Here are a few more pictures of Gooney Birds, aka Skytrains, aka Dakotas. It is a nice selection of stored, displayed or more or less active examples.They were all found in the USA, at this time my favourite country to travel thru, in search of classic planes. In the USA it is easy to travel, people have an open mind to people like me practising this curious hobby and I am also very fond of things like National Parks, ghost towns, stuff like that.
Photos © R.Leeuw
This C-47 started its career in the USAAF in 1942. It continued as NC54088 with National Air Produce in 1946, one of so many ex/military C-47s to find a commercial second life. It operated for Pressed Steel Car Corp. (N77C) and various other US companies. In 1963 it went abroad to LADECO in Chile (CC-CAO), but returned to the US in the 1970s (N783V). I photographed it in 1999, while stored at Opa Locka,FL without props. It still carried the scars of damage by storms in 1998.
This C-47 Skytrain did not change much, it seems, from when it was delivered to the USAAF as 42-92136 in 1943. But it went to the UK as FL544 in 1943 and operated commercially there as G-AGIP for BOAC, BEA and later Cambrian Airways. It went back into military service with the Maroccan Air Force in 1963 but found its way back to the US during the 1970s (N54608). It did not lead a very active life since then: being stored at St.Petersburg,FL in may 1980 and later on to the resident Yesterdays Air Force Museum for static display. I photographed it in 1999 where it was placed in 1997: as a prop (in this case I refer to the movie term ) to a restaurant (forgot its name) close ro runway 09R of Miami Int'l Airport.
A work of art on this C-47A 43-15977, "7th Heaven", on display at Castle AFB Museum,CA. I visited this museum in 1996 and it looked beautifully restored. I value the fact that it carries its original USAAF serial (delivered in 1944) as with some restorations they put a registration on it, that has nothing to do with its history; in this case it was full marks on all counts.
In april 2018 I revisited Castle AFB Museum
I photographed N45366 at Lodi,CA in 1996, where it was used by a parachute center. At least this one is still taken into the air every
now and then !
Note the short engine 'stubs': equipped with Wright Cyclone R-1820 engines!
This one (c/n 11757) started with the USAAF as 42-68830 in 1943 and went overseas on deployment; it returned to the USA in 1945 and handed over to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) on 06Aug45.
Its civil career started as NC45366 for Penn
Central Airlines, on a lease starting 20Nov45; next operator to use it was Capital in Apr48, which bought it on 0lAug49; Crucible Steel Co of America purchased it on 16Feb59 and at some point Walston Aviation Inc. of Walston,IL became the new owner or operator.
Palm Beach Yacht Sales Inc was registered in 1965 for N54366, which sold it that year to De Soto Air Park Inc.; next was Penlo Air Inc of Memphis,TN in 1966 and Texas Aircraft Leasing Co Inc of Dallas,TX bought it in Aug69; but it returned to Penlo Inc in 1969.
Two years later a new operator was found: Jim Hankins Air Service of Jackson,MS; this did not last long as in 1972 it went to Bay Airways of Cambridge,MD and by next year Florida World of Ft. Lauderdale,FL took it in its care. Then it was Shawnee Airlines of Orlando,FL in 1974.
It continued to be passed on: Transecutive Aviation of Pittsburgh, PA had it registered on 11Aug77; but it was stored at Sarasota in Shawnee livery (Nov79 to Sep80). At some point it may have been registered to E.Stern and next was H. Hefley of Kansas City who bought it on 13Aug82. Harvest Fields Missionary Association took it for a lease on 13Aug82.
This is where the records stop in 'The Douglas DC-3 and its predecessors' by J.M.G. Gradidge of Air-Britain (1984).
Air-Britain's 2006 publication 'DC3, The First Seventy Years' has a little more to add:
E-Systems Inc. 1985 - Daniel R. Kittley of Acampo,CA bought N45366 on 28Jan87 for parachute dropping at Yolo City Airport.
Next was to DC-3 Flight Inc. of Stateline,NV on 14May92. Stored at Richmond,VA by Sep.2001.
From there it went to the
Commemorative Air Force, see below.
Bud Ukes wrote me in July 2005- "To bring you up to date on this specific airplane: it was donated to the Commemorative Air Force in Midland,TX and assigned to the Inland Empire Wing in Riverside,CA.
She had been inoperative in Richmond,IN for a few years. In 2002 she was put into flyable condition and ferry flown to Riverside, CA. We have gone through a full and complete restoration, dressing her exactly as the C-47s and C-53s looked on D-Day 1944. She will be back in the air within the next 60 days and on air show tour starting this year. For additional info please visit our website www.inlandempirecaf.com.
If you should have any history on this specific C-53, I would appreciate whatever you could tell us. I have some unconfirmed information that this airplane was assigned to the 13th Troop Carrier Wing on Segi Point, New Guinea in late 1943.
N45366 was registered to the Commemorative AF / Inland Empire Wing (again) on 04Dec2001.
In April 2018 I visited Flabob Airport in California and was pleased to see N45366 as 'D-Day Doll', 'dressed' as a WW2 veteran!
And after another makeover N45366 ('268830/R-CU 'D-Day Doll')
joined D-Day Squadron for participation in D-Day 75 (2019) in England and France. I caught up with D-Day Doll and 21 other Gooney Birds (plus 1 Li-2) at Duxford IWM - SEE MY REPORT.
I know little of this one: C-47A cn12852. Delivered to the USAAF as 42-92990 in 1944. Some of the historical details seem to be lost, except that it apparently went to the Cambodian Air Force at some time, which is good for a vanishing act. It surfaced again as N16602 registered to Hillsborough County Health Unit in Tampa,FL. What did they need a plane for? Anyway, I photographed it at Nut Tree/Vaccaville,CA in 1996, when it was owned by American Warbird Corp. 'Okie Dokie' looked exactly that.
Jerry Gunner wrote me in April 2015 ( I hadn't looked at this page for many years; it was written 10 years ago!) and wrote: "I saw this at Tampa in 1983. It was with Lee County Mosquito Control – part of the health department."
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.
For more background info on the C-47 Skytrain and its many variants in military service, please follow this link: C-47 Skytrain
And how it all started with the DC-1, DC-2 and that Plane that Changed the World: the DC-3... can be found on this link: History of the DC-3
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Last updated 07.4.2015