Text: Serge Van Heertum - Translation: Marc Arys
Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Marc Arys, Jacques Vincent, Pierre Vivier & Jan de Clercq
© sbap 2019
 
 
D-Day History

June 6 1944, the famous D-Day will without any doubt remain one of the most important dates in modern history. Simply the starting point of the European liberation during the Second World War. This invasion saw almost 160.000 allied troops storm the Normandy beaches to start the liberation. The general assault was preceded by 24.000 troops parachuted or brought in by gliders. The most important aircraft to support this historical airborne operation was formed by over 800 Douglas C-47 Skytrains. These winged work horses carried the brunt of all men into battle across the English Channel and may well be called the "Unsung Heroes".

June 2019 was the D-Day Invasion 75th anniversary and many commemorations were organized in the UK and mostly in Normandy. It will most probably be the very last largest commemoration of this historic day.

Daks over Normandy event

June 2019 was probably also the very last opportunity to organize a Dakota meet named "Dak's over Normandy" and honor those who have given so much for our freedom.
Dak's over Normandy will certainly be a once in a lifetime event.
The skies over the United Kingdom and Normandy, France were filled with an amazing amount of Douglas DC-3/C-47 Dakotas and also hundreds of Paratroopers who sadly could not be dropped as it was foreseen due the similar meteorological conditions as in June 1944. The only difference with 1944 is the safety for the paratrooper, no hazards… safety first.
For the first time since World War II, many of these magnificent aircraft were brought together in places where they saw their finest hour.
From 2 to 9 June 2019 twenty-six DC-3/C-47's came together. Their owners and operators flew them in from all over the World, from Scandinavia, the Netherlands, the rest of Europe and mostly from the United States.

Daks over Normandy event was held on two locations: from 2 to 5 June at Duxford Airfield in the United Kingdom and from 5 to 9 June at Caen Carpiquet Airport in Normandy, France.
Both locations where carefully chosen because of their facilities and their infrastructure, but also because of their World War II heritage.

On June 5th, 2019 about 250 men and women boarded the Dak's in the United Kingdom, like happened 75 years before and flew across the English Channel to jump into the historic drop zones of Normandy. All of them wearing WWII style allied uniforms and jumping with military round parachutes on Sannerville. It was an event which had no equal until now since WWII.
During the Caen Airport open days everyone could see the Dakota's from close by and, for some, a look inside was possible. Jumps were also executed during the show.

 
 
D-Day squadron

One Douglas DC-3/C-47 Dakota flying across the Atlantic is impressive. A dozen or more is nothing short of extraordinary !

The D-Day Squadron was an effort by North American based Dakotas to attend the June 2019 Daks over Normandy event. The organizers planned an entire squadron of Douglas DC-3/C-47 Dakotas in attendance for what was, without a doubt, a once in our lifetime and unequalled event. This project was spearheaded by the crew of "Placid Lassie" who already flew her in from the United States of America for the 70th Anniversary. "Placid Lassie"'s crew did an active recruitment of capable aircraft and crews. These fantastic men put up all the logistics for this epic Atlantic crossing. The initial plan was to gather and depart from the North-East of the United States in early May, 2019. The group had also to negociate group rates on insurance, survival equipment and support services. Resources such as spare parts and formation training was shared too to operate most efficiently. And in one sentence… they did it!

 
Douglas Commercial DC-3 short history
  
 
The Douglas DC-3 is a fixed-wing propeller-driven airliner that revolutionized air transport in the 1930's and 1940's. Its lasting effect on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever produced. It has a cruise speed of 207 mph (333 km/h), a capacity of 21 to 32 passengers or 6,000 lbs (2,700 kg) of cargo, and a range of 1,500 miles (2,400 km).

The DC-3 is a twin-engined metal monoplane, with a tailwheel-type landing gear and was developed as a larger, improved 14-bed sleeper version of the Douglas DC-2. It had many exceptional qualities compared to previous aircraft: fast, a good range, could operate from short runways, was reliable and easy to maintain and carried passengers in greater comfort. Before the Second World War war it pioneered many air travel routes, crossing the continental United States and making worldwide flights possible. It is considered as the first airliner that could profitably carry just passengers.

Civil DC-3 production ended in 1942 at 607 aircraft. Military versions, including the C-47 Skytrain (designated the Dakota in Royal Air Force service), Russian and Japanese built versions, brought the total produced aircraft to over 16.000 examples. Following the war, the airliner market was flooded with surplus C-47's and other ex-military transport aircraft. Douglas attempted to produce an upgraded DC-3 but failed, due to cost.

 
Douglas DC-2
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The American Airways flagship DC-3
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
 
Post-war, the DC-3 became obsolete on main routes by more advanced types such as the Douglas DC-6 and the Lockheed Constellation. But the design proved exceptionally adaptable and useful. Large numbers continue to see service in a wide variety of niche roles well into the 21st century.

In 2013 it was estimated that approximately 2.000 DC-3 and military derivatives were still flying, a testimony to the durability of the design.

"DC" stands for "Douglas Commercial". The DC-3 was the culmination of a development effort, that began after an inquiry from Transcontinental and Western Airlines (TWA) to Donald Douglas. TWA's rival in transcontinental air service, United Airlines, was starting service with the Boeing 247 and Boeing refused to sell any 247's to other airlines until United's order for 60 aircraft had been fulfilled.
TWA asked Douglas to design and build an aircraft that would allow TWA to compete with United. Douglas' design, the 1933 DC-1, was promising, and led to the DC-2 in 1934. The DC-2 was a success, but there was room for improvement.

 
DC-3C-R-1830-90C Air Atlantic @ Brussels in 1988
(Serge Van Heertum©)
DC-3C-S1C3G Classic Air @ Brussels in 2000
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
The DC-3 resulted from a marathon telephone call from American Airlines CEO C. R. Smith to Donald Douglas, when Smith persuaded a reluctant Douglas to design a sleeper aircraft based on the DC-2 to replace American's Curtiss Condor II biplanes. The DC-2's cabin was 66 " (1.7 m) wide, too narrow for side-by-side berths. Douglas agreed to go ahead with the development, only after Smith informed him of American's intention to purchase twenty aircraft.
The new aircraft was engineered by a team over the next two years, led by chief engineer Arthur E. Raymond.
The prototype DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport) first flew on December 17th, 1935 (the 32nd anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flight at Kitty Hawk). Its cabin was 92 " (2.3 m) wide, and a version with 21 seats instead of the 14-16 sleeping berths of the DST was given the designation DC-3. There was no prototype DC-3; the first DC-3 ever built followed seven DST's off the production line and was delivered to American Airlines.
The DC-3 and DST popularized air travel in the United States. Eastbound transcontinental flights could cross the U.S. in about 15 hours with three refueling stops. Westbound trips against the wind took about 17 1?2 hours. Some few years earlier such a trip entailed short hops in slower and shorter-range aircraft during the day, coupled with train travel overnight.
A variety of radial engines were available for the DC-3. Early-production civilian aircraft used either the nine-cylinder Wright R-1820 Cyclone 9 or the fourteen-cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp. But the Twin Wasp was chosen for most military versions and was also used by most DC-3's converted from military service.
Five DC-3S Super, with Pratt & Whitney R-2000 Twin Wasps were built in the late 1940's, three of which entered airline service.
  
C-47A-60-DL Stellair @ Brussels in 1988
(Serge Van Heertum©)
C-49E PBA (Provincetown Boston Airlines) @ Boston in 1986
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 

Perhaps unique among prewar aircraft, the DC-3 continues to fly daily in active commercial and military service as of mid 2018, more than eighty years after the type's first flight in 1935. There are still small operators with DC-3's in revenue service and as cargo aircraft. Current uses of the DC-3 include aerial spraying, freight transport, passenger service, military transport, missionary flying, skydiver shuttling, and sightseeing. The very large number of civil and military operators of the DC-3/C-47 and related types makes a listing of all the airlines, air forces, and other current operators impractical.
The common saying among aviation enthusiasts and pilots is "the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3." The aircraft's legendary ruggedness is enshrined in the lighthearted description of the DC-3 as "a collection of parts flying in loose formation". Its ability to use grass or dirt runways makes it popular in third world countries or remote areas, where runways are not always paved.
The oldest surviving DC-3 is N133D, the sixth Douglas Sleeper Transport built, manufactured in 1936. This aircraft was delivered to American Airlines on July 12th, 1936, as NC16005. As of 2011 the aircraft was at Shell Creek Airport, Punta Gorda, Florida, where it was undergoing restoration. The aircraft was to be restored to a Douglas Sleeper Transport standards, fully airworthy.
The oldest DC-3 still flying is the original American Airlines Flagship Detroit (c/n 1920, the 43rd aircraft off the Santa Monica production line and delivered on March 2nd, 1937), which can be seen at airshows around the United States and is owned and operated by the nonprofit Flagship Detroit Foundation.
The basic price of a new DC-3 in 1936 was around $60,000-$80,000, and by 1960, used examples were available for $75,000. Today a DC-3 (N33611 "Clipper Tabitah May") aircraft, built in 1945, goes up for sale at the price of $995,000.

 
To talk about C-47 / DC-3 without referring to Jean-Luc Beghin's work would be a failure.
Find his C-47 Skytrain and many other Warbirds in his book "Cockpit" published by Editions Paquet.
  
Participant Aircraft...
 
N25641 Legend Airways “Liberty”     -Origin: Douglas C-47-DL         42-32833 (1943)          (c/n 09059)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N877MG Pan American Airways    -Origin: Douglas R4D-6           43-16340 (1944)          (c/n 20806)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
N18121 The Great Silver Fleet          -Origin: Douglas DC-3-G2         42-56630 (1937)          (c/n 01997)
(Pierre Vivier©)
 
 N45366  “D-Day Doll”           -Origin: Douglas C-53D-DO        42-68830 (1942)          (c/n 11757)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N47TB “That’s All Brother”        -Origin: Douglas C-47A-15-DK           42-92847 (1944)          (c/n 12693)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N47SJ “Betsy Biscuit Bomber”      -Origin: Douglas C-47B-5-DK       43-48608 (1943)          (c/n 14424)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
  N47E “Miss Virginia”            -Origin: Douglas C-47A-60-DL           43-30665 (1943)          (c/n 13816)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N8336C “The Spirit of Benovia”    -Origin: Douglas C-53-DO         42-47371 (1942)          (c/n 07313)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N24320 “Miss Montana”               -Origin: Douglas C-47A-90-DL      43-15731 (1943)          (c/n 20197)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 SE-CFP  “Daisy”               -Origin: Douglas C-47 A-60-DL          43-30732 (1943)          (c/n 13883)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 OH-LCH  Finish Aero           -Origin: Douglas C-53C-DO        43-2033 (1942)           (c/n 06346)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N33611 “Clipper Tabitha May”      -Origin: Douglas C-47B-50-DK           45-1108 (1945)           (c/n 17111)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N150D “Rendezvous with destiny”   -Origin: Douglas C-47B-DL        41-18401 (194)           (c/n 04463)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N431HM “Swissair”              -Origin: Douglas C-47A-45-DL           42-24133 (1942)          (c/n 09995)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N341A                           -Origin: Douglas DC-3-C-41A       40-0070 (1940)           (c/n 02145)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 LN-WND “Little Egypt”           -Origin: Douglas C-53D-DO        42-68823 (1943)          (c/n 11750)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 OY-BPB “Gamle Dame”               -Origin: Douglas C-47A-85-DL      43-15553 (1944)          (c/n 20019)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N103NA “Flabob Express”         -Origin: Douglas C-47A-30-DL      42-23669 (1943)          (c/n 09531)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N62CC “Virginia Ann”            -Origin: Douglas C-47A-60-DL      43-30647 (1943)          (c/n 13798)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N74589 “Placid Lassie           -Origin: Douglas C-47A-40-DL      42-24064 (1942)          (c/n 09926)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 F-AZOX “Chalair”               -Origin: Douglas Dakota IV        12965 CAF (1943)        (c/n 16604)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N147DC     “Spades ace”           -Origin: Douglas C-47A-75-DL      42-100884 (1943)         (c/n 19347)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 HA-LIX “Karman Todor”               -Origin: Lisunov Li–2T                                (c/n 18433209)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 N473DC “Drag ‘em oot”          -Origin: Douglas C-47A-75-DL           42-100882 (1942)         (c/n 19345)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
  ZA947 “Kwicherbichen” (BBMF)      -Origin: Douglas C-47A-60-DL      42-24338 (1942)          (c/n 10200)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
PH-PBA “Prinses Amalia”         -Origin: Douglas C-47A-75-DL      42-100971 (1942)         (c/n 19434)
(Jan de Clercq©)
  
  
June 4th @ Duxford
  
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Marc Arys©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
v(Serge Van Heertum©)  Somewhere in Scandinavia?
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
Smile...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Metal skin
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Marc Arys©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Jacques Vincent©) Little technical problem...
(Marc Arys©)
Left engine failure
(Marc Arys©)
Flag propeller, landing on a single engine ... great art
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
(Marc Arys©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Some nose art...
(
Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)

En route to Normandy
(Marc Arys©)
Will they come back?
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Marc Arys©)
(Marc Arys©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Jacques Vincent©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
Other stripes...Escort and fighters
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Two former 350Sqn aircraft: MH434 and ML407
(Marc Arys©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
June 5th @ Duxford
 
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
MC-130J and CV-22B from Mildenhall en route for Normandy
(Marc Arys©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
All under the surveillance of the raptor
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Note the landing gear system of the Red Kite (Milvus Milvus)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
June 5th, On the way to Normandy
 
N147DC     “Spades ace”
(Jacques Vincent©)
N74589 “Placid Lassie"
(Jacques Vincent©)
N45366  “D-Day Doll”
(Jacques Vincent©)
N47TB “That’s All Brother”
(Jacques Vincent©)
N47SJ “Betsy Biscuit Bomber”
(Jacques Vincent©)
N24320 “Miss Montana”
(Jacques Vincent©)
N150D “Rendezvous with destiny”
(Jacques Vincent©)
HA-LIX “Karman Todor”
(Jacques Vincent©)
N25641 Legend Airways “Liberty”
(Jacques Vincent©)
SE-CFP  “Daisy”
(Jacques Vincent©)
F-AZOX “Chalair”
(Jacques Vincent©)
N877MG Pan American Airways
(Jacques Vincent©)
N341A
(Jacques Vincent©)
N8336C “The Spirit of Benovia”
(Jacques Vincent©)
N33611 “Clipper Tabitha May”
(Jacques Vincent©)
N18121 The Great Silver Fleet
(Jacques Vincent©)
N47E “Miss Virginia”
(Jacques Vincent©)
OY-BPB “Gamle Dame”
(Jacques Vincent©)
OH-LCH  Finish Aero
(Jacques Vincent©)
N431HM “Swissair”
(Jacques Vincent©)
N62CC “Virginia Ann”
(Jacques Vincent©)
 
 
June 5th to 7th @ Caen-Carpiquet
 
(Jan de Clercq©) (Jan de Clercq©)
(Jan de Clercq©) (Jan de Clercq©)
(Jan de Clercq©) (Jan de Clercq©)
(Jan de Clercq©) (Jan de Clercq©)
(Jan de Clercq©) (Jan de Clercq©)
(Jan de Clercq©) (Jan de Clercq©)
Some vintage pictures...
(Pierre Vivier©)
(Pierre Vivier©)
(Pierre Vivier©) (Pierre Vivier©)
(Pierre Vivier©) (Pierre Vivier©)
USAFE Lockheed C-130J-30 Hercules 86 AW Ramstein AFB
(Jan de Clercq©)
USAFE Lockheed C-130J-30 Hercules
86 AW Ramstein AFB
(Jan de Clercq©)
USAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III
514th AMW (AFRC) McGuire AFB
(Jan de Clercq©)
US Army Gulfstream Aerospace C-37A
United States Army Priority Air Transport Det. (USAPAT), Andrews AFB
(Jan de Clercq©)
USAF Boeing C-40B
1st Airlift Squadron, 89th Airlift Wing, Andrews AFB
(Jan de Clercq©)
US Marines Boeing/Bell MV-22 Osprey (N°06)
Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1), Marine Corps Base Quantico
(Jan de Clercq©)
US Marines Boeing/Bell MV-22 Osprey (N°09)
Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1), Marine Corps Base Quantico
(Jan de Clercq©)
French Republic Dassualt Falcon 7X
Arrival of President Emmanuel Macron
(Jan de Clercq©)
British Aerospace Bae 146 CC.2
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrival
(Jan de Clercq©)
 
 
June 8th @ Duxford
 

During this time at Saint-André-de-l'Eure... Piper J-3L-65 Cub 1940  (G-BPUR)
Aeronca O-58B Defender 1942 (G-BRHP)
(Jan de Clercq©)
Piper J-3L-65 Cub 1943 (G-CGIY)
(Jan de Clercq©)
Piper L-4B Grasshopper 1956 (G-FINT)
(Jan de Clercq©)
Piper L-4J Grasshopper 1945 (LN-MAV)
(Jan de Clercq©)
Piper L-4H Grasshopper 1943 (G-AXHR)
(Jan de Clercq©)
Piper J-3C-65 Cub 1945 (G-BDOL)
(Jan de Clercq©)
Piper J-3C-65 Cub  (F-PCMM)
(Jan de Clercq©)
Piper L-4J Grasshopper 1944 (N29EG)
(Jan de Clercq©)
Piper J-3C-65 Cub 1944 (G-BCXJ)
(Jan de Clercq©)
Piper L-14 Cub Cruiser 1945 (EC-AAP)
(Jan de Clercq©)
Piper L-4H Grasshopper 1943 (F-AYZA)
(Courtesy L-Birds to Normandy©)
General view of the event
(Jan de Clercq©)
 
(Serge Van Heertum©)

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