42-72488, C-54D DC Skymaster at the PIMA Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, 2009.

42-72488, C-54D DC Skymaster at the PIMA Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, 2009.

The Douglas C-54 Skymaster was a four-engined transport aircraft used by the United States Army Air Forces and British forces in World War II and the Korean War. Besides transport of cargo, it also carried presidents, British heads of state and military staff. Dozens of variants of the C-54 were employed in a wide variety of non-combat roles such as air-sea rescue, scientific and military research and missile tracking and recovery. During the Berlin Airlift it hauled coal and food supplies to West Berlin. After the Korean War it continued to be used for military and civilian uses by more than thirty countries.
Like the C-47 Skytrain, the C-54 Skymaster was derived from a civilian airliner (the Douglas DC-4).

C-54s began service with the US Army Air Forces in 1942, carrying up to 26 passengers. (Later versions carried up to 50 passengers.) The U.S. Navy also acquired the type, under the designation R5D. The C-54 was one of the most commonly used long-range transports by the U.S. armed forces in World War II. 515 C-54s were manufactured in Santa Monica, California and 655 were manufactured in Chicago, Illinois.

After World War II, the C-54 continued to serve as the primary airlifter of the new United States Air Force and with the United States Navy.