The Douglas C-53 Skytrooper was a dedicated troop transporter developed from the DC-3 airliner. It was thus very similar to the C-47 Skytrain, but without the reinforced cargo floor, large cargo door and hoist attachment of that dual purpose aircraft. As a result the C-53 was much less flexible in operation than the C-47, and only 380 were built.
The first order for the C-53, for just under 100 aircraft, was placed in June 1941. All 380 C-53s were built at Douglas’s Santa Monica plant (the C-47 was built at Long Beach and Oklahoma City).
The first 221 C-53s were powered by 1,200hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp engines, and were equipped with 28 fixed metal seats arranged as in a conventional airliner.
In March 1942 one C-53 was used to test a combination of full-span slotted flaps and hot-air wing de-icing equipment. The aircraft survived in this configuration until 1949, when it was returned to normal and sold off as surplus.
During 1942 eight C-53s were modified for service in the Arctic, specifically in Alaska, by being given winterized equipment, extra fuel tanks in the fuselage and an navigator’s astrodome.
While most DC-3s impressed off the production line were given specific C numbers, seventeen R-1830-92 powered aircraft with 28 seats were designated as C-53Cs.
On the last 159 C-53s the twenty eight seats were attached to the sides of the fuselage, giving them the same layout as the standard C-47.