At Caboolture Air field in Queensland a new Warbird restoration project has emerged to restore a genuine WW11 veteran, USAAF C47A to airworthy condition in full service configuration as a flying memorial to the service of those who flew in WW11 in the type.
The aircraft is a Douglas Dakota C-47A-30-DK and was manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Corporation and construction was completed at the Oklahoma City plant in 1943 – it was serialed 14050/25495. There were two manufacturer’s serials for the aircraft due to serial conflicts with other production of aircraft, so a second had to be allocated. The aircraft carried the tail number 43-48234 in USAAF service and was assigned to the Pacific theatre of operations during the war with U. S. Transport Command.
The records from there are a little sketchy, but the aircraft is known to have served with the 5th Air Force in Australia and the Pacific including time in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the Philippines. Some reports have the C47A serving with the 317th Troop Carrier Group (“The Jungle Skippers”), 39th Squadron coded as X6A, however this is not confirmed as yet and extensive enquiries are being conducted to confirm the exact details.
The C47A also served in Korea and the Pacific, post war and was eventually disposed of in 1947 when it was sold to the Australian Government and moved from Manila to Australia becoming VH-DMV, March 26, 1947 and registered to Department of Civil Aviation. Due to a registration policy change, VH-DMV was re-registered as VH-CAO on February 9, 1951. During service with the Commonwealth the aircraft was operated and serviced for D.C.A. by Trans Australia Airlines until March 10, 1962.
On March 10, 1962, VH-CAO was sold to Brain & Brown Air Freighters and re-registered as VH-BAB again on the same day, March 10, 1962. Work was then done to convert the aircraft to freighter configuration and it then operated as such until it was cancelled from the register in 1972 and overhauled.
On February 11, 1975 the C47 returned to the Australian civil register as VH-BAB and in November 1976 it was registered to Air Express Holdings Pty Ltd. In 1979 it was again withdrawn from use and sold to Chewing Gum Field Aircraft Museum, Tallebudgera, Queensland, being delivered to the Museum in July 21, 1979.
Whilst at the Museum the C47A was returned as far as possible to an approximation of its WW11 color scheme and carried the markings ‘348234’ – coded ‘X6A’ and named ‘Jungle Skippers’. When the museum closed the aircraft was relocated to Drages Airworld, Wangaratta, Victoria but the color scheme was slightly altered as ‘X16A’ and renamed ‘Oklahoma Gal’. In January 2002 the Airworld Museum ceased operations and the aircraft was then sold by its owners Wangaratta Council at auction. The aircraft was finally acquired by Mike Spalding of Warbird Adventures Mareeba Qld for full restoration. The Dakota has spent the last years on outdoor display at Mareeba airport.
Recently the aircraft was acquired by Pacific Dakota Restorations, a not for profit organization founded by Dave Kingshott. Dave has extensive experience in Warbird aircraft restoration and is Manager & Chief Engineer at Complete Aircraft Care at Caboolture Qld. It is the intention of Pacific Dakota Restorations to return this classic C47 to its WW11 configuration and paint scheme and operate it as a flying memorial. The work will be carried out at Caboolture Queensland.
During the work commencing 8th December 2014, a team from Caboolture dismantled the aircraft and loaded it onto 3 trucks for the 2,000Km journey to Caboolture a feat of endurance in its own right!
The aircraft left Mareeba on the 14th of December 2014 and arrived at Caboolture at 9.00 am on the 17th of December 2014, following the nearly 2,000Km road trip – an epic in its own right. After the arrival at Caboolture Pacific Dakota Restorations will be restoring the aircraft back to airworthy condition. Once airworthy the aircraft will be flown around the country as a flying memorial to those who fought in WW2 and used extensively for education work, inspiring people to believe in their dreams and allow people to get close to a piece of history.
The aircraft will be based with the Caboolture Heritage Warplane Museum, allowing the public daily access to the aircraft throughout the restoration and its future operations.
If you would like more information please feel free to contact Dave Kingshott at Pacific Dakota Restorations 0448 013 659 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Should anyone be able to assist with any information on this fantastic aircraft we would encourage you to contact us at Warbirds Online or Dave Kingshott direct. I am sure you will agree that it is vital that we gather any and all historic information and photographs on Douglas Dakota C-47A-30-DK now before it is lost.
© John Parker 2014