DAKS OVER NORMANDY
75 YEARS D-DAY
France, 5th of June & 7th of June 2019.
Below you will find an overview concerning my visit towards France for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings. (D-DAY / WWII)
This visit started early in the morning on the 5th of June in Ghent. Together with 4Aviation and a lot of other participants we took off towards Caen and Sannerville dropzone.
Purpose of our first day was to see the arrival of the many Daks (DC-3/C-47's) at Caen-Carpiquet Airport or stay at the dropzone for a massive drop. Unfortunately the weather wasn't so good and some people decided to stay at the drop zone while others went to the airport to see the landings of the aircraft participating. (38 aircraft announced at the website of this event, but after this trip we would have seen 24 aircrafts.) Which is still a nice catch. The RAF has given the name 'Dakota'. In America they called it also the 'Gooney Bird'.
I decided to witness the landings at the airport because the weather predicted on Friday was even worse than this first day. And we would like to see the Daks flying.
Later that week on Friday the weather was indeed even worse and what could be a very nice event in France became a disaster. Almost no flying at all and a bad organization.
Back to our first day. 22 Daks arrived with a delay of about 1,5 - 2 hours at Caen.
Later that week we noticed/watched 2 additional Daks. See pictures below together with a small story for each aircraft (source Daks over Normandy).
link : https://www.daksovernormandy.com
1. N24320 / 'MISS MONTANA' / C-47A-90 DL 43-15731
This aircraft is produced in 1944. She didn't see combat in WWII but had a sobering civil career used for smoke jumping. Smoke jumpers are firefighters who parachute in the wilderness to combat forest fires. Due to a lack of fuel this aircraft needed to ditch into the Monongahela River near McKeesport, Pennsylvania in 1954. Nine passengers and a pilot drowned. The airframe was however salvaged and repaired.
Last owner is the Museum of Mountain Flying in Missoula, Montana. The museum decided to fly their C-47 towards Normandy to honor the participation of over 57,000 Montana citizens who served during World War II in all branches of the military. We were able to follow the long flight from the US and returning home on social media like facebook.
link : https://missmontanatonormandy.com
2. DC-3 F-AZOX built as C-47B-35-DK serial 16604/33352
This aircraft is operated by a French non-profit association : Un Dakota sur la Normandie.
Built in Oklahoma City factory it was immediately given towards the Royal Air Force in June 1945.
Operational in Squadrons 512 and 436 during Pacific operations and in North Africa before joining Canada. She was converted to VIP transport with famous passengers like Queen Mary or Sir Montgomery. In 1975 she was converted to DC3 civilian version.
In April 2010 she returned to the skies with civil registration F-AZOX logging today over 24000 flight hours.
3. LISUNOV Li-2 / HA - LIX / 'KARMAN TODOR'
Russian licensed version of the American Douglas DC-3
The DC-3 took off for the first time in December 1935. The Soviet Union got the license in 1936.
The newly licensed AS-611R engine was built in, which was less powerful than the American version. More than 5000 units of the original Li-2 were manufactured in the Soviet Union.
Used by Malév in Hungary until 1964.The world's only airworthy Li-2 was assembled in Tashkent. In 1974 it was scrapped after used by Malév starting in 1958. Goldtimer Foundation transferred the airplane towards Budaors in 1997 to commence its full restoration. It took 3 years and 45.000 working hours. Fully airworthy in 2002. HA-LIX celebrated its 65th birthday in 2014.
4. N74589 / C-47 'PLACID LASSIE' / AC-20669 / 9926
This aircraft was built in 1943 in Long Beach, California.
In wartime the crew named the aircraft "Placid Lassie". They named the left engine "Idling Ada" after the crew chief's wife and named the right engine "Eager Eileen" after the Radio Operator's wife. She was active both at D-Day and Market Garden. After the war the aircraft had a lot of owners. In 2010 Mr Clive Owen and James Lyle restored this aircraft, James owned this aircraft from 2010 until 2017. In 2017 he founded the Tunison Foundation named after the last surviving crew member of Placid Lassie's wartime crew who passed away in 2016 and donated the plane to the foundation.
5. The last Airworthy DC-3 / C-47 in Denmark - OY-BPB - 'GAMLE DAME'
Both Danish Dakota Friends and the Association of Flying Museums Aircraft are operating the last airworthy DC-3 / C-47 in Denmark. The aircraft is known as The Old Lady (Den Gamle Dame).
Manufactured in Long Beach, California in 1944 as type C-47A.
6. N150D - DC-3 construction number 4463 built as a C-47-DL / 41-18401
Produced at Long Beach, California in 1941. Until November 1945 in service for Air Transport Command in Africa and Middle East. Thereafter until end of 1966 based in France, flying for the Armeé de l'Air and different Flight Test Centers. Many different registrations later it was used from 1967 onwards by the Israeli Defense Force. It was withdrawn in 1995. In 1999 transferred to Global Aircraft Industry of Arizona, Phoenix. Afterwords a few different owners and last transferred in 2018 towards Aircraft Guaranty Corp Trustee, Onalaska in Texas.
7. N431HM / DC-3 construction number 9995 built as a C47A-45DL / 42-24133
Produced at Long Beach, California in 1943. It became in private ownership becoming NC65266 with Salem Engineering. It was fitted with 2 panoramic windows. It changed many times from owner in the US before it went towards the UK. In 1986 it was sold towards Zurich-based operator Classic Air and received registration HB-ISC. In 2003 this aircraft was delivered towards Ju-Air Dubendorf. and changed to the old Swissair colors of the 1930-ies. In 2007 it was acquired by Hugo Mathys and aircraft was flown towards Basler Turbo Conversions of Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Since 2011 this old timer is participating with the classic Formation Team during airshows in Zwitzerland, France, Germany , Austria and the UK.
8. DC-3 Association Finland's DC-3A / OH-LCH / DC-3A-453
This aircraft was built in Santa Monica, California. Intended for Pan American Grace Airways she was taken immediately to military service in 1942. She served in the US Air Transport Command and in 1944 transferred to the 8th AAF until the end of the war in Europe.
She was bought by the State of Finland and registered as OH-LCH.
She served as a freighter and afterwords sold towards the Finnish air Force.
In 1985 she was not airworthy and stored at the Finnish Aviation Museum near Helsinki-Vantaa airport. Today this aircraft is flying mainly in the summer season from Helsinki-Malmi airport and spends the winter time in a hangar in Vaasa airport.
9. FLYING VETERANS FOUNDATION'S DC-3 "DAISY" / SE-CFP
This aircraft was manufactured at Douglas Aircraft Company's plant at Long Beach, California. Built as a C-47 A-60-DL Skytrain. Daisy was first based in Algeria but moved to England in 1944 to take part on D-Day, dropping members of 'Easy Company". The aircraft is currently still licensed for parachute jumping. In 1945 it returned to the States and after been converted towards a civilian DC-3 it was sold to the Norwegian Aviation AS. After flying for a few civil companies this aircraft was sold towards the Swedish Air Force.
The Swedish Air force sold this aircraft in 1983 towards his present owner, Flying Veterans Foundation. Daisy is operated today by Flying Veterans Association.
10. N341A "HAP PENSTANCE" History
N341A is the one and only Douglas DC-3 variant designated as a C-41A. The cost for this airplane was $105,611.29 and mainly used by Major General Henry "HAP" Arnold as VIP transports for himself and military command staff. N341A is one of the lowest time DC-3's currently flying with less than 9,500 hrs total time. General "HAP" Arnold was responsible to regain air superiority in preparation of the Normandy invasion.
11. THE DUTCH DAKOTA ASSOCIATION / PH-PBA
In March 1982 two pilots of the Dutch charter line Transavia shared the idea to bring an airworthy DC-3 Dakota to the Netherlands. Their idea became reality when the Dutch Dakota Association was founded. The first one was PH-DDA was purchased in Finland. Unfortunately this aircraft was lost in September 25, 1996 killing all passengers and crew. Another aircraft with registration PH-DDZ was found in Malta and after 12 years ready for flying. In 2012 one of his engines failed and it was grounded. Currently all sightseeing and promotional flights are operated by PH-PBA.
This aircraft was added to the fleet in 1998. This former government aircraft PH-PBA (Prince Bernard Alpha) was added to the operational fleet making the wish of Prince Bernard reality.
The nickname of OH-PBA is "PRINSES AMALIA" named after the grand-daughter of Prince Bernard. Every year DDA is welcoming about 2000 passengers on board.
link : https://www.dutchdakota.nl
12. N47E / "MISS VIRGINIA" C-47 A -60-DL / 43-30665
This aircraft was produced in the summer of 1943 at Long Beach, California. She never left the United States during her entire military service before her retirement in 1970. She performed a variety of missions. The military retired the aircraft to the Boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB near Tucson, Arizona but didn't stay there for a long time. For many years the aircraft was used above the jungles of Colombia. In 1990 it was used for mosquito and gipsy moth spraying. In 1999 it was again retired but in 2010 the aircraft was restored back into her military guise and they named her "MISS VIRGINIA". Dynamic Aviation continue to fly her at airshows.
13. N62CC / "VIRGINIA ANN" / C-47A-60-DL / 43-30647
This aircraft was also built at Long Beach, California. In 1943 assigned to the 12th Air Force but transferred to 59th squadron of the 61st Troop Carrier and 9th Air Force shortly thereafter.
On D-Day this aircraft was leading 61st TCG with four squadrons and a total of 72 x C-47's. Virginia Ann was involved in resupply and injured evacuation in the days following 6th of June.
She was also active in Operations Market Garden and Varsity. After the war she was a civilian plane used for transport. Since 2016 this plane is owned by Mission Boston D-Day LLC, of Newport Beach, California and presently painted in the same livery she wore back in June, 1944.
14. NC33611 "CLIPPER TABITHA MAY"
Pan American World airways, they taught the world to fly as they learned to fly the world.
Gone for more than 25 years, PAA remains a well recognized brand. In 2009,
Robert S. Randazzo , head of USA's based PMDG Simulations acquired a DC-3 for restoration.
This ship, originally a C-47B and one of the latest DC-3's to be produced is painted in the brilliant white and striking navy-blue Post-War colors. This Clipper was the first Pan American airplane to cross the Atlantic since PAA seaside operations a quarter century ago, and the first PAA DC-3 to do so in more than fifty years.
15. N47SJ "BETSY'S BISCUIT BOMBER" / SN43-48608
Betsy's Biscuit Bomber was delivered towards the US Army Air Corps in 1944 and served in the European Theatre throughout the end of the war. She was loaned to the Belgian Air force until 1952. In 1953 landed to the French Air force and transferred to the Israeli Air Force in 1967.
Sold to Global Aircraft Industries in 1999 with registration N47SJ. In 2007 it was acquired by the Gooney Bird Group Organization and taken into an extensive 3 year restoration project.
Currently, N47SJ resides at Estrella Warbirds Museum in Paso Robles, California.
16. N25641 / THE STORY OF LEGEND AIRWAYS DC-3C "LIBERTY"
This aircraft was assembled at Long Beach, California in 1943. She was active and participating the D-Day invasion of France. Based out of Barkston Heath Airfield, England, part of the 61st Troop Carrier Group, Drop zone Normandy, Drop hour 02:32, 2nd Battalion, 507th PIR, commanded by Captaincies. Lyon and a very brave crew, flying in serial 24 bringing brave men towards Normandy. After the war Liberty was de-commissioned. 50 years later and many owners later she was purchased by Erik L. Fleming, President of Fleming Corporation. After 18,500 hours of total flight time she had a total restoration by Basler Turbo Conversions for a total cost of 2 million dollars. The last technology in soundproofing and insulation make her the quietest, most comfortable DC-3 ever. JB Air Services LLC of Brighton, Colorado is the current owner of N25641.
17. N83336C / C-53-DO SKYTROOPER / 42-47371 / "SPIRIT OF BENOVIA"
The Spirit of Benovia was produced in Santa Monica, California in 1942. The C-53 Skytrooper was primarily designed to drop paratroopers and tow gliders. She went into civilian ownership in India and China right after WWII. During the mid 50's the aircraft received a luxurious VIP interior and a AiResearch Maximizer speed kit. Over many years she had different owners. The aircraft is currently owned and lovingly cared for by Joe Anderson and Mary Dewane, owners of Benovia Winery in California.
18. N877MG / HISTORIC FLIGHT FOUNDATION'S DC-3 / 43-16340
Built at Long Beach , California with construction number 20806 as a C-47B.
She went to India in August 1944, flown by CNAC pilot Pete Goutiere fitted with a 75 gallon tank behind the pilot. After some time at Kai Tak a lot of aircrafts were stolen and flown to Communist China. In 1950 a timed charge went off at its right engine nacelle. imaging the aircraft and 6 others.
The US Government and the British government worked together to avoid that aircraft would go into communists hands. In 1952 the CAT aircraft were transported by ship back to the U.S.
Following conversion in 1953 it was sold to Johnson and Johnson, they flew the plane until 1959.
For the following organizations it was either a VIP/Executive transport or an arial sightseeing platform. After many trips it was registered as N877MG by Victoria Forest & Scout in 1996.
Arrived at Historic Flight at Paine Field in 2012. Historical research bean shortly thereafter, and is still ongoing.
19. N47TB / THE HISTORY OF C-47A - 15 DK / 42-92847 /
"THAT'S ALL BROTHER"
This aircraft is produced in Oklahoma City in 1944. She serviced in the 8th Air Force, 9th Air Force and service with the 87th Troop Carrier Squadron of the 438th Troop Carrier Group based at RAF Greenham Common. The crew nicknamed her "That's All Brother". In the late hours on the 5th of June it took off as a lead ship in Serial #7 to go into battle in Normandy. Carrying members of the 2nd Battalion, 502nd PIR, 101st Airborne Division towards Drop Zone A near St-Mére-Eglise. She survived other operations like Operation Dragoon, Market-Garden, The Siege of Bastogne and operation Varsity. After the war she went through a number of civil owners ending op in Wisconsin, painted as a Vietnam War era AC-47 Spooky Gunship. No one was aware at that time which history was hidden beneath her paint. After many years she found her way to Basler Turbo Conversion, destined for conversion into a turbine-powered transport. In 2015 her true identity was discovered. She is now based in San Marcos, Texas with the Central Texas Wing of the Commemorative Air Force.
20. N45366 / "D-DAY DOLL" / 42-68830 /
THE HISTORY OF C-53-DO SKYTROOPER
This C-53 Skytrooper was built at Douglas Aircraft's plant in Santa Monica, California in 1943. Assigned to the 434th Carrier Group, 72nd Troop Carrier Squadron at RAF Aldermaston, England.
This aircraft is a veteran of Operation Overlord, Market Garden, Repulse and Varsity.
The C-53 was similar to the C-47 Skytrain and differed only in having a single door and was designed to carry paratroopers and tow gliders. Also this aircraft had many civilian owners as an airliner and cargo transport after WWII. She flew 3 missing on D-Day into Normandy. Today she is owned by the commemorative Air Force based in Riverside, California.
21. N473DC / "Drag 'Em Oot" / 42-100882
Produced in 1943 and assigned to 9th air Force. Assigned to 87th Troop Carrier Squadron, 438th Troop Carrier Group, RAF Greenham Common, Berkshire. Through here entire life cycle she was used for carrying Troops / Military freighter / Assault Glider Tug / Assault Glider Snatch Recovery / Parachute Transport / Search and Rescue and Mede-Vac / Multi engine conversion Trainer.
She was sold towards Arizona Warbirds Museum and then towards her current owner in 2004 which was Dakota Heritage. She was restored by Edwards Worldwide Aviation and moved to Liverpool, UK. She was repainted in 2006 at RAF Church Fenton in his original markings. Today this aircraft is owned by Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, RAF East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, England.
22. N147DC / MAYFLY DC-3 / C-47 HISTORY / 42-1000884
Difficult to find some information for this one. Hopefully below info is the correct one.
Constructed in 1942 at Long Beach, California. She flew with 79th TSC out of Membury during D-DAY. Shortly before the end of the war transferred to 436 Squadron at Down Ampney.
After the war she went to Short Brothers, Scottish Aviation, Marshalls and Ferranti.
On 14th of September she became G-DAKS and given extensive repair to restore her Douglas nose at Duxford. She also was a film star as 'Vera Lynn' of Ruskin Air Services in the series Airline in 1979. She also appeared in many other movies like Indiana Jones The Last Crusade, Saving Private Ryan, The monuments Man etc... On the 75 anniversary of D-Day Aces High would have been operating her for 40 years. But I repeat, not sure if this is the correct one.
23. N18121 / DOUGLAS DC-3 / 1997
This aircraft was built at the Douglas Santa Monica plant in 1937. She is one of the oldest DC-3's still flying. The Aircraft was requisitioned for war service in 1943 (as a C-49) after used by Eastern Airlines. She joined this airliner again in 1944. The aircraft served for another 40 years before it was finally retired in 1988. In 1993 it was finally sold into private ownership and delivered to the West Coast. At that point, she accomplished 91,400 hours total airframe time. The aircraft changed hands three more times before the present owner completed the rebuilt of the aircraft to flying condition in 2006.
24. F-BBBE / C-47A-1-DL / 42-23310 / 6212
Built as a C47A-1-DL by Douglas at Long Beach, California. Delivered in 1942 towards the United States Army. Switched from Scottish Arlines towards The Royal air Force and requisitioned by the British government. Flew 50 missions during the Berlin Airlift. In 1952 towards Armee de l'Air, France and served at different air bases. After a few owners it was in 1974 the personal aircraft in the Central African Republic of Jean Bedel Bokassa. In 1983 owned by Transvalair. After different liveries like the Flying Dutchman, painted in Belgian Air force colors it received is final livery as F-BBBE like an Air France DC-3. I am not sure but I think tis aircraft is currently still owned by Air France.