DC-4/C-54 Skymaster Transport

DC-4/C-54 Skymaster Transport

Historical Snapshot

DC-4/C-54 Skymaster Transport

In 1938, Douglas Aircraft Co. decided to produce a four-engine transport about twice the size of the DC-3. It developed the single DC-4E to carry 42 passengers by day or 30 by night. The DC-4E 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, which 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 roundtrips 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.

After World War II, commercial airlines placed more than 300 civilian DC-4 transports into service, these DC-4s, along with C-54s converted for civil use, carried more passengers than any other four-engine transport. Some were still flying through 2014.

    Technical 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