History of DC-3 c/n 6051, by Gil White


C/n 6051


Manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Corporation at Long Beach in California and rolled off the production line on 29/11/1942. Aircraft designated as a C-47-DL. During the war years allocated the U.S. serial number 41-38668. Initially aircraft stationed at the U.S.A.A.F. base at Mobile in Alabama. A few months later saw war service with Fifth Air Force and was flown to Australia.

Arrived at Archerfield on 12/1/1943. Aircraft known affectionately by the crews that flew it as 'Geronimo'. Mainly based at Mareeba whilst in service with Fifth Air Force in Australia seeing service with 22nd Troop Carrier Squadron. It used the radio callsign VHCHF and later reportedly operated under VHCHJ. On 23/6/1943 aircraft sustained damage in an accident at Charters Towers and was repaired at Essendon.

On 10/7/1944 purchased by Department of Civil Aviation and registered VH-AEO on 9/3/1945 to the Commonwealth of Australia. Prior to its civilian conversion by Australian National Airways aircraft had been parked withdrawn from use at Essendon Airport. Operated by Australian National Airways P/L from March 1945 on lease until transferred to Trans Australia Airlines on 18/6/1946 and registered to Australian National Airlines Commission on 25/6/1946. When received by T.A.A. aircraft had amassed 7,383 hours. Aircraft entered service with the company on 3/7/1946 and was first utilised for flight crew training.

Whilst in service with company aircraft was named 'Cunningham' and allocated the name of 'Murray' but never carried the latter name. On 2/12/1946 aircraft had the distinction of operating the first DC-3 service for the company from Melbourne (Laverton) to Adelaide. This flight was flown under the command of Captain D K McDonald with the First Officer being Captain Gil J White and Hostess A Kitching.

During 1948 leased to Qantas for use as a freighter. On 19/1/1957 aircraft was ferried to Bankstown to be converted for survey work by Fairey Aviation Company of Australasia P/L. On 28/1/1958 after conversion completed aircraft flown to Parafield and leased to Government of South Australia Lands Commission. For these survey flights aircraft operated by Trans Australia Airlines flight crew. On 28/1/1958 reregistered VH-DAS.

Previously operated by Trans Australia Airlines for South Australian Lands Commission. First photographic survey flight flown on 2/2/1958 when it photographed the Naracoorte area. These flights were normally flown with a crew of five, being two pilots, navigator and two photographers. Later whilst in operation with the Commission aircraft was named 'Clive Hambridge' after the South Australian Surveyor General.

Sold to East-West Airlines Ltd on 1/3/1975 and registered to the company on 17/3/1975 but continued the lease to South Australian Department of Lands. When received by East-West the hours flown had increased to 41,206. In June 1975 flown to Tamworth where repainted in the East-West colour scheme and returned to West Beach Airport and again took up the surveying duties. During January 1976 Department of Lands announced they had purchased their own aircraft and when the Rockwell Commander 690A VH-DLK was delivered on 21/9/1976 the two aircraft operated conjointly until 21/12/1976.

Ferried to Tamworth on 21/12/1976 and withdrawn from service and struck off the Australian civil register on 17/3/1977. Purchased by Travmar Holdings P/L during December 1978. Flown from Tamworth to Maitland and withdrawn from use on arrival with the intention of being used as a source of spares. The company ceased trading in 1981 and this aircraft's condition slowly deteriorated.

VH-DAS This aircraft's claim to fame came later when transported by road to Cairns and starred in the film 'Sky Pirates' by being crashed into the sea. For the film it was painted in World War II olive drab, given a fictitious serial number of '6903077' and named 'Miss Fortune'.

After the film transported to Tonkins Metal Industries scrapyard in Cairns. The fuselage hulk was rescued in late April 1984 and transported on three semi-trailers and put on display at the Kuranda Homestead near Cairns. Aircraft is in a derelict condition with its back broken but never the less is a survivor destined never to take to the air again.

Still in existence in 2006 at Kuranda.

© Gil White (2006)

To my page Australia 2005

Gil White 2005IN MEMORIAM.
"It has been a great pleasure to have known you all, but my days are now numbered." -24Jun06.
Gil White passed away on 27Jun06. He will be remembered by me as a enthusiastic (Ansett) historian and a courageous person; may he rest in peace.


Last updated 26.3.2006