The Douglas C-74 Globemaster was a large transport aircraft developed
for the US military during the latter part of the second world war
- although its first flight was actually a few weeks after the war
The Douglas C-74 Globemaster was born out of a need for a long distance
heavy transport aircraft which military planners thought would be
vital to help carry heavy weapons and troops to combat areas across
the Pacific ocean towards Japan.
The design was first put forward by the Douglas Aircraft Company in
1942. It was a large four-engined aircraft with a long cylindrical
fuselage providing plenty of room for vehicles or troops. Perhaps
the most unusual feature of the early C-74 Globemasters were the double
canopies - one for the pilot and one for the copilot. Later aircraft
were fitted with a larger single canopy cockpit as the separated design
proved unpopular with crews.
The first Douglas C-74 Globmaster flew on September 5th 1945. At the
time of its introduction it was the largest aircraft built (not including
seaplanes). It had a maximum weight of 172,000 lbs (78,000 kgs), and
was able to carry up to 48,150 lbs (21,840 kgs) of cargo or 125 soldiers.
Its spacious fuselage was also designed to accommodate large vehicles,
including light tanks, howitzers and bulldozers.
The second aircraft to be built crashed during dive testing in 1946
when one of the wings broke away. Thankfully all four crew onboard
managed to bail out safely. The fourth aircraft scheduled to be built
was instead created as a static test model, and all structural components
were tested to destruction over the next two years to evaluate the
strength of the design. The fifth aircraft to be built was modified
and used as a prototype for the even larger Douglas C-124 Globemaster
II transport aircraft - of which nearly 450 were eventually built.
Douglas intended to build a civilian version of the C-74 Globemaster,
and they even received orders for the aircraft (called the DC-7) from
Pan American World Airways. However with the end of the war, the military
need for the C-74 was reduced and the number of aircraft ordered totaled
just 14 - significantly increasing the unit cost of the civilian version.
Despite being built in very small numbers. C-74 Globemasters were
used by the USAAF during the Berlin Airlift, and shortly after it
was used in the Korean war to transport troops and cargo to Korea,
and return with wounded soldiers back to Hawaii, and then onward to
the US mainland.
The USAAF continued to regularly fly the C-74 Globemaster until 1955.
It kept some of the aircraft in "flyable storage" until
1965 when they were scrapped. Four were sold on to civilian companies.
The last aircraft was dismantled in Italy in 1972.