Microsoft Flight Simulator Releases Local Legend 17: The Curtiss C-46 Commando

A Versatile, Rugged Workhorse 

The C-46 Commando is a twin-engine, piston-powered military transport aircraft developed and manufactured by Curtiss-Wright, an American aviation company. The Commando took its maiden flight in March of 1940 and entered service with the United States Army Air Forces in 1941. The aircraft quickly became renowned for its versatility and ruggedness in multiple theaters of World War II. It performed several types of missions, including freighter, medical evacuation, and glider towing. Due to its robust build and powerful engines, it could operate out of unimproved airfields and carry heavy loads.  

The Leading Edge of Innovation 

The C-46 traces its roots to Curtiss-Wright’s CW-20, a twin-engine airliner created based on the quickly growing airline industry in the 1930s. The company began development of the CW-20 in 1937, designing it to compete with the four-engine Boeing 307 Stratoliner, the world’s first airliner with a pressurized cabin. The CW-20 boasted several advanced design characteristics. These included a pressurized cabin, a high-strength fuselage designed specifically to maintain pressurization at high altitude, a refined aerodynamic shape to minimize drag, and a high-strength wing. The CW-20, which could carry up to 36 passengers, took its maiden flight on March 26, 1940.  

After initial testing by Curtiss-Wright, the United States Army Air Forces purchased the prototype CW-20 for evaluation as part of their initiative to develop a transport aircraft. In September of 1940, the Army Air Forces command made the first of several orders of a modified variant of the CW-20 for cargo and transport use. Designated the C-46 Commando, the aircraft was unpressurized, had more powerful engines than the original CW-20 prototype, and was fitted with large cargo doors. It also had a strengthened floor and had an easily convertible cabin for various configurations, including seating for up to 40. Curtiss-Wright delivered the first group of Commandos in 1941 and the airframe formally entered service in 1942. The company built more than 3,000 C-46 airframes in several variants during its production run that spanned from 1940 to 1945.  

The C-46 measures 76’ 4” in length, stands 21’ 9” tall, and has a trapezoidal main wing with a span of 108 feet. It features a standard empennage and retractable standard landing gear and is powered by two wing-mounted Pratt & Whitney R-2800-51 Double Wasp engines. The 18-cylinder radial piston engines generate up to 2,000 horsepower each and turn 4-blade constant-speed propellers.  

The Commando has a range of 3,150 miles, a service ceiling of 24,500 feet above sea level, a cruising speed of 173 miles per hour, and a top speed of 270 mph. 

The Toughest Missions 

The C-46 Commando was used by all services of the American military throughout World War II and was produced in several variants. It served the roles of troop transport, freighter, glider towing, medical evacuation, and paratrooper delivery. It proved crucial in several of the toughest campaigns of the war including Operation Varsity and cargo flights over “The Hump,” the Himalaya mountains. 

Conducted on March, 24, 1945, Operation Varsity was the largest single-day, single-location airborne operation in history. Several thousand Allied aircraft delivered more than 16,000 paratroopers just outside of the northwestern German city of Wesel. In the China-Burma-India theater, the C-46 Commando proved to be the best performing transport aircraft for critical flights from India to China. The Commando could withstand harsh weather, poor airfields, and could lift more than any other 2-engine cargo aircraft due to its high-performance engines.  

The C-46 remained in American military operation after World War II, served in the Korean War, and supported clandestine missions in the Vietnam War. The U.S. Air Force retired the aircraft in 1968 but other countries’ militaries used the airframe as well. Many privately owned examples remain in flyable condition to this day.  

The Microsoft Flight Simulator C-46 Commando 

The Curtiss C-46 Commando has been beautifully reproduced for Microsoft Flight Simulator aviators to enjoy throughout the world. Pilots can fly it over areas where it made history and then explore new frontiers of their own.  

The Microsoft Flight Simulator Curtiss C-46 Commando comes with four liveries: Japanese Air Self Defense Force, Olive Drab (Fictional), Blue (U.S. Navy), USMIL.” It is available today for $14.99. The sky is calling! 

Microsoft Flight Simulator is available for Xbox Series X|S and PC with Xbox Game Pass, PC Game Pass, Windows, and Steam, and on Xbox One and supported mobile phones, tablets, and lower-spec PCs via Xbox Cloud Gaming. For the latest information on Microsoft Flight Simulator, stay tuned to @MSFSOfficial on Twitter.