C47 - The workhorse (aka DC3 or Dakota) after restoration. .
(photo credit: FLICKR)
After six months of hard work, one of the original planes used by the Allies during D-Day is ready to take off once again.
In December, Mikey McBryan, the General Manager of Buffalo Airways, acquired an old DC-3 plane that had been flown in the D-Day invasion. Since then, he and his crew have been restoring the aircraft piece by piece at great expense.
This restoration effort, covered extensively in McBryan’s web series Plane Savers, was timed to culminate on June 6, 2019 – coinciding with the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy and the largest naval invasion in history, which many historians believe marked the decisive turning point in the Western European theater during the Second World War.
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Well folks, I bought a “new” DC-3. This isn’t just any regular goonybird though. This bird flew in the D-Day invasion! Her log books (FZ668) even mention she dropped 12 twenty pound bombs as she flew to her drop site that morning. Making her a D-Day “Bomber”. She hasn’t flown in almost 30 years and guess what... we are going to try and fly her on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day where she sits in Montreal. This will be a huge undertaking as this aircraft has been stripped out over the past three decades. But luckily enough we know where is lots of DC-3 parts. After that we plan to fly her to Oshkosh Airventure 2019 so you guys can see her in person. Aircraft History: this aircraft was built in January 1944 by Douglas Aircraft Company at their plant in Oklahoma City. S/N 12253, C-47A-5-DK, tail number 42-92451. The RAF registration FZ668 was subsequently assigned to her when she was based in Europe. The Night before D-Day on June 5th 1944, FZ668, this Dakota, took off at 23:20 as one of a fleet of 108 RAF C-47s whose mission was to neutralize the German forces behind the beaches to be used for the landings. Her crew was F/O Nicholl, F/O Dale, F / s Marsden and Sgt Caves. On board FZ668, bearing the chalk number 253 for this operation, twelve 20-pound bombs, "a small surprise for the troops defending the coast in France" as it was referred to in the operation log of the squadron, were dropped when crossing the French coast. Seventeen paratroopers jumped at around 00:50 on DZ "K" located near Toufreville that morning on D-Day.
Their objective was to destroy the bridges over the Dive River. The paratroopers were split into two groups and met strong German resistance. The bridges were destroyed by engineers and the battle for the liberation of Europe began. FZ668 landed safely back at Blakehill Farm at 3:10. On top of D-Day this Aircraft also flew 5 mission during the operation Market-Garden. After the war, she was purchased by Canadair, converted as DC-3C and flew for Trans-Canada Airlines as CF-TER During the 70's she was acquired by Transport Canada who flew her until the early 90'S as CF-DTD. Aircraft location: CYHU - St-Hubert Airport, Montreal, Canada
Using logbooks and documents, McBryan and the Plane Savers team were able to trace the entire history of their “new” plane.
Manufactured in January 1944 by the Douglas Aircraft Company in Oklahoma City as a C-47, the plane was taken by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and assigned the number FZ668. It was soon assigned to the 271th Squadron, where it was used as a paratrooper carrier, bomber and cargo plane during D-Day and Operation Market Garden. In addition, FZ668 carried out numerous resupply missions and conducted medical evacuation flights.
After the war ended, FZ668 made daily flights to bring back prisoners of war, before being reassigned to long-distance troop transport. The plane was retired by the RAF in July 1946 before being purchased by Canadair, which reconfigured the plane into a DC-3 for commercial flight, registered as CF-TER. The plane flew for Trans-Canada Airlines from 1947 to 1957 before being acquired by the Canadian Transportation Department in the 1960s, registered as CF-DTD. It was withdrawn from service permanently in the late 1980s.
The plane spent the next three decades abandoned and unused. When McBryan acquired it, he found it in poor condition, with most of the parts either broken or gone. However, his father Joe McBryan, owner of Buffalo Airways, has a large collection of DC-3 parts, having flown the planes for over 50 years.
Much of the restoration was done at the flight school, École Nationale d’Aérotechnique (ENA), who provided the Plane Savers team with a hanger and manual assistance from the staff and student body. Without their help, McBryan said, the team would never have finished the restorations within six months.
The restored DC-3’s first flight in decades will take place at 7 p.m. EST. Sitting in the cockpit will be Joe McBryan and Quinn Jones, whose grandfather had piloted the plane back when it was in service with Trans-Canada Airlines. Afterwards, they plan to bring it to the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019 convention in late July.
The DC-3 is widely considered to be one of the most significant transport aircraft in the history of aviation.
This is one of many ceremonies commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day taking place around the world.
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