Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Color Photographs Part I

All photographs from the NASM Hans Groenhoff collection unless otherwise noted.

01C46A_01_RA
The first of many! This is the first production C-46A, serial 41-5159. It left Curtiss-Wright’s Buffalo plant on 11APR42 and was accepted by the USAAF two months later. Too late for the colorful “yellow wings” era, the Commandoes left the factory in the standard Olive Drab over Neutral Gray camouflage until late in 1943 when they were delivered in Natural Metal. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)

02C46A_03_RA
The first Commando flying alongside another Curtiss product, the P-40E Warhawk. Notice the differences in the national insignia between the two aircraft. The C-46 still retains the red center to the insignia which was ordered to be removed from USAAF aircraft on 15MAY42. (NASM, Rudy Arnold collection)

03C46_Fam_06
The seventh production C-46A demonstrates its utility as a troop transport for the photographer. The Commando could carry up to forty fully-equipped infantrymen, seen here exiting the aircraft via the vehicle ramps.

04C46_Fam_07
41-5166 again, demonstrating the cargo capacity. The spacious fuselage allowed a wide variety of bulk loads to be carried, with room for more in a separate compartment in the lower fuselage. Here a Jeep is being unloaded using the cargo ramps; up to three Jeeps could be carried at a time.

05C46A_04
A rather worn Commando in colorful markings, the distressed paint job would make an interesting challenge for a modeler.

06C46A_06
A C-46A displaying the red-outlined national insignia authorized for a short time during the summer of 1943. On many USAAF types subassemblies were provided to the primary contractor already painted in whatever shade of Olive Drab the subcontractor deemed appropriate, resulting in tonal differences in aircraft components.

07C46A_09
By late 1943 the USAAF had begun to establish air superiority and ordered that aircraft be delivered in their Natural Metal finish. This sped production, lowered costs, and saved weight on the finished aircraft.

08C46D_08
The C-46D featured doors on each side of the fuselage which allowed for the rapid deployment of up to fifty paratroopers per aircraft. A fine photograph showing paratroopers posed in the open doorways.

09C46E_03
Seventeen of the “E” model Commando were completed, but none were finished in time to be deployed. The C-46E featured a stepped “airliner” windscreen which makes them appear similar to the rival Douglas C-47 Dakoda at first glance.

10C46F_Chinese_01
Factory-fresh C-46F’s outside of the Curtiss plant at Buffalo, NY in Chinese markings. 44-78627 never made it to service, being lost on her delivery flight to Chinese forces.

3 thoughts on “Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando Color Photographs Part I

  1. Thanks for these Jeff. I consider the C-46 one of those unsung heroes of the Allied logistical effort.
    I find the images of he natural metal airframes interesting because of the appearance of a demarcation running down the length of the fuselage. Reflection? Finished differently?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think what you’re seeing is the result of the “double bubble” fuselage cross-section and the way it reflects light. A good NMF model should show the same effect, that would be cool to replicate!

      Liked by 1 person

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