Some say an aircraft acquires her ‘personality’ only after nose art is applied. On Saturday October 27th, combat-veteran Douglas C-47B Skytrain 43-48950 received hers, becoming Hit or Miss, thanks to the capable hands of aviation artist Joel Iskowitz.
This Skytrain rolled off Douglas Aircraft’s Oklahoma City production line in 1943, and joined the U.S. Army Air Forces soon after. After some time state-side, she flew the northern ferry route to England to join the war effort. She became part of the famous IX Troop Carrier Command, which assigned her to the 52nd Troop Carrier Wing, 315th Troop Carrier Group, 34th Troop Carrier Squadron. The C-47 arrived at her unit just a few days after D-Day in June, 1944, and while she didn’t participate in the initial invasion of Axis Europe, she did take part in nearly every operation which the 34th was involved with through the end of the war. These included the paratroop and glider drops of Market Garden in the low countries, bringing in desperately needed supplies during the Battle of the Bulge, and Operation Varsity, with the crossing of the Rhine. Outside of paratrooper missions, the Skytrain also transported food, clothing, medicine, gasoline, and various ordnance to supply the front lines, while also evacuating wounded soldiers on return journeys.
After her military service, 43-48950 returned to the United States and, like many of her kind, eventually entered civilian service. Along with several other C-47s, 43-48950 became part of a fleet of mosquito sprayers in the Lee County Mosquito Control District, Fort Myers, Florida. Her conversion into a sprayer was pretty simple, with the spray equipment simply placed into the cargo hold, with lines run out to pods on the wings. For over 30 years she kept the mosquitos at bay, spraying from the skies over Floridian towns and swamps. Eventually the Mosquito fleet was idled, but thankfully, the Wings of Dreams Museum saved a few of them at their home in Starke, Florida. Although not regularly active during this time, the C-47s were at least able to await the possibility of flying again.
Vintage Aero, a division of Zephyrhills Turin Aviation, took 43-48950 under their wing, restoring the C-47 back to flying condition under the supervision of Ed Franco and several young A&P mechanics. “We came a long way, and we couldn’t be happier with what we have accomplished so far. We are almost there, and everything should be ready soon to start flying the airplane in preparation for next year’s trip to Normandy” said Franco.
On December 2nd, 2017, Vintage Aero had 43-48950 back in the air for a ferry flight back to their facilities. They then got to work on completing the restoration, striving to have the aircraft fully operational in time to participate in Daks Over Normandy, celebrating the 75th anniversary of D-Day by flying a fleet of C-47s back to Normandy in June, 2019. Vintage Aero is restoring 43-48950 back into the same wartime stock condition, preserving all of the original details that still remain on the airframe. Amazingly, the aircraft’s interior still retains nearly all of the interior markings from carrying cargo and stretchers, paratrooper station and hookups. 43-48590’s custodians have done a remarkable job of preserving both the plane and her history. Vintage Aero will continue that tradition as the next chapter of this remarkable aircraft is written.
This is an important mission, and we invite readers to support this airplane at Vintage Aero’s website.