Combat Veteran C-47 Flies Again

By Moose Peterson, EAA 1028580

In 1943, C-47B 43-48950 came off the line and was immediately pressed into service. It flew the northern ferry route over to England as part of the famous IX Troop Carrier Command, 52nd Troop Carrier Wing, 315th Troop Carrier Group, 34th Troop Carrier Squadron. While 43-48950 arrived a couple of days late for the D-Day invasion to liberate France, it took part in nearly all the action of the 34th until well after the end of the war. It did it all from dropping paratroopers and towing gliders to carrying cargo from Operation Market Garden in Belgium to Operation Varsity at the Rhine. This included carrying food, clothing, medicine, gasoline, and ordnance equipment while evacuating the wounded as an air ambulance. In December of 1944, it participated in the Battle of the Bulge near Bastogne. The crews of 43-48950 served valiantly with the C-47B, doing their part for the war effort.

After its military service, 43-48950 came back to the states like many and went into civilian service. Along with a number of its sister ships, this airplane became part of a fleet of mosquito sprayers in southern Florida. For more than 30 years it could be seen spraying from the sky over towns and swamps. The conversion into a sprayer was pretty simple, as they literally just inserted the spray equipment into the cargo hold and ran the lines to the pods on the wings. Then their sprayer contracts were terminated and the fleet went idle. Luckily for history, the Wings of Dreams Museum in Starke, Florida, was able to acquire a couple of the now DC-3s to preserve their history. Since 2013 they have sat basically idle, waiting for their day to fly again.

That day came on December 2 when Vintage Aero, a division of Turin Aviation in Tampa, Florida, was able to get 43-48950 into the air for a ferry flight back to its facilities. Over the next 18 months, 43-48950 will receive a full restoration and in June 2019 it will participate in the Daks Over Normandy 75th anniversary commemoration, flying over the beaches of Normandy with more than 30 other DC-3s/C-47s. This C-47 is being restored as it appeared in 1943 with great care, preserving all that still remains. The interior of the airplane has all its markings from carrying cargo and stretchers, as well as paratrooper stations and hookups. All the custodians of 43-48590 have done a remarkable job preserving the airplane and its history. Now Vintage Aero will carry on that tradition as the next chapter of this aircraft’s remarkable story is written.

photos by Moose Peterson

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