An imposing sight greets visitors as they walk into the hangar of our museum. Fifteen feet above the museum floor is the nose of our venerated Douglas C 47; it is so far off the ground and so close to the entrance that one must walk around to take it all in. Some may mistake her as a wallflower compared to her sleek sister, our B-25 Champaign Gal, but this sturdy, versatile, gentle giant was every bit as critical to the war effort as any other warbird.
It is an imposing sight and visitors are quite surprised at the length and the wingspan of this airplane!
It has often been said when the second-to-last-airplane is flown to the scrap yard, a C 47 will fly in to pick up the crew. In typical workhorse fashion, as the 75th anniversary of the design’s first flight was observed in July, 2010, many of the surviving fleet were still working for a living. And though our museum’s C47 has reached the retirement age of 66 years, we plan a lot of activity for her golden years.
True, this airplane sat for a few years at Rickenbacker Airport in Columbus, Ohio , but it flew in to Grimes Airfield in July, 2008. Preparations for the brief ferry flight included borrowing a pair of propellers from our B 17, fresh fabric for her elevators, and some other details but aside from that she made the flight in fine fettle. Walking through the interior it is clear this was a working airplane but there is no doubt, she could fly soon with little more than the usual pre flight.
Too many people disregard the role of these airplanes in winning the war, distracted by the sleek fighters and imposing bombers. But the C47 carried troops, jeeps, and vittles; was an observer airplane; towed gliders; in short, she did everything asked of her and more. The US Postal Service has a current advertisement with the phrase, “If it fits, it ships.” It is easy to apply that same thought to the C47. If you could get it through the cargo doors, it flew! In the Viet Nam War, she was among the first of the Gunships. The type is in regular service yet today.
Our airplane’s construction number is 25720 and she was built in 1944. We are in the process of updating our records on her history. Stay tuned for further information on this wonderful airplane and our plans for her restoration! Better yet, come on over to our museum and walk through this piece of history!