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Osprey Combat Aircraft No. 66


C-47/R4D Skytrain Units of the Pacific and CBI



David Isby


S u m m a r y

Publisher and Catalogue Details: Osprey Combat Aircraft No. 66
C-47/R4D Skytrain Units of the Pacific and CBI
by David Isby
ISBN: 9781846030468
Media and Contents: Soft cover, 96 pages
Price: GB£12.99 online from Osprey Publishing
Review Type: FirstRead
Advantages: Good coverage of the type in these theatres; logically and chronologically laid out
Recommendation: Recommended

Reviewed by
Rodger Kelly

Osprey'sC-47/R4D Skytrain Units is available online from Squadron.com




A recent addition to Osprey's Combat Aircraft series, number 66 is the second book by David Isby covering the wartime role of the renowned war-winning twin-engined Douglas transport. 

Whilst the previous title (number 54) concentrated on the aircraft's employment in the European and Mediterranean theatres, this volume chronicles the machine's role in the Pacific and China/Burma/India (CBI) theatres. 

This volume follows the same basic format as its predecessor.  It is logically and chronologically laid out.  It begins with an abridged history of the origins of the aircraft itself and of the creation of the USAAC's Air Transport Command (ATC) and the U.S. Navy's Naval Air Transport Service (NATS). 

What follows is the combat use of the machine and the main operations it took part in.  As with the first volume, the author follows the same style of a mixture of the "overall picture" and first hand accounts by the people actually who took part in the operations. 

The book comprises seven chapters, three appendices and eleven pages of colour profiles.

The chapters and appendices are: 

  • Chapter One - Development and Early War Service

  • Chapter Two – New Guinea 1942-43

  • Chapter  Three – China Burma India 1942 -44

  • Chapter Four – Pacific Theatres 1942 – 44

  • Chapter Five – New Guinea and the Philippines 1944 - 45

  • Chapter Six - China Burma India 1945

  • Chapter Seven – Victory 1944 - 46

  • Appendix 1:  C-47/R4D Units in the Pacific/CBI Theatres of Operation from December 1941 to 1946.  In table format, this is great "meat and potatoes" stuff!  It lists the entire Order of Battle, not only who they were but where they were based and when.  It is very comprehensive (nine pages) and lists Army, Navy, United States Marine Corps, and United Sates Coast Guard units.

  • Appendix 2: 1/96 scale of line drawings of a C-47A - three pages showing upper and lower surfaces, front-on, and port and starboard views.

  • Appendix 3: Eleven pages of colour profiles – thirty profiles in all (by Chris Davey).  The captions to these colour profiles are contained on four pages with the introduction page carrying notes on the general camouflage scheme and codes/call letters worn by the C-47.  This section was especially helpful to me as it explains why Australian civil call letters were worn by U.S. military aircraft operating out of Australia and in New Guinea.

The book is well illustrated with 96, black white photos and six black and white maps.  If you are a modeller looking for reference shots to detail your model then look elsewhere.  The photographs contained between the covers of this book are of a general nature and illustrate the history of the aircraft, not the details of it. 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:


The book itself has 96 pages printed on glossy paper between thin cardboard covers and is the same size as the Aircraft of the Aces series also produced by Osprey. 

I was impressed with the first volume covering the use of the C-47/R4D in the European Theatre and I am as equally impressed with this volume.  To me, it is a great and ready reference book as well as record of the C-47's combat use in the Pacific and CBI theatres. 



I had the great fortune to live in Papua New Guinea for two years and, being a bit of an "aeroplane nut" was always on the look-out for the remains of crashed aircraft.   



Whilst there, I undertook a trek from Wau to Salamaua on the old wartime Busavil Track.  After many days of trudging along a narrow track beneath triple canopied jungle we came to an unusual open space which was the old war-time village of Skindiwai. 

Skindiwai was an old wartime drop zone and is still littered with the detritus of war to this day.  Mortor bombs, .50 calibre rounds and hand grenades literally carpet one section of the drop zone.   



Distributed along the axis of the drop zone are the sad and barely identifiable remains of a C-47.  My interest piqued, I wrote to the Air Force Museum some time later requesting details and was rewarded with a letter that completed the picture for me.  The machine belonged to the 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron, 374th Troop Carrier Group, 322nd Troop Carrier Wing.  It crashed on 11 March 1943 whilst carrying out a drop mission.  

Sadly, all five members of its crew perished in the crash which bought home to me the awful truth that there is very much a human side to the aircraft that we model.

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review sample

C-47/R4D Skytrain Units of the Pacific and CBI
(Combat Aircraft 66)
Visit Osprey Publishing
Author: David Isby
Illustrator: Chris Davey
US Price: $20.95
UK Price: £12.99
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publish Date: February 9, 2007
Details: 96 pages; ISBN: 9781846030468
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Review Copyright © 2007 by Rodger Kelly
Page Created 08 March, 2007
Last updated 24 December, 2007

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