The most numerous transport aircraft of the war, the Dakota was developed by Douglas from their celebrated DC-3 commercial aircraft which flew for the first time in 1935. The military version, the C-53, entered service with the US Army Air Force in late 1941. RAF aircraft, known as Dakotas, were the same as the American C-47 version, and entered service with No 24 Squadron in Gibraltar in March 1943. Over 1,900 aircraft were eventually supplied to the RAF under lend/lease arrangements and they served in every theatre of operation.

On D-Day, Dakotas based at Broadswell, Down Ampney and Blakehill Farm dropped the main elements of the 3rd Parachute Brigade in Normandy as well as towing Horsa gliders across the Channel. Later in the war, Dakotas took part in the airborne assault Operation MARKET GARDEN and were also used as freighters, air ambulances and personnel transports.


Manufacturers: Douglas Aircraft Co. Inc., Santa Monica, California.

Type: British Twin-engined military transport.

Accommodation: Up to 28 troops; crew of three or four.

Engines: Two Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp of 1,200h.p.

Speed: Maximum, 230mph at 8,500 feet; cruising, 185mph

Range: Maximum, 2,125 miles; normal, 1,500 miles.

Ceiling: 23,200ft.

Dimensions: Span 95ft., length 64ft. 6in., height 16ft. 11in., wing area 987 sq ft.

Construction: All-metal, stressed skin covered.

Dakota DC3
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