The Douglas C-47, Arguably the World’s Greatest Aircraft of Its Time
The first flight by the C-47 prototype was made from Clover Field (now Santa Monica, CA) on December 17th 1935, which just happened to be the 32nd anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight.
For half a century the Douglas C-47 and its numerous derivatives remained the most versatile aviation workhorse the world has ever known, and could arguably claim the title of World's Greatest Aircraft of its time.
Estrella Warbirds Museum’s beautifully refurbished C-47 will be one of the featured displays at this year’s Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show, Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28 at Half Moon Bay Airport.
Born in brassy years of the mid-1930s, the C-47 was derived from the DC-3 family of commercial planes.
The DC-3 became the world's standard airliner, before donning warpaint as the world's standard military transport.
Recognizing its great potential as a military transport, the United States Army specified a number of changes needed to make the aircraft acceptable for military use, including more powerful engines, the removal of airline seating in favor of utility seats along the walls, a stronger rear fuselage and floor, and the addition of large loading doors.
A large order was placed in 1940 for the military DC-3, which was designated C-47 and became known as "Skytrain," a name it would soon be asked to live up to.
The C-47 had quite a few nicknames: Gooney Bird; Super DC-3 (R4D-8); Skytrooper; Biscuit Bomber; Dumbo (SC-47 Search-and Rescue variant); Sister Gabby/Bullshit Bomber (EC-47 dispensing propaganda-leaflets in Vietnam); Spooky/Puff the Magic Dragon (AC-47 Gunship); Dowager Dutchess; Old Methuselah; The Placid Plodder; Dizzy Three; Old Bucket Seats; Duck; Dak; Dakleton (South African C-47s which replaced their Avro Shackletons), or the Vomit Comet (nickname used by US Army paratroops during the Normandy invasion).
Over 13,000 aircraft were built, under various configurations, by multiple manufacturers in multiple countries.
The museum’s N47SJ is one of 64 registered by the FAA and there are approximately 300 still flying in the world.
A complete restoration to restore her to 1943 charm was completed in mid-summer, 2009.
This particular C-47B has seen service in the US Army Air Corp, then with the Belgium, French, and Israeli Air Forces prior to landing in Canada.
After sitting silent for six years, the Wonder Boys of the restoration crew went to Canada, fired it up and flew it home to Paso Robles.
Prior to leaving Canada, it had a total of 9,420 flight hours. She returned to flight status August 1st, 2009.