DC-4/C-54 Skymaster Transport

DC-4 commercial transport in flightDouglas decided to produce a four-engine transport about twice the size of the DC-3 and, in 1938, developed the single DC-4E to carry 42 passengers by day or 30 by night. It had complete sleeping accommodations, including a private bridal room.

It proved too expensive to maintain, so airlines agreed to suspend development in favor of the less complex DC-4, but it was not put into commercial service until 1946. Its military derivative was the C-54 "Skymaster" transport, ordered by the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1942.

Douglas built 1,241 of the DC-4s and its military counterparts, including the R5D for the Navy. During the war, C-54s flew a million miles a month over the rugged North Atlantic -- more than 20 round trips a day. A special VC-54C, nicknamed the "Sacred Cow" by the White House press corps, became the first presidential aircraft, ordered for Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In the years immediately following the war, new DC-4s and used C-54s carried more passengers than any other four-engine transport. Some were still flying through 1998.

After World War II, commercial airlines placed more than 300 civilian DC-4 transports into service.

Specifications
First flight: Feb. 14, 1942
Wingspan: 117 feet 6 inches
Length: 93 feet 5 inches
Height: 27 feet 7 inches
Operating altitude: 10,000 feet
Range: 4,200 miles
Weight: 82,500 pounds
Power plant: Four 1,450 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-2000 "Twin-Wasp" engines
Speed: 207 mph
Accommodation: 44 to 80 passengers