What's a C-53?
Say, that looks like a C-47! What's a C-53? Well, we can say the legendary C-47 is a direct descendant of the C-53! A C-53 is essentially a DC-3A that at some point was drafted into military service as a citizen soldier. To be crude, it,s a DC-3A in fatigues. No big cargo doors, reinforced floor or beefy landing gear. Easiest way to spot a C-53 “on the fly” is to look for the single oval entry door on the left side and 7 VS 6 windows. The large cargo doors of the C-47 took the place of the 7th window. Even without the militarization that the C-47 received, the C-53 was still a Troop Transport and participated in combat as paratroop drop aircraft and glider tug as well as medical evacuation aircraft.
So why did the Air Corps accept civilian aircraft? In the late 30's, the U.S. Army Air Corps was well behind the world in terms of military aviation and Air Corps Chief Hap Arnold knew this. The slim budget had to be appropriated correctly, so fighter, and more specifically bomber aircraft, took precedence. The German military got the world's attention using airborne paratroopers and gliders as effective Blitzkrieg weapons. As a result, just prior to our entry into World War II, orders for Troop Transports came pouring in and demand far outweighed supply. Once the United States entered the war, aircraft vital to the war effort were “impressed” or drafted into military service.