My parents are traveling in Iceland and sent me a few pictures of an old radial-engined aircraft. It has "United States Navy" markings on the side, "Keflavik 17131" on the tail, and "191" on the nose. There's a picture of one wing with two engines, so I assume it's got four total. Unfortunately I don't have an exact location, except that it's in Iceland.

I'd love to know what this is, but perhaps also how it might have ended up abandoned by the Navy in Iceland.

Fuselage, full length, with United States Navy down the side

Closeup on the tail, with faded lettering saying "Keflavik 17131"

One wing with two radial engines. Each engine pod also has landing gear underneath

Rear view of the wing with the two engines

Aircraft nose, bearing the numbers 191


As others have mentioned, it's a C-117D. Regarding that particular airframe's history/status:

It was on display 1977–2002 at the then US Naval Air Station Keflavik:

With the end of the war in Europe, Keflavik Airport became a transit point for aircraft returning from the European Theater of Operations to the United States.

— Wikipedia: Naval Air Station Keflavik

The below US Navy photo from 2002 shows the process of moving it to the Icelandic Aviation Museum. It was to be restored, but evidently that has not happened.

enter image description here

The caption reads:

Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland (Sep. 16, 2002) -- Members of the stations Fire and Emergency Services (FES) finish dismantling a C-117D "Super Gooneybird". Bureau #17191. The aircraft had been on static display aboard the station since 1977, and is to be donated to the Icelandic Aviation Museum, where it will be fully restored. U.S. Navy photo by Journalist 2nd Class Stephen Sheedy. (RELEASED) Note: As of 2013, aircraft remains dismantled and exposed to the elements at the museum.

Since at least 2019 it's been at that location you have, the Hnjótur Museum:

enter image description here
— Google Earth (Google Maps link)

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    $\begingroup$ "It was to be restored, but evidently that has not happened" today's understatement! Heh! $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Jun 14 '21 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ I paid a visit to the Hnjótur Museum in 2015 at which point that aircraft was already located there. I don't remember all the details but I think the plane was handed over to Egill Olafsson, the founder of the museum, back in the day. He died long before 2015 so the plane has been rotting there for much longer I suppose. $\endgroup$
    – ackh
    Jun 15 '21 at 16:04

It appears to be a Douglas C-117 which is a C-47 with more powerful engines. Tail number 17191 flew out of Iceland


From the linked website:

Standing in front of the weather office, 17191 is ready for another flight to one of the radar stations around Iceland.

The aircraft has the same KEFLAVIK and tail number markings

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    $\begingroup$ Ok, I understand now. Based on the third and fourth pictures I thought it had four engines, but now I see that the fuselage attached between the two engines. Any idea what the aircraft is doing there in Iceland? $\endgroup$ Jun 13 '21 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ @AshleyStrout It was probably based there. The US had a military base in Iceland until 2006 (NAS Keflavik). $\endgroup$
    – Bianfable
    Jun 13 '21 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ Sad to see a once beautiful plane like this, abandoned and crumbling to a pile of garbage. Also makes me feel old--it looks like it's been abandoned almost forever, but I can remember 1976 (when the picture was taken) quite clearly... $\endgroup$ Jun 14 '21 at 1:46
  • $\begingroup$ @Jerry Coffin when I hear stories of crazy rich people buying half million dollar yachts I think "why wouldn't you buy one of these planes and restore it instead!?" It would be a cool plans to arrive anywhere, especially in the classic livery. $\endgroup$
    – Bageletas
    Jun 14 '21 at 2:44

That’s a Douglas R4D, the Navy version of the C-47/DC-3.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you add some sources to your answer please? As it currently is, your answer is at risk of being deleted. $\endgroup$
    – dalearn
    Jun 13 '21 at 16:14
  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately I can’t. I just know what the DC-3 looks like, and being a Navy aircraft, I can extrapolate that it is, indeed, an R4D. $\endgroup$
    – MD88Fan
    Jun 13 '21 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ It was built as a C-47A-20-DK Skytrain 42-93105 (MSN 12980) for the USAAF Apr 12, 1944, then transferred to US Navy as R4D-5 BuNo 17191 Apr 12, 1944, and then later redesignated as C-117D. flydc3.de/planes/detail/265 $\endgroup$ Jun 14 '21 at 4:03
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    $\begingroup$ 17191 (MSN 12980) ex USAAF 42-93105. To US Navy 12Apr44. NATS 12Apr44. VR-3 Aug44. VR-9 22Dec44. VR-1 Feb45. VR-7 Apr45. VR-3 Aug45. Jacksonville May46. NART Glenview May46. Converted to R4D-8 with new MSN 43379, returned to USN from Douglas December 1952. Europe Jun59 to 18Sep62. To C-117D 18Sep62. Europe 18Sep62 to Dec70. Mildenhall 1971 to Oct73. WFU. Retired from service 1973; in 1987 was on display at NAF Keflavik, Iceland. Moved Sept 2002 to Egils Olafssonair Minja-Og Fugminjasafn at Bjargtangar, Iceland. joebaugher.com/navy_serials/thirdseries2.html $\endgroup$ Jun 14 '21 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ Guys, why would this excellent answer need "sources" ? $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Jun 14 '21 at 21:43

It's an R4D, a Naval version of the Douglas C-47/DC-3.


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