The Dakota served the RAAF during World War II, the Korean War, in Malaya/Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and in Australia with great distinction. It was the transport of the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s in the roles of general transport, VIP transport, navigation trainer and SAR. Originally designed by Douglas as the DC-3 in the 1930s, the first DC-3 in Australia was introduced by Airlines of Australia in 1937.

At the start of World War II, DC-3s were produced in the thousands as the C-47A & B Skytrain for the USAAF and as the Dakota for the RAF and Commonwealth countries. It became the standard military transport of the Allied Forces in Europe and the Pacific Islands. Over 10,6550 were built in USA, including 430 commercial versions before the War. The Russians built about 2000 under licence.

The first DC-3's in the RAAF were four ANA aircraft, impressed into service at the start of the War. During the war, the RAAF operated over 120 C-47B Dakotas, known to many as the 'biscuit bombers'. After the War, the RAAF continued to operate the Dakota, the RAN operated four and about 50 operated in civilian configuration, forming the backbone of early civlil airlines in Australia. There were over 80 DC-3s/Dakotas in civilian service in Australia in 1955. The last Dakota in the RAAF served with ARDU as a support transport and was finally retired in the mid 1980s.

Early civilian DC-3s were powered by two 1200hp (895kW) Wright SGR1820 Cyclone nine cylinder radial engines while the military versions were powered by two 1200hp (895kW) Pratt & Whitney R1830S1C3G Twin Row Wasp 14 cylinder radial piston engines driving three blade variable pitch propellers.

The C-47B max speed was 185KTAS (346km/h), with normal cruising speed of 145KTAS (265km/h). With max fuel and a payload of 2200lbs (1000Kg), it had a range of about 1000 n miles (1800km), with a 30 min reserve.

Following an updated radio fitment, the Dakota carried a crew of three-2 pilots and a navigator. Navigation fit was basic by modern standards - radio compass, DME(A) and for the purist navigator, a sextant. It is one of the few aircraft to carry a drift site, an essential instrument over the sea or featureless deserts in Australia.

The Dakota is a classic aircraft which earns a prominent position in the Hall of Fame. It connected towns and outposts in Australia with the main population centres and replaced rail as a means of travel for many Australians.