The C-47D Skytrain was a modification of the civilian DC-3 commercial airliner manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Co. The first C-47 model appeared in late 1941, and by the war's end in 1945 approximately 10,000 of the multi-purpose aircraft had been produced for use by the Army Air Force and Navy (other nations, including Britain, Russia and Japan, built versions of the C-47).
The major modifications made to the DC-3 to transform it into the C-47 were the addition of more powerful engines, the replacement of the airline seating with more spartan seating, the addition of cargo loading doors, and numerous reinforcements to the plane's fuselage and flooring.
The C-47 was known as the R4D to the United State Navy, and as the Dakota in the Royal Air Force. Seven major variations on the basic design were constructed, and the plane was known by over twenty different designations. It's most popular nickname among American soldiers was "gooney bird," although paratroopers often thought of it as the "vomit comet."
The versatile C-47 was used to carry cargo and personnel, as well as to drop paratroopers and tow gliders into combat. C-47s were used to drop paratroopers on Sicily in July of 1943, and to tow CG-4A gliders into France on D-Day. General Ike Eisenhower once commented that the C-47 was one of the most important pieces of equipment used by the Allies in winning World War II.
For Operation Overlord all Allied aircraft were painted with a distinctive set of white and black stripes (known as "invasion stripes") designed to clearly mark friendly aircraft from those of the Germans. For fighters these stripes were to be 18 inches in width, and consisted of alternating stripes of white/black/white/black/white that were placed on the top and bottom of each wing, as well as encircling the rear body of the fuselage.
C-47's of the 9th U.S. Army Air Force were organized into Troop Carrier Squadrons of 18 planes and Troop Carrier Groups of 4 squadrons.
The C-47 design later served in the Korean and Vietnam wars, were it was used in even more varied ways than during its service in World War II.
The C-47 was mentioned in Saving Private Ryan, but was never seen.