Exhibits and Planes

Dover's first strategic airlifter is represented by the single remaining C-54M, which was specially modified during the Berlin Airlift for hauling coal. The Skymaster's restoration was also quite extensive, and took several years. The inside shows examples of its World War II cargo and passenger configurations—and if parts become available will display how medical litters were carried in its Korean War role as a Medivac aircraft. During the restoration process, we were fortunate to find a photograph of this aircraft showing its military serial #44-9030 and the markings it carried in the Pacific Theater in World War II. They were still in place during her service in the Berlin Airlift and we have restored the aircraft in these markings.

The C-54 on display at the museum is the last surviving "M" model in existence. There were only 38 of this model manufactured.

Mission

The Douglas C-54 (designated R5D by the U.S. Navy) was the military variation of the DC-4 four-engine commercial transport. It was the first four-engine transport to enter USAAF service. The USAAF accepted a total of 1,164 Skymasters from 1942 to 1947. Its maximum load capacity was 28,000 pounds of cargo or 49 passengers.

Although it served with the USAAF as a transport, the C-54 made history when it became the first "official" presidential transport aircraft (Air Force One). Known as "The Sacred Cow," it was built in 1944 for use by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. One special feature was an elevator behind the passenger cabin to lift the President in his wheelchair in and out of the plane. The passenger compartment included a conference room with a large desk and bullet-proof picture window. President Roosevelt made his first and only flight in this aircraft traveling to Yalta, in the USSR, in February 1945. For security reasons, the tail number on the aircraft was changed for this flight. After Roosevelt's death in April 1945, the "Sacred Cow" remained in presidential service during the first 27 months of the Truman Administration. On 26 July 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 while on board the "Sacred Cow." This act established the Air Force as an independent service, making the "Sacred Cow" the "birthplace" of the U.S. Air Force. It was later assigned to other transport duties and was eventually retired in October 1961.

During the Berlin Airlift in 1948, every C-54 the USAF had was pressed into service to supply the isolated city. Many C-54s were later converted into litter-carrying planes for use during the Korean Conflict, returning 66,000 patients to the United States.

In later years, Douglas developed the XC-112, a pressurized version of C-54E Skymaster military transport. It had a longer fuselage, larger rectangular windows in place of circular portholes, and four 2,100 hp Pratt and Whitney R-2800-34 radial engines. After testing, this aircraft entered commercial service as the DC-6 and military service as the C-118 Liftmaster.

Assignment History

C-54M Skymaster — S/N: 44-9030
30 Jan 1945 Delivered to the USAAF (United States Army Air Force)
Feb 1945 Departed the U.S. for assignment to Pacific Division, Air Transport Command
Dec 1945 Returned to the U.S. assigned to the 1503rd Base, Hamilton AAF, CA
Feb 1946 To 1512st Base Unit, Fairfield AAF, CA
Apr 1946 Departed the U.S. for an unknown transport assignment
Mar 1948 To 43rd Weather Wing (ATC), Haneda AB, Japan
Dec 1948 To 1600th Air Transport Group (MATS), Westover AFB, MA
Jan 1949 To 513th Air Transport Group (MATS), Rhein Main AB, Germany
24 Apr 1949 To 316th Troop Carrier Group Heavy (MATS), Celle AB, Germany
Apr 1950 To 1600th Air Transport Group (MATS), Greenville Airport, SC
Apr 1950 To 1600th Air Transport Group (MATS), Greenville Airport, SC
Sep 1951 To 1261st Air Transport Squadron (MATS), Wheelus AB, Libya
Jul 1952 To 1282nd Air Transport Squadron (MATS), Rhein Main AB, Germany
Aug 1955 To 46th Transport Squadrno Medium (MATS), Kelly AFB, TX
Sep 1957 To 7244th Air Base Gruop (USAFE), Dhahran AB, Saudi Arabia
Jun 1960 To 7250th Support Squadron (USAFE), Ankara AB, Turkey
Apr 1967 To 101st Fighter Group (Air National Guard), Dow AFB, ME
Oct 1971 To 150th Fighter Group (ANG), Kirtland AFB, NM
Sep 1973 Dropped from the USAF inventory, transferred to FBI Academy for Sky Marshall training
1989 Declared surplus by FBI, rescued by Dover AFB Museum, DE (Air Mobility Command Museum)

Have additional information?