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de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

DHC-4 Caribou
A Royal Australian Air Force Caribou at Bundaberg Airport
Role STOL transport aircraft
National origin Canada
Manufacturer de Havilland Canada
First flight 30 July 1958
Introduction 1961
Retired RAAF (2009)
Status Retired from military operators, limited service. Some turboprop conversions in active service.
Primary users Royal Canadian Air Force
United States Army
United States Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Produced 1958–1968
Number built 307
Developed into de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo

The de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou (designated by the United States military as the CV-2 and later C-7 Caribou) is a Canadian specialized cargo aircraft with short takeoff and landing (STOL) capability. The Caribou was first flown in 1958 and although mainly retired from military operations, is still in use in small numbers as a rugged bush airplane.

The design was further developed as the de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo, adding turboprop engines and other changes that further improved its short-field performance to the point where it competes with light aircraft even with a full load.

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/5
    213 152
    1 421 987
    2 973
  • Top 10 Iconic RAAF Aircraft - 5: de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou.
  • dhc-4 de havilland canada caribou
  • United States Air Force - Performance Show De Havilland DHC-4 Caribou
  • Rugged and Reliable: The DHC-4 Caribou
  • de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou - HD


Design and development

C-7B Caribou aircraft of the U.S. Army/California Army National Guard
RAAF DHC-4 Caribou (A4-299) from No. 38 Squadron.

The De Havilland Canada (DHC) company's third short takeoff and landing (STOL) design was a big increase in size compared to its earlier DHC Beaver and DHC Otter, and was the first DHC design powered by two engines. The Caribou was similar in concept in that it was designed as a rugged STOL utility aircraft. The Caribou was primarily a military tactical transport that in commercial service found itself a small niche in cargo hauling. The United States Army ordered 173 in 1959 and took delivery in 1961 under the designation AC-1, which was changed to CV-2 Caribou in 1962.

The majority of Caribou production was destined for military operators, but the type's ruggedness and excellent STOL capabilities requiring runway lengths of only 1200 feet (365 metres)[1] also appealed to some commercial users. U.S. certification was awarded on 23 December 1960. Ansett-MAL, which operated a single example in the New Guinea highlands, and Amoco Ecuador were early customers, as was Air America (a CIA front in South East Asia during the Vietnam War era for covert operations). Other civil Caribou aircraft entered commercial service after being retired from their military users.

Today only a handful are in civilian use.

The Turbo Caribou Program

PEN Turbo Aviation of Cape May, NJ, has undertaken the re-engineering of the DHC-4A Caribou to a turbine powered variant, designated DHC-4A Turbo Caribou. The conversion uses PT6A-67T engines and Hartzell 5 bladed HC-B5MA-3M Constant Speed/Reversing propellers. Overall performance has improved and "new" basic weight is reduced while maximum normal take-off weight remained at 28,500 pounds (12,900 kg) Maximum payload is 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg). Both Transport Canada and the US Federal Aviation Administration have issued supplemental type certificates for the Turbo Caribou. As of September 17, 2014, only 3 air frames had been converted.[2] PEN Turbo has stockpiled dozens of air frames at their facility in NJ for possible future conversion. PEN Turbo Aviation named their company after Perry E. Niforos, who died in the 1992 crash of an earlier turboprop Caribou converted by a different firm, NewCal Aviation.[2]

Operational history

A Royal Australian Air Force Caribou transport aircraft on landing approach, Vietnam War

In response to a United States Army requirement for a tactical airlifter to supply the battlefront with troops and supplies and evacuate casualties on the return journey, de Havilland Canada designed the DHC-4. With assistance from Canada's Department of Defence Production, DHC built a prototype demonstrator that flew for the first time on 30 July 1958.

Impressed with the DHC4's STOL capabilities and potential, the U.S. Army ordered five for evaluation as YAC-1s and went on to become the largest Caribou operator. The AC-1 designation was changed in 1962 to CV-2, and then C-7 when the U.S. Army's CV-2s were transferred to the U.S. Air Force in 1967. U.S. and Australian Caribou saw extensive service during the Vietnam War.

The U.S. Army purchased 159 of the aircraft and they served their purpose well as a tactical transport during the Vietnam War, where larger cargo aircraft such as the Fairchild C-123 Provider and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules could not land on the shorter landing strips. The aircraft could carry 32 troops or two Jeeps or similar light vehicles. The rear loading ramp could also be used for parachute dropping (also, see Air America).

Under the Johnson-McConnell agreement of 1966, the Army relinquished the fixed wing Caribou to the United States Air Force in exchange for an end to restrictions on Army rotary wing operations. On 1 January 1967, the 17th, 57th, 61st Aviation Companies (12th Combat Aviation Group) and the 92nd, 134th, and 135th Aviation Companies of the U.S. Army were inactivated and their aircraft transferred respectively to the newly activated 537th, 535th, 536th, 459th, 457th, and 458th Troop Carrier Squadrons of the USAF (This was Operation "Red Leaf"). On 1 August 1967 the "troop carrier" designations were changed to "tactical airlift".

Some Republic of Vietnam Air Force Caribou were captured by North Vietnamese forces in 1975 and remained in service with that country through to the late 1970s. Following the war in Vietnam, all USAF Caribou were transferred to Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard airlift units pending their replacement by the C-130 Hercules in the 1980s.

Ex U.S. Army CV-2A, operated by Chieftain Aviation, at Opa-locka Airport near Miami in 1989

All C-7s have now been phased out of U.S. military service, with the last example serving again under U.S. Army control through 1985 in support of the U.S. Army's Golden Knights parachute demonstration team. Other notable military operators included Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia and Spain.

In September 1975, a group of 44 civilians, including armed supporters of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT), commandeered a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Caribou, A4-140, on the ground at Baucau Airport in the then Portuguese Timor, which was in the middle of a civil war. The Caribou had landed at Baucau on a humanitarian mission for the International Committee of the Red Cross. The civilians demanded that the RAAF crew members fly them to Darwin Airport (also RAAF Base Darwin) in Australia, which they did. After the Caribou arrived there, the Australian government detained the civilians for a short period, and then granted refugee visas to all of them. The Guardian later described A4-140 as "the only RAAF plane ever hijacked", and the incident as "one of the more remarkable stories in Australia’s military and immigration history".[3]

The RAAF retired A4-140, by then its last Caribou, on 27 November 2009.[4] The aircraft, which was manufactured in 1964, was donated to the Australian War Memorial, Canberra.[5]

Civilian operations

After retirement from military use, several examples of the Caribou have been purchased by civilian operators for deployment in areas with small airfields located in rugged country with few or poor surface transport links.


Royal Australian Air Force DHC-4
DHC-4 Caribou
STOL tactical transport, utility transport aircraft.
Royal Canadian Air Force designation for the DHC-4 Caribou.
This designation was given to five DHC-4 Caribou, sold to the United States Army for evaluation.
United States Army designation for the first production run of 56 DHC-4 Caribou. Later redesignated CV-2A in 1962.
United States Army AC-1 redesignated in 1962.
This designation was given to a second production run of 103 DHC-4 Caribou, which were sold to the U.S. Army, with reinforced internal ribbing.
These designations were applied to all 144 Caribou transferred to the U.S. Air Force by the U.S. Army.
DHC-4A Caribou
Similar to the DHC-4, but this version had an increased takeoff weight.
DHC-4T Turbo Caribou
A conversion of the baseline DHC-4 Caribou powered by the PWC PT6A-67T turboprop engines designed, test flown and certified by the Pen Turbo Aviation company.


Military operators

 Abu Dhabi/  United Arab Emirates
Caribou at the RAAF museum.
  • Indian Air Force – India received 20 new build Caribou, supplementing them with four ex-Ghanaian Caribou in 1975.[8]
The only Iranian DHC-4 Caribou
 Pahlavi Iran
  • Liberian Army – Two refurbished aircraft were delivered to the Air Reconnaissance Unit in 1989.[12] The aircraft were destroyed during the civil war.
RMAF Caribou on display at the Malaysian Army Museum, Port Dickson.
  • Spanish Air Force – received 12 new Caribou later supplemented by 24 former United States Air Force C-7As.[15] Final retirement 12 June 1991.[16]
 South Vietnam
 United States

Civil operators

  • La Sarre Air Services
    • acquired C-GVGX in 1977 (delivered 1961) and unknown status after 1981 when Propair formed from merger of La Sarre Air Services (used in El Salvador to Nicaragua 1986)[22]
 Costa Rica
  • Amoco Ecuador
  • Anglo-Ecuador Oilfields
  • Aerolíneas Cóndor of SA
  • New Cal Aviation
 Papua New Guinea
  • Garamut Exploration Services
  • Vanimo Trading
 United States

Aircraft on display


On display
A4-228 at Caboolture (2021).
C-7A 60-3767 at Travis Air Force Base Heritage Center
  • A4-228 - DHC-4 on display at Caboolture Warplane and Flight Heritage Museum, Caboolture Airfield, Caboolture, Queensland.[30]
  • A4-231 - DHC-4 on display at National Vietnam Veterans Museum, Phillip Island, Victoria.[30]
  • A4-236 – DHC-4 on static display at the Aviation Heritage Center, RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland.[34]
  • A4-275 - DHC-4 stored at Historical Aircraft Restoration Society, Albion Park, New South Wales.
  • A4-299 - DHC-4 on static display at Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Heritage Aviation Association Museum at Evans Head, New South Wales.

Costa Rica

On display
  • MSP002 - DHC-4 on static display at Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport, Liberia, Costa Rica


On display


On display


On display


On display

United States

CV-2B 62-4149
C-7 on display at the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum, once used by the Golden Knights parachute team
detail of C-7A Caribou at Museum of Aviation, Robins AFB
On display

Specifications (DHC-4A)

Data from Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1969-70 [62]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 + loadmaster
  • Capacity: 30 pax (civil) / 32 troops / 26 fully-equipped paratroops / 22 stretchers, 4 sitting patients and 4 attendants
  • Length: 72 ft 7 in (22.12 m)
  • Wingspan: 95 ft 7.5 in (29.147 m)
  • Height: 31 ft 9 in (9.68 m)
  • Wing area: 912 sq ft (84.7 m2)
  • Aspect ratio: 10
  • Airfoil: centre-section: NACA 643A417.5; tip: NACA 632A615
  • Basic operating weight: 18,260 lb (8,283 kg)
  • Maximum payload: 8,740 lb (3,964 kg)
  • Maximum zero fuel weight: 27,000 lb (12,247 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 28,500 lb (12,927 kg)
  • Maximum permissible weight for ferry missions: 31,300 lb (14,197 kg)
  • Maximum landing weight: 28,500 lb (12,927 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 690 imp gal (830 US gal; 3,100 L)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-2000-7M2 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines, 1,450 hp (1,080 kW) each
  • Propellers: 3-bladed Hamilton Standard type 43D50-7107A fully-feathering constant-speed reversible-pitch propellers


  • Maximum speed: 187 kn (215 mph, 346 km/h) at 6,500 ft (2,000 m)
  • Cruise speed: 158 kn (182 mph, 293 km/h) at 7,500 ft (2,300 m) (maximum & econ)
  • Stall speed: 59 kn (68 mph, 109 km/h)
  • Never exceed speed: 208 kn (239 mph, 385 km/h)
  • Range: 1,136 nmi (1,307 mi, 2,104 km) with maximum fuel inc. 45 minutes reserve
211 nmi (243 mi; 391 km) with maximum payoad inc. 45 minutes reserve
  • Service ceiling: 24,800 ft (7,600 m)
  • Service ceiling on one engine: 8,800 ft (2,700 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,355 ft/min (6.88 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 31.2 lb/sq ft (152 kg/m2) maximum
  • Power/mass: 0.102 hp/lb (0.168 kW/kg)

Blind flying instrumentation standard fit

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era



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External links

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