C-54 Skymaster, U.S. Transport Aircraft

Photograph of C-54 Skymaster

U.S. Air Force

Douglas C-54A Skymaster


Dimensions       117'6" x 93'11" x 27'6"
35.81m by 28.63m by 8.38m
Wing area 1460 sq ft
136 sq m
Weight 37,300-68,000 lbs
16,900-31,000 kg
Maximum speed       275 mph at 14,000 feet
443 km/h at 4300 meters
Cruise speed 190 to 239 mph
306 to 385 km/h
Climb rate 17 fps
5.2 m/s
Service ceiling 22,500 feet
6860 meters
Powerplant 4 1350 hp (1007 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2000-7 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder radial engines driving three bladed propellers
Range 1500 miles (2400 km) loaded
3900 miles (6300 km) ferry at 190 mph (306 km/h)
50 troops
Production 1242 from 2/42 at Douglas Aircraft Company, Santa Monica, CA and Chicago, IL:
  24 C-54
  207 C-54A
  220 C-54B
  350 C-54D
  75 C-54E
  76 C-54G
Variants The C-54B had integral wing tanks and provisions for stretchers.
The C-54D had R-2000-11 engines.
The C-54E increased the fuel capacity.
The C-54G had 1450 hp R-2000-9 engines.

The C-54 was a slimmed down and simplified DC-4 taken over by the U.S. military. It could carry up to 50 passengers, though the unpressurized cabin must have made for an unpleasant trip. It had a strong floor and large freight door, 44 removable seats, and provisions for towing gliders. Large flaps and a tricycle gear made it possible to operate this aircraft off of ordinary military runways.

The DC-4 was first prototyped as a 52-seat pressurized commercial passenger aircraft, but it was judged too large and expensive for the market. The aircraft was redesigned as the 42-seat unpressurized DC-4A, of which 24 were in production for civilian airlines when war broke out. The Air Force commandeered the production line and the first units, which went into service unchanged from the commercial configuration. The aircraft proved extremely reliable in operation, with just 3 aircraft lost in 80,000 ocean crossings.

About 23 went to the British, and Churchill used one as his official transport. The U.S. Navy designated it the R5D.

About 30% of C-54 crews were deployed against Japan.


Gunston (1988)

Wilson (1998)

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