The C-46 was developed from the new and unproven commercial aircraft design, the CW-20, which first flew in March 1940. Deliveries of AAF C-46s began in July 1942 for the Air Transport Command and Troop Carrier Command. During World War II, the USAAF accepted 3,144 C-46s for hauling cargo and personnel and for towing gliders. Of this total, 1,410 were C-46Ds.
The C-46 gained its greatest fame during WWII transporting war materials over the "Hump" from India to China after the Japanese had closed the Burma Road. C-46 flights on the treacherous air route over the Himalayas began in May 1943. The Commando carried more cargo than the famous C-47 and offered better performance at higher altitudes, but under these difficult flying conditions, C-46s required extensive maintenance and had a relatively high loss rate. In Europe, C-46s dropped paratroopers during the aerial crossing of the Rhine River near Wesel in March 1945. C-46s saw additional service during the Korean War.
The C-46D on display is painted as a C-46 flying the Hump in 1944. This aircraft was retired from USAF service in Panama in 1968 and was flown to the museum in 1972.
Engines: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800s of 2,000 hp each
Maximum speed: 245 mph
Cruising speed: 175 mph
Range: 1,200 miles
Ceiling: 27,600 ft.
Span: 108 ft.
Length: 76 ft. 4 in.
Height: 22 ft.
Weight: 51,000 lbs. maximum
Serial number: 44-78018
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