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C-54 Skymaster Long Range Transport

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Skymaster - Non-stop to Pacific or European Theaters


C-54 Skymaster - WWII American transport plane

C54 Skymaster transport in flight. U.S. Air Force photo.

The Douglas C-54 Skymaster was the first USAAF four engine transport and with a maximum range of 3,000 miles, it could fly non-stop to either the Pacific or European Theaters. Entering service in 1942, it was ordered in large numbers and played an important role in US long range transport during World War II with a few C-54s being supplied to Britain under Lend-Lease.


Known for its long range and large cargo capacity, it carried a crew of 6 which included 2 relief members, with a maximum load of 28,000 pounds of cargo or 49 passengers the intended range. Various version were build including a 26 passenger transport, a troop transport with benches, a medical stretcher transport and a a cargo version with twin-boom hoist with a large access door.


C-54 and the Air Transport Command (ATC)


Crescent Caravan

Dedication plaque to those who ferried aircraft world wide, 1945-1946. Plaque is located in Memorial Park, National Museum of the United States Air Force. See Text to the left.

It was heavily used in WWII by the Air Transport Command (ATC) flying the Crescent Caravan which eventually included routes to Europe, Africa, and India. Text on the plaque shown to the right reads, "Dedicated in remembrance of all who served in the 2nd Ferrying Group, Ferrying Division Air Transport Command, New Castle Army Air Base, Delaware 1942-1946. The group delivered aircraft all over the world and was the first to utilize women pilots, the WAFS and WASP. In late 1943, the group established a scheduled military airline Crescent Caravan from New Castle, Delaware to Calcutta, India, Flying C-54 type aircraft."


MacArthur, Churchill, Roosevelt, Transported by Skymasters


C-54 Skymaster "Sacred Cow"

Douglas VC-54C Sacred Cow. USAF Museum photo.

During WW II, the C-54 was also used as a personal transport by General MacArthur, and Winston Churchill and transported the American delegates to the Casablanca Conference in 1943. The forerunner of Air Force One, a modified C-54 named Sacred Cow, became the first military aircraft to carry a U.S. president when President Roosevelt flew to Russia for the Yalta Conference in February 1945.


Military Service to Late 1970s

After World War II the C-54 Skymaster saw service in the Berlin Airlift, and the Korea and Vietnam Wars, continuing service in the US military until the late 1970s.


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* C-54 Skymaster facts

Category Transport plane
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
Introduced 1942
Used in
WWII by


United States Army Air Forces
United States Navy
Number built 1,170
Cruising speed 190 mph
Max. speed 275 mph
Altitude 22,300 feet service ceiling
Range 3,900 miles
* Numbers are approximate