The first four-engine transport in Army Air Force service the C-54 is a militarized version of the DC-4 airliner. The first 24 Skymasters had been started as airliners for United and American Airlines and were commandeered by the Army early in 1942. Additional orders for a version capable of carrying heavy cargos quickly followed. Production was moved to a new factory in Chicago.
The C-54 is best known for its participation in the Berlin Airlift during 1948 and 1949. In an attempt to force the Western Allies out of Berlin the Soviet government cut off all supplies of food, medicine and fuel to the western half of Berlin. In the largest humanitarian airlift ever the United States, Britain, and France delivered over 2.3 million tons of cargo, the vast majority in C-54s, between June 26, 1948 and September 30, 1949. Known as "Operation Vittles" the airlift was the first major confrontation of the Cold War between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union.
By kjfitz @ 2007-11-18 20:52:57