The Douglas C-54 Skymaster was the military variation of the DC-4 commercial transport. This propeller-driven aircraft was flown by the U.S. Army Air Force in WWII and the U.S. Air Force in the Korean War.
Although its primary role was cargo transport, other variations of the C-54 flew air-sea rescue, scientific, military research, and missile tracking and recovery missions. A C-54 was also the first presidential transport aircraft. Known as "The Sacred Cow," the aircraft was used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
During the Berlin Airlift, 1948-1949, C-54s delivered coal, food, and other supplies to the people of blockaded West Berlin. Specially modified C-54Es, designated C-54Ms, hauled thousands of tons of coal during the airlift. The museum's C-54M is the only survivor of the original 38 M-models.
In 1989 this aircraft was delivered to the museum. It's now painted in the WWII markings that it wore to the end of the Berlin Airlift.
[Captions, clockwise from top right:]
Type: Cargo transport
Powerplant: Four 1,450-hp Pratt & Whitney R-2000-9 Twin Wasp radial piston engines
Maximum Speed: 275 mph
Range: 4,000 mi. with max payload
Service ceiling: 22,300 ft
Max Takeoff Weight: 73,000
Crew: Pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, and navigator
Payload: 28,000 lb of cargo, 50 troops in canvas bucket seats, or 44 passengers
Wing Span - 117 ft 5 in
Length - 93 ft 5 in
Height - 27 ft 5 in
Above: The museum's C-54 is loaded with coal during the Berlin Airlift at Frankfurt Airport, Germany.
Designed in the late 1930s, the C-54 was an all-metal aircraft apart from its fabric-covered control surfaces.
The civilian version of the C-54 was the DC-4.
Only two aircraft used the R-2000 engine—the C-54 and much newer C-7 Caribou. Although it was a good performer, larger displacement engines with a higher power ratio surpassed its capabilities.