Bastogne, Belgium. 30 Dec 1944 (US Army photo)
War Theatre #12 (France) – Douglas C-47 “Skytrains”, 12th Air Force Troop Carrier Wing, loaded with paratroopers on their way for the invasion of southern France, 15 August 1944. (US Air Force photo)

[Images courtesy of the US Air Force Website and the US Army Website.]

DC-3s Still Flying Passengers and Cargo in Colombia

I imagine you have heard as often as I have the expression, “they don’t make them like they used to.” Reading about the DC-3s still flying passengers and freight to out of the way parts of Colombia reminded me of this saying. The ones mentioned in this article in the Washington Post were probably built as C-47s, the military version of the DC-3, because so many more were produced. (British and Commonwealth forces named it the “Dakota”, an acronym based on DACoTA for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft.)

In the Washington Post article, I learned that some parts of Colombia are so inaccessible that one either has to take a river steamer to reach certain parts of the country, which can take weeks, or fly in a DC-3 over the impenetrable jungle and land on a dirt runway. Mechanics scavenge for parts and keep the engines functioning long after their projected design life. These are sturdy planes that’s for damn sure. I remember flying in one of these as a lad when very small airlines in the US like Southern and Piedmont and Republic still flew them. If you have never flown in one I can tell you that the noise from the engines is such that you can barely hear what the person next to you is saying.

If you want to hear what a DC-3 sounds like when it starts its engine, I’ve included a cool video below.

[Source: Washington Post.]