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Douglas Dakota DC-3 / C47

The Douglas C47, known as the Dakota in the Royal Air Force and Commonwealth services, became the world’s best known transport aircraft. The type saw widespread use by the Allies during the Second World War and by Air Forces and airlines post-war.

The Douglas C47 Skytrain and C53 Skytrooper were military versions of the DC3 airliner. The DC3 first flew in 1935 and was ordered by America’s airlines. With the outbreak of war these aircraft were diverted to the Allied Air Forces, followed by 10000 military variants constructed before production ceased in 1946. Japan and the Soviet Union also built over 2000 unlicensed copies.

The first of over 1900 Dakotas received by the RAF arrived in India in 1942. Dakotas served in every theatre of the war, notably in Burma, during the D-Day landings and the airborne assault on Arnhem in 1944.

Most RAF Dakotas had been retired or sold by 1950, the last active aircraft leaving the service in 1970. The Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough operated a former Royal Canadian Air Force example (ZA947) from 1971 until 1993, when it joined the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) took their first deliveries of Douglas C47 in 1943 and the last of approximately 60 aircraft in 1946. During WWII Dakotas were operated by both the RAF and BOAC.

After the war, BOAC sold the fleet, fourteen of which went to British European Airways when the airline was formed in 1946. One of the Dakotas acted as a testbed for the Rolls-Royce Dart engine before it powered the Vickers Viscount, the world’s first turbo-prop aircraft.

Douglas DC-3 (C-47 Skytrain / Dakota (N473DC)

Aero Legends ‘Drag ’em Oot’, is a 1944 Douglas C47 Sky Train. This Douglas C47 c/n 19345, was delivered to the United States Army Air Force on 28 December 1943 and had serial 42-100882 assigned. She joined operations with 87th Troop Carrier Squadron based at Greenham Common in England equipped as glider pick up, her crew named her ‘Drag ‘em Oot’ (slang for ‘Drag Them Out’).

She participated in the air assault during D-Day when at 00:46 on 06 June 1944 she dropped 18 paratroopers of the US 82nd Airborne Division just behind the Normandy beach heads, near St. Mere Église. She returned safe to the UK and after a second mission that very same day, she started to resupply the troops in France.

In September 1944 she was transferred to the Royal Air Force, designated a Dakota C.3 and assigned the British serial TS422. Once with the RAF she was assigned to Number 1 Heavy Glider Servicing Unit, attached to 38 Group RAF at Netheravon, Wiltshire. The RAF wanted to have a specialist glider recovery unit and TS422 started recovering Horsa assault gliders from the Normandy beach heads as soon as she joined the RAF.

The unit recovered about 40 Horsa’s prior to Operation Market Garden. TS422 herself was just like the Horsa’s she recovered from the Normandy beaches, in action during the biggest Para-dropping in history: Operation Market Garden in September 1944. During this mission the pilot must have been severely wounded considering this Dakota was found to have signs of 12 bullet holes on the top of her cockpit and nose; probably caused by being attacked by a German fighter at some point but this Dakota warbird could take a beating. She was repaired and in August 1945 she joined 435 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force which had just returned from Burma to the UK.

After the war ended the Dakota left for Canada, where she served with the RCAF as a trainer, a transport and whilst equipped with skis and jato rockets, as a search and rescue aircraft.

After her fruitful military career she ended up in the USA, serving with various civilian companies, being registered as N5831B. She was then grounded for a few years until Paddy Green found her in Arizona upon his search for a Douglas C47 to be restored as a WW2 veteran.

Following an inspection (plenty of DC-3 / C-47 hulks around but most are in deplorable shape when inspected thoroughly) she was purchased and prepared to a condition suitable for the long ferry flight back to England. The flight to Liverpool took 7 days and 35 hours flying time, but occurred without any technical problems.

Once in the UK she was registered N473DC and repainted in the livery she now appears in: the original markings as worn during her missions on D-Day 1944 with USAAF serial 42-100882 and coded 3X-P, nicknamed ‘Drag ‘em Oot’ then piloted by Bill Allin.

‘Drag ’em Oot’ will be kept in military trim and used by Aero Legends in a number of roles including parachuting, air displays and in support of the soon to be launched re-enactment business – Combat Legends Ltd. ‘Drag ’em Oot’ will remain hangared at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre for the foreseeable future.

Douglas DC-3 (C-47 Skytrain / Dakota (N473DC)
Douglas DC-3 (C-47 Skytrain / Dakota (N473DC)
Douglas DC-3 (C-47 Skytrain / Dakota (N473DC)

Dakota DC-3 LN-WND

The DC-3 with c/n 11750 that the Dakota Norway Foundation owns and flies, is originally a military model called the C-53D Skytrooper. This version was built in 159 copies and delivered in the period February until July 1943 from the Douglas plant in Santa Monica, California. Dakota Norway’s DC-3 is known as USAAF serial 42-68823 and was delivered to the United States Army Air Force the end of June 1943.

Of the period between 1943 and 1948, little about the Dakota’s history is known. In 1948 she was purchased by Finnair and flew with the airline until 1969 with registration OH-LCG. After her service with Finnair she was taken over by the Finnish Air Force, and used as the personal aircraft of President Kekonnen as DO-9.

She was bought by Aces High Ltd at Chobam, Surrey in the UK and was assigned civil registration G-BLYA for just five days before she was sold to the US with registration N59NA. Apparently it never arrived in the USA as in July 1985 another Dakota (c/n 9043 with serial 42-32817) took up this registration.

It seems that Thore Virik from Sandefjord and Arne Karlsen from Stokke bought this Dakota directly from the Finnish Air Force in 1985. And since August 1986, the Dakota is flown in Norway where it is registered as LN-WND.

The Dakota Norway Foundation has as as purpose to maintain this piece of cultural history and to keep this flying museum airworthy. Classic plane operators are subject to the same stringent requirements for maintenance as all other operators in the aviation industry. A corps of of volunteers of the Foundation work very hard year round to let the public enjoy the intoxicating sound of the old, good Pratt & Whitney piston engines, now and in the future. The LN-WND has spent 38.600 hours in the air, this should say something about the reliability of this famous design.

Dakota DC-3 LN-WND
Dakota DC-3 LN-WND
Dakota DC-3 LN-WND

Douglas DC-3 (C-47 Skytrain / Dakota (N147DC)

N147DC was Constructed in1942 at Long Beach California. She first flew in 1943.
Served with the United States Army Air Force (USAAF)
She flew with the 79th TSC out of Membury during D-Day as 42-1000884
Delivered to the Royal Air Force at Netheravon as TS423 in 1944 and shortly before the end of the war transferred to 436 Squadron to the Royal Canadian Air Force at Down Ampney.

In the Heavy Glider Unit she took part in Arnhem and the D-Day landings. She was also one of the very few glider (snatchers) recovery aircraft with the RAF this was a difficult and dangerous job.

She also helped drop supplies during the Berlin airlift.

After the war she went to Short Brothers, Scottish Aviation, Marshalls and Ferranti.

At Ferranti she acquired a nonstandard nose. Inside this unique nose, which singled her out from her eleven thousand sisters, Ferranti fitted air pass radar for the Lightning fighter and hydraulically operated gun turret. Underneath she acquired Sonar buoy dropping equipment.

In 1969, with a surprisingly low number of hours on her airframe (around 3000 hours) TS 423 was delivered to the Ministry of Technology at RAE West Freugh, Scotland where, nine years later, named “Mayfly” she was still stored. Unfortunately her original WW2 name is unknown.

The decision was taken by the MOD to scrap her on the Catterick fire dump.

Mike Woodley of Aces High managed to rescue her from this fate with the aid of the Imperial War Museum and Lord Onslow.

On 14th September 1979 TS423 was officially christened G-DAKS and given extensive cosmetic surgery to restore her Douglas nose at Duxford.

G-DAKS made her filming debut with Yorkshire Television as “Vera Lynn” of Ruskin Air Services in the series AIRLINE in 1979.
Her film and television credits have ranged from Darkest Hour, Catch 22, Breathe, Woman in Gold, Poirot, Tenko, Quantum of Solace, The Monuments Men, Indiana Jones the Last Crusade, Allies, Dirty Dozen 2, Memphis Belle, Da Vinci Code, White Hunter Black Heart, Red 2, Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, Land Girls, Guernsey and Red Tails.

On the 75 anniversary of D-day Aces High would have been operating her for 40 years!

Still flying over 70 years later and with just over 3,500 hours total flying time N147DC is probably the lowest houred Dakota flying in the world.

Aces High still operates her almost 30 years later and she is still being used in films and on the airshow circuit with her original WW2 cockpit and interior.

N147DC wears with pride genuine flack and bullet hole repairs, a reminder to her service during WWII.

C-47 Dakota ZA947

Dakota ZA947 was constructed as a C-47A by Douglas at Long Beach, California, USA, in 1942. It was delivered to the USAAF on 7th September 1942, 75 years ago this month. A little over a week later, on 16th September, it was transferred under the Lend-Lease agreement to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), re-designated as a Dakota III and allocated the RCAF serial number ‘661’. During the Second World War Dakota ‘661’ served entirely in Canada.

After the Second World War had ended Dakota ‘661’ was deployed to Europe with the RCAF and operated in support of the Canadian forces from 1965 until 1969 when the aircraft was declared surplus to requirements. For the next 23 years the Dakota was operated by the British Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE).

Initially, it was given the RAF designation KG661, but in the late 1970s it was realized that the serial number KG661 had, in fact, previously been allocated to another Dakota which had been destroyed in an accident. The error was reported and in July 1979 the Dakota was allocated the ‘modern’ serial ZA947, which explains why this serial does not match the age or era of the aircraft.

When the Defence Research Agency – the successor to the RAE – declared ZA947 surplus to their requirements and offered it up for disposal in 1992, the aircraft was adopted by RAF Strike Command to be issued to the BBMF. It was taken on charge by the Flight in March 1993. It serves with the BBMF as an important multi-engine tailwheel training asset, but is also a sought-after display aircraft and a flying memorial to the brave RAF personnel who flew and operated these unarmed transport aircraft during World War Two.

C-47 Dakota ZA947

Dakota DC-3 (N431HM)

 

This aircraft was built in 1943 as a military transporter C-47A-45DL tail number 42-24133 at Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach CA, USA and served with the USAAF and then in 1945 was sold as surplus and began a civil career at first in the USA and later in Europe. In 2010 the aircraft was acquired by Hugo Mathys and then fully overhauled,   becoming the lead aircraft of the Classic Formation.

The aircraft are housed in equally immaculate hangars at their Swiss base and subject to a very high level of cosmetic and mechanical maintenance. Originally the team comprised two Beech 18s and the DC3 however in recent years the third Beech 18 was added.

DC-3 Dakota (N877MG)

Originally a C-47BC-47B was designed specifically for the ‘Hump’ route, with extra fuel tanks, supercharged engines, and de-icing equipment. Like all Douglas C47 they had a cargo floor, big cargo doors, and fold-down seats along the side of the fuselage. Delivered from Long Beach assembly line 31st July 1944, only 300 C-47Bs were made there but over 3,000 total were built.

It had standard U.S. Army Air Corps markings, although it was destined for CNAC Long Beach to Miami by the 6th Ferrying Group (they did have a WASP contingent, unsure if WASPs test flew or delivered her to India 15th August to 29th August 1944, flown by CNAC pilot Pete Goutiere, Pete recalls it was fitted with a 75 gallon fuel tank behind the co-pilot’s seat for the Atlantic crossing. Miami – Porto Rico – Georgetown – Belem – Natal – Ascension Island – Accra – Maiduguri – Khartaum – Aden – Karachi – Calcutta. (Early spellings of some of those destinations, from Pete’s logbook)

Pete had been raised in India and spent a year flying around northern Africa, so they “buzzed” many interesting landmarks Pete recounted that there were sometimes German U-Boats near Ascension Island, broadcasting false radio signals to try to lead aircraft astray Painted as CNAC #100 in Calcutta, Air Corps stars painted over by CNAC “Chung” symbol, engines upgraded to -94 model Flew “the Hump” for the remainder of the war, Pete Goutiere recalls flying it many times over that route At some point it ran off the runway and ended up balancing on its nose and main gear.

The pilot in command was Sam Belief, his son has been in touch and states that according to his Dad (now deceased) it was flying again the next day. We have a photo of the incident. Engines were probably pulled and replaced on the spot. Stayed with CNAC post-war, was re-numbered to XT-T-20. According to CNAC aircraft lists it flew cargo, so was probably still a stock C-47B.In 1948 re-numbered to XT-119 and flew as an “Air Bus” with 32 seats on the route from Canton to Hong Kong and back, this was a short hop but very busy, 4-5 flights per day some say.

Unsure to what extent it was modified to do this, seats were added of course but not sure what else. It probably got a post-war silver CNAC livery around this time as well, very similar to the Pan Am paint it has now. In 1949 all CNAC aircraft were flown to Kai Tak and then held at that airport pending resolution of the dispute of ownership between the Nationalist and Communist governments.

Many of the aircraft were stripped for long-term storage with their wings removed, but this one and several others remained airworthy. Most of the other airworthy aircraft were taken by pro-Communist ground crew and pilots and flown to Communist China (defected) To prevent this happening again, the Nationalist government in exile sent secret agents to Kai Tak to sabotage the remaining airworthy airplanes.

On April 2, 1950 this aircraft was among 7 damaged by bombs. A timed charge went off in its right engine nacelle. The legal dispute and subsequent sale of the aircraft to Claire Chennault and CAT in 1952 are complicated, but the short version is that it was an effort supported by the U.S. government (CIA), with the cooperation of the British, to keep the aircraft out of Communist hands.

When it was listed for the sale to CAT it was listed as XT-119 (37-34) but was given an incorrect serial number: because of the sabotage by Nationalist agents, the aircraft were being guarded by Communist ground crew 24/7, who were themselves being guarded by Hong Kong police. In order to retrieve the serial numbers of the aircraft for sale and registration in the United States, Claire Chennault hired a Communist ground crew member who had access to the aircraft to read the serial numbers off of their data plates. When he went looking for the serial on this aircraft, he came back with the Long Beach Line Number 4193. This is the “serial number” it is registered under to this day.

In 1952 the CAT aircraft were transported by ship back to the U.S. Most travelled on an aircraft carrier, the only time a U.S. Carrier has transported civilian aircraft, but ours was on a cargo ship. This may be the key to its survival, the cargo ship made it back first and our aircraft was modified and sold quickly… the other aircraft on the carrier became embroiled in yet another legal case on return to the U.S. when Chiang Kai Shek sued Claire Chennault alleging he was not paid a fair price for them. Following this legal case, most or all of those aircraft became ‘Air America’ and were subsequently scattered around the globe and lost.

In 1953 this aircraft was back in the States and went to Grand Central Aircraft Co. for conversion to the VIP DC-3 configuration. On leaving Grand Central few would have been able to recognize it. It had a huge radome on the nose from a DC-4, a new cockpit windshield, no pilot escape door, upgraded avionics, a fuel jettison system, panoramic windows, an air-stair style passenger door rather than cargo doors, a plush VIP interior. Stainless steel galley, full lavatory, rear baggage compartment, clamshell landing gear doors, and a retractable tail wheel. Following conversion it was sold to Johnson & Johnson in October of 1953, registered at N800J, and flew with them until 1959.

For the following organizations it was either a VIP/Executive transport or an aerial sightseeing platform: Re-registered as N8009 with View master Windows in June of 1959S.A. Tampos -July 1969 Tiburzi Tours Inc -April 1971Club Passport Inc -May 1971Air Nashua Corp -1975 International Shoe Machine Corp. July 6th, 1978 Foster McEdward flew the aircraft with International Shoe Machine Corporation as their chief pilot. He flew all over the world in the aircraft for 18 years. ISMC used the DC-3 for flights throughout North and South America, Africa, and Europe, and then also a DC-4 for use across the Pacific to Asia.

Foster McEdward was a former CNAC pilot and had flown C-54s for them across the Pacific, he somehow found out about the CNAC service of this DC-3 and had a CNAC “Chung” painted under one wing. On one memorable trip he left New Hampshire, flew down to South America, across the Atlantic just like Pete had, then up into Europe and back to the U.S. On another trip, when departing out of Europe back to the U.S. he lost an engine during the climb out.

Fully loaded with fuel he couldn’t return to land. The aircraft lost altitude but then eventually stabilized itself at a few hundred feet on one engine. He made it to his scheduled stop in Iceland. The bad engine was pulled and replaced, but on the test flight the replacement engine failed also. Another was shipped in and he was finally able to get home.

Re-registered as N877MG by Victoria Forest & Scout in January of 1996. Put up for sale in 2005, Historic Flight bought the aircraft in 2006, spent 6 years in restoration. During this time its history was unknown, the rumour was that it had flown for Pan Am since it had much of the equipment that was standard for a Pan Am aircraft. One of the mechanics at Sealand began to dig deeper and discovered its true serial number and origin, but its life story from 1944-1953 was still a blank. Arrived at Historic Flight at Paine Field on November 7 2012. Historical research began shortly thereafter, and is still ongoing. First HFF passenger flight was March 2, 2013.

Douglas C47 (DC-3 Dakota (N877MG)

Dakota C-47B 44-77020

The plane, implemented by the Association “A Dakota on Normandy”, was built in May 1945.

Intended for the US Air Force, it is delivered in June 1945 to the Royal Air Force, then transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force. It was regularly used by the Queen of England during these trips to Canada.

This Douglas DC3 is equipped in “VIP” version, which gives it a nostalgic charm, quite particular.

The Douglas resumed its flight on October 31, 2009, after more than eight years of immobilization in Dinard.

During the winter of 2009, the aircraft underwent several months of intensive work, including the complete disassembly of both wings and the treatment of corrosion under the central section, to be able to find the sky in April 2010.

Today the Douglas DC3 has 24,000 flight hours; it is implemented by the association with the support of the airline Chalair Aviation.

Dakota C-47B 44-77020