Build Your Own Douglas C-47 Article & Plans
World's Most Famous Plane
December 1954 Air Trails
If you have been around me for any length
of time, then you know that the Douglas DC-3 / C-47 is my favorite all-time airplane. It at the same
time invokes a sense of nostalgia for the early days of 'modern' aviation and an appreciation for the
ingenuity and craftsmanship that typify good old American outside-the-box thinking. My intention has
for decades been to build a control-line model of the C-47 and paint it in D-Day invasion markings,
but alas time and - earlier in life anyway - money always hindered the effort. There is no kit, old
or new, that I can find with a wingspan in the 45-54" range. The available kit from
Guillows is too small, and the kit from Top Flite is too large. Finally,
as of this writing, I have full-size plans and most of the balsa and plywood needed to construct a 48-inch-wingspan
version. These plans by Walter A. Musciano are drawn at 1/2" = 1' (48" wingspan), but you can have it
printed at an office store to any size you want. If the past is any indicator of the future, it will
be complete and ready to fly in about five years - yeah, kinda sad. With turning 55 years old this year,
I really cannot put it off much longer or it might never get started, much less finished! I'll post
photos of the build as they materialize with the model.
Walter A. Musciano's
fine drawings can be found in the November/December edition of American Modeler for the
Chance Vought F4U-1a
Corsair," oh, and "Sakai's 'Claude'
Mitsubishi Type 96."
The model in full dress. WWII invasion stripes and the AAF stars are
easily applied decorations which provide a colorful craft. Airline markings can be substituted if desired.
By Walter A. Musciano
This popular plane is sure
to be one of our most popular model designs. Can be powered
with engines from .14 to .23 cubic inch
displacement; scaled at half inch to the foot.
No other airplane has ever made more flights, carried more people or lasted so long as the world-famous
and never-to-be-forgotten Douglas DC-3, or military C-47. When President Eisenhower named the four weapons
that, in his opinion, won World War II, the C-47 was among them.
Developed from the earlier and smaller DC-2, in 1935, the DC-3 was handling 93 percent of all the world's
air travel by 1939. The commercial DC-3 is credited with bringing standardization to the airlines which
accounted for much of the growth of air transportation. C. R. Smith, president of American Airlines,
claims that the DC-3 was the first airplane to be able to make money just by hauling passengers.
Model is in full dress. WWII invasion stripes and the AAF
stars are easily applied decorations which provide a colorful craft. Airline markings can be substituted
With ballast replacing engines, Douglas craft became the
CG-17, a troop carrying glider for towing by another C-47. Test pilots declared it one of the stablest
Later C-47's delivered to Air Force were recognizable by
unpainted surfaces. This is an Air Transport Command craft. ATC was succeeded by the present well-known
President Eisenhower listed the C-47 as one of the four
major weapons of WW II! Walt's control line scale model is one you will want to add to your fleet. Now's
the time to start work.
Fitted with special doors and jumping equipment, the Douglas
became C-53 paratrooper transport of the Army's air arm (below). Painted surfaces and insignia design
mark this as early job.
The 10,691 commercial and military versions built varied in weight from 23,624 lbs. to 34,162 lbs.,
in speed from 206 mph to 230 mph, and in power from a total of 1,800 hp to 2,400 hp. Operating best
at levels between 10,000 and 14,000 feet, this "work horse" could easily climb to 20,000 feet.
With the advent of WW II the DC-3 was given many military duties. It hauled gliders and carried
paratroopers over every front, it dropped food and ammunition to surrounded troops, it ferried supplies
to the various battlefronts. Carrying important military personnel as well as U.S.O. entertainers and
mail were among this plane's varied duties.
The DC-3 bore numerous military designations. Christened
the R4D by the Navy and Marines, the DC-3 was called C-41a, C-47A to D, C-48 to C-48C, C-49 to C-49K,
C-50 to C-50D, C-51, C-52 to C-52C, C-53 to C-53D, and C-117A by the A.A.F. and the Air Force. Those
aircraft fitted for paratroopers were called "Sky troopers. "
Before we describe our 1/2 in.
to 1 ft. scale control line model of this famous plane we would like to thank "Red" Rehfield and Don
Black of Douglas Aircraft Company for their kind cooperation that made this model possible.
Any two engines of from .14 to .23 cubic inch displacement can be successfully installed in our model
C-47. These powerplants can be installed inverted, upright or in pancake fashion, either beam or bulkhead
mounted. We used O.K. Cub .19 engines and these powered the model in a most realistic manner. When either
engine stops the craft does not drop sharply but can actually sustain flight if it is "led" slightly
by the flyer.
Despite the four-foot wingspan the model does not appear cumbersome and therefore
we felt it was not necessary to install removable wings, etc.
This craft is no harder to construct
than the conventional single-engine scale control liner. The first item to make is the center section
of the wing. Trace the ribs onto the sheet balsa and cut them to shape with a single-edge razor blade.
Now, cut the spars to the correct size. The center section covering should be cut to shape from sheet
balsa. It will be necessary to butt-join at least three sheets of balsa to form the correct wing chord.
Cement the two spars to the lower covering, followed by the ribs. Do not neglect to allow a space for
the outer wing spar stubs which slide in place later. The covering is held to the spars and ribs with
straight pins until the cement is dry.
Bend the 1/8" landing gear to shape with pliers. Each
main gear is bent in one piece. The ends meet in the wheel hub. Install the wheel and then bend the
1/16" wire strut in the shape of a fork and bind and solder it to the main gear. The landing gear is
attached to the center section by means of a plywood sandwich. Note that these plywood pieces are not
of the same width because of the lower camber of the wing.
Cement the main landing gear strut
between the plywood and clamp together until dry. Cement this assembly firmly to the lower covering
and forward spar. Plenty of the adhesive should be used in order to insure a secure installation. It
will be found that it is necessary to cut two 1/8" wide notches in the covering in order to allow the
landing gear strut to fit in its proper location. The auxiliary 1/16" strut should not be firmly attached
to the wing but should merely pierce the lower covering in order to be able to move when the main gear
flexes during take-offs and landings.
While the landing gear installation is drying thoroughly,
the upper covering should be prepared. Bevel the leading and trailing edges of the lower covering so
as to fair with the rib upper camber. Cement the covering to the front spar, holding in place with pins.
Apply plenty of cement to the ribs, spar and bevel on the after end of the center section and cement
the covering to it, again holding in place with pins until dry. Repeat this for the forward portion
of the center section.
Trace and cut the keel and formers to shape from sheet balsa
and firmly cement the keel to the exact center of the center section. When cutting the keel make certain
that the notches for the stabilizer, wing and bellcrank are cut out as shown. The first two must be
done very accurately in view of the fact that the wing and tail angles of incidence depend on these
cut-outs. Cement the fuselage formers to the keel at this time.
The stabilizer should now be
constructed. After all of the ribs and the spar have been cut out the ribs are cemented to the spar.
While this is drying the covering should be cut to shape. First cement both the upper and lower covering
to the spar. This is followed by cementing the coverings, one at a time, to the ribs and to each other
at the leading edge . Bevel the spar as shown to facilitate the elevator movement.
balsa is used for the elevator halves. After these are cut to outline shape with a coping saw they should
be carved and sanded to a streamline shape. Now, carefully cut a groove into the leading portion of
the elevators to accommodate the dowel joiner. This joiner must be cemented to the elevators very securely,
since much depends upon it. When. thoroughly dry firmly fasten the commercial control horn to the dowel
joiner. Join the elevator assembly to the stabilizer by means of cloth or other hinges.
construction details are available on the full-size plans (see view at top of page).
Douglas DC-3 / C-47 Plans
Full-size plans for the Douglas C-47 area a part of Group Plan #1249, Hobby Helpers, 770 Hunts Point
Ave., New York 59, N.Y. (50¢)
The AMA Plans Service offers a full-size
version of many of the plans show here at a very reasonable cost. They will scale the plans any size for you. It is always
best to buy printed plans because my scanner versions often have distortions that can cause parts to fit poorly. Purchasing
plans also help to support the operation of the Academy of Model
Aeronautics - the #1 advocate for model aviation throughout the world. If the AMA no longer has this plan on file, I
will be glad to send you my higher resolution version.
Try my Scale Calculator for Model Airplane Plans.
Posted March 2, 2013
Even during the busiest times of my life I have endeavored to maintain
some form of model building activity. This site has been created to help me chronicle my journey
through a lifelong involvement in model aviation, which
all began in Mayo, MD. There
is a lot of good information and there are lot
of pictures throughout the website that you will probably find useful, and might
even bring back some old memories from your own days of yore. The website began life around
1996 as an EarthLink screen name of ModelAirplanes, and quickly grew to where more server
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