AVIATION  101 CURTISS C-46                      


The Curtiss C-46 Commando was a transport aircraft designed in 1937 and first flown in 1940.  Production continued until 1945 with a total of 3181 aircraft going into service with the US military. 

Performance information: 

     Cruising speed: 173 mph (278 km/hr)

     Range:  3150 mi. (5069 km) 

     Cargo capacity: 15,000 lbs. (6800 kg)

     Service ceiling: 24,500 ft. (7468 m)                  


Three-view of C-46 





Cut-away view of C-46 


Specifications (C-46A)

Data from Curtiss Aircraft 1907–1946

General characteristics



LAB Curtiss C-46 Aircraft Fleet    

Detailed Histories and Photos of Seven Aircraft 

  Note: Information about LAB's C-46 fleet is sparse and

photos in the LAB color scheme so far have been almost non-existent.                                                






A similar C-46C flying for First Nations Transportation



Curtiss C-46A-60-CK                            c/n 433     






Built by Curtiss-Wright Corp. at Buffalo, NY                                                                             1943  


USAAF                                               43-47362                                                                           1943  


Unknown operator in Honduras           XH-TNC                                                                              ?    


LAB                                                       CB-37                                                                              1947


Accident at Trinidad                                  "                                                                     29 May 1947  

              - rebuilt                                                                                                                                      

LAB                                                       CP-537                                                                                ?    


Accident at Rurrenabaque                          "                                                                     10 Aug 1949

              - damaged beyond repair - written off                                                                                      

              - no other information has been found                                                                                    














A similar C-46A flown by Real Nacional - Brazil  



Curtiss C-46A                                           c/n  ?        




Built by Curtiss-Wright Corp. at Buffalo,NY                                                                                ?      


USAAF                                                             ?                                                                                    


LAB                                                            CB-38                                                                       1948  


LAB                                                            CP-538                                                                                


Accident at Laguna Anteojos, Beni                 "                                                                2 Oct 1950    

                         - damaged beyond repair, written off                                                                                                        - no other information available                                                                                    












Similar C-46 operated by Transaereos Illimani 



Curtiss C-46A-10-CU                     c/n  26488       




Curtiss-Wright Corp. at Buffalo, NY                                                                                           1941 ?


USAAF                                                        41-12361                                                      4 May 1943  


Northwest Airlines                                              "                                                            16 Sep 1943  


USAAF                                                                "                                                           28 Aug 1944  


Reconstruction Finance Corp.                             "                                                            25 Oct 1945  

                          - stored at Walnut Ridge, AR                                                                                        

LAB                                                               CB-39                                                          4 Dec 1949  


LAB                                                               CP-539                                                                   ?        


Loide Aereo Nacional  -  Brazil                         "                                                               21 Jul 1951  

                         - purchased from LAB                                                                                                  

Crashed on takeoff at Cochabamba                                                                                    29 Jul 1951  - Pilot:  Cap. Zabalaga

                        - No survivors - 3 crew, 4 passengers - 7 fatalities                                                        

                        - Aircraft was being ferried to Rio de Janeiro following sale to Loide Aereo Nacional

                        - Damaged beyond repair - written off                                                                            














CB-50 after sale to Brazil as PP-LDM  - Ed Coates Collection 



Curtiss C-46A-1-CU                     c/n  26397          




Built by Curtiss-Wright Corp at Buffalo, NY                                                                              1941  


USAAF                                                        41-5195                                                                    1941  


     Presque Isle Army Airfield, ME                  "                                                                              ?    

          - embarkation point for aircraft movement to Great Britain                                                        


     Accident at Narsarssuak Air Base, Greenland                                                             27 Jan 1944  

          - Ground accident - pilot: Dana H. Weaver                                                                          

          - details of accident unavailable                                                                                                    


LAB                                                             CB-50                                                             1 Jan 1950  


LAB                                                             CP-550                                                                                

          - aircraft sold to Loide                                                                                                                  


Loide Aereo Nacional -  Brazil                   PP-LDM                                                             Jul 1951  


Crashed at Sete Praas, Santa Amaro, SP, Brazil     "                                                        14 Sep 1953  

          - the aircraft was returning to Congonhas Airport when it struck trees and crashed

          - no fatalities, but aircraft damaged beyond repair, written off                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


Brazilian newspaper photo of crashed PP-LDM - formerly LAB CB-50








A similar C-46A operated by Servicios Aereos Bolivianos 


Curtiss C-46A-CU                             c/n  26369        




Built by Curtiss-Wright Corp. at Buffalo, NY                                                                               1941


USAAF                                                     41-5167                                                            13 Sep 1942


     Homestead Army Air Field, FL                "                                                                                   ?  

                    - Second Air Force Operational Training Unit - 2 O T U                                                  


     Accident at Homestead AAF                     "                                                                  17 Sep 1943

                   - Landing accident due to mechanical failure                                                                      

                   - Pilot: Howard H. Boyles                                                                                                    


     Second accident at Homestead AAF         "                                                                  12 Nov 1943

                   - Landing accident due to mechanical failure                                                                      

                   - Pilot: Leonard J. Specht                                                                                                    


Transferred to Reconstruction Finance Corp.  "                                                                  8 Nov 1945

                   - withdrawn from use at Bush Field, CA                                                                            


California Atlantic Airways                      N1920M                                                                       1949

                   - St. Petersburg, FL                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

LAB                                                             CB-51                                                            11 Feb 1950


Crashed near Cochabamba                              "                                                                 24 Apr 1950

                   - No fatalities, 2 crew members                                                                                          

                   - Aircraft damaged beyond repair, written off                                                      

                   - No other information has been found                                                                                













Similar C-46 operated by LANSA of Honduras, formerly of VARIG - Photo from the Geoff Goodall Collection


Curtiss C-46D-10-CU                     c/n  33283      




Built by Curtiss-Wright Corp. at Buffalo, NY                                                                            1944  


USAAF                                                   44-77887                                                          14 Feb 1945  


     Sedalia Army Air Field, MO                    "                                                                             1945  


     92nd Troop Carrier Squadron - 439th Troop Carrier Group - 1st Troop Carrier Command            


     Accident at Sedalia AAF, taxiing accident                                                                 13 Oct 1945  

                - pilot: John Homa                                                                                                                  

                - no further information available                                                                                          


Transferred to Reconstruction Finance Corp.   "                                                                6 Feb 1946  

                - wfu and stored at Walnut Ridge Army Air Field, AR                                                        


Compania Nacional Cubana de Aviacion    CU-P197                                                                 1947  


TAN - Transportes Aereos Nacionales        XH-TNE                                                                 1949  

                 - Honduras                                                                                                                            


LAB                                                               CB-67                                                       29 Nov 1950  


LAP -    Linhas Aereas Paulistas                 PP-LPH                                                        21 Jul 1951    

                 - Brazil                                                                                                                                    


Crashed on a training flight into Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janeiro                                    4 Mar 1954  

     Accident report: An attempt to land on one engine was made. Following a hard landing on one wheel, full power was applied by the instructor because another aircraft had entered the runway. The engine failed on climb-out and the C-46 struck the mast of a ship, causing it to crash into the sea. No fatalities; occupants: instructor and student only. Aircraft damaged beyond repair; written off.                  Source: Aviation Safety Network                                                                                                      








 This C-46D was operated by the Corporacion Boliviana de Fomento from 1946 until a fatal accident in 1962 when it was written off. As far as I can tell it was not used by LAB.                                                                             




A similar C-46F  operated by Servicio Aereo Oriental



Curtiss C-46D-CU                            c/n  33457      



Built by Curtiss-Wright Corp. at Buffalo, NY                                                                             1944  


USAAF                                                   44-78061                                                          24 Mar 1945  


Reconstruction Finance Corp.                       "                                                                      Dec 1945  

               - wfu and stored at Walnut Ridge Army Air Field, AR                                                          


Transportes Aereos Universal - Brazil    PP-BBC                                                            1 May 1948  


Ferris and Buarque Corp - Brazil                 "                                                                 17 May 1952  


Loide Aereo Nacional - Brazil                PP-LDN                                                          19 May 1952  


Transportes Aereos Bandeirantes            PP-BLD                                                            5 May 1958  

              - ? this company merged with Loide in 1950                                                                            


Aerovias Condor - Bolivia                       CP-730                                                                 Sep 1963  


LAB                                                               "                                                                             1965  

             - leased from Aerovias Condor (they ceased operations in 1963)                                            


Accident between Riberalta and Cochabamba                                                                 3 Aug 1966    

                                                                                                        - sometimes listed as 8 Mar 1966  


Accident Report:       

     After a normal flight from La Paz to Riberalta, CP-730 took off for Cochabamba at 1130.35 hrs. Bolivian time, to carry out the second part of its flight plan, a special cargo flight. The only persons on board were the three crew members. The aircraft reported over Santa Ana and San Ignacio at 1232 hrs. and 1255 hrs. respectively, and estimated the next contact with Cochabamba control at 1340 hrs, when it would be over Rio Juntas, 20 min. away from its destination.

     At 1345 hrs. Cochabamba control called CP-730 requesting a new estimate over Rio Juntas. No reply from the aircraft was received and Cochabamba requested Trinidad control to try and contact the aircraft. As no message had been received from CP-730 by 1400 hrs, blind transmissions were sent out of weather conditions in the mountains, on the assumption that the aircraft's radio transmitter was not operating; in addition all stations in the area were warned to expect a possible landing of the aircraft. Since by 1440 hrs. no landing of the aircraft was reported, an ALERFA was declared [the alert phase of an emergency where apprehension exists concerning an aircraft and its occupants], followed later at 1540 hrs. by a DETRESFA [distress phase - reasonable certainty that an aircraft and its occupants are threatened by grave and imminent danger or require immediate assistance].

     Search operations were initiated at 1700 hrs. and continued for nine days over an area of 169,000 square miles without success. Twelve days after CP-730's disappearance, two peasants reported in    [a town near] Cochabamba that while out hunting in the mountains they had found the missing aircraft and brought two pieces of aluminum from it as proof. On the strength of this evidence that CP-730 had been located, investigation teams were assembled and arrived at the site of the accident thirteen days after its occurrence.

     The three Bolivian crew members did not survive.

     The wreckage of the aircraft was distinguishable only from 40 m (120 ft) away because of ice which had formed on it and the configuration of the terrain; this explains why the aerial search was unsuccessful.


     A pilot who had flown the same route as CP-730 in a C-46 which arrived at Cochabamba at 1400 hrs. reported that there was a strong tailwind and that weather conditions had necessitated instrument flight.

     A DC-3 that had also taken the same route reached Cochabamba shortly after 1400 hrs, 25 min. ahead of its ETA owing to the tailwind.

     From the foregoing it can be deduced that CP-730 was beyond its estimated position because of the strong tailwind. This would explain why the pilot flying in IMC [instrument meteorological conditions] and convinced that he had not yet reached Rio Juntas, failed to report over this point and unexpectedly found himself in the mountains.


    Due to a tailwind the aircraft was beyond its estimated position, The pilot did not report over Rio Juntas and unexpectedly found himself in the mountains. In an attempt to fly clear of the mountains he made a 90 degree turn to the right and struck the ground.


     -This very thorough report was issued in 1971 by the International Civil Aviation Organization and was part of its Aircraft Accident Digest No. 18, Vol. 2.

     I have only quoted about half of the report.






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