Douglas R4D-6S
U.S. Navy Transport & Air-Sea Warfare

r4d.jpg (8889 bytes) The Ghost Squadron's R4D-6S was equipped with radar and other electronics for submarine hunting.

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

Developed from the commercial DC-3 airliner, the Douglas transport went to war with the Army Air Corps as the C-47 and with the Navy and Marine Corps as the R4D.

First ordered for the Navy in 1941, the R4D-1 was a cargo transport and served as the basic equipment for the Naval Air Transport Service (NATS), which was created on 12 December, 1941. In 1942, the South Pacific Combat Air Transport Service was formed, and used R4Ds to carry supplies into combat zones and airlift casualties out. In one month, over 22,000 passengers, 3,300,000 pounds of freight and 941,000 pounds of mail were delivered by this unit.

In addition to normal transport duties, R4Ds were equipped for various specialized roles, indicated by a special letter suffix added to their basic designation. For example, an R4D-4Q was fitted for radar countermeasures; the R4D-5E carried special electronics equipment; the R4D-5T was a navigation trainer; the R4D-5Z an executive or VIP transport and the R4D-6S was equipped for air-sea warfare training.

The CAF's R4D-6S was one of only about 30 of this model specifically built for air-sea warfare. It carried the most modern air-to-surface radar available, and some of the early style radar antennas can be seen under the rear fuselage and on the sides of the nose, beneath the cockpit windows.

In addition to air-sea warfare training, some R4D-6Ss saw actual combat. Records of these air-sea warfare operations are still classified secret, however, this aircraft's squadron is credited with sinking a German U-boat in the Atlantic.

Purchased by sponsors in the early 1980s and donated to the CAF Ghost Squadron, the plane was restored to its original World War II appearance both inside and out over several years by members of its support team in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Even the original radio sets have been cosmetically restored and fitted in the radio operator's station.

The aircraft is painted in the Atlantic over-water camouflage scheme, designed to make it blend with the dark grey water from above and the white clouds from below.

In 1985, this R4D, named "Ready 4 Duty", flew from Texas, across the Atlantic ocean, to Great Britain and the Netherlands to represent the CAF at the 50th anniversary celebration of the DC-3/C-47/R4D/Dakota aircraft.

Manned by a crew of CAF volunteers, the aircraft not only completed the journey safely but was awarded a prize for the best restored military version at the display.


Crew of Three to Five
Two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90 Engines
Twin-row 14 cylinder Air-cooled Radials
1,200 hp @ 2,700 rpm

Hamilton Standard
Hydraulic Propellers

Up to 27 passengers or 10,000 lbs
of cargo in the transport role

Four aerial depth charges or bombs
in the anti-submarine role

Max. Speed 224 mph @ 10,000 ft
Cruise Speed 160 mph

Initial climb rate 940 ft/min
Climb to 10,000 ft in 9.5 minutes
Service Ceiling 26,400 ft

Length 63' 9"
Height 17'
Wing Span 95' 6"

Max. Weight 31,000 lbs
Empty Weight 18,135 lbs

Normal Range 1,600 miles
Maximum Range 3,600 miles


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All material not specifically credited is Copyright by Randy Wilson.