Sainte-Mère-Église one should not miss the Airborne Museum in the center of town.
For me it held the promise of two Douglas C-47 airframes. This Waco CG-4 glider was indeed a bonus.
The Airborne Museum was established in 1964, in the heart of the village of Sainte-Mère-Église, Normandy (La Manche, France).
Over the fifty years of its existence, the Airborne Museum became the largest museum in Europe dedicated to American paratroopers of 82nd and 101st Airborne Division engaged in Normandy in the context of Operation Overlord
in June 1944. WEBSITE
Douglas C-47A 'Skytrain' 43-15159 / D8-Z (c/n 19288) This is former 42-100825, on display in the Airborne Museum as 43-15159. This C-47 had its last flight on 28 March 1982. It was then presented to the museum on the 40th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Some more history details on c/n 19288 from my files: USAAF 42-100825 was surplus after WW2 and registered OY-DDA on 08mar46 for The Danish Air Line (DDL -which later became part os SAS-, this DC-3 was named 'Sven Viking').
Its registration in Denmark was cancelled on 22Nov51 and subsequently registered as N9984F.
It was at some date (1962, see below) picked up by the French Naval Department (it probably did not leave Europe for the US) and restoration was started by one Yves Tariel, President of the Parachutists' League of Friends who changed the livery of this C-47, decorated it with serial 43-15159 and named it 'Argonia'.
The following is from the museum's website [link]
"Sold as surplus after the war he became a civilian DC-3 of public transport in Europe and the United States. Bought by France in 1962 it again became a C-47, to equip the S-56 Squadron of the Naval Aviation based in Nimes (France), where it served as trainer aircraft to train non-pilot aircrew in the Navy National.
Reformed [sic] in 1981, Mr Yves Tariel obtained the assignment with the Ministry of Defence to be preserved at the Airborne Museum of Sainte Mere Eglise."
I had a hard time to identify this C-47, marked '315510 / F' but a posting
for help on Yahoo's Classic-Propliners group provided the answer- Howard J Curtis: "Not 100% sure but could it be N4332E, ex F-GNFD, which was being
prepared as a walk through exhibit in the local area? c/n is 15813/32561."
Alexandre Avrane supported this identity: "Yes, N4332E.
Trucked 27-30oct06 from Le Touquet to St-Mère-l'Eglise."
Googling this tailnumber and the construction number provided the following information and links:
N4332E, ex G-BVRB, ex F-GDXP.
Stored at Caen, moved by road Oct2006 to Le Touqet-Paris-Plage (LTQ/LFAT), about 80kms south of Calais.
Airliners.net ('c/n 32561/15813'):
Remark of her condition in 2003: "N4332E, nose and engine detail of this old lady. Apart from the ragged rudder, she seems to be in remarkably good condition."
C/n 15813 constructed as a C-47B-25-DK by Douglas at Oklahoma City,OK,USA.
Circa 1944 delivered to United States Army Air Force (USAAF) with serial 44-76229.
New construction number, 32561, assigned to the airframe due to duplication of batch series.
Transferred to the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposal Center (MASDC) with inventory number KN307.
Taken on Strength/Charge with the United States Navy with BuNo 476229.
To unknown owner with c/r F-RAMP, same as F-RAXP, same as F-RAOD,, same as F-TEFJ, same as F-GDXP.
During 26July1994 - 27July1994 to Aces High Ltd, with registration G-BVRB.
On 27 July 1994: to Aces High Ltd, North Weald, Epping.
On 9 May 1995: Civil registration, G-BVRB, cancelled.
To unknown owner with c/r F-GNFD.
To Euroworld Miami Inc, Miami, FL with c/r N4332E (DC3C, 32561).
On 4 June 1999: Civil registration, N4332E, cancelled.
Exported to France, in derelict condition.
And since I now knew this identity to be N4332E, from my own files:
ex/F-GDXP, entered UK-register 27jul94 Aces High Ltd as G-BVRB after 10 months storage at Shoreham; new engine refitted and ferried to France; rereg F-GNFD.
At Dinard Sep96 F-GNFD. Reg'd N4332E for Euroworld Miami Inc 200598.
Reported at Le Touqet 28mar99 (N4332E). Again 03Apr03 same, and again 14May03 with added details: colouscheme silver/white & rudder damage, in fairly poor condition.
Acquired a slide as N4332E ('E') taken Easter @Le Touquet 2002.
Registration canx May99; wing section trucked 27Oct06, rest soon, to Ste-Mère-l'Eglise for WW2 exhibit.
My page Photos by Friends & Gustest (40) has photos by Gerben Groothuis of this fuselage in 2013.
This part of the museum is a new addition and only opened earlier this year.
This tour brings to life, through different sequences in chronological order, the experiences of the individual paratroopers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, from boarding in England during the night of June 5/6th 1944, through to the battle of the Normandy hedgerows and the other operations in which they took part. The public then board the aircraft, visit the flight deck and the paratroopers sat along one side of the cabin, ready for their jump over Normandy.
The noise is almost deafening. Anti-aircraft fire and the plane’s engines make the fuselage shake beneath the visitors’ feet!
The only source of light in the darkness comes from the cockpit instruments and the red and green flashing lights of the jump master who is standing near the jump door.
Just like the paratroopers, the visitor steps out of the aircraft into the night sky and, looking down he can distinguish in the darkness below, the town of Sainte-Mère-Eglise.
The air around is filled with parachutes and C47 s, the sound of their engines combines with the explosions of artillery fire.