The C-47 dakota

 
Histoire Aviation

The C-47 was put to use by US armed forces immediately on America's
entry to the war. The Naval Air Transport Service was established just
a few days after Pearl Harbor, and would make extensive use of the
type. The USAAF Air Transport Command was formed in the middle of 1941,
and also proved an enthusiastic user.

 

c47_dakota

The C-47's most prominent claim to fame in World War II combat was in
support of airborne assaults, mostly under the umbrella of the USAAF
Troop Carrier Command and the British Royal Air Force (RAF) Transport
Command. The RAF Transport Command found them far superior for
parachute assaults than the hand-me-down Whitley bombers and other
obsolescent aircraft they had been using as stopgaps. 59 Dakotas were
also supplied to the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) to
service regular transport routes.

 


Although the British dropped a brigade of paratroops into North Africa with the Dakota in November 1942, the C-47's first large-scale introduction to combat was in July 1943, when Dakotas dropped about 4,000 paratroopers and glider troops in support of the Allied invasion of Sicily. This was followed by the massive airdrops in support of the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, with 1,000 C-47s providing the backbone of the airlift capacity and delivering 60,000 paratroops and equipment in 60 hours.


The C-47 was used extensively in Burma, with the aircraft providing supply for Orde Wingate's Chindit commandos operating behind enemy lines during the winter of 1942:1943. Other C-47s flew the Hump from India to China and back, carrying a total of 590,000 tonnes (650,000 tons) of supplies in all. These flights were often difficult due to severe winds, weather, and deep cold temperatures, not to mention enemy action. During one of these flights, a C-47 was attacked by a Japanese Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar fighter. The lightly armed Oscar was not able to fatally damage the sturdy C-47, and either in clumsiness or suicidal determination the fighter actually rammed the transport. The Oscar lost a wing and fell to earth. The C-47, with a great hole torn in its roof, returned to base.


Even when severely damaged, a C-47 could make a relatively safe wheels-up landing, because its main gear did not fully retract and took up some of the load. The "taildragger" configuration of the aircraft was also an advantage for rough-field operation, since having the aircraft's center of gravity behind the main wheels meant that the C-47 had less of a tendency to pitch forward when riding over obstructions, and also kept the engines and cockpit riding high above dust and debris.


As the war tilted increasingly against the Axis, the C-47 was in the front lines. In addition to relatively small airdrops in Italy, Greece, and the Philippines, the C-47 also conducted large airdrops during the invasion of southern France in August 1944; the assault on Arnhem in the Netherlands in September 1944, where Dakota pilots distinguished themselves in determined attempts to resupply surrounded British paratroops under severe enemy anti-aircraft fire; during the Rhine crossing in March 1945; and in offensive operations in Burma in March and May 1945.


The Rhine crossing, codenamed OPERATION VARSITY, was the largest airborne operation in history. It involved two divisions and 1,700 transport aircraft. Participants describe the air fleet as shadowing the ground beneath, and the drops as filling the sky with parachutes.
* Although airborne assault was the C-47's greatest claim to fame, it was an excellent "flying truck" and performed almost every imaginable transport task, from ferrying critical cargoes, evacuating wounded, dropping supplies to resistance groups, and even ferrying a V-1 jet flying bomb back from Poland. A number of Dakotas were unsurprisingly used as VIP transports, in a few recorded cases transporting the British Royal family, and both General Dwight Eisenhower and British Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery used the Dakota as their personal transport.


Some uses of the aircraft were imaginative. In June 1943, an RAF Dakota Mark I towed a Waco transport glider over the Atlantic as a means of increasing transatlantic cargo lift capacity. The experiment was a success, but there was no follow-up to the concept. Allied forces in also developed procedures where a C-47 could "hook" an empty glider from a drop zone and return it to base for re-use.

 

 

Category : Histoire Aviation

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Comments (1)

  1. rené roberge dit :

    j,aime beaucoup le me262 .je le vole sur mon combat flight simulateur .j.,aime moins le c47parce que je le trouve trop lourd a maneuvrer.

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