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The Douglas C-54 Skymaster was a four-engined transport aircraft used by the United States Army Air Forces in World War II.

Design and development

Like the C-47 Skytrain, the C-54 Skymaster was derived from a civilian airliner (the Douglas DC-4).

Operational history

C-54s began service with the US Army Air Forces in 1942, carrying up to 26 passengers. (Later versions carried up to 50 passengers.) The U.S. Navy also acquired the type, under the designation R5D. The C-54 was one of the most commonly used long-range transports by the U.S. armed forces in World War II. 515 C-54s were manufactured in Santa Monica, Californiamarker and 655 were manufactured in Chicago, Illinoismarker.

After World War II, the C-54 continued to serve as the primary airlifter of the new United States Air Force and with the United States Navy.

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In late 1945, several hundred C-54s were surplus to U.S. military requirements and these were converted for civil airline operation, many by Douglas Aircraft at its aircraft plants. The aircraft were sold to airlines around the world. By January 1946, Pan American Airways was operating their Skymasters on transatlantic scheduled services to Europe and beyond. Trans-Pacific schedules from San Francisco to Auckland began on 6 June 1946.

On July 23, 1954, a Douglas C-54 Skymaster civilian airliner, registration VR-HEU, operated by Cathay Pacific Airways, en route from Bangkokmarker to Hong Kongmarker, was shot down by Chinese Communistmarker La-7 fighters off the coast of Hainan Islandmarker, killing 10.

President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, which created the U.S. Air Force, on board "Sacred Cow", the Presidential C-54 which is preserved at the National Museum of the United States Air Forcemarker. More than 300 C-54s and R5Ds formed the backbone of the US contribution to the Berlin Airlift in 1948. They also served as the main airlift during the Korean War. After the Korean War, the C-54 was replaced by the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II, but continued to be used by the U.S. Air Force until 1972.

The C-54 was the personal aircraft of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Douglas MacArthur, and Winston Churchill (along with an Avro York). The C-54 was also used by the Royal Air Force, South African Air Forcemarker, Royal Canadian Air Force, the Armée de l'Air, and the armed forces of at least twelve other nations.

Variants

C-54D repainted in USAAF wartime markings.
Chico, California, October 1992
C-54E.
C-54
First production variant adapted from DC-4, 24 built.
C-54A
First military version with strengthened airframe, increased fuel capacity, provision for passengers or cargo, Navy equivalent R5D-1, 252 built.
MC-54A
Optional designation for C-54As used for medical evacuation.
C-54B
Increased fuel capacity in the wing, One was used by Winston Churchill, 220 built.
VC-54C
One C-54A converted as Presidential transport version used by Franklin D. Roosevelt and later Harry Truman.
C-54D
Same as C-54B but with R-2000-11 engines, 380 built.
AC-54D
Small number of aircraft modified with special electronic calibration and communications equipment. The aircraft were redesignated EC-54D.
EC-54D
Redesignation of the AC-54D.
HC-54D Rescuemaster
Redesignation of the SC-54D.
JC-54D
Nine C-54Ds temporary converted for missile tracking and nose-cone recovery.
SC-54D
38 aircraft converted by Convair, as search and rescue aircraft. Later redesignated HC-54D.
TC-54D
C-54Ds converted into multi-engine training aircraft.
VC-54D
C-54Ds converted into VIP transport aircraft.
WC-54D
C-54Ds converted for weather reconnaissance.
C-54E
Further revision to fuel tanks and provision for rapid conversion from passenger to cargo, 125 built.
AC-54E
C-54Es converted for airways calibration, redesignated EC-54E in 1962.
EC-54E
AC-54E redesignated in 1962.
HC-54E
SC-54E redesignated in 1962.
SC-54E
C-54E converted for air-sea rescue, redesingated HC-54E in 1962.
VC-54E
C-54Es converted as a staff transport.
XC-54F
Proposed experimental paratroop version, not built.
C-54G
Same as C-54E but with different version of the R2000 engine.
HC-54G
SC-54G redesignated in 1962.
JC-54G
C-54Gs used for temporary testing.
SC-54G
C-54Gs converted for air-sea rescue, redesignated HC-54G in 1962.
VC-54G
C-54Gs converted into VIP/staff transport aircraft.
C-54GM
The designation of the DC-4 version with Merlin engines built by Canadair.
C-54H
Paratroop transport. None built.
C-54J
Staff transport project, none built. Navy designation R5D-6.
XC-54K
Long range version, one aircraft built with Wright R-1820 engines.
C-54L
One C-54A aircraft tested in 1947 with an experimental fuel system.
C-54M
Specialized modification of C-54 to carry coal during the Berlin Airlift, 38 conversions.
MC-54M
Specialized modification of C-54E for medical evacuation, 30 conversions.
VC-54N
R5D-1Z redesignated in 1962.
C-54P
R5D-2 redesignated in 1962.
VC-54P
R5D-2Z redesignated in 1962.
C-54Q
R5D-3 redesignated in 1962.
VC-54Q
R5D-3Z redesignated in 1962.
C-54R
R5D-4R redesingated in 1962.
C-54S
R5D-5 redesingnated in 1962.
VC-54S
R5D-5Z redesignated in 1962.
C-54T
R5D-5R redesingated in 1962.
EC-54U
R5D-4 redesignated in 1962.
RC-54V
R5D-3P redesignated in 1962.
R5D-1
56 C-54As transferred to the United States Navy.
R5D-1C
R5D-1s modified in US Navy service, with a fuel system based on the one used in the C-54B.
R5D-1F
Naval staff transport conversions of the R5D-1, redesignated R5D-1Z then VC-54N.
R5D-1Z
Interim designation of the R5D-1F.
R5D-2
30 C-54Bs transferred to the United States Navy, redesignated C-54P in 1962.
R5D-2F
Naval staff transport conversion of the R5D-2, redesignated R5D-2Z then VC-54P in 1962.
R5D-2Z
Interim designation of the R5D-2F.
U.S.Navy R5D-3 Skymaster at Blackbushe, Hampshire, in 1954
R5D-3
95 C-54Ds transferred to the United States Navy, redesignated C-54Q in 1962.
R5D-3P
Photo survey conversions of the R5D-3, redesignated RC-54V in 1962.
R5D-3Z
Naval staff transport conversions of the R5D-3, redesignated VC-54Q in 1962.
R5D-4
20 C-54Es transferred to the United States Navy, redesignated EC-54U in 1962.
R5D-4R
Passenger only conversion of the R5D-4, redesignated C-54R in 1962.
R5D-5
R5D-2 and R5D-3s re-engined to approximate C-54G standards, redesignated C-54S in 1962.
R5D-5R
Passenger only conversion of the R5D-5, redesignated C-54T in 1962, 86 conversion.
R5D-5Z
Staff transport conversion of the R5D-5, redesignated VC-54S in 1962.
R5D-6
Proposed USN version of the C-54J with passenger interior, not built.
XC-112
Pressurized variant of the C-54B with Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines. None built.
XC-112A
As XC-112. One built. Developed into DC-6 / C-118 family.
XC-114
Stretched C-54E powered by Allison V-1710 engines. One built.
XC-115
XC-114 with Packard V-1650 engines. None Built.
YC-116
XC-114 with thermal de-icing rather than rubber boots for testing, one built.
Skymaster I
Royal Air Force designation for 22 C-54Ds.


Operators

USAF C-54 Skymaster.

Military operators

: Royal Canadian Air Force - (DC-4M)
: Royal Danish Air Force 6 C-54D/G, 1959 - 1977
: Armee de l'Air
: Icelandic Coast Guard
: Israeli Air Force
: South African Air Forcemarker
:
: Royal Air Force
: United States Army Air Forces, US Air Force, United States Navy, US Marine Corps, US Coast Guard


Civilian operators

: Trans Australia Airlines
: Sabena, Avions Fairey, Belgian International
: Buffalo Airways (14 registered as of 30 August 2009) Canadian Pacific, Curtiss Reid Flying Services Canada, Kenting Aviation, Maritime Central Airways, Pacific Western, Transair
: Avianca
: Cathay Pacific Airways
: Icelandair, Loftleidir
: El Al
: Paraguayan Airways Service, Lloyd Aéreo Paraguayo S.A.
: China Airlines
: Invicta, Starways,
: Pan American, Trans World Airlines, Aero Union, Pacific Southwest Airlines, Capital Airlines, Eastern Airlines


Specifications (C-54G)



See also

References

  • The PSA History/Oldtimers Page [54272]


External links




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