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Douglas DC-4 Tankers



In February 1936, Douglas began the design of a large four-engine commercial transport that would be capable of carrying twice as many passengers as the DC-3 over distances of 2200 miles. The result: The Douglas DC-4 / C-54 Skymaster.

This aircraft went into full production during a time of war, in fact work on the first production aircraft continued through the months after the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbour. On February 14, 1942, the first DC-4, designated a C-54 Skymaster for the military, took flight and started the age of the four-engine transports.

Because of their long-range capabilities with a full compliment of passengers, the DC-4 immediately found its way into scheduled passenger service for many different airlines. The beautiful purr of the four Pratt & Whitney R-2000 engines could be heard over-flying the worlds oceans time and time again, as passengers found it easier than ever before to visit destinations overseas.

From transporting crews and equipment in the military, to taking passengers and freight to destinations around the world, the DC-4 has more than served its purpose. This four-engine Douglas still hauls 50 passengers or 20000 lbs of freight to many destinations, and it has even taken on some more interesting roles. From being fitted with spray booms for spraying against destructive insects such as the budworm, to adopting an external tank under the belly for use in dispersing 20000 lbs of retardant on forest fires, the DC-4 has done it all.

And just like the title says, “Nothing beats the sound of a four-engine Douglas”. These engines, developing 1450 hp each at take-off, create a wonderful rumble on the take-off roll, and yet they purr away quietly with the airplane in cruise, allowing passengers to fall asleep to the gentle drone.

Buffalo Airways, in keeping with our fleet of heavy piston-engine transports, has kept the four company-owned DC-4s working in various roles. Two of these aircraft can be found flying freight from Yellowknife to various destinations around Canada. The other two DC-4s have returned to service as DC-4 Water Bombers, providing the delivery of retardant to forest fires in the NWT. Once again the history of our DC-4s is nothing short of interesting.

These aircraft, the Douglas DC-4 / C-54 Skymaster, have proven themselves for service and reliability over the last 56 years and will continue to transport freight, passengers, and fight fires for years to come.