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THE AIRFORCE - AIRCRAFT - C-47TP TURBO DAKOTA
 
 

Aircraft Stats:

Powerplant: 2 x P&W PT6A AR turboprops
Speed: 368 kph, 229mph mph
Range: 2 810km, 1,746miles
Seats: 2+34
Length: 20.68m, 67ft 9in
Span: 28.96m, 0ft
Empty Weight: 7 144kg, 15,750lb
Max T/O Weight: 13 041kg, 28,750lb

Weapons:
None specified

Squadrons:
35 Squadron

Attrition:
5 incidents recorded

C-47TP Turbo Dakota

Status: Current
Manufacturer: Douglas
Country of Manufacture: United States
Role: Light Tranport
 
Description:

The most widely used transport aircraft of World War Two, the DC3/C47 has been in SAAF service since 1943. In the early 1990s several were modernised with, inter alia ,turboprops replacing the piston engines and a fuselage extension under Project Felstone.

The SAAF C-47TP conversions are not the same as the Basler BT-67, it's a licensed copy of the Schafer/AMI-65TP conversion developed by Schafer and AMI in the US.

AMI of Fort Worth, Texas, marketed a DC-3 conversion called the DC-3-65TP Cargomaster, for which the company received an STC in August 1987. Original research and development work for the modification was performed by Schafer Aircraft Modifications, Waco, Texas. AMI delivered seven DC-3 conversions.

The AMI DC-3 conversion featured 1,062-kW (1,424-shp) Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-65AR turboprops, each flat-rated to 917 kW (1,230 shp). The engines drove Hartzell five-blade constant-speed propellers, which featured the ability to feather, were reversible, had a de-icing capability, and were governor regulated.

Maximum level speed was increased to 402 kmph (217 kt) at 3,049 meters (10,000 ft). The conversion also included a 1.02-meter (3.33-ft) fuselage plug installed forward of the wing root to maintain the aircraft's center of gravity envelope. With the extension, the Cargomaster had a useful load of 5,352 kilograms (11,800 lb). The aircraft was (still) capable of operating from unimproved runways.

Other features of the DC-3-65TP included new circuits (to replace existing electrical wiring), AlliedSignal (Bendix/King) avionics, 118-gallon internal fuel tanks, a fire detection/extinguishing system, a dual-battery system and a new throttle quadrant. AMI said that the converted DC-3 cost less to operate than a standard DC-3. 

The SAAF's C47-TPs are all equipped with radar and the Maritime platforms each have three control sets - one in the front of the cockpit; one at the Radar Operator's station; and one at the Navigator Station.

There is a positional switch that can be selected for which station, out of the three,  has 'Master' control over the radar. For Maritime Operations, of course, the switch is always selected for the Radar Operator's station.

The Transport platforms have only one radar that is controlled from the cockpit.

The radar has only a maximum of 120° forward scan and 60° on either side of the nose. The radar antenna is located in the nose. It is essentially a weather radar, but it serves quite acceptably for the detection of sea-surface ship contacts.

Search-and-Rescue is performed with the naked eye, ("Mark 1 Eyeball"), in the case of the search for a rescue raft ("dinghy"). There is also a V/UHF "Homer" on board for detecting the position of an emergency beacon, the audio signal of which can be picked up by any or all of the crew members on the call system.

None have FLIR. There was a project in the mid 90's where the SAAF wanted to upgrade the Maritime TPs with additional equipment such as EW, FLIR, and Sonar. The project folded, however, in that all the additional equipment would have made the TP hopelessly too heavy, which would have interfered with flight safety.

In addition to the electronic equipment, apparently air conditioners also had to be installed, to keep the sonar equipment cool in the sub-tropical areas of the coast, between East London and Kosi Bay, in North Natal.

Block 2 is the latest phase to which the fleet has been upgraded from Block 1. This basically led to the inclusion of additional components and instrumentation in the cockpit, a project that took place in the early to mid-2000s.


Images:

C-47TP 6814 in 1993. C-47TP 6816 in 1993. C-47TP 6852 at AFB Ysterplaat. C-47TP 6814 at AFB Ysterplaat on 5 October 2005.