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Navy R5D-4 Skymaster - Castle Air Museum

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Douglas R5D-4 Skymaster transport

R5D-4 Skymaster Castle Air Museum

During World War II, the R5D (the Naval version of the C-54 Skymaster) played an important role in long range transport in the Naval Air Transport Service (NATS).

The service was established in December of 1941, and before the end of the war, NATS had grown to include routes which served Alaska and the Aleutians, the Pacific and the Atlantic, using various types of transport aircraft including the Skymaster. Although the Naval Air Transport Service never grew to the size of the Army Transport Service, NATS delivered critical cargo while establishing a noteworthy safety record.

MATS emblem

This museum aircraft, serial number 90407, is a later version C-54E, which the Navy received and designated as R5D-4. It served post-WWII in the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) with squadron VR-8 at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and still wears the squadron's markings from 1949.

In the photo above, the letters "MATS" along with the insignia can be see on the nose, below the cabin. The words "Military Air Transport" Service is painted on the fuselage behind the cablin and "Pacific Division" can be seen on the tail. In 1948 the Military Air Transport Service was created by combining the Navy Air Transport Service and the Army Transport Service. A close-up of the MATS emblem is shown above, right.

Navy R5D Skymaster transport

Generally, the R5D-4 version had the two fuselage tanks removed and additional collapsible tanks installed in the wings. It had ten passenger seats on either side of the aisle to accommodate 20 passengers - seats could be removed to carry cargo. This model had a fuel capacity of 3,540 U.S. gallons and was produced in the Douglas Santa Monica plant. Museum information states that the R5D-4 carried a crew of 4 and was powered by four 1,450 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2000-9A radial engines.

Photos taken at Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California, by staff of