These are some of the Aircraft associated with 63 Airborne Composite Company RASC
Douglas C 47 Dakota
The Douglas C47, known as the Dakota in the Royal Air Force and Commonwealth services, became the world's best known transport aircraft.
The type saw widespread use by the Allies during the Second World War and by Air Forces and airlines post-war.
The C47 Sky train and C53 Skytrooper were military versions of the DC3 airliner. The DC3 first flew in 1935 and was ordered by America's
airlines. With the outbreak of war these aircraft were diverted to the Allied Air Forces, followed by 10000 military variants constructed before
production ceased in 1946. Japan and the Soviet Union also built over 2000 unlicensed copies.
The first of over 1900 Dakotas received by the RAF arrived in India in 1942. Dakotas served in every theatre of the war, notably in Burma,
during the D-Day landings and the airborne assault on Arnhem in 1944.
Most RAF Dakotas had been retired or sold by 1950, the last active aircraft leaving the service in 1970. The Royal Aircraft Establishment at
Farnborough operated a former Royal Canadian Air Force example (ZA947) from 1971 until 1993, when it joined the Battle of Britain Memorial
British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) took their first deliveries of Douglas Dakota C47s in 1943 and the last of approximately 60 aircraft
in 1946. During WWII Dakotas were operated by both the RAF and BOAC.
Design and manufacture
Redesign of civilian DC-3 twin-engine commercial airliner for role of military cargo transport. Large cargo-loading doors, reinforced floor.
Astrodome added behind flight deck. Two P & W R-1830-92 radials. 229 mph at 7500 ft. Crew 3. Up to 6000 lbs of cargo could be carried.
Most widely used military transport in World War 2. Used by RAF as Dakota, by US Navy as R4D. "Puff the Magic Dragon" version equipped
with three 7.62mm Miniguns and used in Vietnam as heavily-armed gun ships.
Type: Military Transport C47 Skytrain
Origin: Douglas USA
Models: DC 3 C 32 – YC 129
First Flight: 17th December 1935 entered service civil airline
Number Produced: 10,654 between 1935 and 1947
Crew: 3 Air Crew, 4 Air Despatchers
Capacity: 28 Parachutist’s
Length: 64 ft 5 ½ ins ( 19.63 m )
Wingspan: 95 ft (28.96 m )
Height: 16 ft 4 ins ( 4.97 m )
Empty: 16,865 lbs
Maximum takeoff: 25,200 lbs
Maximum Cruising: Speed 229 mph
Ceiling: 23,200 ft
Range with maximum fuel: 2,125 miles
Engines: 2 X 895 – KW Pratt and Whitney R-1830-S1C3G
AS.58 Horsa Mk II
The use of assault gliders by the British was prompted by the use by Germany of the DFS 230, which was first used in May 1940 to
successfully assault the Eben Emael fort in Belgium. Their advantage compared to parachute assault was that the troops were landed
together in one place, rather than being dispersed.
With around 28 troop seats, the Horsa was much bigger than the 13-troop American Waco CG-4A (known as the Hadrian by the British),
and the 8-troop General Aircraft Hotspur glider which was intended for training duties only. As well as troops, the AS51 could carry a jeep or
a 6 pounder gun. The AS.58 Horsa Mk.II had a hinged nose section, reinforced floor and double nose wheels to support the extra weight of
The Horsa was first used in combat on July 10, 1943, when 27 were used in the invasion of Sicily. Large numbers were subsequently used in
the Normandy, Operation Dragoon, Operation Market Garden, and Operation Varsity (Crossing the river Rhine). In Normandy, the first troops
to land in France did so using Horsa's, capturing Pegasus Bridge.
A Horsa glider just after takeoff, under tow from a C47 Dakota.
The glider would lift-off before the tow aircraft, and had to be
flown close to the ground to avoid lifting the tail of the tow aircraft
Airborne troops load a Jeep and trailer they have unloaded from their
Horsa glider which can be seen to the left with the tail removed.
Damage to the wing of the glider in the background shows how crowded
the landing zone has become
On operations they were towed variously by Stirlings, Halifax, Albemarle, Whitley and C-47 Dakota tugs, using a harness
that attached to both wings. Glider pilots were usually from the Glider Pilot Regiment, part of the Army Air Corps,
although Royal Air Force pilots were used on occasion. The Horsa was also used in service by the USAF.
On June 5, 2004, as part of the 60th anniversary commemoration of D-Day, Prince Charles unveiled a replica Horsa on
the site of the first landing at Pegasus Bridge, and talked with the original pilot of the aircraft, Jim Wallwork.
Design and manufacture
The Horsa was designed to specification X.26/40 and built from 1940 onwards. It first flew on 12 September, 1941.
The Horsa featured a high-wing and was of all-wooden construction due to the shortage of other materials and the
expendable nature of the aircraft. It was one of the first gliders equipped with a tricycle undercarriage for take-off.
On operational flights this was jettisoned and landing was made on a skid under the fuselage. The wing carried large,
'barn door' flaps, which when lowered conferred a steep high rate-of-descent landing that allowed the pilots to land in
The Horsa was considered sturdy and very manoeuvrable for a glider. 3655 were built by Airspeed as well as companies
outside the aircraft industry such as Austin Motors and the furniture manufacturers Harris Lebus. The gliders were built in
a number of sections, each produced in a separate factories in case of German attack.
Type: Assault Glider
Models: Horsa I and II
First Flight: Prototype DG597: September 12, 1941
Service Delivery: DP279: May 1942
Number Produced: 3,644
Capacity: 25 passengers
Length: 67 ft (20.4 m)
Wingspan: 88 ft (26.8 m)
Height: 21 ft (6.4 m)
Wing area: 1,148 ft² (106.7 m²)
Empty: 7,500 lb (3,400 kg)
Loaded: 15,250 lb (6,920 kg)
Maximum takeoff: lb ( kg)
Towing speed: 127 mph (204 km/h)
Gliding speed: 100 mph (160 km/h)