Armour Collection B11C971 USAF Douglas C-47A "Skytrain" Troop Transport - "Camel Caravan to Berlin", Berlin Airlift, 1948 (1:48 Scale)
"...four other pieces of equipment that most senior officers came to regard as among the most vital to our success in Africa and Europe were the bulldozer, the jeep, the 2-ton truck, and the C-47 airplane. Curiously, none of these is designed for combat."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower, reflecting on the success of the US Army in World War II
The C-47 was one of the most successful aircraft ever, praised by General Eisenhower as one of the most important instruments of victory in WWII. Largely a military version of the highly successful Douglas DC-3 passenger aircraft, the C-47 Dakota carried supplies, airborne troops, and other personnel in all of the theaters of conflict in WWII. It was used as a troop transport and glider tug during the invasion of Europe and it kept the Allied forces in China supplied by carrying supplies "Over the Hump" of the Himalaya Mountains lying astride the India to China route. More than 13,300 of the DC-3s in all its forms were built, including Japanese and Soviet licensed aircraft. Although it first flew in 1941, many are still being used today. It last saw action in the Vietnam War as a gunship called "Puff the Magic Dragon", firing machine guns and cannons from it's windows for enemy troop suppression.
This particular 1:48 scale replica of a C-47A was used during "Operation Vittles" - the Berlin Airlift - in July 1948.
Wingspan: 23-3/4 inches
Length: 16-3/4 inches
Historical Account: "The Berlin Blockade" - The Berlin Blockade (June 24th, 1948 to May 11th, 1949) was one of the first major crises of the new Cold War. It began when the Soviets blocked railroad and street access by the three Western powers (the Americans, British, and French) to the Western-occupied sectors of Berlin, and abated after the Western powers bypassed the blockade by establishing airlifts of foods and other provisions. It was a direct response of the Soviet Union to the secret monetary reform in the three German Occupation zones controlled by the Western powers which was enacted on June 21st, 1948.
Thirty-two C-47 cargo planes took off on June 26th, 1948, hauling 80 tons of cargo including milk, flour, and medicine. In order to accommodate the large number of flights, required maintenance schedules, and cargo loading times, General Smith developed a complex schedule and pattern for arranging flights. Three air corridors were created, and aircraft were scheduled to take off every three minutes, flying 500 feet higher than the previous flight. This pattern began at 5,000 feet and was repeated five times. After it became clear that the airlift was expected to continue for significantly longer than the original three weeks, Lt. General William H. Tunner of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) took over the operation on July 27th, 1948. General Tunner had significant experience in commanding and organizing the airlift over The Hump. Among other measures, he instituted three rules; Instrument flight rules would be in effect at all times, regardless of actual visibility; each sortie would have only one chance to land in Berlin, returning to its base if it missed its chance; aircrew could not leave their aircraft for any reason while in Berlin. The amount of needed supplies was so great that maximum throughput was the objective - keeping the conveyor belt of airplanes moving was more important than any one plane's cargo. He improved living conditions for the aircrews and ground crews. He recruited former Luftwaffe aircraft mechanics to help with maintenance and had a school established at Malmstrom Air Force Base to train pilots in procedures specific to the airlift. All C-47s were replaced with the more capable C-54s.