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United States' Curtiss C-46 Commando transport

Photos

  • Curtiss Wright C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss Wright C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando transport
  • Curtiss C-46 Commando transport

Design

The Curtiss C-46 Commando was developed from the CW-20 which was a passenger liner that could carry 36 passengers in a pressurized cabin. It was redesigned to be a troop and cargo transport for the United States Army and Navy.

The C-46 Commando was the largest two engine plane that was operational in World War II.

Prototype

The CW-20 first flew on March 26, 1940, in St. Louis.

Production

After the CW-20 flew it was ordered by the United States Army Air Corps. Only 25 were ordered.

At the end of World War II the 666 that were still to be built under contract were cancelled.

  • Curtiss CW-20 / Curtiss C-55 Prototypes: 1
  • Curtiss C-46: 25
  • Curtiss C-46A: 1,491
  • Curtiss XC-46C: 2
  • Curtiss C-46D: 1,410
    • Production: 1944
  • Curtiss C-46E: 17
  • Curtiss C-46F: 234
  • Curtiss C-46G: 1
  • Curtiss R5C-1: 160
  • Total: 3,180, ~3,200, 3,341
    • Manufacturer: Curtiss-Wright Corporation.
    • Production: May 1942 - ?

Variants

  • Curtiss CW-20 / Curtiss C-55: Had Wright R-2600 engines (1,700 HP). Had a twin tail fin.
  • Curtiss C-46: Tail fin was turned into a single fin. Pressurized cabin system was removed. Delivered in 1942. Had Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines. There were fewer cabin windows.
  • Curtiss C-46A: Had a cargo door installed in the fuselage. The floor was strengthened. Folding seats were installed along the walls.
  • Curtiss C-46D: Had a double cargo door installed in the fuselage. Nose was modified. Had stepped windshield. Was intended for paratroop drops.
  • Curtiss C-46E: Had R-2800-75 engines (2,200 HP). Wing tips were squared off. Single cargo door. Had stepped windshield.
  • Curtiss C-46F: Had R-2800-75 engines (2,200 HP). Wing tips were squared off.
  • Curtiss C-46G: Had R-2800-34 engines. Had double cargo door.
  • Curtiss C-46H: Had twin tail wheels. Cancelled after surrender of Japan.
  • Curtiss R5C-1: United States Marine Corps version of the C-46A.
  • Curtiss XC-46B: Had stepped windscreen.

Usage

C-46s were primarily used in the Pacific theater. The C-46s were used in operations over the "Hump" in China.

The Commandos started appearing in Europe in 1945.

British Use

The CW-20 prototype was given to Britain where it became the "Spirit of St. Louis" and was registered as G-AGDI.

Post World War II

The Commandos were used well into the 1960s.

Specifications

  Curtiss CW-20E Commando
Type Commercial Transport
Passenger 36
Engine (Type) 2: Wright R-3350 (C18B2)
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
HP 2,100 each
Dimensions  
Span 108' 1"
32.9 m
Length 76' 4"
23.3 m
Height 21' 9"
6.6 m
Wing area 1,360 sq ft
126.3 sq m
Weight  
Empty 32,100 lb
14,573 kg
Loaded 48,000 lb
21,792 kg
Performance  
Speed at 10,000' / 3,050 m 242 mph
387 kph
  Curtiss C-46 Commando
Type Transport, Paratroop and General Transport
Crew 4
Passenger 30 troops, 50 troops
OR 33 litters
OR 10,000 lb cargo, 12,500 lb
4,536 kg cargo
Engine (Type) 2: Pratt & Whitney, Pratt & Whitney R-2800-43
Cylinders Radial, Radial 18
Cooling Air
HP 1,850 each
R-2800-43: 2,000 each
Dimensions  
Span 108', 108' 1"
32.92 m, 32.94 m
Length 76' 4"
23.27 m
Height 19' 2", 21' 9", 22'
6.63 m, 6.71 m
Wing area 1,358 sq ft
126.16 sq m
Weight  
Empty 29,485 lb
13,374 kg
Loaded 40,000 lb
Loaded - Maximum 48,000 lb
21,773 kg
Performance  
Speed 240 mph
Speed at 13,000' / 3,962 m 264 mph
425 kph
Speed at 15,000' / 4,572 km 269 mph
433 kph
Cruising speed 183 - 227 mph
295 -365 kph
Climb 1,300'/minute
396 m/minute
Service ceiling 27,600'
8,412 m
Range 1,500 miles, 1,600 miles, 2,300 miles
2,575 km, 3,701 km
Range with maximum payload 890 miles
1,432 km
  Curtiss C-46A Commando
Type Transport
Crew 4
Passenger 50
OR 33 litters
OR 10,000 lb
Engine (Type) 2: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-51 Double Wasp
Cylinders Radial 18
Cooling Air
HP 2,000 each
Propeller blades 3 each
Dimensions  
Span 108' 1"
Length 76' 4"
Height 21' 9"
Weight  
Empty 32,400 lb
14,697 kg
Loaded 49,600 lb
22,498 kg
Maximum load 56,000 lb
25,402 kg
Performance  
Speed at 15,000' / 4,572 km 269 mph
Service ceiling 27,600'
Range 1,200 miles

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  2. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  3. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  4. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
  5. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site