History of C-47A Dakota FZ631

C-47A ‘42-92392’ – ‘Freedom’

The 41 year career of C-47A ‘42-92392’ began on December 31 1943, when the aircraft rolled off the Douglas production line in Oklahoma City. Within a month the aircraft was transferred to the United Kingdom to join the Royal Air Force (RAF).

The aircraft served with No. 24 squadron RAF and was used to transport Field Marshal Henry Maitland Wilson, Supreme Allied Commander in the Mediterranean and successor to Dwight D Eisenhower.  During its RAF career the aircraft had the privilege of flying dignitaries such as Winston Churchill and King George VI.

 

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Freedom C-47

 

Following the Second World War the aircraft was allocated to Air Command South East Asia – Communications Unit, based in Singapore. The aircraft served until 1949 where it was sold to Qantas Empire Airways, making its way onto the Australian register as VH-EAN.

In January 1951 the aircaft was cancelled from the Australian Aircraft Register, with the plan of scrapping the aircraft. However, in 1952 Qantas once again returned the aircraft to service.   May 1956 saw a change of registration to VH-EBF and one month later the aircraft was damaged on landing when a trainee pilot applied the toe breaks, tipping the aircraft on its nose.

 

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The aircraft was repaired and returned to service, gaining another registration, VH-EBU.  In 1960 the aircraft was sold to Trans Australian Airlines (TAA) and was registered as VH-SBD.   The aircraft operated in New Guinea as part of the T.A.A. Sunbird services.

 

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Air Niugini purchased the aircraft in 1973, registered as P2-ANO.   By 1975 the aircraft had once again been withdrawn from service and was stored in the open at Port Moresby.   In 1980-1981 the aircraft changed hands a number of times before finding its way to North Queensland, where it was purchased by Bush Pilots Airways, ending its life as a source of parts for Air Queensland.

 

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In 1984 the aircraft became the guardian of Cairns Airport.  The aircraft was painted in Air Queensland colours and mounted on a pole.   Sadly in 2008 the Cairns Port Authority removed the aircraft from the pole for inspection.   The aircraft was found to be badly corroded.  The C-47 was scrapped onsite, with only the nose section surviving.

 

The nose was placed on display at Warbird Adventures in Mareeba before being acquired by David Kingshott as part of Pacific Dakota Restorations.   The nose of this historic aircraft will be preserved and find new life as a Douglas C-47 flight simulator, once again wearing its RAF colours.

 

To find out how the restoration of this aircraft is progressing Click Here