C-47's over Normandy

Douglas C-47's & 70th anniversary D-Day

Copyright Ruud Leeuw Photos © R.Leeuw

The 70th anniversary of the 6.6.1944 D-Day invasion at Normandy brought a gathering of Douglas C-47's and DC-3's to Cherbourg. Although published as an air show at Cherbourg - Maupertus Airport on 04 + 05 + 06 June 2014, this was found to be a hoax, a fiasco, as there was no program, no information and most of all no access beyond the fence. So no visits to the aircraft.
I did manage to get some images which I like to share here, but I'd think twice before going to France for events such as these.


Propliners over Normandy
We gathered for a propliner fest at Aéroport Cherbourg-Maupertus

Propliners over Normandy
Douglas C-47 in WW2 D-Day invasion colours mix with USAF modern transports, Lockheed's C-130 Hercules aircraft.

Propliners over Normandy

Propliners over Normandy

Propliners over Normandy
What was advertised as an air show at Cherbourg was a hoax: the public was kept behind the fence.



Propliners over Normandy 6.6.2014
One of two Douglas C-47's that made the trans-Atlantic crossing to participate in this WW2 70th
anniversary of the D-Day invasion on the Normandy beaches in 1944: N74589, c/n 9926.

Propliners over Normandy 6.6.2014
In Feb.2003 this N74589 was stored at Covington,GA and advertised for sale for usd 110.00,-
And three years later it was advertised for sale for 40.000,-
In July 2008 it was noted with Prairie Aviation Museum, Bloomington,IL as 'stored with parts missing, under
restoration'. On 13Jun08 Jurmie E.Watkins Jr sold N74589 to Dixie Jet Service Inc of Oxford,GA.
But on 29Aug09 it was still at Covington,GA and seen without engines.
See photos taken of '589 at Covington on my page Photos by Friends & Guests 14

Propliners over Normandy 6.6.2014
Restoration was taken up by Clive Edwards and a small team of other Brits (subsequently dubbed "The Union
Jack Dak" for a Union Flag painted on the forward fuselage) at Covington, finished the job in a matter of weeks
and in the nick of time to join flying festivities in July 2010 for 'The Last Time DC-3/C-47 Gathering' (the
75th Dakota anniversary) in 2010, in Illinois.
The D-Day invasion colours were added later. N74589 is based these days at Waterbury/Oxford,CT.
In June 2019 N74589 looked even better at D-Day 75th anni, Daks over Duxford!

Propliners over Normandy 6.6.2014

N74589 ('224064', C-47A c/n 9926) sports D-Day invasion colors, with the fuselage code 'ID', since 2011. It has been reported that she will stay in the UK at least for a season or two, before returning to the US. This may have to do with the fact that the owner is British, though I am not sure if he actually lives in England.

Clive Edwards and the Tale of N74589
"From 1974 to 1978 I worked for Aero Dyne in Renton,WA. Aero Dyne ran 7 DC-3/C-47s on a variety of missions. One of these was N74589. 
After I left the company, N74589 was leased to an air freight company. I'm not sure of the details but '589 was abandoned on the airport at Covington,GA and hadn't flown since 1998.
Clive Edwards of DB Aviation in London, England has rescued a number of older transports, including 4 DC-3s/C-47s. When he heard that the 75th Anniversary of the DC-3 was going to be celebrated at The Last Time fly-in (scheduled to take place the week before AirVenture 2010), he set out to find a DC-3 in the States to resurrect. After a search he settled on N74589.


I received following update in dec.2014, related to the above on a gap in history of N74589, from Hooman Bahrani:
"I read the man named Clive had holes in the history of N74589; I have somewhere between 600-900 hours flying that DC-3 for years before it got stuck in Georgia, where it appears he bought it. We flew freight out of its base in Greensboro,NC. Mainly to Michigan, but up and down the east coast. 
An amazing plane. Enjoyed your writing about N74589 and the other DC-3ís there in Normandy, and the photos too".

Noted at St. Lucie County Airport (FL), 07Mar2015 - Neal Stebbings propliner update

In Aug.2018 I received following email-
"It was nice to see a reference to C-47 Placid Lassie (N74589) on your page.
I can add that Placid Lassie's paint job is exactly as it was on D-Day when she towed a glider on the Chicago mission for the 74th TCS.
At the time we only knew that she was ID-N.
Shortly after you took photos of her, during the Market Garden 70th, the flight crew was privileged to meet her last surviving crew member, Ed Tunison. He told us her name ('Placid Lassie'), along with engine names and brought us to a wartime photo. We have added these details.
We have also been in contact with other decendants of her wartime crew.

Since that time her owner, myself and a few others formed a 501(c)3 organization to keep her flying.
Placid Lassie was donated to the foundation. As was a PBY-5 project, tailnumber N423RS.
Ed has sadly passed, so we named our organization after him: www.tunisonfoundation.org
The planes are indeed based out of Treasure Coast International Located in Fort Pierce, FL (ICAO: KFPR).
Lassie was at OSH this year and other airshows. Cleveland this weekend, 01+02Sep.
She dropped jumpers on Fort Benning last week, for the 78th Airborne Anniversary.

We have put much of her history together. Reading your page I learned more. I didn't know that Clive also worked for Aero Dyne!
The information from Hooman Bahrani filled in another gap. But I'd like to learn more to add to our history pages.

We are bringing Placid Lassie back to Normandy, for the 75th anniversary next summer in concert with the UK 'Daks over Normandy' organization.
Our Foundation Chairman, Eric Zipkin, vowed to bring a whole squadron across from the US!
We are organizing/leading that mission with a jump off from KOXC in May 2019.
So far 22 planes have signed on including That's All Brother. Check out www.ddaysquadron.org for more.
If you know of anyone that would like to support our mission via donation, please send them our way!"
Ben Allan Smith


Propliners over Normandy 6.6.2014

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg


Propliners over Normandy 6.6.2014
Veterans were being interviewed and celebrated.

Patrick Elie submitted the following information:
"The veteran you speak of is Julian A. Rice who was pilot in the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron, 316th Troop Carrier Group.
He dropped paratroopers of the 505th PIR near Sainte-Mère-Église on D-Day and his testimony is on my website: www.6juin1944.com/veterans/rice.php"


Propliners over Normandy 6.6.2014
Veterans even joined in the para drops!

70th anniversary D-day Normandy
The military honour their veterans. This gentleman seemed to travel with the C-47 'Whiskey Seven'.

Patrick Elie submitted the following information:
"The veteran among the actual USAF personnel is Leslie Palmer Cruise, Jr. He was in H Company, 505th PIR and on D-Day jumped from the same 'Whiskey 7' which was here at Cherbourg at this event in 2014 !
His testimony is also on my website: www.6juin1944.com/veterans/cruise.php

The airshow scheduled on 5 - 6 and 7 june was cancelled by the French police on 3 june, arguing that they were not enough to assume the security of the public.
It's a shame I know and many people were disappointed but, at least, you know the facts."

Patrick Elie - Webmaster,
D-Day : Etat des Lieux - www.6juin1944.com
Douglas C-47 #43-15073 - www.the-snafu-special.com + www.facebook.com/snafuspecial


Propliners over Normandy 6.6.2014


70th anniversary D-day Normandy
Alas, I never got a good shot of this Beech 17 Staggerwing!
The VIP's arrived in all sorts of (modern) transports.

On the internet I found quite a bit of history on this Beech D-17 Staggerwing:
N16S is a Beech D17S Staggerwing with c/n 6687.
This ex/ Royal Navy Beechcraft 17 Staggerwing was repainted for this event in its original 2nd World War Fleet Air Arm colours as FT466. What a wonderful gesture!

NC16S may be the registration painted on it. In 2012 it was seen at Antwerp, in bright red livery, on its a vast journey that started in New Zealand in april 2009 and had as destination Reno,NV!
William 'Bill' M. Charney, alias Capt. Biff Windsock, owns or owned this Beech.
Here are some details of its history:
Ex GB-2 BuNo.23675 (but not taken up), UC-43 44-67710, Traveller Mk1 FT466 (Royal Navy), GB-2 BuNo.32870, D17S N9455H and since 1978 as NC16S. Source: www.airliners.net

FAA Registry ('N-inquiry') now (30Jun14) shows N16S still reg'd to William M. Charney of Reno,NV, since 14Feb1994. It was manufactured in 1946.


70th anniversary D-day Normandy
Must be a government VIP, what with the salute and red carpet treatment.

70th anniversary D-day Normandy
Could not identify the guest, anyone? (email)

70th anniversary D-day Normandy
The Learjet Model 35 and Model 36 are a series of American multi-role business jets and military transport aircraft, manufactured by Learjet. When used by the United States Air Force they carry the designation C-21A. WIKIPEDIA

70th anni D-Dag at Cherbourg
Dassault Falcon 10MER, registration 129, of the French Navy (Aeronavale). Manufactured in 1978.

70th anniversary D-day Normandy
Like omnious spiders these helicopters taxi pass DDA's PH-PBA. VIPs travel in helicopters?

70th anniversary D-day Normandy

70th anniversary D-day Normandy
And indeed, the French sent helicopters to Cherbourg as well.

70th anniversary D-day Normandy
Note the '1944' serial on the tail: nice touch!


Whisky Seven at Cherbourg
Douglas C-47A N345AB '330652' (c/n 13803), 'Whiskey 7'

70th anniversary D-day Normandy

Former C-FRTB of Skycraft Air Transport re-entered FAA Registry as N345AB for Dakota Air Museum at
Mason,NH (I cannot find reference anymore to this location, but there is a Dakota Territory Air Museum, except that it is located in Minot,ND).
N345AB was registered on 08sep2000 for Classic Air Transport Inc. of LeHighton,PA.
It was then subsequently donated, by a privat person, to the 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum at Geneso,NY.
And it is indeed a veteran of WW2: this warbird flew over Normandy as well as Arnhem (Netherlands; for Operation Market Garden).
Besides the USAAF colourscheme, and the Normandy invasion stripes, it had a '3H' code of 316th Troop Carrier Grp (37th Sqdn), which was based at Cottesmore (England) then. It flew in the second wave during the D-Day invasion, with on board the US Army 82nd Airborne Division.
The 1941 Historical Aircraft Group Museum had it properly registered on 11Apr05.
N345AB attended the EAA Air Venture in July 2013 at Oshkosh. It seems it had by then adopted the present WW2 livery and serial 330652/'W7'.


70th anniversary D-day Normandy
'Whiskey Seven' seemed to operate seperate from the other C-47's and flew often with the USAF C-130's.

70th anniversary D-day Normandy

70th anniversary D-day Normandy

C-47A '43-30652' flew to Cherbourg from its home base with the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo,NY during mid-May on the traditional ‘northern ferry route’ via Goose Bay, Nararsuaq and Reykjavik, arriving at Prestwick, Scotland on May 20th.
Known affectionately as 'Whiskey 7', she was the lead aircraft from the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron and transported paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division to drop zones near St. Mere Eglise on D-Day as well. 'W7' retraced the route over her original D-Day drop zones as part of the anniversary celebrations, dropping re-enactors from the Liberty Jump Team.

Have a look at the superb VIP interior, taken out in 2005: http://www.airliners.net/photo//0827817/


70th anniversary D-day Normandy




C-47' s at Cherbourg, Normandy
Douglas C-47 N473DC 'Drag-'em-Oot'. On 14Jun06 registered as such for 'Dakota Heritage'; it seems it is now operated by Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. But perhaps I got the initial name wrong. This UK-based C-47 looks splendid though and fitted the part in these events, often leading the pack when flying to the drop zones.

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
I have a dedicated page on N473DC (ex/ N5813B) 'Drag-'em-Oot', please check HERE..

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
Inspite of the awkward provisions for the public and photographers, the sight of such a line up of C-47 warbirds is quite unique; the sound of these piston engines rumbling, hungry for take off, is quite exhilarating!

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg

Now named 'Drag-em-Oot', its career started with delivery to the USAAF in Dec. 1943 and was assigned to the 9th Air Force Troop Carrier Command and then subsequently to the 87th TCS at Greenham Common in England.
Its nickname refers to one of its tasks: to recover troop carrying gliders after they’d landed in Normandy and return them to the UK for refurbishment.
During WW2 it was later transferred to Netheravon, Wiltshire and helped with preparations for Operation Market Garden (Arnhem, the Netherlands).
After the war, it went to Canada with the RCAF, from 1946 to 1966, and later became CF-KAZ flying with Trans Provincial Airways and Pacific Coastal Airlines.
Entering the US FAA Registry as N5813B (c/n 19345) in 1985, its career continued in Europe when in May 2005 it was ferried from Arizona to Liverpool (UK), becoming N437DC in 2006.
Its restoration was only fully completed when the markings of 87th Squadron USAAF D-Day colours were finished in fine detail.


70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
Now that is a proper salute! Finally someone who acknowledges the enthusiasts gathered at Cherbourg.

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg


70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg


70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
Two propliners with obvious military background, the C-130 approaching and 'Whiskey Seven' taxiing past PH-PBA. But the latter is indeed a true D-Day veteran, inspite of the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines livery!
PH-PBA (c/n 19434) has actually flown over the Cotentin (Cherbourg peninsular) early in the morning of D-Day; it had dropped paratroopers at nearby Sainte-Mère-Eglise to prepare the ground for US forces who, just a few hours later, were coming ashore at ‘Utah Beach’.

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
PH-PBA first rolled off the Douglas assembly line at Long Beach,CA as a C-47A, with USAAF serial 42-100971.
She flew on D-Day from RAF Cottesmore, with Lt. Lee Ross in command and 17 paratroopers from the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division on board.
The C-47 flew alongside 35 other 'Skytrains' (as the US military referred to the C-47, it was the Brits who nicknamed it 'Dakota') to drop zone ‘O’ at Sainte-Mère-Eglise. It returned safely to Cottesmore that morning with just superficial damage and flew many re-supply missions in the following days and weeks.
(This, and various other bits, from Geoff Jones' article http://www.warbirdsnews.com/warbirds-news/wwii-events/daks-normandy-event-report.html)

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
The 'DDA Classic Airlines' C-47A PH-PBA departing Cherbourg for one of many pleasure flights it flew over Sainte-Mère-Eglise. They did a brisk business on June 5th, together with the Breitling DC-3. June 06th we saw hardly any flying done.
PH-PBA is now based at Amsterdam's IAP Schiphol again, after a failed merger with the Aviodrome of Lelystad when funding failed upon the global economic crisis in recent years; support of KLM has been restored I suspect, but I gather it is still touch-and-go financially as PH-DDZ has not yet been restored for flight by the DDA.

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg


70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
DC-3-277B HB-IRJ (c/n 2204) flew during the early 1990s as N922CA with US Air Express (of Plattsburgh-Clinton County,NY) scenic charters, so is quite familiar in its role here.
In 1995 it operated, as N922CA, for Champlain Air Inc. (also of Plattsburgh,NY). It may have been around that time that she was named 'Priscilla'.
In April 2003 it visited the Sun-n-Fun flying festivities at Lakeland,FL and was proclaimed for sale. I noticed it in Oct.2004 on www.trade-a-plane.com still advertised for sale.
A photo on Airliners.net showed N922CA on 26Jul05 at Oshkosh. In Nov.2008 it was bought by Legenday Airliners, of Miami,FL. And reported at Opla Locka,FL on 21Dec08, with blue cheatline and 'Priscilla' still on the nose.
Registered N922CA on 14Jan09 for Dakota Air Services LLC of Miami,FL. And subsequently registered on 14Apr09 HB-IRJ for the Super Constellation Flyers Association; HB-IRJ departed Opa Locka (KOPF) on 01May09 on a ferry flight to Switzerland.

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
It was the 1st time I came across HB-IRJ and was glad I could witness so many take offs and landings on June 05th.

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
The oldest Dakota attending was Swiss-based HB-IRJ (c/n 2204), built prior (!) to WW2 for American Airlines, registered as DC-3A NC25658.
The Super Constellation Flyers Association fly her under sponsorship from watch manufacturer Breitling.
It completed a much published World Tour in 2017.
In March 2019 it was sold and flown to Turkey, for the M.S.Ö. Air & Space Museum @Sivrihisar Air Park (aprox. 150kms SW of Ankara) and it is intended for the air show circuit. On 05Apr19 registration N3291 was allocated for the M.S.Ö. Air&Space Museum.

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg


70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
Douglas C-47A OY-BPB ('K-682', c/n 20019) of 'Foreningen for Flyvende Museumsfly' and
Douglas C-53C Skytrooper OH-LCH (c/n 6346) of 'DC Association/Airveteran Ltd.'

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg

Foreground: the Flyvende Museumsfly C-47A OY-BPB, which rolled off the Long Beach production line in April 1944 and was assigned USAAF serial 43-40609.

In the background sits the uniquely airworthy Lisunov Li-2, which had a modest participation in these D-Day celebrations.
The Li-2 is a license-built version of the Douglas C-47, constructed in Russian during WW2. She is based with the Goldtimer Foundation in Hungary, registered as HA-LIX. She is seen here at Cherbourg in period Malev colors.
More photos and history on my Aviodrome 2006 page.

Both OY-BPB and HA-LIX joined the 'D-Day 75' (2019) event, commemorating the 75th anniversary of Jun 6th 1944 landing of Allied forces at Normandy. SEE MY REPORT.

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
Note the retraction of the undercarriage does not go simultaneously.

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
Other Scandinavian DC-3s attended, including this Dakota Norway LN-WND, sporting RAF roundels for the event!

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
Douglas C-53D LN-WND (c/n 11750) of 'Dakota Norway'.

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg

70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg
French-based F-AZTE could hardly go amiss here! This C-47A (c/n 9172) flies in Air France markings as F-BBBE.
Ten years ago, in commemoration of D-Day's 60th anniversary, it was resprayed in WW2 colours and assigned Armée de L'air serial '141406'.
F-AZTE was formerly reg'd as F-GDPP and is operated by Dakota et Compagnie, apparently based at Paris-Orly.

Dakotas over narmandy 2014
From Europe's northern region came this 'DC Association/Airveteran Ltd.' C-53C Skytrooper in vintage Finnair ('Aero OY') livery, registered as OH-LCH. The C-53 is essentially a civilian DC-3 modified to C-47 standards.

It seems the 'RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight' Dakota ZA947 also participated in the event, but it choose to operate from Le Havre, rather than Cherbourg, and I did not come across it on this trip.


70th anniversary D-day at Cherbourg


70th anniversary D-Day Normandy

C-47's at Cherbourg for D-day anniversary

70th anniversary D-Day Normandy

70th anniversary D-Day Normandy

D-Day 70th anniversary at Normandy

70th anniversary D-Day Normandy
The photo flight which joined the DC-3's in formation.

70th anniversary D-Day Normandy
The Dutch Catalina PH-PBY arrived in the evening of June 05th, but I did not see it flying and am not sure what it did
in this flying event; perhaps it too came under falls pretense to this event, as was the public.


70th anniversary D-Day Cherbourg, Normandy
The terminal at Cherbourg-Maupertus. Advertised as an air show, one was quickly put right here: no information, no program of events, no access to the ramp, no organized tours, no meetings with crews. Pretty much a fiasco and I for one left disappointed.

70th anniversary D-Day Normandy
As it once was, at Cherbourg-Maupertus Airport.
Images from behind the counter in the bar.


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