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DC-3: A Legend in Her Time, A 75th Anniversary Photographic Tribute

 by Bruce McAllister, Roundup Press, Boulder, Colo., 2010, $49.95.

 It has been said that the Douglas DC-3 transport helped lift America out of the Depression and has surpassed all other aircraft in faithful service, safety and dependability since its birth in 1935. Most are gone now, but an estimated 400 of the original version and variants are still flying.

DC-3 pilot Bruce McAllister commemorates the 75th anniversary of this iconic airplane with a magnificent collection of 250 color and black-and-white photographs. His judicious selections verify the adaptability of the DC-3/C-47 from passenger-carrying and cargo transport to dropping paratroops and critical supplies, glider towing and psychological warfare operations. The DC-3 has been modified into a gunship, patient transport, navigator trainer, aerial surveyor and agricultural sprayer. It served in the Berlin Airlift, United Nations medical and refugee missions and research operations in the Arctic. Other adaptations have seen the aircraft equipped with more powerful engines, including one converted from a twin-engine turboprop into a three-engine model with exceptional payload, speed and distance capability. It’s also been outfitted with skis and pontoons, as well as jet-assisted takeoff units.

The DC-3’s follow-on military versions displayed surprising versatility during World War II and the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. Although Douglas labeled it the Sky – train, the official Air Force designation was C-47. The Navy called it the R4D, and later models included the C-48, C-49, C-50, C-52, C-53, C-84 and C-117 (Navy DC-3S) and the Super DC-3 (DC-3S). Of the 18 nicknames listed, Gooney Bird is easily the most popular.

McAllister’s book is a fitting tribute to a venerable workhorse that’s still faithfully plying the skies around the world today


Editor’s note: C.V. Glines is the author of The Amazing Gooney Bird: The Saga of the Legendary C-47/DC-3. Readers may be interested in an upcoming gathering of DC-3s at EAA AirVenture July 26–August 1. Forty DC-3s are slated to make an appearance that week, the largest such gathering since World War II.

Originally published in the July 2010 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here