Amercom ACLB34 USAF Douglas C-54/R5D "Skymaster" Troop Transport - Berlin Airlift "Candy Bomber," Air Transport Command, 1948 (1:200 Scale)
"I have already arranged for our maximum airlift to start on Monday [June 28]. For a sustained effort, we can use seventy Dakotas [C-47s]. The number which the British can make available is not yet known, although General Robertson is somewhat doubtful of their ability to make this number available. Our two Berlin airports can handle in the neighborhood of fifty additional airplanes per day. These would have to be C-47s, C-54s or planes with similar landing characteristics, as our airports cannot take larger planes. LeMay is urging two C-54 groups. With this airlift, we should be able to bring in 600 or 700 tons a day. While 2,000 tons a day is required in normal foods, 600 tons a day (utilizing dried foods to the maximum extent) will substantially increase the morale of the German people and will unquestionably seriously disturb the Soviet blockade. To accomplish this, it is urgent that we be given approximately 50 additional transport planes to arrive in Germany at the earliest practicable date, and each day's delay will of course decrease our ability to sustain our position in Berlin. Crews would be needed to permit maximum operation of these planes."
- General Lucius D. Clay, deputy military governor, Germany (U.S.) 1946; commander in chief, U.S. Forces in Europe and military governor of the U.S. Zone, Germany, 1947-49, June 1948
The Douglas C-54 Skymaster was a four-engined transport aircraft used by the United States Army Air Forces in World War II. Like the C-47 Skytrain, the C-54 Skymaster was derived from a civilian airliner (the Douglas DC-4).
C-54s began service with the Army Air Forces in 1942, carrying up to 26 passengers. (Later versions carried up to 50 passengers.) The U.S. Navy also acquired the type, under the designation R5D. The C-54 was one of the most commonly used long-range transports by the U.S. armed forces in World War II. 515 C-54s were manufactured in Santa Monica, CA and 655 were manufactured in Chicago, Illinois.
After World War II, the C-54 continued to serve as the primary airlifter of the new United States Air Force and with the United States Navy. The USAF Strategic Air Command had C-54 Skymasters in service from 1946 through 1975.
President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, which created the U.S. Air Force, on board "Sacred Cow", the Presidential C-54 which is preserved at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. More than 300 C-54s and R5Ds formed the backbone of the US contribution to the Berlin Airlift in 1948. They also served as the main airlift during the Korean War. After the Korean War, the C-54 was replaced by the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II, but continued to be used by the U.S. Air Force until 1972.
The C-54 was the personal aircraft of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Douglas MacArthur, and Winston Churchill (along with an Avro York). The C-54 was also used by the Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, the
Armee de l'Air, and the armed forces of at least twelve other nations.
Pictured here is a 1:20 scale replica of a USAF Douglas C-54/R5D "Skymaster" troop transport that was used during the Berlin Airlift of 1948.
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Release Date: September 2015
Historical Account: "The Berlin Airlift" - The Berlin Blockade, also known as the "German hold-up" (June 24th, 1948 - May 11th, 1949) was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War. During the multinational occupation of post-World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western force's railway and road access to the western sectors of Berlin that they had been controlling. Their aim was to force the western powers to allow the Soviet controlled regions to start supplying Berlin with food and fuel, thereby giving them nominal control over the entire city.
In response, the Western Allies formed the Berlin Airlift to bring supplies to the people of Berlin. The airlift to supply the German 6th Army at Stalingrad required 300 tons of food per day and rarely came even close to delivering this; the Berlin effort would require at least 4,000 tons a day, well over fifteen times as much. In spite of this, by the spring of 1949 the effort was clearly succeeding, and by April the airlift was delivering more cargo than had previously flowed into the city via rail.
The success of the Airlift was humiliating to the Soviets, who had repeatedly claimed it could never possibly work. When it became clear that it did work, the blockade was lifted in May. One lasting legacy of the Airlift are the three airports in the former western zones of the city, which served as the primary gateways to Berlin for another fifty years.