Note: This aircraft is located in the Presidential Gallery on a controlled-access portion of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The gallery will close until further notice beginning May 1, 2013, as part of budget reduction requirements due to sequestration.
The VC-118 was a military variation of the Douglas DC-6 commercial airliner. In 1947 USAAF officials ordered the 29th production DC-6 to be modified as a replacement for the aging VC-54C Sacred Cow presidential aircraft. It differs from the standard DC-6 configuration in that the aft fuselage was converted into a stateroom; the main cabin seated 24 passengers or could be made up into 12 "sleeper" berths. The VC-118 was formally commissioned into the AAF on July 4, 1947, and was nicknamed Independence for the President Harry Truman's hometown in Missouri. Probably the plane's most historic flight occurred when it carried President Truman to Wake Island in October 1950 to discuss the Korean situation with Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Beginning in 1951, the USAF purchased 165 C-118A "Liftmasters" that were about six feet longer than the Independence. C-118As played a key role in "Operation Safe Haven" when 14,000 Hungarian refugees were airlifted to the United States in 1956-1957.
In May 1953, after nearly six years of White House service, the Independence was retired as a presidential aircraft and subsequently served several Air Force organizations as a VIP transport.
The aircraft was retired for display at the museum in 1965. In 1977-1978 museum personnel restored Independence to its former presidential markings and eagle-like paint scheme.
Span: 117 ft. 6 in. Length: 100 ft. 7 in. Height: 28 ft. 5 in. Weight: 93,200 lbs. maximum Armament: None Engines: Four Pratt & Whitney R-2800s of 2,400 hp each (with water injection) Cost: $1,180,000 Serial number: 46-505
PERFORMANCE: Maximum speed: 360 mph Cruising speed: 320 mph Range: 4,400 miles Service ceiling: 31,200 ft.