Curtiss C-46F Commando
U.S. Transport

C-46.jpg (8894 bytes)  

Both of the Ghost Squadron's C-46s, Tinker Bell and China Doll.

Image source: The Confederate Air Force Ghost Squadron CD-ROM produced by Corel. Photos by Bill Crump.

The heaviest and largest twin-engined aircraft to see operational use with the USAAF, the Curtiss C-46 was widely used in the Pacific theater during World War II, especially in the China-Burma-India (CBI) area.

Originally designed by the Curtiss Aeroplane Division of the Curtiss Wright Corporation in 1937 as a 36 passenger commercial airliner, the prototype first flew on March 26, 1940. The design caught the attention of the Army in late 1941, and 46 were ordered as transports. The first production C-46 was produced at the Curtiss factory in Buffalo, New York in May of 1942.

The next model, the C-46A, had uprated engines with better high altitude performance and a strengthened cargo floor, allowing greater loads to be carried. This model played a major role in operations over the "Hump", flying fuel and other supplies from bases in India, over the Himalayan mountain range to China, after the capture of Burma and the Burma Road by the Japanese. Over 1,490 C-46As were built.

Hump supply mission began in April 1942 and continued until 1945. The C-46 was joined by the C-47, C-87, C-109 and C-54 transports and tankers on the route, and together they delivered an average of 45,000 tons of cargo per month. The route was also called the "Aluminum Trail" by some, due to the number of crashed aircraft which dotted the route across the high mountains.

The C-46D was a troop carrier version of the C-46A freighter, and 1,410 were built. The US Marine Corps received 160 C-46As, given the Navy designation R5C-1. The last versions scheduled for production were the C-46G and H, the latter fitted with more powerful engines and twin tailwheels, but orders for these models were canceled after the surrender of Japan in August 1945.

The CAF has two C-46s in the Ghost Squadron fleet, this one being named Tinker Belle. She is one of about 234 C-46F models built with R-2800-75 engines, three-bladed propellers, squared wingtips and cargo doors on both sides of the fuselage.

Specifications (data for C-46A)

Normal Crew of Four

Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-51 Engines
Twin-row 18 cylinder Air-cooled Radials
2,000 hp for Takeoff

10,000 lbs of Cargo or
Up to 50 Troops or 33 Stretchers

Max. Speed 270 mph @ 15,000 feet
Cruise Speed 183 mph

Climb to 10,000 ft in 17.4 minutes
Service Ceiling 27,600 ft

Length 76' 4"
Height 21' 9"
Wing Span 108' 1"

Max. Weight 56,000 lbs
Empty Weight 32,400 lbs

Normal Range 1,200 miles
Maximum Range 3,150 miles


Back to Ghost Squadron Aircraft Index

Ghost Squadron is a registered trademark of the Commemorative Air Force
All material not specifically credited is Copyright by Randy Wilson.