The de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou (known in the U.S. military as CV-2 and C-7 Caribou) was a Canadian-designed and produced 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" aircraft.
Design and development
de Havilland Canada's third STOL design was a big step up in size compared to its earlier DHC Beaver and DHC Otter, and was the first DHC design powered by two engines. The Caribou, however, was similar in concept in that it was designed as a rugged STOL utility. 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 then changed to CV-2 Caribou.
The majority of Caribou production was destined for military operators, but the type's ruggedness and excellent STOL capabilities also appealed to a select group of commercial users. US 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 civil use.
In response to a US 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 US 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 US Army's CV-2s were transferred to the US Air Force in 1967. US and Australian Caribou saw extensive service during the Vietnam conflict.
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 C-123 Provider and the 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).
In 1967, a political decision was made by the United States Air Force who, believing that all fixed-wing aircraft operations were its own province, demanded that the Army turn over the Caribou. The Army ultimately traded the Caribou to the Air Force in exchange for an end to restrictions on Army helicopter operations. In addition, some US Caribou were captured by North Vietnamese forces and remained in service with that country through to the late 1970s.
Most of the C-7s have since been phased out of the US military. Other notable military operators included: Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Malaysia and Spain.
In current service, the Royal Australian Air Force still operates 14 Caribous, which are due to be replaced by 2012, while Brazil's Caribous are slowly being replaced by more modern EADS CASA C-295 turboprop cargo airplanes.
DHC-4 Caribou - STOL tactical transport, utility transport aircraft.
CC-108 - Royal Canadian Air Force designation for the DHC-4 Caribou.
YAC-1 - This designation was given to five DHC-4 Caribous, sold to the United States Army for evaluation.
AC-1 - United States Army destination for the DHC-4 Caribou. Later redesignated CV-2A in 1962.
CV-2A - United States Army AC-1 redesignated in 1962.
CV-2B - This designation was given to a second batch of DHC-4 Caribous, which were sold to the US Army.
C-7A/B - This designation was given to all 134 US Army CV-2A/B Caribous, which were transferred to the US Air Force.
DHC-4A Caribou - Similar to the DHC-4, but this version had an increased take-off 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.
Australia - Royal Australian Air Force
Brazil - Brazilian Air Force
Canada - Royal Canadian Air Force; retired with the Canadian Forces
Costa Rica - One aircraft used by the Seccion Aérea de la Guardia Civil
Ghana - Ghana Air Force
India - Indian Air Force
Kenya - Kenya Air Force operated type 1966-1987.
Kuwait - Kuwait Air Force received two aircraft in 1963.
Malaysia - Malaysian Air Force retired their Caribous from active service.
Oman - Sultanate of Oman Air Force
Spain - Spanish Air Force
South Vietnam - Vietnam Air Force
Sweden - Swedish Air Force operated one DHC-4 Caribou designated Tp 55 between 1962 and 1965 for evaluation purposes in F7 Wing.
Tanzania - Tanzanian Air Force
Thailand - Royal Thai Police The Royal Thai Police used three DHC-4A from 1966 to 2005.
Uganda - Ugandan Police Air Wing
United States - United States Army, United States Air Force
Vietnam - Vietnam People's Air Force captured several ex-VNAF airplane.
Australia - Ansett-MAL operated one aircraft in the New Guinea highlands.
Canada - La Sarre Air Services
Ecuador - AMOCO Ecuador, Anglo-Ecuador Oilfields, Aerolineas Condor of SA
Gabon - Air Inter Gabon
Indonesia - Trigana Air
Malta - New Cal Aviation
Papua New Guinea - Garamut Exploration Services, Vanimo Trading
Taiwan - Air Asia
United States - Air America, Bannock Aerospace, Chieftain Air, Deutsche Aviation, Environmental Research Institute of Michigan, Fowler Aeronautical Service, H A T Aviation Inc., John Woods Inc., New Cal Aviation, Pen Turbo Aviation
de Havilland AC-1 60-3767 - Exhibited at Travis AFB Museum, California
de Havilland AC-1A 62-4188 - On display at New England Air Museum, Bradley Airport, Connecticut
de Havilland CV-2B Caribou 63-9756 - Exhibited at Museum of Aviation, Warner Robins AFB, Georgia
de Havilland CV-2B Caribou 63-9760 - Exhibited at Dover AFB Historical Center, Delaware.
de Havilland C-7A Caribou 62-4193 - Exhibited at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
- Crew: Three
- Length: 72.58 ft (22.12 m)
- Wingspan: 95.58 ft (29.13 m)
- Height: 31.66 ft (9.65 m)
- Wing area: 912 ft² (84.7 m²)
- Empty weight: 18,260 lb (8,283 kg)
- Loaded weight: 31,000 lb (14,198 kg)
- Powerplant: 2× Pratt and Whitney R-2000-7M2 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder, 1,450 hp (1,081 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 216 mph (348 km/h)
- Range: 1,307 mi (2,103 km)
- Service ceiling 24,800 ft (7,559 m)
- Rate of climb: 1,355 ft/min (413 m/min)