Curtiss C-46F Commando, N53594 (c/n 22486; ex/ 44-78663). The famous 'China Doll'.
I had first come across 'China Doll'
in 1997, also here at Camarillo; saw it flying at Oshkosh in 1998.
This C-46F was delivered to the USAAF in 1945, serial 44-68663; decommissioned in 1950 and reregistered
N53594. Operated for Meteor Air Transport (1950s), later for Riddle
and Zantop. At some point it was
converted to pesticide sprayer! Donated to Confederate Air Force (CAF; now Commemorative Air Force) in
1978. Christened 'Humpty Dumpty' it flew around in the air show circuit. In 1981 it was flown to Van Nuys for
complete overhaul and subsequently renamed 'China Doll'.
The artful 'China Doll'
(Patricia Sica '46) was done by the well known nose artist (his work adorns over 130 B-17s,
including 'Memphis Belle' and 'Shoo Shoo Baby'), Tony Starcer.
Sergeant Anthony L. Starcer, USAAF, (died 1986) was line mechanic for the 91st Bombardment Group (Heavy),
of the VIII Bomber Command, 8th Army Air Force, based at Bassingbourn, UK in 1942-43. He painted many pieces of
nose art on the Fortresses of 'The Ragged Irregulars', including the George Petty girl 'Telephone Girl' for the
Memphis Belle. The 91st Bombardment Group (H) website lists 124 aircraft that his work adorned. [Wikipedia]
N53594 suffered an engine #1 fire on 29Sep2005, on roll out after landing. In May 2009 it was reported
airworthy again, but
'grounded indefinitely' in 2010 as deemed beyond CAF's budget: too expensive to operate.
The B-25 WW2 bomber is better known for its use by the USAAF, rather than the US Navy!
PBJ-1J BuNo.35857 (N5865V)
It was due out to go flying the afternoon of my visit. But the 'estimate time of departure'
came and went. The
co-pilot was late, probably due traffic. It was a 'recurrent training', no one was in a hurry. Four pm came and went.
The museum closed and I went on my way too. Heard it take off at 16:40 from my room in the motel. It flew.
In May 2016 it flew its first
post-restoration flight, a project of some 23 years had been completed here.
The more well known appearance of the Mitchell bomber,
B-25J 44-30801 in USAAF colours
Registered as N30801 for American Aeronautical Foundation, Camarillo, CA, July 1982-present
Manufactured by North American Aviation, Kansas City, KS
Delivered to USAAF as 44-30801
– BOC: Feb. 26, 1945.
– SOC: March 1959
– Assigned to 2144th AAF Base Unit (Advanced Two-Engine Pilot School, ATC),
Moody AAF GA, March 1945
– Transferred to 2109th AAF Base Unit (Advanced Two-Engine Pilot School, ATC),
Turner AAF GA, April 1945
– Transferred to 2100th AAF Base Unit (Headquarters, Eastern Air Training Command),
Maxwell AAF AL (deployment to Kirtland AFB NM), May 1945
– Transferred to 42nd AAF Base Unit (Air University Command), Maxwell AAF (deployment
to Greenville AAF SC), Feb. 1946
– Transferred to 27th AF Base Unit (AUC), Randolph AB TX (to VB-25J), Feb. 1947
--Transferred to 3800th Air Base Wing (AUC), Maxwell AFB, AL, April 1947
– Transferred to AF School of Aviation Medicine (AUC), Randolph AFB, TX, Nov. 1948
– Transferred to VB-25N (deployment to Carswell AFB TX), Dec. 1954
– Transferred to Arizona Aircraft Storage Branch (Air Material Command), Davis-Monthan AFB AZ, June '58-'59
Fogle Aircraft, Tucson, AZ, Sept. 9, 1959.
- Registered as N3699G.
Christler & Avery Aviation, Greybull, WY, Jan. 1960.
Avery Aviation, Greybull, WY, Aug. 1961-1968.
- Flew as sprayer.
Filmways Inc, Hollywood, CA, 1968-1972
- Flew in movie 'Catch 22' as Vestal Virgin, 1968-1969.
Tallmantz Aviation, Orange County, CA, Aug. 1971-1972.
Ed Schnepf/Challenge Publications, Van Nuys, CA Feb. 1972-1982.
- Registered as N30801.
American Aeronautical Foundation, Camarillo, CA, July 1982-2008.
- Flown as 430801/Executive Sweet.
Built in Kansas City in 1944 -45 as a B-25J, Executive Sweet saw extensive Stateside service throughout the war as a crew trainer.
In 1948, it was converted into a USAF VB-25J, a VIP transport until the end of her service.
In December of 1954 it was upgraded and designated a VB-25N by Hayes Aircraft, Inc.
After several more years in military service at the School of Aviation Medicine at Randolph Field, TX, the Mitchell was sold as surplus ad became a crop sprayer.
Acquired by Hollywood's Filmways Studios in 1968, the B-25 became the lead 'on camera' aircraft named Vestal Virgin in the film Catch-22.
Placed for sale after completion of filming in 1970, it was purchased by Ed Schnepf in 1972 to begin a two-year restorative program back to a wartime 'J'-model appearance.
Looking factory-new in its bare metal finish, Executive Sweet once again was armed with thirteen .50 caliber machine guns, a Norden bombsight and operable bomb bay, authentic insignia and interior detailing down to crash axes and crew intercom.
In 1982, Schnepf's 'Challenge Publications' donated the B-25 to the newly formed 'American Aeronautical Foundation Museum' at Camarillo, California, who has been operating it ever since.
Executive Sweet has appeared in a dozen major films and numerous TV shows and commercials.
In April 1992, the plane participated in the Doolittle Raid 50th Anniversary reenactment, staged at North Island Naval Air Station.
N215CM is a C-47B, c/n 26792/15347; ex/ USAAF 43-49531
During the 1990s, it was offered for sale by Israel's IDFAF (17.549hrs), Reported at Staverton,UK as N215CM
painted over C-GFHP, painted over 4X-FNA, sighting 29Jul2000). N215CM arrived at Edmonton on 25aug00.
It had been reg'd on 27aug99 for Global Acft Industries of Arizona LLC, trying to sell it on. Their homebase was at Villeneuve Airport, outside of Edmonton - which I visted in 2006 (MY REPORT) for N215CM (and N47SJ & N269LM).
N215CM after all those years still in the IDFAF colours. The volunteer who walked me over the ramp told me 'some
other group' had been working on the DC-3; that must be the American Aeronautical Foundation (AAF), to whom it
was registered on 20Jan2012. Disappointingly lack of progress, was my superficial notion.
The CAF SoCal Wing's Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat, N7825C
/ '201/S' (ex/ BuNo.122674)
This Bearcat joined the CAF group here in early-1990s and has been painstakingly rebuilt to airworthiness.
I thought I'd seen Bearcat 201/S before, but when I checked I had seen Bearcat 201/B at The Flying Legends in 2017.
Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat, N1078Z
(ex/ BuNo.70222; also noted as NX1078Z)
The famous North American P-51D Mustang, NL44727 / '414292'
Former identites from Bob Ogden's 'North American Museums & Collections' (Air-Britain Historian, 2011):
44-73749, Fv26115, 1918 Dominican Republic, N51EH, N251JC.
I did note that FAA's N-inquiry website shows for its serial 44-72739 ..? Owner BCT Management Co (20Feb09)
Supermarine FR.XIVe, NX749DP (ex/ NH749, T3 India, G-MXIV, - on loan)
Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero Sen (model 22), N712Z
The museum's website states: "We have 12 WWII era aircraft. Three are in restoration, one is grounded and is currently a static display; the remaining 8 aircraft are flyable.
Curtiss C-46F Commando (grounded), Fairchild PT-19A Cornell, Fairchild F-24R (restoration), Grumman F6F Hellcat, Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat, Mitsubishi A6M3 Zero (repair?), P-51D Mustang, PBJ Mitchell, SNJ-4 Texan, SNJ-5 Texan, Spitfire Mk.XIV and Yak 3."
Yakovlev Yak-3M, N529SB - reg'd 03Aug2011 to Stephen W. Barber.
C/n 115450123, I thought, but FAA's N-inquiry quotes 0470104 as the serial andis also stencilled above the tailnumber
c/n 115450123 from Bob Ogden's 2011 publication, a Yak-3 airframe with no other details to it.
1. Beech T-34B Mentor, N134RR (manufactured in 1957; reg'd to Jon D. Russell)
2. Beech T-34B Mentor, N341MR (ex/ BuNo.140731; reg'd to Marc R. Russell, Trustee)
3. North American SNJ-4 Texan, N6411D (ex/ BuNo.10148, NC363, 10148; reg'd 1991 to AAHFM*)
Fairchild PT-19 Cornell, N641BP (ex/ 42-49250?, N64187; reg'd 2014 to Charles J. Plumb, Trustee)
*) American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum
1. Alon A2, N5694F
(c/n A-194); reg'd to AAHFM 24Jul2013
2. Nice badge, dont'you think?
3. Aero Vodochody L-29C Delfin, N443KT (built 1968, owned by Jason Somes)
Ryan Navion, N91644 (c/n NAV4366; reg'd 16Feb17 for AAHFM)
I had a nice scenic flight in a Navion, in 2015 in N444AC, when I visited the Highland Lakes Squadron of
CAF; see MY REPORT
A guest in the hangar, North American SNJ-5 N2550 (serial 43683; reg'd 06Oct17 to Vegas Warbirds LLC)
North American SNJ-5, N89014; manufactured in 1943 (according to N-inquiry) and reg'd 10Sep91 to
the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum (AAHFM). '290/SB' must be in a Naval trainer livery here.
A project in progress!
Fairchild 24R-46, NC71696
(ex/ NC77696, LV-NXI, LV-AFH - with parts from another aircraft)
20Sep2013 to the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum (AAHFM), manufactured in 1947
Plenty of information to browse
Two large hangars were completed in 2001, one serves as the museum we see here while the other is
used as a workshop where major rebuilds
can be carried out. One could be a Polykarpov I-16 N30425,
which I did not see here but which has been listed with the CAF SoCal (crashed near Leningrad in WW2)
I loved the artwork on the walls. The Flying Tigers painting reminded me of the Buck Danny comic books I so much
enjoyed during my youth. The C-46 Commando was one of the main transports 'over the Hump'
And 'SNAFU', well I find that
often at work!