C-47 SKYTRAIN, THE "GOONEY BIRD" FROM DOUGLAS is a new title by DAVID DOYLE, part of Schiffer Publishing’s series "Legends of Warfare (Aviation)." This pictorial book chronicles the DC-1 through the AC-47D, and includes a chapter covering the glider tugs and floatplane variants.


C-47 Skytrain, The "Gooney Bird" from Douglas  is a forthcoming title by David Doyle, part of Schiffer Publishing’s series "Legends of Warfare (Aviation)."   It is due for release this March, and ready for pre-order.

This pictorial book chronicles the C-47 from the DC-1 through the AC-47, and includes a chapter covering the floatplane variant and glider tugs.  A 9"x9" hardback of 144 semi-gloss pages, packed with hundreds of color or black-and-white photographs, it is catalogued with ISBN 978-0-7643-6790-8.    Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. is the publisher and the book is also available at a discount from the author at DavidDoyleBooks.com

Legends of Warfare is a series of books of standard size, layout, and range from 112 to 144 pages in length.  They have a clean look to them and thus easy to read and learn from.  Whether your interest is modeling, history or restoration, the focus is on the evolution and variant details of the C-47 flock.   

The genesis of David Doyle Books began while restoring military vehicles, while at the same time working in a hobby shop.  Thus, his keen emphasis on what so many people of those communities value about his work.


Ah, the C-47.  Seeing a DC-3/C-47 still creates a stir for me.   And others, too - my aerospace engineer friend had an astronaut autograph a book for me and when he mentioned that I had time in the Douglas, the astronaut straightened up and proclaimed, "I had the honor of flying the DC-3."  The US military named it the Skytrain and the British called it the Dakota.  She had dozens of nicknames, Gooney Bird being most common.   It seems to me that the three favorite transports in the modeling world are the C-47, Ju 52, and C-130.  Concerning Allied victory in the Second World War, General Dwight D. Eisenhower stated, "... four other pieces of equipment that most senior officers came to regard as among the most vital to our success in Africa and Europe were the bulldozer, the jeep, the 2--ton truck, and the C-47 airplane."  Why do you want a book about any of them?  For technical research?  Ideas to model?  Memories of being a crewmember or riding in them?  Because the subject is cool?

Regardless, this book should satisfy any of the above.  While the author includes a great deal of technical information, this is predominately a visually oriented book.  I have some time flying Gooney Birds and yet the volume of photos in the gallery seems like almost every practical vantage point is covered across one variant or another.  Modelers should be able to verify almost any technical question they have about the airplane.

C-47 Skytrain, The "Gooney Bird" from Douglas is told through seven chapters and an Introduction:

1. C-47 and C-53 (27 pages)

2. C-47A (13 pages)

3. C-47B (7 pages)

4. Floatplanes and Glider Tugs (8 pages)

5. C-47 in World War II (22 pages)

6. USAF (9 pages)

7. C-47 in the Vietnam Era (40 pages)

The author presents not only the nuts and bolts history, he also includes archival information such as contract numbers and dates of signing, and explains how to decipher production block numbers, i.e., "C-47A-1-DL."   The detail recounts how the government negotiated new profit margins for aircraft procurement.  Non-flying history is discussed including pre-war and wartime production facilities and histories, i.e., how the C-47 created today's Tinker Air Force Base.

An eight-page Introduction opens with the iconic popularity of Douglas Aircraft's masterpiece, and recounts its origins and development from the DC-1 to the DC-3, and its ascendancy over the rival Boeing Model 247.  Throughout the book, designations are provided for "drafted" and developed military versions.  Spotting features between military and civil Gooneys are noted in captions.

C-47A tells the story of the prevalent Gooney model and C-53 developments.  Differences are presented, e.g., a new electrical system and cockpit heating system (the FAA-despised "muff heater" that I preferred), seating configurations.  C-49B is a shorter chapter about the high-altitude C-47, and why it was developed.  You will find the same attention to detail afforded to the previous chapter.  Floatplanes and Glider Tugs is particularly interesting for the eight photos of the amphibious XC-47C.  I knew of the float Skytrain but not that it was amphibious, and tested with RATO packs.  Better know is the Skytrain's glider towing capability.

C-47 in World War II gives a brief introduction of the use of the C-47 and the countries that used it.  A large three-column table lists production blocks by serial numbers, models, and factories.  Otherwise, we are treated to dozens of wonderful photos and informative captions.

USAF recounts the post-war fate of Skytrains.  Explained is what the civilian government required to convert them to DC-3 standards.  Many were surplussed to other countries but the new USAF still relied on the C-47, especially for the Berlin Airlift, and a new role in the Korean War.  Finally, C-47 in the Vietnam Era presents the aircraft's role over Vietnam, including the legendary AC-47 gunship, and its brother, the FC-47.  Finally, Republic of Vietnam Air Force C-47s.

Thousands of pages can be written about this aircraft although for what I wanted to know, this book provides more than what I expected.  It is an exceptional overview of the C-47.

Photographs and Graphics


A wealth of photos bring the text to life.  Many are contemporary black-and-white or color photos.  Plenty are recent color photos of static or flying C-47s belonging to museums and flight organizations.   These afford the modeler with many excellent views of components and areas of the aircraft rarely seen in wartime photos, including views I though I would never see again, like the outside of the cockpit escape hatch and top of the fuselage (don't ask).  The gallery of photos contain some gems.  In particular;

  • Tripod boom attached to fittings on the fuselage over the cargo door, hoisting crates.
  • C-47 cabin showing metal bench seats stowed, and lowered for sitting.
  • C-49B cabin showing airliner-style seating.
  • Uncowled engine surrounded by scaffolding.
  • Assembly lines.
  • Engine and accessory compartments.
  • Manhandling an aircraft engine into an Australian C-47.
  • Manhandling a jeep into a RAF Dakota.
  • Lavatory and toilet.
  • Cockpit and center control pedestal.
  • Pilot's area seen from copilot seat, and visa versa.


    1. Specifications per USAAF Erection and Maintenance Manual listing values of the four main models:

  • C-47 Skytrain/R4D-1/Dakota Mk. I
  • C-47A Skytrain/R4D-5/Dakota Mk. III
  • C-47B Skytrain/R4D-6/Dakota Mk. IV
  • C-53 Skytrooper/R4D-3/Dakota Mk. II.

The specs are:

  • Engines
  • Takeoff hp
  • Propeller diameter
  • Cruising speed
  • Operating altitude
  • Integral fuel capacity (US gallons)
  • Range
  • Maximum payload
  • Wingspan
  • Length
  • Height (tailwheel on ground)
  • Wing area.

    2. Aircraft production table, as mentioned above.

A strength of this book is the gallery of images and narratives with each one.


Mr. Doyle has created an exceptional overview of the C-47 with C-47 Skytrain, The "Gooney Bird" from Douglas, and he and Schiffer Publishing can be proud of it.  With a detailed text well balanced between the geeky trivia I love, aircraft technical features, and a wider historical look at the C-47's role in history,  fortified with a splendid gallery of photos, modelers and historians should be well pleased with this book.  I am.

I do not know how many "Threes" are still humming along out there.  The three Threes I have the most time in received the Basler turbo conversion about 20 years ago.  About a month ago I heard a familiar rumble from the sky and spotted a "Douglas racer" majestically mumbling along from a place to another place.  I'm glad she  swung by to say "hi," almost as if to celebrate this book.  I recommend it, too.

Please remember to mention to David Doyel Books, Schiffer Publishing, and retailers that you saw this product here - on Aeroscale.



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