Navigator

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. Over 10,000 aircraft were produced in Long Beach and Santa Monica, California and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City plant produced 5,354 C-47s from March 1943 until August 1945.

C-47s in British and Commonwealth service took the name Dakota. The C-47 also earned the nickname Gooney Bird during the European theater of operations.

RAF Transport Command was supplied with over 1,900 Dakotas under the Lend-Lease agreement during World War II and the type was flown by at least 46 operational squadrons, plus numerous support units. In total the RAF flew 50 Dakota I (C-47), 9 Dakota II (C-53), 962 Dakota III (C-47A) and 896 Dakota IV (C-47B). RAF Dakotas were assigned to the European, North African, Middle East and Far East theatres of war. C-47 Dakotas of the RAF and USAAF played an important role in dropping paratroopers and equipment and towing gliders to the Normandy landings and to Arnhem. Four squadrons of Dakota IVs took part in the Berlin Airlift in 1948/49.

10 Squadron - As part of No 4 Group, the squadron was transferred to Transport Command on 1 May 1945, initially using its Halifaxes, but from August Dakotas replaced these and the squadron moved to India in October remaining on transport duties until disbanding on 20 December 1947.  Oakington was No 10's next home when No 238 Squadron was renumbered there on 'Bonfire Night' 1948, still flying Dakotas, which it used during the 'Berlin Airlift' before being disbanded again 20 February 1950.
21 Squadron - After a colourful history since 1915, going through many roles, No 21's final incarnation began on 3 February 1969 when the Western Communications Squadron equipped with Dakotas, was redesignated at Andover, being finally disbanded on 31 March 1976.
24 Squadron - During the early part of World War II its operations were mainly centred on the UK, but in April 1942 it began to fly to Gibraltar and later Malta. Dakotas arrived in April 1943 and in May it received its first York for carrying VIPs. As its overseas commitments grew, it was decided to transfer its short range communications types to No 512 Squadron and this occurred in August 1943. The Yorks left in October 1944, leaving just the Dakotas and some Ansons.  Post war it remained at Hendon until February 1946 when it moved to Bassingbourn, where it acquired the Yorks and Lancaster of no 1359 (VIP) Flight.
27 Squadron - Post World War II the squadron disbanded at Mingladon, near Rangoon, on 1 February 1946. In its next incarnation, the squadron took on the transport role being reformed at Oakington on 24 November 1947. Equipped with Dakotas, it took part in the Berlin airlift before being disbanded again on 10 November 1950.
30 Squadron - On 24 November 1947, the disbanded squadron reformed at Oakington in the transport role. Initially equipped with Dakotas, Valettas arrived in 1950 and Beverleys in 1957, it moved to Abingdon in 1950, Benson in 1952 and Dishforth in 1953. In November 1959, the squadron returned overseas, first to Eastleigh in Kenya and then Bahrain in September 1964. It was in Bahrain that the squadron disbanded on 6 September 1967.
31 Squadron - With the Japanese invasion of Burma, the squadron performed casualty evacuation and re-supply sorties. Dakotas were received in April 1942 and used alongside the DC2s until the later were finally retired in May 1943. For the remainder of the war, the squadron was involved in supply dropping to the 14th Army, except for the period July to October 1944, when it underwent training in glider towing. With the end of the war the squadron moved to Singapore to assist in the insurrection in the Dutch East Indies and then moved permanently to Java, where it was disbanded on 30 September 1946.
46 Squadron - The squadron returned from Egypt to Stoney Cross in the UK, where in January 1945 it reformed with Stirlings in the Transport role. Trooping flights to and from India now became the order of the day and continued after the war, with Dakotas replacing the Stirlings in February 1946. From Stoney Cross it moved to Manston in October 1946, Abingdon in December 1946 and finally Oakington in November 1947. During the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949, it operated from Wunstorf, Lubeck and Fassberg, but not long after the lifting of the blockade, the squadron disbanded on 20 February 1950.
48 Squadron - Equipped with Dakotas, the squadron was able to deploy 30 aircraft on the night of D-Day to drop parachute troops behind German lines. During the Arnhem operation it towed 49 gliders during the first two days and then became involved in re-supply drops, losing 33% of its strength. Its next major operation was Operation Varsity, the crossing of the Rhine in March 1945, after which the squadron was transferred to India for operations against the Japanese. Repositioned in Seletar on 15 February 1946, it remained equipped with Dakotas until May 1951 when these were replaced by Valettas, during this period it was heavily involved with Operation Firedog against communist terrorists. Towards the end of Firedog, the squadron re-equipped with the Hastings, which it operated until disbanding on 3 March 1967
52 Squadron - The disbanded squadron reformed, in the transport role, on 1 July 1944 based at Dum Dum near Calcutta. The squadron was now flying Dakotas on general transport duties throughout India. From April to July 1945, the squadron also flew a few Tiger Moths and Expeditors in the air ambulance role. The squadron continued to operate after the Japanese surrender and began some scheduled flights to Malaya, China and Burma. In 1947 the squadron was stationed at Mingladon in Burma but following a coup it moved to Changi, taking all its personnel and what equipment it could, becoming the last RAF unit to be stationed in Burma. From here it was soon involved in 'Operation Firedog'. Dakotas were replaced by Valettas in 1951
53 Squadron - The disbanded squadron reformed on 1 November 1946 with Dakotas at Netheravon. These were used throughout the Berlin Airlift but on 31 July 1949, the squadron disbanded. The following day it reformed at Topcliffe, equipped with Hastings aircraft and these continued in use until replaced by Beverleys in February 1957 at Abingdon, where it was still based when it disbanded on 28 June 1963. It's final incarnation, so far, began on 1 November 1965 at Fairford, where it reformed as the RAF's first and only Belfast squadron. It moved to Brize Norton in May 1967, disbanding there on 14 September 1976.
62 Squadron - In May 1943, the squadron was equipped with Dakotas, mainly involved in supply dropping operations to the 14th Army in Burma. After the war it changed over to general transport duties throughout South-East Asia Command until disbanding at Mingaladon on 15 March 1946. Nearly six months later, No 76 Squadron at Mingaladon was re-numbered No 62 on 1 September, again equipped with Dakotas. It moved to India in March 1947 as a cadre, but was disbanded on 10 August 1947. A further spell as a Dakota equipped transport squadron began on 8 December 1947 when it reformed at Waterbeach to work on the Berlin Airlift. The squadron disbanded on 1 June 1949.
70 Squadron - With the war over, the squadron returned to Egypt in October 1945 and disbanded on 31 March 1946. Two weeks later on 15 April, No 70 Squadron was reformed by renumbering No 178 Squadron at Fayid, equipped with Lancasters but on 1 April 1947, it was disbanded again. The squadron surfaced again just over a year later, on 1 May 1948, when No 215 Squadron was renumbered. It was now engaged on its original duties, transport, being equipped with Dakotas. The squadron has remained a transport unit until the present day, receiving Valettas in January 1950. With the withdrawal of British bases in the Canal Zone of Egypt, No 70 re-located to Nicosia in Cyprus in 1955 and the following year converted to the Hastings, which were used during the Suez Crisis after which it continued to provide transport cover for the Middle and Near East areas.
76 Squadron - Together with the rest of No 4 Group, it was transferred to Transport Command on 8 May 1945 and at the same time re-equipped with Dakotas, which it took to Broadwell in August. In September it moved to India, where it operated until 1 September 1946 when it was disbanded by being re-numbered No 62 Squadron. From 1 February 1949 to 8 December 1953 it was linked to No 7 Squadron.
77 Squadron - Originally with No 4 Group, it was transferred to Transport Command on 8 May 1945 and in July re-equipped with Dakotas, which it took to Broadwell in August. In October it moved to India but on 1 November was disbanded by being re-numbered No 31 Squadron. A month later the squadron was reformed at Broadwell, when No 271 Squadron was re-numbered. It was again flying Dakotas, which it used throughout the Berlin Airlift but with the end of this operation, the squadron disbanded at Waterbeach on 1 June 1949.
78 Squadron - Together with the rest of No 4 Group, it was transferred to Transport Command on 8 May 1945 and in July re-equipped with Dakotas, which it took to the Middle East in September. Unlike similar units it became established in the post-war RAF and in April 1950, its Dakotas were replaced by Valettas, which it continued to operate until disbanding on 30 September 1954 at Fayid.
96 Squadron - In March 1945 the squadron was sent to India via Egypt, without its aircraft and on arrival at Cairo West received Dakotas, which were then flown to India. It trained for the delivery of paratroops and gliders but was mainly involved in general transport duties in and around Burma and the rest of South-East Asia Command. With the end of the war the squadron remained in India until 15 April 1946 when it moved to Hong Kong, where it was disbanded by being renumbered No 110 Squadron on 15 June 1946.
110 Squadron - In May 1946 the disbanded squadron reformed when No 96 Squadron in Hong Kong was renumbered. It was now a Dakota equipped transport squadron and operated throughout the region. It was temporarily non-operational from July to September 1947, but otherwise continued to provide transport and supply dropping support to security forces in Malaya until disbanding on 31 December 1957, having converted from Dakotas to Valettas between October 1951 and April 1952.
113 Squadron - Having gone through disbanding on 15 October 1945, they reformed once again on 1 September 1946 when No 620 Squadron at Aqir was renumbered. It was now a transport squadron using Halifax C Mk 8s and A Mk 9s, but disbanded again on 1 May 1947. The same day a new 113 Squadron formed at Fairford, also in the transport role, but equipped with Dakotas, disbanding yet again on 1 September 1948.
114 Squadron - The squadron's third incarnation began on 1 August 1947 when it reformed at Kabrit in Egypt as a transport squadron equipped with Dakotas. Valettas arrived in September 1949 and it continued to operate these aircraft in the region until moving to Cyprus in March 1956, where the squadron was disbanded on 31 December 1957.
117 Squadron - In June 1943 the squadron converted to Dakotas and began operating services around the Mediterranean, which lasted until October when it moved to India. Operations began there in January 1944 after the unit had undergone parachute training. Amongst its responsibilities, it flew Chindits into action behind the Japanese lines and then re-supplied them during March and April 1944. Following a rest in November, the squadron returned to supply dropping in December and continued this up to the end of the war, disbanding on 17 December 1945.
147 Squadron- The squadron reformed as a flying unit on 5 September 1944 at Croydon in the transport role. Operating as part of Transport Command's No 110 Wing, it flew Dakotas on both freight and passenger services between the UK and various destinations in liberated Europe. Ansons were received to supplement the Dakotas on the shorter ranged destinations in September 1944 and the squadron maintained these services until disbanding on 13 September 1946.
167 Squadron - It reformed at Holmsley South on 21 October 1944 as a transport unit in No 110 Wing. It was equipped with Warwicks and was involved in flying services to European and West African destinations. It began to operate Ansons for shorter range services in May 1945 and in July the Warwicks had to be grounded for technical problems and until these were resolved in September, the squadron flew Dakotas belonging to No 147 Squadron, but on 1 February 1946, the squadron was disbanded.
187 Squadron - The squadron was reformed 1 February 1945 and it was a transport unit equipped with Halifaxes. However, these where short-lived as Dakotas began to arrive in March and the last Halifax left in April. In May the squadron began trooping flights to India and in October flights to and from the continent. The Indian flights ended in March 1946, and the squadron then concentrated on the continental operations. From July some aircraft were detached to support the occupation forces in Austria and Italy, but on 1 November 1946, the squadron was disbanded by being renumbered No 53 Squadron.
194 Squadron - The Hudson transport squadron, based in Lahore, started receiving Dakotas in May 1943 and by September the last Hudson had left. From February 1944 and for the rest of the war the squadron carried out supply dropping missions to Burma and from January 1945 it also used Sentinals for casualty evacuation. With the end of the war the squadron went onto general transport duties, disbanding at Mingladon on 15 February 1946.
204 Squadron - The squadron reformed at Kabrit in Egypt on 1 August 1947 in the transport role, equipped with Dakotas. These were replaced by Valettas in 1949, but on 20 February 1953, the squadron was disbanded by being renumbered No 84 Squadron.
215 Squadron - The squadron assumed the transport role in April 1945 with Dakotas. Supply dropping became the main activity in support of the 14th Army. In October the squadron re-located to Malaya. Its area of operations now covered Malaya, Java and Hong Kong and it operated in the transport role until disbanded by being re-numbered No 48 Squadron on 15 February 1946. 1 August 1947, the squadron reformed at Kabrit in Egypt, still in the transport role and still equipped with Dakotas. However, on 1 May 1948, the squadron was re-numbered No 70.
216 Squadron - In March 1943 Dakotas began to replace the squadron's Hudsons and by May it was solely equipped with this type. With the Dakotas the squadron began scheduled flights although some paratroop and re-supply missions were carried out. In April 1944, the squadron sent a large detachment to Burma, where it carried out re-supply drops and casualty evacuations from the area. By the end of the war, the squadron was acting much in the role of an airline with scheduled services throughout Africa, the Middle East, India, the Mediterranean, Southern Europe and even back to the UK. After the war the squadron remained as part of the Middle East Transport Wing, replacing its Dakotas with Valettas in February 1951.
233 Squadron - The squadron re-equipped with Dakotas in March 1944 becoming a transport unit. Its main operations were the Normandy landing in June 1944, Operation Market Garden in September 1944, the Arnhem landings and the Rhine crossing in March 1945. After the war No 233 moved to India in August 1945 but by the time it arrived the Japanese had surrendered, so after a short period of general transport duties, it was disbanded by being merged into No 215 Squadron on 15 December 1945.
238 Squadron - A new 238 Squadron formed at Merryfield on 1 December 1944 as a transport unit, intended to operate Albemarles, but when its equipment arrived it was in the form of Dakotas.  These were taken to India in February 1945, where it began supply dropping operations and casualty evacuation from Burma.  However, its stay in India was short and in June it moved to Australia, where it operated in support of the British Pacific Fleet until disbanding on 27 December 1945.  Just under a year later on 1 December 1946, No 525 Squadron was renumbered 238 at Abingdon.  It was still flying Dakotas and these were operated throughout the Berlin Airlift but on 5 November 1948, the squadron was disbanded by being renumbered No 10 Squadron. 
243 Squadron - When the squadron reformed on 15 December 1944, it was at No 2 Personnel Despatch Centre at Morecombe. The selected personnel were then shipped across the Atlantic to Canada, where the squadron began training as a Dakota transport unit. Following completion of the training, the squadron flew its aircraft across the Pacific to Australia, many of its personnel being Australian. From Australia it began scheduled services to various bases of the British Pacific Fleet and later Hong Kong. The squadron finally disbanded on 15 April 1946.
267 Squadron - The squadron reformed at Kuala Lumper as a transport and communications unit on 15 February 1954. It operated Pioneers on communications duties, Pembrokes in the light transport role and Dakotas, equipped with loud speakers for 'sky-shouting'. The squadron was disbanded on 1 November 1958 by being renumbered No 209 Squadron.
271 Squadron - In January 1944, the Albatross squadron re-equipped fully with Dakotas, their main role being support of the airborne forces, providing 22 glider tugs during Operation Overlord, and casualty evacuation from the beachhead. The squadron was heavily involved in the Arnhem operation of September, providing 19 glider tugs on the first day and 24 on the next. It then undertook re-supply missions to the besieged troops. After the war the squadron began services to Germany, Italy and Greece until civilian operators were able to establish themselves. The squadron was disbanded by being re-numbered No 77 on 1 December 1946.
353 Squadron - In August 1943 the Hudson squadron moved to Palam where it took over the mail flights of No 194 Squadron. Dakotas were added to its inventory in April 1944 to form 'D' Flight and by October Dakotas had replaced Hudsons completely. Ansons arrived in August 1944 to undertake short range communications duties, these being replaced by Expeditors in January 1945. The squadron continued in its duties, becoming fully Dakota equipped by April 1945, until disbanding on 1 October 1946.
357 Squadron - Formed at Digri on 1 February 1944, the Hudsons 'A' Flight carried out supply dropping missions to guerrilla forces in Burma. The Hudsons were replaced by Dakotas and continued to carry out its clandestine operations until the end of the war, disbanding on 15 November 1945.
512 Squadron - Formed as a transport unit at Hendon on 18 June 1943 equipped with Dakotas, it initially carried out flight to Gibraltar and North Africa. In February 1944 it began training in the airborne forces role operating in both the parachute dropping and glider towing roles on D-Day. In between the main airborne operations of D-Day, Arnhem and the Rhine crossing, it carried out casualty evacuation and general transport duties. At war's end to Egypt in early October 1945. A further move that month took it to Italy, flying routes including Greece, Egypt, Romania, Austria, the UK and also within Italy. In February 1946, it returned to the UK, where it disbanded on 14 March 1946.
525 Squadron - Formed as a route flying transport squadron at Weston Zoyland on 2 September 1943, it was initially equipped with the accident prone Warwicks, flying on the UK - Gibraltar route, the type was grounded and Dakotas started to arrive in June 1944. Regular flights to the Continent began at the same time as conversion to Dakotas was complete and after the war flights to the Mediterranean also began. It was finally disbanded at Abingdon by being re-numbered No 238 Squadron on 1 December 1946.
575 Squadron - It was formed for transport duties from a nucleus of No 512 Squadron at Hendon on 1 January 1944 and was equipped with Dakotas. It took part in the Overlord landings on 5/6 June 1944, later operating at Arnhem and taking part in the Rhine crossing in March 1945. With the end of the war, the squadron moved to Bari operating services between Italy, Austria, Romania, Greece and Bulgaria until disbanding on 15 Aug 1946.

General characteristics

Crew: 3
Capacity: 28 troops
Payload: 6,000 lb (2,700 kg) of cargo
Length: 63 ft 9 in (19.43 m)
Wingspan: 95 ft 6 in (29.11 m)
Height: 17 ft 0 in (5.18 m)
Wing area: 987 ft² (91.70 m²)
Empty weight: 18,135 lb (8,225 kg)
Loaded weight: 26,000 lb (11,800 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 31,000 lb (14,000 kg)
Powerplant: 2× Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90C "Twin Wasp" 14-cylinder radial engines, 1,200 hp (895 kW) each
Performance
Maximum speed: 224 mph (195 knots, 360 km/h)
Cruise speed: 160 mph (140 knots, 260 km/h)
Range: 1,600 mi (1,400 nm, 2,600 km)
Service ceiling 26,400 ft (8,050 m)
Rate of climb: 1,130 ft/min (5.75 m/s)
Wing loading: 26.3 lb/ft² (129 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.092 hp/lb (150 W/kg)

 
 
 
RAF Lyneham, 21st June 2002. To commemorate Air Despatchers who lost their lives in service around the world, a C47 Dakota aircraft was unveiled at a special ceremony. The Dakota is standing as the gate guardian at the Headquarters of the Air Despatch squadron at Lyneham.