As regular readers will know, we have been following the remarkable efforts of Jason Capra and Vintage Wings Inc. in resurrecting combat-veteran Douglas C-53 Skytrooper 41-20095 over the past few years. They have successfully returned this once-tired and forlorn airframe from its executive transport guise, ground-bound and one foot in the grave at Beach City, Ohio to the magnificent, authentically outfitted beauty she is today in her new home of Franklin, Pennsylvania.
Capra and his team of dedicated volunteers have performed a near-miracle in resurrecting this aircraft on a shoe-string budget – and in such rapid order. They have gone deep into her systems and structure to restore the aircraft back to fully-airworthy condition, complete with a wholly authentic interior. Interestingly, since those working on the aircraft spent so much time in Beach City, Ohio preparing the Skytrooper for her ferry flight to Franklin, where the formal restoration would take place, the aircraft gained the unofficial nickname, Beach City Baby amongst the crew… a name which stuck.
As already noted, Jason Capra wanted to return this aircraft to as close a rendition of her WWII operational appearance as practical. He and his team delved deeply into the aircraft’s history, discovering a number of WWII period photographs from her service in North Africa and Sicily. As a result, they chose to repaint the aircraft in a livery representing the paint scheme she wore in North Africa at the close of 1942/early 1943. During his research, however, Capra never found evidence of the aircraft having worn nose art. Even so, he felt the need to give the aircraft a sense of individuality, the kind which a nickname or nose art can imbue. Furthermore, he also had a strong desire to pay tribute to Beach City Baby’s more recent history, and the efforts of countless volunteers who have breathed new life into the aircraft, saving her from a likely date with a scrapper’s bulldozer. Since the aircraft never wore nose-art during her wartime career, Jason Capra decided he could choose a new design which both reflected the period-authenticity he was seeking, but which also helped tell the story of the aircraft’s new life as Beach City Baby. By placing this new nose-art only on the aircraft’s port side, so the starboard side would still portray a wholly accurate rendition of her wartime past, he felt he had found an adequate compromise between the sometimes conflicting concepts of strict accuracy and period authenticity. To help him with this problem, Capra chose well-known artist Chad Hill, who has significant experience creating and painting nose-art designs, both new and old, for high-profile warbirds. Chad got to work on finding a solution to this problem a couple of years ago, creating the design for Beach City Baby’s new nose art which involved a traditional WWII-era pinup style portrait featuring the likeness of Jason Capra’s fiancée and the name Beach City Baby in a period correct font and style.
With the aircraft nearing completion, Capra decided recently that it was time to apply Beach City Baby’s finished nose-art design on the aircraft, so Chad Hill made the journey to Franklin last week to start the process. He began his work on Friday, June 25th and completed painting the design two days later. The end results are shown below and should speak for themselves… while the name may be new, the look has a marvelous air of period-authenticity to it. We love the result and have to say bravo to all concerned – it will be marvelous to see Beach City Baby back in the air and taking part in air shows across the country!