Few aircraft are as well known, were so widely used or used as long as the C-47. Affectionately nicknamed the "Gooney Bird," this aircraft was adapted from the Douglas DC-3 commercial airliner. The U.S. Army Air Corps ordered its first C-47s in 1940, and by the end of World War II, procured a total of 9,348. These C-47s carried personnel and cargo around the globe. They also towed troop-carrying gliders, dropped paratroops into enemy territory, and air evacuated sick or wounded patients. A C-47 could carry 28 passengers, 18-22 fully equipped paratroopers, about 6,000 lbs. of cargo or 18 stretchers and three medical personnel.
After World War II, many C-47s remained in U.S. Air Force service, participating in the Berlin Airlift and other peacetime activities. During the Korean War, C-47s hauled supplies, dropped paratroops, evacuated wounded, and dropped flares for night bombing attacks. In the Southeast Asia War, the C-47 served again as a transport, but it also flew a variety of other missions, including ground attack as gunships, reconnaissance, and psychological warfare.
The C-47D on display, the last C-47 in routine USAF use, flew to the museum in 1975. It is painted and marked to represent the C-47A flown by 2nd Lt. Gerald "Bud" C. Berry of the 91st Troop Carrier Squadron, 439th Troop Carrier Group, to recover gliders used in the invasion of France on D-Day, June 6, 1944. "Snatched" from the ground in Normandy, the gliders were towed back to England for reuse. On March 22, 1945, Lt. Berry used that aircraft to "snatch" a glider filled with wounded soldiers at Remagen, Germany.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney R-1830s of 1,200 hp each Maximum speed: 232 mph Range: 1,513 miles
If a glider landed in a combat zone undamaged, a C-47 could tow it back to base to be reused for more flights. Gliders landing in small fields where C-47s could not land had to be disassembled and hauled out, which took time and manpower. Therefore, the U.S. Army Air Forces developed a way for a C-47 to fly low across the field with a hook and "snatch" a glider into the air.
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