The designation C-117 was given to two very different versions of the DC-3, first to a more comfortable version of the basic C-53 and then to the Navy’s fleet of R4D-8 Super DC-3s.
By 1944 the early shortage of transport aircraft had been overcome, and the USAAF was able to turn its attention to comfort. The result was the C-117. This aircraft had the same engines as the C-47B, with two stage superchargers to give an improved high altitude performance, but like the C-53 it lacked the reinforced cargo floor of the standard C-47, and retained the small airline style entrance door. Most importantly they were given a 21-seat airline type interior. Seventeen C-117s were produced, some with swivelling seats to allow the passengers to hold airborne conferences.
Eleven of the C-117As later had their high level supercharger removed, and were redesignated as C-117Bs.
The designation C-117C was given to a number of existing VC-47A staff transports that were given the more luxurious interior of the C-117.
In 1962 the separate Navy and Air Force aircraft designation systems were replaced by a slightly modified version of the Air Force system and every existing Navy aircraft was given a new designation. Despite being a substantially different aircraft to the standard C-117, the Navy’s R4D-8s (Super DC-3s) were redesignated as the C-117D. These aircraft had a longer fuselage and a larger tail than the C-47, and a swept back trailing edge on the wings. The C-117D remained in front line Marine Corps service until July 1976, but some were retained in other duties until at least 1979 when some were being used by the Station Operations and Maintenance Squadron at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina.
Wing span: 95ft 0in
Length: 64ft 6in
Height: 16ft 8in
Empty weight: 17,480lb
Loaded weight: 25,000lb
Maximum weight: 30,000lb
Maximum speed: 230mph at 12,500ft
Cruising speed: 160mph
Service ceiling: 26,400ft
Normal range: 1,600 miles
Maximum range: 3,600 miles