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THE AIRFORCE - AIRCRAFT - DC-4 SKYMASTER
 
 

Aircraft Stats:

Powerplant: 4 x 1,450 hp P&W R-2000-2SD-13G Twin Wasp piston engines
Speed: 207 kph, 333mph mph
Range: 3 510km, 2,180miles
Seats: 2+54
Length: 28.79m, 93ft 11in
Span: 35.82m, 6ft 6in
Empty Weight: 20 865kg, 46,000lb
Max T/O Weight: 33 112kg, 73,000lb
Period of Service: 1966 - 1994

Weapons:
None specified

Squadrons:
None specified

Attrition:
2 incidents recorded

DC-4 Skymaster

Status: Retired
Manufacturer: Douglas
Country of Manufacture: United States
Role: Medium transport
 
Description:

Extract from Ad Astra (September 1994): 

In January 1966 the SAAFs DC-4's arrived at AFB Swartkop. These. were four former South African Airways (SAA) aircraft which half spent their last years at SAA flying on the internal schedule; routes and transporting spare DC-7 engines TO the Comore Islands. The aircraft had all been newly purchased by SAA between 1945 and 1947 for use on the famous Johannes­burg to London "Springbok Service". Another aircraft was obtained in the late 1960's and three more in the lace 1970's. Sadly, on 14 November 1980, 6903 was burnt out in an accident while in a servicing hanger.

Skymaster 6904 is worthy of a special mention. This aircraft was the last of the I 165 C-54/DC-4's built, and was operated by SAA before being purchased by the SAAF. On 30 June 1962 this aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision with a SAAF Harvard trainer while on final approach for a bad weather landing at Louis Botha Airport in Durban. The Harvard sliced through the DC-4's tail, but fortunately the crew managed to land safely and save the aircraft.

While in SAAF service the Skymaster was widely used as a passenger and VIP transport aircraft and is probably best remembered for transporting entertainment groups to and from the operational area. A far lesser known role of the DC-4 was that of electronic warfare. This involved electronic reconnaissance and real time support of aerial strikes during the Bush and Angolan wars. Although little can be said about this side of the DC-4's  operations, it is interesting to note that an Angolan Mig-21 fighter failed to intercept 6901, (better known as the "Spook"), whilst the aircraft was in support of an air strike.

The Skymaster was officially phased out of service at the end of 1992, when four of the five passenger aircraft ceased operations. Skymaster 6905 completed her last SAAF flight on 3 August 1994.


Images:

DC-4 Skymaster 6902 at the SAAF Museum, Swartkop, in 2004. DC-4 6904 at AFB Rooikop in 1989. DC-4 6905 at Port Elizabeth during 1988. DC-4 6905 at Port Elizabeth during 1988.