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Douglas Dakota C-47B

The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota (RAF designation) is a military transport aircraft developed from the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliner. It was used extensively by the Allies during World War II and variants remain in service with various operators.

During World War II, the armed forces of many countries used the C-47 and modified DC-3s for the transport of troops, cargo, and wounded. More than 10,000 aircraft were produced in Long Beach and Santa Monica, California and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA.

The C-47 was vital to the success of many Allied campaigns during World War II throughout Europe, Papua New Guinea, South Pacific, and South East Asia.

About 2,000 C-47s (received under lend-lease) in British and Commonwealth service took the name "Dakota", possibly inspired by the acronym "DACoTA" for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft. The C-47 also earned the informal nickname "gooney bird" in the European theatre of operations.

After World War II, thousands of surplus C-47s were converted to civil airline use. Almost 100 countries, including Australia, still or have operated one or more of the many C-47 configurations.

The following Royal Australian Air Force units operated Dakota aircraft, although there were additional smaller units that were issued specific airframes for specific roles or tasking. Aircraft Depots were the primary receiving (from manufacturer) and repairing units.

81 Wing 2 Squadron 37 Squadron
82 Wing 33 Squadron 38 Squadron
86 Wing 34 Squadron CFS
90 Wing 35 Squadron ARDU
91 Wing 36 Squadron

Dakota C-47B A65-86

A review of historical records indicates that Dakota A65-86 is the longest serving operational aircraft in the RAAF spanning over 53 years.

15 April 1945: Entered service with 35SQN at Amberley, QLD.

03 October 1946: Transferred to 36SQN.

1955 – 1956: Served with RAAF Transport Flight Japan.

1956 – 1965: Served with 86 Wing, 2 Air Trials Unit, Aircraft  Research and Development Unit (ARDU) and 10SQN.

1966 – 1975: Served with Central Flying School, East Sale, VIC.

1975 – 1998: Served with ARDU.

December 1998: Withdrawn from RAAF operational service.

16 November 1999: Last Flight - Transferred to Royal Australian Navy Historic Flight.

23 August 2017: Transferred to RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre.


Type: Cargo / Passenger aircraft
Crew: four (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, radio operator)
Capacity: 28 troops
Payload: 6,000 lb (2,700 kg)

2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90C Twin Wasp 14-cylinder radial engines, 1,200 hp (895 kW) each

Wing Span: 29.41m (95ft 6in)
Length: 19.43m (63ft 9in)
Height: 5.18m (17ft 0in)
Wing Area: 91.70m² (987ft²)

Empty: 8,226 kg (18,135 lb)
Loaded: 11,793 kg (26,000 lb)
Maximum Takeoff: 14,061 kg (31,000 lb)

Maximum Speed: 360 kph (224 mph)
Cruising Speed: 257 kph (160 mph)
Service Ceiling: 8,045m (26,400ft)
Range: 2,575 km (1,391nm)
Ferry Range: 5,795 km (3,130nm)
Climb to 3,050 m (10,000ft): 9.5 min

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