The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota is a military transport aircraft that was developed from the Douglas DC-3 airliner. It was used extensively by the Allies during World War II and remained in front line operations through the 1950s with a few remaining in operation to this day.
During World War II, the armed forces of many countries used the C-47 and modified DC-3s for the transport of troops, cargo and wounded. Over 10,000 aircraft were produced in Long Beach and Santa Monica, California and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City plant produced 5,354 C-47s from March 1943 until August 1945.
The C-47 was vital to the success of many Allied campaigns, in particular those at Guadalcanal and in the jungles of New Guinea and Burma where the C-47 (and its naval version, the R4D) made it possible for Allied troops to counter the mobility of the light-traveling Japanese army. Additionally, C-47s were used to airlift supplies to the embattled American forces during the Battle of Bastogne. But possibly its most influential role in military aviation was flying "The Hump" from India into China. The expertise gained flying "The Hump" would later be used in the Berlin Airlift, in which the C-47 would play a major role, until being replaced by the C-54.
In Europe, the C-47 and a specialized paratroop variant, the C-53 Skytrooper, were used in vast numbers in the later stages of the war, particularly to tow gliders and drop paratroops. In the Pacific, with careful use of the island landing strips of the Pacific Ocean, C-47s were even used for ferrying soldiers serving in the Pacific theater back to the United States.
C-47s in British and Commonwealth service took the name Dakota, from the acronym "DACoTA" for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft. The C-47 also earned the nickname Gooney Bird during the European theater of operations.
After World War II Douglas structurally modified a number of the early Navy R4D aircraft and the US Navy re-designated the modified aircraft as R4D-8, later C-117D, sometimes referred to as the Super Dakota.
The Pakistan Air Force used C-47 Dakota cargo planes which it used to transport supplies to the Pakistan Army soldiers fighting in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947 against India.
Several C-47 variations were used in the Vietnam War by the United States Air Force, including three advanced electronic warfare variations designated EC-47N,EC-47P,or EC-47Qs depending on the engine used. EC-47's were also operated by the Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian Air Forces. A gunship variation, utilizing three 7.62mm miniguns, designated AC-47 "Spooky" often nicknamed "Puff the Magic Dragon" was also deployed.
The Royal Canadian Air Force also adopted the C-47 for use in search & rescue operations throughout the 1940s and 50s.
After World War II thousands of surplus C-47s were converted to civil airline use, some remaining in operation in 2009. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Dakota