Douglas C-54 Skymaster

While never the most glamorous of military aeroplanes, transport aircraft are often the most vital. The ever-reliable C-54 Skymaster ferried soldiers and supplies across oceans and continents throughout World War II and for many years after. The original C-54s were simply Douglas DC-4 airliners converted for military use. Developed as the successor to the DC-3, with much greater carrying capacity and range, the DC-4 was just entering production when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The US Army Air Force (USAAF) commandeered the production line and the first batch of airliners thus became the US’s first four-engine military transports, Subsequent C-54s were modified to carry heavy freight, with increased fuel capacity, a strengthened floor, a large door, a hoist and winch, and a cabin that could be converted for troops or cargo.
Operated by Air Transport Command, the C-54 served worldwide, establishing an unsurpassed safety record. It was the first transport aircraft to establish regular services across the North AtIantic and the Pacific and Indian Oceans; only three were lost in 79,642 ocean crossings. One C-54, nicknamed the “Sacred Cow”, was fitted out as a presidential aircraft – the forerunner of Air Force One. Postwar, C-54 played prominent roles in the Berlin Airlift and the Korean War. They
remained in service into Ihe 1960s.

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