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.
I am in the process of building this
C-47 Skytrain control line
Another of Walter A. Musciano's fine drawings can be found in the November/December
edition of American Modeler for the
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
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 if desired.
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 gliders!
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 MATS.
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.
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.
Solid sheet 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.
Complete construction details are available on the full-size plans (see view at top
/ 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