Douglas Aircraft
C-47 / R4D / C-117
Skytrain / Dakota / Gooney Bird
speed.jpg (24503 bytes)
Photo by James Waldron
R4D heading south to Beardmore, September 1957
There is some conflict in the various sources of information used to piece together the information used to document the VX-6 R4D aircraft.
As always I am open to corrections and new information.
The following sources of information were used:
Joe Baughers list of US Navy / US Marine Corps BUNO's.
Jack McKillop's web page on the Douglas R4D.
The Douglas Aircraft on-line Production List.
United States Aircraft Losses in Antarctica and Deep Freeze Aviation Losses in Antarctica from the Antarctic Journal / The National Science Foundation.
Gateway to the Ice by Tony Phillips.
Last but not least all of the guys from the Yahoo Groups OAE and FNG list who either flew, crewed or maintained the Gooney's of VX-6 who have helped.
Of the eighteen VX-6 Gooney Birds:
All were originally built as US Army Air Force C-47A's or C-47B's during WWII.
All were transferred to the US Navy and US Marine Corps during WWII. 
Twelve were designated by the Navy as R4D-5's, five were designated as R4D-6's and one was designated as an R4D-7.
Seven had been converted to R4D-8 (Super DC-3) specifications in the early 50's.
Of those seven Gooney's five were converted R4D-5's, one was a converted R4D-6 and one was a converted R4D-7.
Actual Gooney's of VX-6:
Six R4D-5L's
Five R4D-6L's
Seven R4D-8L's
Differences in the eighteen:
The R4D-5 was identical to the R4D-1 except being equipped with a 24-volt electrical system and improved cabin heating.
The R4D-5L was modified to include extra fuel and higher gross weight for use in Antarctica.
The R4D-6's were identical to the R4D-5 but were equipped with two 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90C engines with two-stage,
two-speed superchargers, provisions for fuel tanks in the fuselage and improved heaters.
These aircraft had been developed for high-altitude flights over the "Hump" in the China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater.
The R4D-6L were further modified with extra fuel and higher gross weight for use in Antarctica.
The R4D-7 was the same as the R4D-6 except it was built for use as a navigation trainer.
The R4D-8 (Super DC-3) was a reworked DC-3 that included a strengthened and stretched fuselage, new horizontal and vertical tail
surfaces with squared tips, squared wing tips, smoother engine nacelles with doors that completely enclosed the landing gear and more
powerful 1,475 hp Wright R-1820-80  radial engines.
What is an R4D, a C-47, a C-117 and why?
Before the adoption of the Tri-Service system in 1962, the US Navy had its own system of aircraft designations, completely different from
that used by the USAAF  and USAF.
The Navy system consisted of up to five parts:
One or two letters to indicate the function of the aircraft.
A sequence number, to distinguish between aircraft of the same function built by the same manufacturer.
A letter to indicate the manufacturer.
After a dash, a number to indicate a subtype.
A letter to indicate a minor variation on a subtype.
This is how the R4D-5L was identified in Navy speak:
R = Transport (type aircraft)
4 = Fourth type in the series from the manufacturer
D = Douglas (manufacturer)
(after the dash) 
5 =  Subtype of the model
L = Cold weather operations
The R4D-5 in USAF speak was called the C-47A. 
The USAF designation consists of a letter (or set of letters) indicating the type / mission of the aircraft, and a sequence number indicating a
specific aircraft within a category, separated by a dash.
The number may be followed by a series letter to indicate a variant of an aircraft.
C = Cargo transport
47 = Sequence number (for USAAF cargo transport aircraft)
(after the dash)
A = Variant of model 
On September 18, 1962, the Defense Department ordered that all Air Force, Army, and Navy aircraft be designated under a common, universal system.
This was done because Secretary McNamara was interested in achieving greater commonality between the services.
According to one story, he supposedly had gotten hopelessly confused when his aides told him that the Navy and the Air Force had completely different
designation schemes, often for what was basically the same aircraft.
Under the Defense Department order, the separate naval designation system which had been around since 1922 was eliminated.
Thus was born the Tri-Service system of 1962.
The R4D-5L became the LC-47H.
The R5D-6L became the LC-47J.
The R4D-8L became the LC-117D.
Why was the R4D-8 a C-117 and not a C-47?
Due the major modifications that were done to the R4D-8 it was deemed "different" enough to be considered a new type of aircraft.
The USAF tested the prototype Super DC-3 as the YC-129-DO. 
The USAF later changed the designation of the YC-129-DO to YC-47F-DO.
C-47A / R4D-5 / C-47H / LC-47H
"Us Know How"
12407 Information Link
Crashed on the Lillie Glacier, Antarctica 22 October 1964.
C-47A / R4D-5 / R4D-5L / LC-47H
"Que Sera Sera"
12418 Information Link
queseragusshinn.jpg (61084 bytes)
Photo by Gus Shin 
Loaned by the Smithsonian, on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL.
C-47A / R4D-5 / R4D-8L / LC-117D / N105BF
"City of Invercargill"
12441 Information Link
Currently for sale minus engines, avionics and interior at DMI Aviation, Tucson, AZ as scrap.
C-47A / R4D-5/ R4D-8L / LC-117D / N110BF
"Would you Believe"
17092 Information Link
Currently for sale minus engines, avionics and interior at DMI Aviation, Tucson, AZ as scrap.
C-47A / R4D-5 / R4D-5L / LC-47H
“Ahab’s Clyde” / "Deep Freeze Express"
17107 Information Link
Crashed in the Horlick Mountains, Antarctica on 5 December 1965.
C-47A / R4D-5 / R4D-8L
“Negatus Perspirus”
17154 Information Link
r4d_byrd_station4_small.jpg (1504 bytes)
Photos from William Staskel
Crashed during landing at Byrd Station, Antarctica Dec 24, 1960.
C-47A / R4D-5 / R4D-5L
17163 Information Link
dc312.JPG (17409 bytes)
Broke landing gear on landing at Camp Hallett, Antarctica Sept 15, 1960.
C-47A / R4D-5 / R4D-8L / LC-117D
"Lou Bird II" / "Big Daddy" / "The Losers"
17188 Information Link
Crashed on Sentinel Ridge, Antarctica on 22 November 1962.
C-47A / R4D-5 / R4D-8L
"Semper Shafters USMC"
17219 Information Link
Aircraft abandoned at Horlicks, Ellsworth Land, Antarctica.
C-47A / R4D-5L / LC-47H / LC-47M
"Kool Kiwi" / "Yankee Tiki A Te Hau" /
"Mutha Goose" / "The Emperor"
17221 Information Link
r4dfmeadphulliptreweek.jpg (53407 bytes)
Photo by Phillip Treweek
On display at the Ferrymead Aeronautical Society, Christchurch, New Zealand.
C-47A / R5D-5 / R4D-5L / LC-47H
"SNAFU" / "Hallmark"
17239 Information Link
17239.jpg (20194 bytes)
Crashed 6 October 1965 at Williams Field, Antarctica.
C-47A / R4D-5 / R4D-5L
"Torono II” / "Little Horrible" / "Korora II"
17246 Information Link
Withdrawn from use in May 1961, struck from the Navy Record.
C-47B / R4D-6 / R4D-8L / LC-117D
17253 Information Link
In December 1979 the aircraft was at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.
C-47B / R4D-6 / R4D-6L
"Charlene" / "Tawaiki"
17274 Information Link
Left on an iceflow in the Ross Sea, Antarctica in 1962 for disposal.
C-47B / R4D-6 / LC-47J
50777 Information Link
Crashed Davis Glacier, Antarctica on 25 November 1962
C-47B / R4D-6 / R4D-6L / LC-47J
50778 Information Link
Crashed on Shackleton Glacier, Antarctica 11 January 1965.
C-47B / R4D-6 / C-47J / LC-47J
"Spirit of McMurdo"
50832 Information Link
Crashed on the Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctica on 2 February 1966
TC-47B / R4D-7 / R4D-8L / LC-117D
“Wilshie Duit” / "Devine Wind"
99853 Information Link
99853JATOtakeoff (1).jpg (39410 bytes)
While being loaded on a ship in Mcmurdo the aircraft fell from the crane and was struck.
The aircraft was pushed out on the ice to drift away and sink.
Click here to watch / download a 7.8kb avi of an R4D taking off using JATO
bobr4djato.jpg (37871 bytes)
photo from Bob Nyden
National Geographic Magazine
from July, 1957
Loading JATO on an R4D
RedMountains.jpg (56313 bytes)
This was taken from the R4D as it skirted the Queen Maud Range.
Jim Waldron
dc302.JPG (11586 bytes)
billdc31.JPG (25979 bytes)
r4dvxebillr4dnight.jpg (22479 bytes)
dc325.JPG (21122 bytes)
dc303.JPG (33100 bytes)
dc304.JPG (32236 bytes)
dc306.JPG (19340 bytes)
dc307.JPG (19415 bytes)
dc308.JPG (48938 bytes)
dc316.JPG (19008 bytes)
dc318.JPG (34478 bytes)
dc320.JPG (48090 bytes)
dc324.JPG (23411 bytes)
dc326.JPG (46635 bytes)
dc327.JPG (117917 bytes)
dc301.JPG (29443 bytes)
dc322.JPG (43789 bytes)
wwwsouthpole1.jpg (49155 bytes)
wwwsouthpole2.jpg (37476 bytes)
wwwsouthpole3.jpg (36666 bytes)
-- Ray Berger wrote:
The following types and bunos are listed in my log book while aboard VX6: C117D 138820. LC117Ds 17191, 99853, 12441, 17253 C47J 50753, 50766. LC47H 17017, 17221. It is curious that all have 5 no.s except 138820 which is listed as a C117D. That was strictly a Quonset bird,  I think, as were the C47Js 50753 and 50766, at least that is where I flew them.
-- Ray Berger wrote:
Looking at my logs, I flew my first R4D-5 in June 1952 Buno 17108 in the ferry squadron VRF 32. I took it from Jacksonville to San Diego. After that I have flown R4D5s 39062, 50780, 56528, 50854,  17134, and 39095 R4D-6s Bunos 17257, 50800, 17119, 50761,50979, 39098, 50836,  and 50775. R4D-7s 99833, 99826. My earliest R4D-8 was in 17219 in May 1953.  Also R4D-8s Bunos. 172421, 17292, 17177, 17124, 17149, 17191(this appears later as a C-117D), 17152, 17190, 50826, 99845, 17127. C-117D 17248 in June 1963, first time that designation appears in my log. I aso flew C-117Ds  99845, 39061. I have a C47 J listed with Buno. N7998A. I delivered it from Norfolk to Naples Italy via Goose Bay, Keflavic, Prestwick Scotland and London.  I almost caused an international incident when I filed direct London-Naples. When I hit the Swiss border I was asked if I had overflight clearance. Nobody violates Swiss airspace and keeps his career intact. So I did a quick route change. That looks like a civilian number and was delivered to the US embassy in Naples. All the rest in my logs(I have 5 with 8448.1 hours) are C47s and C117s in VX6
--From: "Paul K. Panehal"
The aircraft which went down in Jan/Feb 66 was a 47 and it caught a wing tip on landing. Dick Simmons the radioman on the flight and I were close friends. Shaddock (sp) had taken Red Auxfords place on that flight. Red was that crew's FE/PC.
I believe the fill in pilot was to be the winter-over OinC of the VX-6 group. VX-6 had a very small WO group that year, smaller than previous years - no requirement to fly a 47 or 117. I was to be the WO radioman for the 47/117's and was scrubbed from the WO roster. That was one of the reasons I was choose to be one of the crew to fly 17221 back to the Ice
in the 66-67 season.
--From: Bill Spindler
Back to the 1/74 Antarctic Journal...
"The fourth airplane loss of the season occurred on January 12, 1965, at Camp Ohio in the Horlick Mountains. An LC-47J (Buno 50778) was at  landing rollout on the skiway when one of the main skis struck a high but unobserved sastrugi. The ski turned vertical and struck the propeller, tearing off  the engine and twisting the fuselage."
[this BUNO isn't on Joe's list either]
No crew member names are mentioned in the article for either of the 2 64-65 LC-47 losses; generally the article ("US aircraft losses in Antarctica"  by Peter J. Anderson, NSF OPP) only names fatalities.
--From: "Paul K. Panehal"
It was LC-47, last part of Buno was 832 (possibly 17832). The  accident occurred Feb 3, 1966 at 0942 hrs Zulu on the Ross Ice Shelf near Roosevelt Island. Lt. Harold M."Hal" Morris was plane commander, Lt. William D. "Bill" Fordell copilot, Lcdr Ronald Rosenthal navigator, ADJ3 Charles C. Kelley and ADR3 Wayne M. Shattuck plane captains, and Richard S. "Dick" Simmons AT1 radioman. The accident was observed by the crew of an LC-117 (Buno last three 107 if I am not mistaken. I believe Jimmy Clark ATR2 was it's radioman - during his pre C-121J years) which was there at the time. Exploding JATO due to the intense heat destroyed all but the tail  section, and continued to explode for hours after the accident.
Wasn't Wayne Shattuck normally part of the Otter crew? For two reasons this accident has been etched in my memory. One Dick and I were good friends. He and I had dinner together the evening before the accident. He was helping me with binary (which seems so old today) and we discussed electronics theory. A short while after dinner he was not feeling well and had gotten sick to his stomach. He thought something he ate didn't agree with him, and went to his rack.The following morning (day of the accident), I was coming out of the AT shop at Willy Field and caught my wedding band on the door as I went slipped down the steps to the snow. The edge of the door ripped my ring off my finger, taking with it a good bit of skin both above and below the knuckle on my left hand, ring finger. I remember being on my hands and knees for some time, digging in the snow trying to find the ring, and my finger bleeding like crazy. After some time I found the ring I wrapped my finger in a handkerchief and headed over to the sickbay. Just as I was checking in to see the Doc (Doc Holik)and the radio went off, announcing the plane crash and telling the emergency medical crew a LC-130 was standing by to fly Doc Holik and his party to the crash site. Everything went into high gear getting the equipment and personnel ready and out the door. It may have been a half hour or longer before everyone settled down enough to take care of my finger. I'm sure Doc and his group were outa there within minutes of the call but, all of us were concerned about the who and extent of the accident. All the particulars were not known as those in the know cut-off circulation of all information. Later, when the LC-117 returned I found out from Jimmy what he had seen and what had happened. Still, the information was not available to everyone. I think, the reason I was told, was due to our friendship. I was sick, when I discovered Dick was on-board. They also reported that Doc Holik efforts were dedicated and relentless. He just would not give up in his efforts, although others resolved there was nothing that could be accomplished. Doc was highly revered even before this situation, and became almost legendary afterwards. I have never known a more dedicated doctor, in my 30 years of service. My hat has, and always will, be off to the "Real Quack" of VX-6, and the many things he did on the Ice to make the everyday fatigue disappear. Those who served with him will always remember the picture on the door to sickbay with a duck dressed as a doctor and the words "VX-6 Quack". Thanks Doc.
Hope this helps out.
--I just ran across an old pix of LC-47 17239 #8 JD ("Snafu"?), after it was stricken. I believe it was the LC-47 which caught a ski in snow contorted waves - sastruugi (sp?) - (caused by wind, resulting in a very rough surface - sort of like an aircraft with pontoons landing in heavy sea waves).  Location in the Horlick Mountains half way between Byrd and Pole Stations. This occurred early in the season and no one was hurt, other than the A/C. Or it could be the aircraft which put a prop through the port fuselage. In any case no one was hurt in either accident. Dick Andersen or Ray may  be able to fill in additional blanks.
Hi, Joe, I'll try to answer (to the best of my knowledge and reference material at hand) some of your questions concerning side numbers of R4D's.
#1 BUNO 17246 R4D-5 Name: Korora II
#2 ? (however, P2-V 140436 was side numbered 2 ; also BUNO 140437 was side numbered 1. Confusing, huh?)
#3 ?
#4 BUNO 17274 R4D-5 Name: Charlene
#5 BUNO 56528 R5D-3 Admiral's plane
#6 BUNO 56505 R5D-3 Name: Have Gum, Will Travel
#7 BUNO 17163 R4D-5 Name: Takahe - also: BUNO 17188 R4D-8
#8 BUNO 12418 R4D-5 Name: Que Sera Sera - also: BUNO 17154 R4D-8
#9 BUNO 17219 R4D-8 Name: Semper Shaftus USMC
#10 BUNO 99853 R4D-8 Name: Wilshie Duit - later:  Divine Wind  Also: BUNO 131624 R7-V Name: Phoenix was also #6
I picked up 50835 at the plant in Santa Monica after it was modified to an R4D--8 for VR-22 in April of 1952.
A listing of all the R4D-8's that I have flown:
17160 which I had flown as an R4D-5 before modification

VR-24 17273

Qounset Point:
99853 *
By Billy-Ace Penguin Baker
Puckered Pete's Antarctic Newseum
- R4D History and Sea Story links
Flight of the Puckered Penguins
Commander James Edgar Waldron, U. S. Naval Reserve (Ret.)
The experiences of Commander James Edgar Waldron in the Antarctic during the years 1956-1957.
Boeing Douglas DC-3
by Jack McKillop
The DC-3 Hangar
The Online DC-3 Aviation Museum
Basler Turbo Conversions