More Gooney Birds

There are numerous configurations of this versatile aircraft, from basic cargo- or passenger transports to highly specialized types.
Photos © R.Leeuw


N877MG is in more than one way an exception. First of all, there is this modified nose... Modified to accommodate a suitable weatherradar, I was told. Also, on the aircraft the s/n is given as 4193, which should be 14193 (this is disputed as can be read further below). Because of duplicate construction numbers, Douglas later designated c/n 25638 to this aircraft. It was built for the USAAF as 43-48377 but was transferred upon delivery to the US Navy as a R4D-6 BuNo 17263. It went thru various owners, but no major airlines. When photographing this fine example at Hayward Air Terminal,CA in 1997, I was told it operated for the San Francisco Fairmont Hotel and was fitted out with a deluxe interior.
N877MG was registered 24Jan96 for Victoria Forest and Scout LLC (San Francisco,CA) and on 04Aug06 to John T Sessions Historic Aircraft Foundation of Seattle,WA. Amazing to see this vintage plane, built in 1944, still around in such splendid condition.
A Dak with a funny nose....

The 2006 book DC-3, the First Seventy Years, published by Air-Britain which is an authority on vintage aviation, has the following on this DC-3 (which I copied from an email by Ian Macdonald):
c/n 14193/25638 was R4D-6 Bu17263 which crashed near Toledo airport 23rd January 1949, there being no further reports of this aircraft.
c/n 20806 43-16340 delivered 31st July 1944 - China via Miami 16th August 1944 - CNAC 100 (?) - renumbered XT-20 (?) February 1948 - N8350C C.L. Chennault and W. Willaur registered December 1949 - c/n given as 4193 by FAA - this is probably a line number which leads to this aircraft - N37800 Grand Central Aircraft 27th May 1953 - Johnson & Johnson 22nd October 1953 - N800J re-registered N8009 S.A. Tampos and G. Nash (Viewmaster windows) 22nd June 1959 - S.A. Tampos, Nashua NH July 1969 - Tiburzi Tours Inc April 1971 - Club Passport Inc, Pompano Beach FL May 1971 - Air Nashua Corp, Nashua NH (1975) - International Shoe Machine Corp, Nasgua NH registered 6th July 1978 - Victoria Forest & Scout LLC, San Francisco CA 23rd January 1996 - N877MG registered 24th January 1996, at Hayward CA September 2001, for sale October 2005.

Jerry Vernon compiled this in June 2007:
"There seems to be a lot of misinformation and or supposition in print about this aircraft!!
This particular aircraft was supposed to have crashed one 23 Jan 49 near Toledo, Ohio, and has never been heard of since. It was presumably destroyed/scrapped by the U. S. Navy, but perhaps it was bought and rebuilt after it was Struck Off Charge by the USN in Jan 49.
Air Britain feels it is a totally different aircraft, that went to China in 1944 for CNAC (General Claire Chennault et al) and resurfaced on the U. S. register in December 1949 with the identity "4193". See Ian MacDonald's comments.
Of course, it is always feasible to take a data plate from a wreck and put it onto any other airplane that may not have a paperwork trail that will satisfy the FAA....it is done with great regularity with Mustangs and other warbirds after they have gone into a smoking hole in the ground!!
I finally hit on the magic words in a Google search and found some Douglas Production Lists(Long Beach). As everybody has previously noted, c/n 4184 - 4199 are blanks, probably cancelled aircraft. However, in Part 03 of the list, the author of this particular list agrees with what you have just said, that 14193/25638 still exists and is N877MG, while c/n 20806/42-16340 went to China and has never been heard from again!
It would really help if someone could find a data plate or something inside the aircraft (SEE BELOW!!!) that tells which one it really is.
I'm sure we'd all love to get to the bottom of this mystery!"

This led to the following message from Stoney Jackson, having been able to inspect the plane :
"The s/n plates were attached to the co-pilot's seat. The original Douglas and USAAF plates were missing." [See update by Dirk Septer further below]
Overhauled by Grand Central Aircraft
Glendale, California
Manufactured 7-28-44 (see below) Serial 4193 Type C-47B
The FAA Registration lists the aircraft as DC-3C
Owner : John T. Sessions Historic Aircraft Foundation
411 University St., Suite 1200, Seattle,WA 98101-2519.
"As I understand it, DC-3C is the designation assigned to military surplus C-47s that were remanufactured to a civilian specification by companies such as Canadair. Many Dakotas, including the Basler BT-67 turbine conversions, are listed on the USCAR and CCAR as C-47, and will be that way forever, presumably because they were never remanufactured to the DC-3C civil spec."
("John T. Sessions is the Seattle aviation lawyer who also owned the Grumman Tigercat that has been at Victoria Air Maintenance since May 2006. It is now flying and is supposed to appear at the Abbotsford Air Show next week."
Jerry Vernon)

Through 'Spotter Tim's Photostream' (Flickr.com) I got the following message:
"I've been able to examine the Douglas plate in this aircraft and can confirm what the other person saw except that the date is actually 7-29-44 (not 7-28-44). I agree that it can't be msn 4193 and the date quoted for msn 14193 of 8-17-44 would rule that one out, so I would tend to go with the Air-Britain version of msn 20806."

In response to 'Spotter Tim's photo, Jim Peden replied:
"I flew this aircraft as N8009 for almost 3 years with Foster MacEdward. It was owned by International Shoe Machine Corporation. Captain MacEdward is still going strong in his 80's and lives in Middlebury, Vermont, where the plane was often taken for service.
Prior to that, it was the flagship of Johnson & Johnson during the 50's and before that was used by China National Aviation Corporation. The "chung" or Chinese symbol for "Center" or "Central" was preserved on the aircraft."
Jim Peden

Dirk Septer sent me images (EXIF data July 05th 2010) taken Campbell River, BC showing N877MG with a 'normal nose'.. See Photos by Friends & Guests (26). In May 2011 he sent a photo of the serial plate, attached to the co-pilot's seat, stating the serial to be 4193.. I assume this was recently made and a fake one, not a Douglas original!

And I caught up on it, while visiting Dirk Septer, at Campbell River,B.C. on 14Sep10 - awaiting overhaul during winter 2010/2011 by Sealand Aviation. See HERE..
And I caught up with it yet again upon my visit to the Historical Flight Foundation at Paine Field, Washington; see my report HFF Oct.2014

Ian made me aware of a video on YouTube, providing a complete tour through this executive aeroplane.
Then Kent Wien wrote me, in April 2007:
"I just finished a trip with my Dad in N877MG. My dad flew DC-3's for Wien Alaska Airways in 1950 through 1957.
My grandfather was Noel Wien, so it was only natural that my dad and uncle would fly for Wien until a corporate raider came in and liquidated the airline in 1984.
He and I delivered this airplane from Plattsburgh, NY to Paine Field in Seattle. It will eventually be restored.
I wrote about each of the 5 days it took us to ferry N877MG, on my website www.kentwien.com (click on 'trips')
And I put up a bunch of videos from the trip: www.youtube.com/profile?user=fly4fun"

An update dated 29Mar2010, published on the DC-3 Yahoo forum:
"This DC-3 has been at Victoria,B.C. for the last 3 years. It was to have been restored to Pan American livery, but it appears the finances have run out.
The long nose has been replaced by a standard one and the engines overhauled, but now N877MG simply resides as an 'attraction' outside the restaurant.
Sad really, so if anyone is in the market for a (semi-) airworthy DC-3..?"

As it turned out I visited Campbell River Airport on 14Sep2010 and found N877MG awaiting maintenance by Sealand Aviation there. My report shows photos of the interior, cockpit and the modifications done on the nose: Greater Vancouver and Vancouver Island 2010 and Visit to Sealand Aviation, Campbell River Sep.2010



This one is special ! N139D is a DC-3DST-217A a.k.a. Douglas Sleeper Transport, the original and first series (pre-WW2) ordered with Douglas. One of the first things that catches the eye is that the door is on the righthand side, whereas on all the other DC-3 versions, it is on the other side (which became standard, due to airport and parking facilities). cn2165 was delivered to American Airlines as NC21752 "Memphis" on August 30th, 1939. It went to war as 42-43620 designated a C-49E. It was returned to American Airlines in 1944. It served with Colonial (1949/50), Owens Illinois Glass Co. in Ohio, Ohio State University (N110SU, 1969), Nevada Airlines (N139D, 1975), Pacific National Airways (1980), Mr.P.Grossman (1980), Crocker Nat'l Bank of Orange,CA (1982). It was owned by a Mr Lee Schaller when I photographed it in 1996 at Schellville(CA), but apparently the cost of insurance is keeping this Classic Dak on the ground.
Anno Sep08 sees N139D still on Google Maps at Schellville. Also photos on Flickr.com (May 2008) has N139D still at Schellville.
[See N139D on Airliners.net].

This TC-47K N213GB (cn16484/33232) has itself specialized to mosquito sprayer... It started life as a TC-47B 44-76900 when delivered to the USAAF in 1945 and was transferred as a R4D-7 to the US Navy (BuNo 99840) that same year. It continues its service with the military after WW2 and only in 1966 was it transferred to the FAA. The FAA took the trouble to reregister it to N44 in 1973. In 1976 the services of this loyal civil servant were transferred to Dept of Agriculture (N4405). Storage became its fate in 1979 at St.Douglas-Bisbee, but it was called back to action by its present owner, the Monroe County Health Dept. (1981) and was photographed at its "home" at Marathon on the Florida Keys in 1992.
N91314

N91314 C-47 (cn4538) was delivered in 1942 to the USAAF as 41-38589. United Airlines used it as NC17884 from 1946 till 1949. It went back to the military Air Material Command for a few years, but in 1953 it was bought by a Mr.J.D.Melvin and registered as N91314. Owners varied: Cordova Air Services (1963), American Turkey Breeding Farms Inc. (1967), Amherst Airways (1969), Jim Hankins Air Service (1971), Airgo Air Freight (1977), Misty Air (1980), Pacific Alaska Airlines (1982), Yakutat Seafoods (1983). In 1986 it appeared at the 50th DC-3 Anniversary at Abbotsford,BC in these colors, owned by Methow Aviation. When I photographed N91314 in the wooden vintage hangar of Ephrata(WA) in 1996, it was owned by Cascade Air Service (though this is in some way connected to Methow Aviation).

PH-DDA DC-3 (cn19109) was a dream come true for many, when the purchase in 1984 in fact started the operations of the Dutch Dakota Association. This C-47A was delivered to the USAAF in 1943 as 42-100646. In 1946 it went to Finnair and was later registered as OH-LCB. The Finnish Air Force operated it from 1963 till 1983, an impressive service. In 1984 it took residence at Schiphol, Amsterdam Int'l Airport with the DDA, when the final barriers with the Dutch Aviation Authorities were taken. But fate dealt a heavy blow, when on Sep.25th 1996 PH-DDA crashed into the sea near Texel and all on board perished.

This DC-3C PH-DDZ (cn19754) is another fine example of the Dutch Dakota Association. It was delivered to the USAAF in 1944 as 43-15288 and the immediate history after WW2 seems faded away. But the FAA took use of it in 1964 as N161. Then it went to Somali Airlines (60S-SAA, later 60-SAA) in 1964, quite a change of scenery. This lasted till 1978. In 1981 it was registered to ATC Inc. at Reno,NV. The DDA bought this DC-3 at first with the intention to store it for many years, but the interest and prospects of Historic Aviation were promising and it was decided to restore it to the very latest Government Directives for Historic Aviation in the Netherlands. This photo was taken at the DDA Open House march 07th, 1999 and it shows it in Martin's Air Charter (these days better known as Martinair, but often still referred to as "the MAC") colour scheme.
Credits:the above historical information has been found in "The Douglas DC-3 and its predecessors" by J.M.G.Gradidge (the bible for avid DC-3 enthusiasts) and various volumes on the DC-3 written by A. Pearcy.


In August 2006 I received following email:
"On the first anniversary of my honeymoon (a six-week automobile drive through the eastern states to New York from Memphis) we boarded a DC3 at the Memphis airport at 7 pm on August 18, 1941.
Dinner was served shortly and, at about 7 pm, our berths were prepared for our bedding down.
Through the night we refueled at various airports. I seem to remember that we flew at about 8500 feet and at a maximum speed of 250 mph; we stopped frequently (Nashville, Knoxville, Ashville, etc) for refueling.
We were awakened at six the next morning (Philadelphia?) where breakfast was taken on; then, an hour later, we landed at Newark (?).
When one experiences riding in the cattle cars of today, it make us long for the time when we were dressed to the nines with hat, gloves and high heels. What elegance; oh, would those times come again!"
Jamie Daniel


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