The Curtiss R5C Commando was the US Navy designation for the C-46A Commando, and was used by the US Marine Corps in the Pacific.
The C-46A was the first major production version of the Curtiss Commando. It was a very large two engined transport aircraft, originally designed as a civil airline but that entered production as a military aircraft. The C-46A had a stronger floor in the main compartment, increasing the load that could be carried, and a large top hinged cargo door at the left-rear of the compartment, with two smaller downward hinged personnel doors within it. The cargo door was large enough for jeeps or other small vehicles to enter, and there were twenty hinged seats on each side of the compartment, allowing up to forty men to be seated.
The Navy ordered 120 aircraft, as the R5C-1, in June 1942. A second order of 40 was ordered late in 1943. Another fifty aircraft were ordered, but were cancelled on VJ Day before any had been completed. The Navy thus received a total of 160 C-46As from random batches, starting in 1944. These aircraft were given the navy serial numbers 39492-39611 and 50690-50729.
The Navy’s aircraft were used by the US Marines, who used them to carry 50 troops. They were used by at least six Marine Transport Squadrons – VMR-252, VMR-253, VMR-352, VMR-353, VMR-952 and VMR-953. Later on some were used by the Navy’s support squadrons.
Most of them were used during the island hopping campaigns in the Pacific, normally carrying supplies in and wounded Marines and sailors out of the many small islands.
Some remained in service for some time after the war, including one that was converted into a R5C-1Z Vip transport in 1946. Ten were transferred to the Coast Guard and were used to help maintain Coast Guard bases. The last Coast Guard aircraft retired in 1950, while the Marines and Navy operated the type into the mid 1950s. Some of them saw service in Korea, helping to supply the Marines.
Engine: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-51 radial engines
Power: 2,000hp each
Span: 108ft 0in
Length: 76ft 4in
Height: 21ft 9in
Empty weight: 30,000lb
Maximum take-off weight: 45,000lb
Max speed: 270mph at 15,000ft
Cruising speed: 173mph
Service ceiling: 24,500ft
Range: 3,150 miles at 173mph