Photo of Douglas DC-3 Dakota

 Click on one of the thumbnails below to access the 21 photos of this aircraft.

  • Status: Temporarily in storage
  • Airworthiness: Airworthy (flown regularly)
  • Type: Transport
  • Built: 1939
  • Construction Number: 2141
  • Civil Registration: C-GDAK
  • Current Markings: RCAF KN456/KN563
  • Length: 64 ft 5 in
  • Wingspan: 95 ft 6 in
  • Power: 1,200 hp each
  • Engine: 2 x Wright Cyclone R-1820-G202A
  • Maximum Speed: 229 mph
  • Cruising Speed: 160 mph
  • Service Ceiling: 23,000 ft
  • Range: 1,600 miles

Aircraft Description

Development of the Douglas DC-3 started in early 1935 with the prototype flying by the end of the year. The first production aircraft was delivered to American Airlines in July 1936 and soon orders were pouring in from US and overseas airlines. The US Air Corps became interested in the DC-3 and ordered a military version, called the C-47 or Dakota. It had many capabilities, including dropping paratroops and supplies, evacuating the wounded, troop transportation and glider towing. Eventually, about 10,000 C-47s were built for the US military.

During WW II, the Royal Air Force received about 1,930 Dakotas and they became the RAF’s main wartime transport aircraft. The RCAF took delivery of its first Dakota in March 1943, and at its peak had 169 on strength. Within Canada, they were operated by four transport squadrons and several ferry squadrons.

Overseas, Dakotas equipped RCAF No. 437 Squadron in Europe and RCAF No. 435 and 436 Squadrons in South East Asia. No. 437 Squadron was formed in England in September 1944, where it supported the British and Canadian Armies fighting in Europe. Its most important actions involved glider towing for the airborne landings at Arnhem and the Rhine crossing at Wesel. No. 435 and 436 Squadrons were formed in India in October 1944. They flew Dakotas in support of the British 14th Army in Burma where they dropped supplies to the British troops fighting the Japanese in the jungle.

At the end of WW II, all three squadrons were transferred back to England to provide air transport for the Canadian occupation forces in Germany. Dakotas continued in service with the Canadian Armed Forces until 1989, when No. 402 Squadron, based in Winnipeg, retired the last of them. Of the nearly 13,000 DC-3s built, many are still in service today, over 75 years after the aircraft’s first flight.

The Museum’s DC-3 Dakota displays the markings of RCAF No. 435 and 436 Squadrons, which operated in Burma during 1944-45 and whose slogan was "Canucks Unlimited". The DC-3 was built in June 1939 for Eastern Airlines, where it flew for over 13 years. In 1952, it went to North Central Airlines who operated it for another 11 years. The aircraft then left airline service, but continued to fly commercially until it was acquired by Dennis Bradley, who donated it to the Museum in 1981. It is one of the highest time DC-3s currently still flying with over 82,000 hours in the air - equal to over 12 million miles, or 492 times around the world.

© Canadian Warplane Heritage 2024