The Mighty C-54

Discussion in 'Post-War' started by davparlr, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    The mighty C-54

    I couldn’t decide whether to put this post in WW2 or Post War. It was available and provided yeoman service during WW2, but its real glory came post war in the Berlin airlift, so I decided to put it in Post War.

    Over shadowed by its far more famous and honored predecessor the DC-3, C-47, and R4D, and quickly becoming obsolete with the advent of the jet airliners, the C-54, it cohorts the DC-4 and R5D, and their aircrews nonetheless became the first cold war warriors and valiantly overcame fierce obstacles to save a city and prevented humiliation for the West. I am sure the Russians were quite confident of the upcoming failure of the West in its attempt to feed a Berlin having seen the mighty German Luftwaffe fail miserably only six years earlier. But they were in for a shock. The Germans did not have the C-54 or General William H. Turner, or the resources of the West. Flying closely spaced in miserable weather, no GPS, no tactical air navigation (TACAN), no very high frequency omni-directional ranging (VOR), no instrument landing system (ILS), relying solely on automatic direction finding (ADF) and ground controlled approach (GCA), these crews and airplanes performed magnificently and it was the Russians who were humiliated.

    General Turner’s efforts were amazing. He demonstrated how planning could win wars. The world was now aware of the capability of airlift. A huge city had been kept free and the communist had received a bloody nose.

    To be fair, there were other aircraft and crews that contributed mightily to the effort and deserves to share in the glory, but the C-54 was certainly the backbone.

    Here is a cool video of that magnificent aircraft. In first few seconds you can catch a glimpse of a Ju-52 flying.


    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrziTee4b2c
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    They also played a role in WW2. Several years ago at the Chino Museum, I talked to a P38 pilot who told me he reported to duty (with a couple dozen other pilots) to the 5th Fighter Command by taking a C-54 from San Fran to New Guinea. A lot of behind the scene correspondence relating to the war effort and movement of senior officers went by way of the C54's circling the globe.

    A true unsung warrior that helped to win the war.
     
  3. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    IIRC correctly they ran a hourly sched service from the UK to US during the war
     
  4. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    I had the honor of flying in an R5D. I first applied to the Navy for pilot training and they flew us to New Orleans in an R5D for the flight physical. Pensacola was quite able to perform the flight physical but they wanted to give us a treat. The Navy flight surgeon forgot to sign my physical and I had to retake it. By the time I got my acceptance, I had already signed up for the Air Force. Being from a Navy town I knew all about Naval aviation, but little of the AF. I had to go look up the airplanes the AF were then flying. I am amazed at the change in life a simple event can cause. Had that flight surgeon signed my form, my life would have gone off on a completely different course. I met my wife of forty years in pilot training.

    A few weeks ago we were leaving from a visit to Alaska and, while we were waiting at the Anchorage airport, a beautiful DC-6 or 7 made and approach and landing and taxied in. I was thrilled to watch an event that was quite common 50+ years ago. Lots of old airplanes in Alaska. I think they go there for their final fling at exciting flying!
     
  5. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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