C-54D “Skymaster”

Aircraft Type: C-54D, S/N 42-72724, Skymaster, Douglas

Mission: Cargo or Troop Transport

Number Built : The USAAF accepted a grand total of 1,162 C-54′s. Specifically, the C-54 program comprised 24 C-54s, 252 C-54As (56 to the Navy), 220 C-54Bs (30 to the Navy), 1 VC-54C specially modified to serve as Presidential transport for President Roosevelt (SACRED COW). 380 C-54Ds (86 to the Navy), 125 C-54Es (20 to the Navy) 162 C-54Gs (13 to the Navy) another 235 C-54Gs were cancelled after VJ-Day.

Powerplant: Four Pratt & Whitney R-2000-9 radial air-cooled engines, 1,450 horsepower each.

Weight: Empty 54,000 lbs., Loaded 73,000 lbs., Maximum takeoff weight 82,500 lbs.

Dimensions: Wingspan 117’6″, Length 93’11″, Height 27’6″.

Performance: Maximum speed 274 MPH at 14,000 feet, Cruising speed 239 MPH, Service ceiling 30,000 feet.

Significance of Type : The C-54 and its sister, the DC-4, were designed in cooperation with five major United States airline companies. The Douglas design was bigger, longer ranged, and was powered by four engines. The prototype first flew in June 1938. The original design was considered too large for economical operations, resulting in a subsequent scaled down forty-two passenger version.

When the United States entered World War II, the DC-4 was taken over by the Army Air Corps and redesignated the C-54. Maximum load was 28,000 pounds of cargo or fifty passengers. The first C-54 military transport flew in February 1942, and over 1,000 plane s were produced. When the war ended, the growing airline industry demanded the C-54 as a suitable passenger plane. It was returned to the DC-4 configuration. During the Berlin Airlift in 1948, every C-54 the USAF had was pressed into service to supply the isolated city. Many C-54s were later converted into litter-carrying planes for use during the Korean War, returning 66,000 patients to the United States. The last C-54 in the SAC inventory was used by Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona.

About Our C-54D, S/N 42-72724 : SAC Museum’s C-54 was manufactured by Douglas Aircraft, Chicago, Illinois, and delivered to the USAAF on July 16, 1945. Below are the unit assignments of this aircraft:

July 1945- To Twelfth Air Force Mediterranean Theater of Operation (via Memphis, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; and Bangor, Maine

March 1946- To 4112th AAF Base Unit (Air Technical Service Command), Olmstead AAF, Pennsylvania

May 1946- To 554th AAF Base Unit (Air Transport Command), Memphis AP, Tennessee

July 1946- Bailment contract to Goodyear, Akron, Ohio (deployments to Patterson AAF, later Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio)

February 1949- To 2750th Air Base Group (Air Materiel Command), Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

October 1949- Unit became 2750th Air Base Wing (to EC-54D)

March 1951- Bailment contract to Oakland, California

June 1953- To Wright Air Development Center (Air Research and Development Command), Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

December 1954- To Lockheed Aircraft, Burbank, California

March 1955- To San Bernardino Air Materiel Area, Norton AFB, California

July 1955- To Wright Air Development Center (ARDC), Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

December 1955- To JC-54D (deployment to Nellis AFB, Nevada)

October 1965- To 809th Combat Support Group (Strategic Air Command), Frances E. Warren AFB, Wyoming

May 1967- To C-54D (deployment to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota)

July 1968- To 100th Strategic Wing (SAC), Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona

December 1969- To 3902nd Air Base Wing (SAC), Offutt AFB, Nebraska

January 1970- Dropped from inventory by transfer to the Strategic Air & Space Museum