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Douglas C-47 Skytrain
DOUGLAS C-47D Skytrain ("Kilroy Is Here")
Take A Virtual Tour of Kilroy's Cockpit and Innards
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The C-47 was a military derivative of the world famous Douglas DC-3 commercial airliner. The first contract for fully militarized C-47s was let September 16, 1940. Deliveries of DC-3s and DC-3As to US and foreign airlines reached 430 before the US entry into World War II. Manufacture of commercial aircraft was then suspended. The US Army Air Force (USAAF) took over all civil DC-3s and DC-3As still on the production line. Because of the different airline specifications and variety of engines, these aircraft were assigned 22 different designations. Those DC-3s already in US airline service were impressed into the military and included nine different designations. All branches of the US Armed Forces flew the C-47 Skytrain, C-53 Skytrooper, or R4D, as appropriate. The British Commonwealth air forces called the aircraft Dakota. Douglas delivered the last C-47 to the USAAF on October 23, 1945.

This C-47 was built by the Douglas Aircraft Company in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and delivered to the USAAF on March 27, 1945. It was originally one of 133 TC-47B-DK trainers. TC-47Bs were equipped as navigational trainers. If you stand behind the tail and look along the top of the plane’s fuselage you will see two round plates between the clear astrodome and the tail. These were positions for two other astrodomes for training navigators in celestial (sun, stars, moon) navigation. In 1947, the aircraft was modified to a C-47D configuration by removing the high altitude blowers from the engines. Two years later, it was converted to a VC-47D staff/VIP (Very Important Person) transport. The C-47 ended its Air Force service in 1966 but continued in US Government service with the Atomic Energy Commission and Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA/APHIS).

While flying with the USDA, the C-47 took part in the Screwworm Eradication Program along the south Texas-Mexico border. It flew from Moore Field in Mission, Texas and from Tampico, Mexico. Sometime in 1979-1980, the aircraft was released as surplus property and parked at Douglas, Arizona, with other surplus USDA aircraft. Combat Air Museum learned about the plane through the Kansas federal surplus property agency and acquired the plane through the surplus property program in May 1980.

Our C-47 is named after and painted in the markings of a World War II C-47Skytrain. The real Kilroy flew with the 92nd Troop Carrier Squadron, 439th Troop Carrier Group of the IX Troop Carrier Command. The J8 signifies the 92nd squadron. The I signifies the individual radio call letter. The black and white stripes are commonly called “Invasion Stripes.” They were painted on all Allied aircraft taking part in the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, as recognition stripes and were applied less than 24 hours prior to the invasion. The stripes were to warn Allied forces on sea, land, and in the air, to not fire on their own aircraft.

C-47s like Kilroy carried paratroopers of the 82nd “All American” and 101st  “Screaming Eagles” Airborne over Normandy in the pre-dawn hours of June 6 to parachute into enemy held territory and secure key positions before the arrival of the invasion fleet. They also towed in airborne glider forces.

This aircraft is owned by Combat Air Museum.


March 1945 
2517th Base Unit, Ellington Field, (Houston) Texas
April 1946 
3010th Base Unit, Williams Field, (Chandler) Arizona
December 1947
Modified to C-47D
January 1948
2533rd Base Unit, Goodfellow Field, (El Paso) Texas
February 1948 
4121st Base Unit, Kelly Field, (San Antonio) Texas
August 1948
3545th Technical Training Wing (Air Training Command (ATC)), Goodfellow Air Force Base (AFB)
December 1948
Unit Transferred to Chanute AFB, (Rantoul) Illinois
July 1949 
Modified to VC-47D
October 1949
3310th Headquarters Squadron (ARC), Scott AFB, (Belleville) Illinois
December 1949
3750th Technical Training Wing (ATC) Sheppard AFB, (Wichita Falls) Texas
August 1951
ATC Headquarters, Scott AFB
December 1951
3310th Technical Training Wing (ATC), Scott AFB
August 1957
3300th Support Squadron (ATC), Randolph AFB, (San Antonio) Texas
June 1960
Keesler Technical Training Center, Keesler AFB, (Biloxi) Mississippi
July 1962
3380th Maintenance and Supply Group (ATC), Keesler AFB
April 1963 
Transferred on loan to Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), Albuquerque, New Mexico. Records maintained by Wright-Patterson AFB, (Dayton) Ohio
June 1966 
Air Force Logistics Command Headquarters, Wright-Patterson AFB
November 1966
Dropped from US Air Force inventory. Remained with AEC.
December 1972
US Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Moore Air Base, (Mission) Texas, and Tampico, Mexico.
May 1980
Transferred to the Combat Air Museum
Douglas Aircraft Company
Basic Role:
Cargo/Personnel transport: 6,000 lbs (2725 kg) of cargo, or 28 paratroopers, or 14 stretchers
Pilot, co-pilot, radio operator
Two Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp (1,200 hp; 895kW each) 14-cylinder, air cooled radial engines
Max speed:
224 mph (360km/h)           
Cruising speed:
160mph (257km/h)
Service ceiling:
26,400 ft (8,045m)
1,600 miles (2,575km) 
3,600 miles (5,795km)
95 ft 6 in (29.11m) 
63 ft 9 in (19.43m)
17 ft (5.18m)
Wing Area:
987 sq ft (91.7 sq m)
Weight - Empty:
18,135 lbs (8,226kg)  
26,000 (11,793kg)  
31,000 lbs (14,061kg)
Serial number:
USAF 44-76582
Kilroy over Topeka
Kilroy Over Topeka (note: this plane is no longer flown - display only)
Kilroy flyover
Skytrain EngineTail of Skytrain
DOUGLAS C-47D Skytrain
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