TYPE: STOL tactical transport
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Canada
POWERPLANTS: DHC-4A - Two 1080kW (1450shp) Pratt & Whitney R-2000-7M2 14 cylinder twin row radial piston engines driving three bladed propellers.
PERFORMANCE: DHC-4A - Max speed 347km/h (187kt), normal cruising speed 293km/h (158kt). Max initial rate of climb 1355ft/min. Service ceiling 24,8000ft. Takeoff run to 50ft at MTOW 360m (1185ft). Range with max payload 390km (210nm), range with max fuel 2105km (1135nm).
WEIGHTS: DHC-4A - Basic operating 8293kg (18,260lb), standard max takeoff 12,930kg (28,500lb), military overload max takeoff 14,195kg (28,500lb).
DIMENSIONS: DHC-4A - Wing span 29.15m (95ft 8in), length 22.13m (72ft 7in), height 9.68m (31ft 9in). Wing area 84.7m2 (912.0sq ft).
ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two and a loadmaster. Can carry almost 4 tonnes (5000Ib) of cargo (including two jeeps or Land Rovers, or light
artillery pieces). Can seat 32 equipped troops, or 22 stretcher patients plus medical attendants in air ambulance configuration.
OPERATORS: Australia, Cameroon, Liberia, Malaysia, Uganda, Zambia.
HISTORY: De Havilland Canada's fourth design was a successful attempt at combining the payload of the DC-3 with the STOL performance of the earlier single engine DHC-2 Beaver and DHC-3 Otter.
De Havilland Canada (DHC) originally designed the DHC-4 as a private venture with an eye on Canadian and US military requirements. DHC built a prototype demonstrator (with assistance from Canada's Department of Defence Production) that flew for the first time on July 30 1958. Impressed with the DHC-4's STOL capabilities and potential, the US Army ordered five for evaluation as the YAC-1 to meet its requirement for a tactical airlifter to supply the battlefront with troops and supplies and evacuate casualties on the return journey.
The US Army went on to become the largest Caribou operator, taking delivery of 159. The initial AC-1 designation was later changed to CV-2, and then C-7 when the US Army's CV-2s were transferred to the US Air Force in 1966 (the Caribou was the largest aircraft ever operated by the US Army up to that time). Caribou production ended in 1973 after 307 had been built, mostly for military customers.
US Army CV-2s, Air Force C-7s and Australian DHC-4A Caribou saw extensive service during the Vietnam conflict, where the type came into its own. The Caribou was well suited to Vietnam's demanding conditions and its STOL performance (unmatched by few types before or since) saw it operate into areas otherwise the domain of helicopters. Interestingly many US Caribou were captured by North Vietnamese forces in 1975 and remained in service with that country through the late 1970s. Other former military operators included Canada,Colombia, India, Spain and Tanzania.
Today a dwindling number of Caribou survive in military service, notably with Australia and Malaysia. Malaysia already has IPTN built CN-235s on order as a replacement, while Australia is evaluating the Alenia G222 and the CN-235 to replace its long serving fleet.