Douglas Skymaster R5D-4R/C-54R
Castle Air Museum
Atwater, CA
BuNo 90407

The first Blue Angels R5D; photo taken at NAS Oakland, CA
on 16 September 1956.

Photo was taken by Mick Bajcar, May of 1982 at
Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport, FL.,
Civil Designation N51848.


Photo courtesy of Castle Air Museum

BuNo 90407 was first allocated to the USAAF as C-54E-15-DO, 44-9137 with C/N 27363. She was delivered to the USN as the R5D-4R, BuNo 90407. She served as the Blue Angels support aircraft in 1956 and after returning to the fleet service became a C-54Q when designations standardized in 1962.

After serving the Navy she was acquired for civilian service and carried two civil designations, first N67038 then later N51848.

She was impounded by DEA and then donated to Castle AFB Museum in California, where it is displayed as Navy 90407.

Navy 8 R5D-2/3 (C-54D) BuNo 50868 in Navy Colors.
September 1957

Navy 8 R5D-2/3 (C-54D) BuNo 50868 in Blue Angels Colors.
After 1959

Navy 8 R5D-3 (C-54D) BuNo 91996 at Davis-Monthan Aircraft storage facility March 1966.

The original design was started in 1939 as the DC-4 for the commercial airlines. The first batch was commandeered off the assembly line in 1942 and re-designated the C-54. C-54's were first delivered to the Army Air Forces in March 1942. They saw service in every theater in World War II and were the primary air-lifters across the Atlantic and Pacific, making nearly 80,000 crossings with the loss of only 3 aircraft.

There were 955 C-54s built at Santa Monica, California and Chicago, Illinois; 201 of them were delivered to the Navy as R5D's. The aircraft on display at the Castle Air Museum is one of those Navy transports. It displays the markings it carried when its squadron, VR-8, was assigned to the Military Air Transport Service in 1949, based at Hickam AFB, Hawaii.

The Berlin Airlift of 1948-49 used 319 of the approximately 400 C-54's then in service to haul supplies to the city when the Russians closed all road and rail access to the city. The Museum aircraft, then assigned to Navy Transport Squadron 8 (VR-8), was one of those used. Over 189,000 flights were made in the 15 months of the Berlin Air Lift, delivering 2.3 million tons of food, fuel, and supplies. C-54's served until 1972.

This aircraft served the Blue Angels for only one year, 1956. "Our " Blue Angels transport were always assigned to NAS Pensacola until the Blues got Fat Albert, and 90407 was never painted in Blue Angels colors. At that time the Maintenance Officer (his designation being #8) was one of the pilots (and that was one of the reasons the later aircraft had #8 on the tail and it's call sign was Navy 8). The other pilot was one of the Naval Air Station pilots.

C-54P BuNo 50868 was the first one painted in Blue Angels colors, LCDR. Jack Revis was Maintenance Officer.  Then  LT. Ray Atherton relieved him.  LCDR. Scott Ross relieved LT. Ray Atherton.

BuNo 80868 was "our" transport until May 9, 1963, when C-54Q, BuNo 91996, arrived.  It remained the Blue's transport until they got a Connie in '67.  CDR. Bud Jordan was new Maintenance Officer and came from a Connie outfit and qualified.

The eight "official" Blue Angel Pilots (six Show Pilots, one Narrator/PIO Officer, and the Maintenance Officer) were assigned to NAS Pensacola Administration Dept.   "The Other C-54 pilot" was always assigned to NAS Pensacola Operation, and in a lot of times was the designated Plane Commander.

The years we are talking about are from 1956 to 1968.

Thanks to LCDR. Scotty Ross for putting the Blue Angels C-54 information together.

For more Navy 8 photos click here



Castle Air Museum
Atwater, CA