One of the workhorses of the Second World War was the Douglas built C-54 "Skymaster." Designed in 1935, and first flown in February of 1942, over 1100 were delivered to the Army Air Forces by the end of the war. The C-54's maximum range of 3,900 miles allowed it to transport men and material from the United States to either the European or the Pacific Theaters non-stop. President Roosevelt and President Truman used an Air Transport Command C-54, nicknamed the "Sacred Cow" for their personal aircraft.
The C-54 is located on the traffic circle in front of the Base Exchange.
After the war, many of the C-54s were converted back to airliners. During the Russian blockade of Berlin, C-54s flew food and medical supplies to the beleaguered city. The "Berlin Airlift” which lasted from June 1948 to September 1949, was broken by the Allies ability to supply the city by air.
Our C-54D had an interesting life. Built for the Air Force as a C-54D, she was assigned serial number 42-72560. She served the Air Force until 13 April 1955 when she was transferred to the United States Navy. She was given the Navy designation R5D-3 and assigned Bureau number 56505. In October of 1958 she was assigned to operation "Deep Freeze” and flew men and supplies to the Antarctic. Our C-54D was updated to C-54Q standards and flew from Naval Air Station Glenview before being surplused on 3 February 1975. She was sold to a fire bombing company who assigned her tanker number 149. She was acquired by the Heritage Center in December of 1988.
- Wing Span: 117'6"
- Length: 93'11
- Height: 27'6"
- Maximum Speed: 274 M.P.H. at Sea Level
- Service Ceiling: 22,000 Ft.
- Range: 1,500 Miles
- Crew/Passengers: 6 crew, 30 to 50 passengers/ troops
- Engines: 4 x 1,290 H.P. Pratt & Whitney R-2000-7 Twin Wasp radial engines
Information derived from “Travis Heritage Center” by Nick Veronico copyright Travis AFB Historical Society/Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum Foundation. This book is available from the Jimmy Doolittle Air and Space Museum GIFT SHOP located in the Travis Heritage Center.