C-46 Commando, U.S. Transport Aircraft

Photograph of C-46 Commando

U.S. Air Force

Curtiss C-46 Commando


Crew 4
Dimensions 108'1" x 76'4" x 21'9"
32.94m by 23.27m by 6.63m
Wing area 1360 sq ft
126 sq m
Weight 29,483-56,000 lbs
13,373-25,000 kg
Maximum speed       269 mph at 15,000 feet
433 km/h at 4600 meters
Cruise speed 193 mph
311 km/h
Rate of climb       20 feet per second
6.1 meters per second
Ceiling 27,600 ft
8410 meters
Powerplant 2 2000 hp (1490 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800-51 Double Wasp 18-cylinder radial engines driving three-bladed propellers
Armament normally none
Range 1600 miles (2600 km) maximum
890 miles (1430 km) with maximum payload
50 passengers or 33 casualties or 6 tons
Production 3,341 by 1945 at Curtiss-Wright Corporation, Buffalo, NY and other sites

The C-46A added a large cargo door, strengthened floor, and folding troop seats. About 1941 were produced.

The C-46D had a modified nose and double cargo doors.

The C-46F used 2200 hp (1640 kW) R-2800-75 engines.

The Commando was developed starting in 1936 as the CW-20, a pressurized airliner carrying 36 passengers. The first prototype flew on 26 March 1940 and immediately attracted the interest of the Army Air Corps. The militarized version replaced the original double fin with a single fin and dispensed with the pressurization system and most of the cabin windows.

The Commando was the principal cargo aircraft over The Hump. It also saw service in Europe, and it is still flying in some South American countries. (Take the bus.) It was capable of carrying 50 troops, or up to 33 litter casualties with nursing staff, or up to 6 tons of cargo. It was designated by the U.S. Navy as the R5C.

The Commando saw limited use as a transport for paratroops late in the war in Europe. Its large capacity and double doors were advantageous, but it had a tendency to catch fire when hit by antiaircraft fire, due poorly placed fuel tanks that were not self-sealing to maximize range.

About 80% of Commando aircrew were deployed against the Japanese.



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