Category Archives: C-47/Dakota Military

Almost Indestructible

By Henry M.. Holden

Almost 75 years after the DC-3/C-47 was first built, its his­tory is a long way from being completed. Stories continue to surface about the almost indestructible Gooney Bird aka C-47, Dakota, or DAK. Years after its opera­tional life was theoretically over, the Gooney Bird continued to see military operational service in some parts of the world. South Africa was no exception.

Over the years, incidents involv­ing C-47/Dakotas have proven be­yond a doubt its indestructibility and survivability. Continue reading

Birth of the AC-47 Gunship

By Henry M. Holden

 The airborne gunship was a totally new weapons system. Gunships are generally considered side-firing airborne weapons platforms. The concept of the gunship originated in 1926 with a .30-caliber Lewis machine gun mounted on the wing of a de Havilland DH-4 It flew “pylon turns” to keep the gun on target.

Stories of a missionary who had been able to air-deliver mail and supplies to remote villages by lowering them in a weighted pouch. The pouch remained stationary over a point on Earth at the end of a long rope as he flew pylon turns around the point. The straight line of the rope could translate into a straight line of gunfire at a single point on Earth if the gunship were flown in a similar pylon turn Continue reading

Air Transport Command

In the early days of   World War II, prior to the U.S. becoming a combatant, DC-3s and some DC-2s   were used to survey “airway routes” that later military transports   would use to move troops and materials.On June 26, 1941,   Pan American Airways contracted with the U.S. government to establish a ferry   service and air transport service from Miami to the Middle East, the west coast of Africa and on to Khartoum. Continue reading

Super DC-3

By the late 1940s, the airlines were now losing money on the DC-3. The question was how long the airlines could wait before replacing it. Many reasoned the DC-3 had to wear out soon; after all, it was more than 20 years old. In addition, another pressing problem forced Douglas to look for a DC-3 replacement. Continue reading


Long before the U.S. was involved in the Vietnam War, the C‑47 was performing a vital role for the French Air Force. Continue reading

Russian Li-2


To relieve the pressure on the factory, Douglas sold the licenses to manufacture the DC-3 to three countries; Holland, Japan, and Russia. A royalty paid to Douglas for each aircraft manufactured was part of the license agreement. Tony Fokker never manufactured any DC-3s for Holland, but he distributed 63 before the war in Europe ended his operation. Fokker died of pneumonia complicated by meningitis a week before Germany invaded Holland.

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Puff the Magic Dragon

The USAF became involved in Vietnam in early January, 1953 when it sent teams of mechanics to help the French maintain their C-47s, some of which were from US Air Force reserve stocks. When France yielded independence to Vietnam in February 1955, a small air force was formed with two squadrons of C-47s in the southern half of the country. Continue reading

Operation High-Jump

By Henry M. Holden

The Navy was involved with much of the Aleutians flying operations and the R4Ds were subjected to weather conditions of 50 below zero, where salt water exposure caused engine, airframe, skin and hydraulic problems. Oil became as thick as molasses, grease froze, and rubber hoses crystallized, shattering like glass. But the crews learned how to winterize the rugged Douglas and it continued to fly. Continue reading