C-47 Markings


When looking at photos of C-47s, as well as C–53 and C-46 aircraft that were in service with the Troop Carriers, one sees a number of markings. Letters, numbers and symbols. About those markings is this page.

1. This is the Squadron code. All Troop Carrier Squadrons had their own code. See more at this page.

2. This is the tail letter, or radio call sign. This is the identification latter for that particulair plane in that squadron

3. This is the plane number. The first number, a 4, is always left out. Thus this is C-47 # 43-15074. The first two digits are the

    tax-year when the plane was ordered. The other number is the manufactering number.

4. These are the invasion stripes painted just before the Normandy invasion of June 6, 1944. The upper part was painted over some

    time after D-day. This enables to place this photo in the fall of 1944, or early 1945. At the time of the Rhine mission, March 1945

   most planes had lost their invasion stripes. This by order, although some were not painted over at all.

5. Mission symbols. See below.


The plane is a 15th Troop Carrier Squadron C-47. The plane was destroyed in 1954.  

The above picture shows a C-47 of the 88th Troop Carrier Squadron.


1. Nickname or nose art. Not all aircraft had such. A lt of planes had names, for example of their loved ones in the USA.

2. Names of crew members. Not always there or hard to see on photos. Here are the names of Lt.-Col. Bob Gates, CO of the

   88th TCS, Lt. William Bryson (pilot) and T/Sgt. George Hemingway (crew chief).

3. Partial Squadron Code M2.


The area between the nickname of the plane and the names of the crew had technical information on the plane. Including the plane number. Unfortunately it is not visible. But it is likely that this is C-47 # 43-15306.

The last aspect of markings on the planes are the mission symbols. This 53rd Troop Carrier Squadron shows us the symbols used.


1. These red-cross markins stand for the number of evacuation misions flown.

2. These donkey’s stand for supply missions in the Medeteranian, most probably in Sicily and Italy.

3. Camels indicate supply missions in Northern Africa.

4. A parachute stands for a combat mission dropping paratroopers.

5. A freight train with wagons for the supply missions flown in the European Theatre of Operations.

6. A guy towing a glider stands for a glider mission.


The 53rd Troop Carrier Squadron was involved in the glider mission to LZ-T in Holland on September 18, 1944. The next glider mission by the 61st Troop Carrier Group was executed by two of the four Squadrons. The 53rd did not tow gliders on that day (23 September 1944).

Airborne Troop Carrier - Miscellaneous