Douglas C-47/R4D Dakota IV
(military version of DC-3)
Preserved Dakota in D-Day markings

Dakota Trust,  Reading, Berkshire UK


The Amerian built Douglas C- 47 Dakota was adapted from the DC-3 Dakota commercial airliner. It was named the Douglas C-47 Skytrain by the US Army, designated the R4D by the USN, and was commonly referred to as "Gooney Bird" by American troops.

It was one of the most successfull aircraft designed and built, and had great longevity. The last C-47 was retired from the American Air Force in 1975. The type was praised by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower amongst the most important instruments of victory in WWII. More than 13,300 of the DC-3 and C-47s in all its forms were built - this included Japanese and Soviet production.

Prime use of this aircraft was for transport, but also for reconnaissance or even as gunships by the Americans.  It was commonly used to carry personnel and cargo, tow gliders (usually one Waco CG-4A), and drop paratroopers. The need to take supplies over the Himalayas led to the C-47B version with higher horsepower engines. Among the unusual variants of the C-47 was one where the engines were removed and it was converted into a glider and another that was equipped with floats.

Only two Dakota IV saw service with the Fleet Air Arm in WW2, although the type was in service with the FAA later in 1945 and into 1946. FD904 served with 782 Northern Communication Squadron in 1944, which linked the Scottish RN air stations with Lee-on-Solent. At the Fleet Air Arm station at Wingfield in South Africa, 789 squadron, a Fleet Requirements Unit, possessed one Dakota from February 1945 until it disbanded in November 1945, when the aircraft was transferred to 799 squadron at Wingfield.

Post war Dakota KP222 was on loan to 781X Flight from BAFO Communications Wing by November 1945. This latter aircraft had left for B156 Luneberg in May 1946.

           Fleet Air Arm history

Total FAA 1939-1945:           2
First delivered to RN:            1944
First squadron 1939-1945:      782 sqdn in 1944, 789 sqdn from February 1945 and 781X Flight by 11.1945
Operational squadrons:           None
Last served with RN              1946
Aircraft Type:
Douglas C-47 Dakota
Primary Role:
Transport communications
First Flight: 
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
Two 880kW Pratt &Whitney R-1830-90
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wing Span: 29.11m Length: 19.43m Height: 5.18m Wing Area: 91.69m
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
Empty Weight: 8256kg Max.Weight: 11794kg



Speed: 368km/h Ceiling: 7100m Range: 2400km
Freight: 4500kg or 28 seats.
781, 782, 789,799
Battle honours:
None with the FAA
Additional references and notes:

Battle Honours and Operational History

The Dakota saw no action with the Fleet Air Arm in WW2.

The type was involved in various theatres around the world with the allies. The Dakota  towed gliders and dropped 4,381 paratroopers in the invasion of Sicily in July, 1943, and Dakota crews dropped 60,000 paratroopers and towed several thousand CG-4 gliders at Normandy on 6 June, 1944, and again subsequently in the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944 when one Dakota pilot, Flt Lt Lord RAF, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

The Dakota was also pressed into service with the German Luftwaffe, one renowned example NA-LA was requisitioned as the personal hack of General Christiansen, military head of the German occupying Forces of the Netherlands.

Surviving aircraft and relics
Since the Dakota only retired from the military forces in the 1970s many abound worldwide and are even still serving with a few civil airlines. The last US Navy R4D was phased out of service in 1976, but many commercial versions of the DC-3 remain in use throughout the world.

The complete list is too numerous to list here (more information would be available from the list of associations below inparticular Oldprops DC3 Census for Douglas Dakota survivors. As of December 1, 1999:  There are a total of 597 DC-3 type aircraft listed in the US Federal Aviation Administration database for the USA only. This compared to 590 in July 1999. However, there are no details of the whereabouts of the single Fleet Air Arm aircraft.

Preserved Military versions of the Dakota which saw service with the British and Commonwealth forces include examples at the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain       Flight (UK), the Imperial War Museum - Duxford (UK) and the Aviation Heritage Museum of Western Australia, the Bull Creek Collection (Australia).

Douglas C47 Dakota with D-Day invasion markings

Dakota C47B Preserved P2-ANQ/Bu27110 personal mount of General Montgomery 1940s

Perhaps one of the most historically significant British Dakota is the preserved Dakota C47B-20-DK (DC3) P2-ANQ/VH-SBW/BuAer 27110, with the markings "Larry Blackman", was originally presented to General Bernard Montgomery by the American Supreme Commander, General Dwight Eisenhowser in the war. Bu27110 is is perched on display outside the Air Niugini Head Office at Jackson's airport, Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea).  It was mounted there as a monument to all the airmen who have given their lives flying in Papua New Guinea. P2-ANQ was built in 1943 as a 26 seat VIP transport for the United States Army Aircorps and sent to the United Kingdom as a lend-lease aircraft. The plane was presented to General Montgomery "Monty" by General Eisenhowser, and subsequently Monty used the aircraft extensively throughout the European campaign during the last years of the Second World War. After the war the aircraft was put into service as a personal VIP carrier for Greek shipping magnate, Stavos Niachos.  TAA - Trans Australian Airlines (now merged with QANTAS) bought the aircraft in 1965 and registered it as VH-SBW for service in Papua New Guinea.

For a wide selection of photographs of preserved Dakotas around the world see the website Douglas DC3/C47/C117)

Current commercially operational and airworthy Dakotas include:

Four Star Air Cargo is the only scheduled, all cargo airline directly linking the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, San Juan, and Miami, since 1982. Our reliable fleet of DC-3 cargo aircraft provides dependable, on-time service for all air cargo needs, including perishables and hazardous materials. Four Star Aviation, One Air Cargo Center, Cyril E. King Airport, St. Thomas, V.I. 000802

Air Atlantique Ltd maintains a fleet of Douglas Dakota's for pollution control at Coventry Airport (UK). Air Atlantique are one of the world's foremost companies in the field of airborne marine pollution control and surveillance. Air Atlantique's customers have included the UK Department of Transport, the Environment Agency, the Natural Environment Research Council, the National Remote Sensing Centre, the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and Qatar, several major oil companies and the Marine Spill Response Corporation of the USA.

Saber Cargo Airlines, Inc., 4825 Express Drive, Charlotte, NC 28208, USA. Saber Cargo Airlines was certificated in 1991. Since the Summer of 1991 Saber, the only large airplane airline headquartered in Charlotte, has grown continually and
operates a fleet of aircraft including DC-3Cs, Falcon 20s, and a JetRanger helicopter.

Air Atlantique, Coventry (UK) part of Air Atlantique Group maintains a Fleet of 10 Dakota C47 for pollution control duties.Air Atlantique are one of the worlds foremost companies in the field of airborne marine pollution control and surveillance.

Basler Turbo Conversions, LLC of Oshkosh, Wisconsin (USA)   Proud manufacturers of the 30+ Basler Turbo Conversions, LLC BT-67 DC3 Turbine conversions sold throughout the world and a one stop shopping resource for your DC3/C47 parts needs.  See how the DC3 is reborn using our FAA approved conversion process.

Fly a Dakota

Dream Flight: Your dream of flying vintage, historic aircraft becomes a reality", Mission Viejo, Ca, USA

South Coast Airways, Bournmouth International Airport, UK

Fly the only airworthy former naval aviation Dakota in the world, The US Navy R4D-6 50819 of the Mid Atlantic Air Museum, PA (USA). The big Douglas R4D-6 was acquired as the Mid Atlantic Air Museumís first aircraft in May,
1981. After a long career with the Navy and then with the FAA, the aircraft was offered as surplus in 1980. Built as an R4D-6 for the US Navy at Kansas City, it came off the assembly line during November 1944. The R4D received USN Bureau number 50819 and was immediately assigned to the Naval Air Transport Service, Squadron VR-2, at Norfolk, Va. "819" served in the "Pool", shared by Quonset Point, RI, and Norfolk before being outfitted as an Admiralís ship. Records indicate the aircraft also served at Olathe; San Diego; Memphis; Barbers Point, HI, and at Lakehurst, NJ, acquiring a low 7000 hours before being retired at the Navyís Litchfield Park storage facility in 1959.

Associations and reunions
  • Douglas DC-3/Dakota Historical Society
  • The Douglas DC-3/Dakota Owner & Operator Association
  • Dakota Air Corporation
  • The Dakota Trust
  • The Dakota Trust (UK)
  • The Foundation Dakota Norway
  • Friends of the DC-3 England Headquarters: John & Maureen Woods
  • Warbird Dakota Society, Ardmore Airport, Auckland NZ
  • Dutch Dakota Association
  • DC-3 Forum
    The Douglas DC-3/Dakota Owner & Operator Association
    The Douglas DC-3/Dakota Owner-Operator Association was organized by Air Care International,Inc. a 501(c)(3) non-profit,
    humanitarian, aviation organization. The Association is organized to promote, through education, continued safe operations of the historic Douglas DC-3/Dakota. Site includes Magazine, Links,  "Association" Group insurance, List of DC-3 Owners & Operators, Where to train in the DC-3/Douglas, List of commercial operators
    Canadian air aces by M Constable  General information profile of the aircraft. 
    Douglas DC-3/Dakota Historical Society  Details of the DC-3 and source of historic information
    DC3 Hanger Very indepth website with specs, photos, checklists, sounds, models, Facts, stories, DC-3 Forum 
    Oldprops DC3 Census for Douglas Dakota survivors For a list of US preserved DC3s  DC3/C47/C117 go to Oldprops Douglas DC3/C47/C117 USA
    To see a list of surviving European DC3s go to: Oldprops DC3 Non-USA Census
    Douglas DC3/C47/C117 Photos of Preserved Dakotas around the world
    DC-3 aviation Museum website  Details of the DC-3 aviation Museum website
    Warbird Alley Warbird Alley, an online reference source for information about privately-owned, ex-military aircraft. Includes details and specs and a summary total of airworthy aircraft including the Dakota
    Flight Simulation model of the US Navy R4D by the MAAM Museum US Navy Dakota R4D CD! featuring an all-new version of the simulator plus pilot manuals, photos, and more
    Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995) Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 085130 232 7 
    Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


    Return to Home Page


    This page is published by Fleet Air Arm Archive and is updated regularly.
    © 2000-2001 All rights reserved for all information created for or on behalf of the Fleet Air Arm Archive
    Contact email: