The C-47 transport aircraft that led the D-Day invasion of Normandy, more than
70 years ago was rediscovered last year in Basler Turbo Conversion’s boneyard right here in Oshkosh. It was slated to be cut apart and remanufactured as a modern BT-67 turbo-prop, but its historical significance was recognized in time. Restoration to flying condition is under way by the The Commemorative Air Force (CAF), and it is planned to fly it in Europe in summer of 2019 for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
The Tinker Belle
Five hours before the beach landings in Normandy began, more than 13,000 paratroopers were dropped behind enemy lines. “Thatʼs All, Brother” was the lead of 800 aircraft for the massed parachute assault formation. It was named as a personal message to Adolf Hitler that, with the Allied invasion of Europe, his plans were done. Here it is framed by C-46F Curtiss Commando “The Tinker Belle.”.
The Largest At Its Time
At the time of its production, the C-46 was the largest twin-engine aircraft in the world, and was the largest and heaviest twin-engine aircraft to see service in World War II. After the war, a few surplus C-46 aircraft were briefly used in their originally designated role as passenger airliners, but the glut of surplus C-47s dominated the marketplace and the C-46 was soon relegated to primarily cargo duty.
One Of A Kind
The Tinker Belle is a 1945 C-46F Commando unusually owned by a municipality—the City of Monroe, NC. It is the only military painted C-46 currently flying in the U.S.
Tinker Belle is owned by the city of Monroe, NC, which uses the aircraft to attract tourists and promote the city. The aircraft will be featured at the Warbirds Over Monroe, November 11 -16, 2016.
The U.S. Coast Guard operates a fleet of 18 EADS (now Airbus Military) CN-235 transport aircraft as the HC-144 Ocean Sentry for medium-range surveillance missions, including maritime patrol, drug and migrant interdiction, disaster response and search and rescue. The brightly painted one here is from Mobile, Alabama, where, coincidentally, Airbus has set up a U.S. final assembly line for its Airbus A320 family of airliners. The first U.S.-made A321 was delivered to JetBlue earlier this year and is due to arrive at EAA on Tuesday.
A numbers game? The Customs and Border Patrol uses a variety of aircraft to keep the bad guys out, including this smartly-painted Sikorsky Black Hawk. Curiously, it’s civil FAA N-number is listed as “unassigned,” and a close-up look revealed a previous identity as 27170. Perhaps it is easier for civil-registered aircraft to cross borders if they have to, while doing the same in a military aircraft could cause an international incident.
Yingling Adds Enhancements
After unveiling the comprehensively remanufactured Ascend 172 light single engine aircraft at last year’s EAA AirVenture, Yingling Aviation has taken another step in narrowing the gap between new and renovated airplanes by incorporating a number of customer-requested enhancements into the 2016 version of the airplane it is displaying here.
The Whole (Avionics) Package
Yingling’s remanufactured Ascend 172 features a Garmin G500 EFIS and a GTX 345 ADS-B Out and In transponder as part of an extensively upgraded avionics package.
Weather delayed many arrivals but some of the exhibiting aircraft arrived early at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2016.
John has led Aviation Week's ShowNews, the best-read daily news magazine of aerospace trade shows, for nearly two decades. His background in business journalism before joining Aviation Week includes stints at Reuters, the American Banker daily banking newspaper and as business news editor at the Milwaukee Journal and the Cincinnati Enquirer.