Always overshadowed by its C-47 stablemate, the C-46 was actually more technically advanced in many ways than the Douglas aircraft, and gave equally sterling service all over the world. The CW-20 airliner design from which the C-46 sprang was intended as a higher-flying more commodius competitor to the DC-3, with a "double bubble" fuselage being used in anticipation of eventually using pressurization. First flown in March 1940, the CW-20T prototype differed in a number of ways from the eventual production C-46. being powered by R-2600s and having a twin tail. A single tail was later retrofitted, and the CW-20T briefly became the USAAF's C-55 before being sold on to BOAC.
|C-46D 44-78018, on display at the National Museum of the US Air Force. A total of 1410 D-models were built, having an added door on the port side of the fuselage. This particular aircraft was retired in 1968.|
The Commando remained in service throughout the Korean War, and USAF Air Commando forces were still equipped with C-46s during the early stages of the Vietnam war. The final C-46s were not retired from the USAF inventory until 1968.
|C-46 Commando nacelle|
C-46E: 17 aircraft with stepped windscreens
C-46F: Squared off wingtips
C-46G: Solitary example with C-46F type wingtips and a stepped windscreen. This aircraft was later rebuilt with a GE TG-100 turboprop in the starboard nacelle as the XC-113, but no flight trials in this configuration were conducted.
XC-46L/CW-20H: Three aircraft powered by R-3350s.
Photo: CW-20 fuselage under construction. Popular Aviation December 1939 p.54
Photo: CW-20 in metal finish, and with twin tails. Popular Aviation April 1940 p.61
Photo: Slick Airways C-46 preparing for takeoff. Flying August 1949 p.21
Photo: "Braniff Gets High-Powered C-46" Aviation Week December 5, 1955 p.125 N1386N with R-2800-C engines.
Photo: US Forest Service C-46 N6246 Air Classics May 1973 p.67
Color profiles of the CW-20T as G-AGDI, C-46s of the Chinese Nationalists, Lufthansa, Aeropesca Columbia, and a postwar R5C-1. Air International June 1986 p.302
Stephen Harding "Confederate Commando" Aeroplane Monthly July 1989. A look at C-46F China Doll of the Confederate Air Force.
Photo: Nationalist Chinese C-46 at Kai Tak. Aeroplane Monthly July 1989 p.421
Photo: Rear quarter view of CW-20 G-AGDI. Aeroplane Monthly October 1989 p.602
Photo: C-46D at MASDC w/o engines. Warbirds International October 2000 p.31
John M. Andrade Latin American Military Aviation includes a photo of Bolivian C-46 TAM-29 and Brazilian aircraft #2088
Color profile: Rich International C-46F N5370N. Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft, edited by David Donald.
Williams Brothers made a 1/72 scale Commando,, while Platz issued a 1/144 scale C-46D