The Douglas DC-3/C-47 Skytrain/Dakota 
with the Germans

The DC-3, born in 1936 from the DC-2 of 1932 (DC = Douglas Commercial), became the most successful transport aircraft in the history of aviation. It was the first aircraft to actually earn real money in aviation. In the 1930s, Deutsche- Luft-Hansa bought a few examples of its predecessor, the DC-2, for testing. In anticipation of the even more powerful DC-3 (1936), the Fw 200 Condor was developed over here at Focke-Wulf. But the preparations for war demanded too much material and so only a few Condor could be built (see also the display case on the left at the entrance to Hall 2).


Douglas DC-3 with CW-R-1820 Cyclone Motoren. 

In 1939, after the Czech Republic was looted, the Czechs leased various DC-2s and DC-3s to DLH. When Norway and Holland were conquered, additional DC-3s came to Lufthansa and the Luftwaffe. In the early 1940s, Lufthansa was for a while the largest operator of a civil DC-3 fleet outside the USA. However, this was never made public in the 3rd Reich for propaganda reasons.

Only a few examples flew in the Luftwaffe and little is known about them, except for our 1944 model shown here, which flew for the Dutch KLM before the war. These DC-3s were powered by 9-cyl. air-cooled radial Wright Cyclone engines producing 652 kW/887 hp. Their engines had different cowlings than later ones and were shorter in length.      

C-47 mit P&W R-1830-Motoren


DC-2 und C-3  der CSA 1938 in Prag - für die DLH  ohne die damaligen Hoheitszeichen         

Die DC-3 der Lufthansa D- AAIE 1944 in Barcelona. Das Natur-Aluminium war der "Lufthansa-Tarnfarbe" RLM 02 gewichen, die Motorgondeln blieben schwarz

After the (West) Germans were allowed to fly again from the end of 1955, the new Lufthansa as well as the new Luftwaffe acquired the C-47 Skytrain/Dakota, the military version of the DC-3, from U.S. reserve stocks. After all, more than 15,000 such aircraft had been built by shortly after the war and even today, in 2021, some 500 such aircraft are still flying around the world, indestructible, so to speak. The C-47 can be quickly recognized by its missing tail rump.

Douglas C-47 (DC-3) der DLH um 1958

Douglas C-47 (DC-3) der DLH um 1958

The German Luftwaffe flew 20 of them as cargo planes or VIP planes. Lufthansa had about 10 aircraft, which flew until the beginning of the 1960s in domestic German traffic and were later sold. The engines of these aircraft were 14-cylinder air-cooled twin radial engines from Pratt & Whitney, Twin Wasp with 880 kW/1200 hp. They could carry 28 passengers or a more than 3 tons of cargo (in the GDR they flew a further development of the Soviet DC-3 = Lisinow Li-2, this was the Ilyushin Il-14, which was built under license in Dresden).

C-47 der Bundeswehr LTG´s im DMM/Oberschleißheim
im Profil gut zu sehen die Frachttür unten eine Maschine der Regierungsstaffel



Eine Iljuschin IL-14 der DDR-Lufthansa

C 47 Berlin C 47 Berlin   2
Die Berliner C-47 Maschine vor ihrem Flugunfall - damals  noch in Tempelhof

It should be added that the main load of the initial Berlin Airlift in 1948 was carried by the C-47/Skytrain of the Americans and C-47/ Dakota of the British until the larger Douglas DC-4/C-54 Skymaster took over; both were called "Rosinenbomber", raisin bombers.     

But this is still not the end of the story of the Douglas DC-3/C-47 Dakota under German management: The US company Basler in Oshkosh/Wisc. turns old DC-3/C-47s into new ones: The fuselage is cut up, two new frames are inserted and 2 powerful propeller turbines replace the piston engines (2 x P&W Canada PT6A each 955 kW/1281 hp). These PTL are considerably lighter, and so they were installed further forward for center of gravity reasons, making the fuselage 1 m longer.

And two of these Dakotas converted in this way replaced the Dornier Do 228s used until then at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Bremerhaven (AWI- the marine and polar researchers). They are better suited for flying in the Arctic and Antarctic because of their "old" configuration. They are the Polar 5 & 6.


The Basler BT-67 Dakota at the AWI in Bremerhaven (EDWB). Due to the lack of a German type certificate, they fly with Canadian registration. You can clearly see the fuselage extended by 2 frames and the PTLs installed further forward. 


Comments: Precise data on performance with Wright-Cyclone could not be determined. It must be pointed out that with the good 15000 airplanes produced, various sub-types with different power levels of the engines used, significant differences in the performance values can occur.


The models of the DC-3 / C-47 in M 1:72.

The basic kit is the C-47 from Italieri, a basic kit that came on the market decades ago. It forms the basis of the 5 different models: 2 x DC-3 of the "old" Lufthansa and Luftwaffe of 1944 with the Wright Cyclone engines and 2 x Bundeswehr aircraft of the LTGs and the Government Squadron with the P&W Double-Wasp engines...

Finally and for comparison with the DC.3 DLH of 1944 a C-47 of the "new" LUFTHANSA of about 1958. We would like to point out that these shown machines will all be on display in the showcases of the military transports on the gallery. These vitrines show from the Ju 52 over the Me 321 & 323 up to the A 400M which planes were operated in the German transport aviation from the beginning to the present. More such models can be found in the Bundeswehr and Lufthansa showcases.


DC-3 der Luftwaffe 1944


Die Unterseite der Lufthansa DC-3 von 1944


Alle 5 DC-3/C-47 beisammen


Die C-47 der "neuen" Lufthansa um 1958

dc3 A 001 dc3 A 002 

Alle 5 DC-3/C-47 beisammen

dc3 A 002 dc18

Alle 5 DC-3/C-47 beisammen


Die C-47 der "neuen" Lufthansa um 1958

dc3 A 005 
"alte" und "neue" Lufthansa - 1944 und 1955

dc3 A 005
Luftwaffe 1944 und Bundesluftwaffe 1958