R4D-8 Super Gooney
Length: 67 ft 9 in (20.65 m)
Wingspan: 90 ft (27 m)
Height: 18 ft 3 in (5.56 m)
Wing area: 969 sq ft (90.0 m2)
Empty weight: 19,537 lb (8,862 kg)
Maximum speed: 270 mph (430 km/h, 230 kn) at 5,900 ft (1,800 m)
Cruise speed: 250 mph (400 km/h, 220 kn)
Range: 2,500 mi (4,000 km, 2,200 nmi)
Ferry range: 3,042 mi (4,896 km, 2,643 nmi)
Service ceiling: 22,500 ft (6,900 m)
Rate of climb: 1,300 ft/min (6.6 m/s)
Max takeoff weight: 31,000 lb (14,061 kg)
Fuel capacity: 1,330 US gal (1,110 imp gal; 5,000 L)
Powerplant: 2 × Wright R-1820-80 Cyclone 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 1,475 hp (1,100 kW) each
Propellers: 4-bladed constant-speed propellers
Crew: 4 (pilot, co-pilot, navigator, radio operator)
Emerging from the blueprint of the Douglas DC-4, a prominent civilian airliner crafted by the Douglas Aircraft Company in the 1940s, the R4D-8 Super Gooney was a revelation in military aviation. This aircraft, initially loved in commercial circles for its sturdy design, caught the eye of the U.S. Navy. The naval force, realizing its potential, adapted the DC-4, resulting in the birth of the R4D-8. Specifically tailored for military imperatives, this incarnation was equipped with superior engines and other modifications, making it apt for reconnaissance, transport, and logistic missions.
Its true mettle was put to the test during the demanding days of the Korean War between 1950-1953. The R4D-8 was indispensable, playing a pivotal role in transporting troops and essential supplies, thereby strengthening the position of U.S. and United Nations forces on the Korean Peninsula. Notably, its significance wasn't restricted to the Navy alone. The United States Marine Corps (USMC) heavily relied on the R4D-8. For the Marines, this aircraft was more than just a transport vehicle—it represented agility, swift response, and the ability to operate in challenging terrains, crucial attributes for the USMC's expeditionary nature and rapid deployment philosophy.
With time and advancements in aviation technology, the R4D-8 underwent a transformation, re-emerging as the C-117. This new guise saw it sustain its essential role as a reliable transport and cargo aircraft. However, as newer jet-powered marvels like the Lockheed C-130 Hercules came to the forefront, the sun began to set on the C-117’s operational days.
Yet, the legacy of the R4D-8 Super Gooney, coupled with its successor the C-117, remains indelible. For the U.S. military, especially the Marine Corps, it wasn't just an aircraft—it was a symbol of reliability, tenacity, and adaptability, virtues that echoed the very ethos of the Marines. The chronicles of its service, marked by its significant contributions during both war and peace, solidify its esteemed position in military aviation history.