From the archives: My article on Trinity, the world’s first atomic bomb, tested on this day 72 years ago.
Industrial might is one of the reasons the United States was a significant power during World War II. I will never overlook the contribution of American fighting men and women during the war, but economic power goes hand-in-hand with military power. One of the little-remembered examples of U.S. industrial prowess is the Douglas C-47 Skytrain, the workhorse cargo plane of the U.S. Army Air Corps.
More than 70 years after it was built, a C-47A is still flying the skies about New York. Called Whiskey 7, it is lovingly restored to its D-Day configuration and is one of the last (if not the last) flyable Skytrains that participated in D-Day airborne operations. You can see it at National Warplane Museum, Geneseo, New York.
My article on Whiskey 7 explains the plane more fully as well as the significance of the Skytrain during the war. But other C-47s are worth mentioning.
This is C-47 096, which is in the collection of National World War II Museum, New Orleans, La. Though not airworthy, as static displays go it is an impressive presentation that places the aircraft within the context of its D-Day mission.
The U.S. is a nation of industrial innovation and manufacturing prowess. The accomplishments of aircraft designers and workers needs to be remembered. The Skytrain has a storied history. None other than Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander in Europe, called the Douglas aircraft one of the four “Tools of Victory” that won World War II for the Allies along with the atom bomb, the Jeep, and the bazooka. That alone makes makes the contributions of the aircraft industry an essential part of understanding the history of World War II.