It has been 75 years since the largest seaborne invasion was executed by the allied forces to release the choke hold on Europe by the Nazi regime. In conjunction with the beach invasion over 13,000 paratroopers were to be dropped behind the enemy lines to seize key objectives such as bridges and road crossings to ensure that the amphibious assault could establish a beach head and spread quickly into Normandy and beyond.
The main aircraft that was used to transport the troopers across the English Channel and over to Normandy was the Douglas C-47 Skytrain. The C-47 was developed from the civilian DC-3 Dakota and differs from the passenger aircraft by the fitting of a cargo door, hoist attachment, strengthened floor, shortened tail cone for glider -towing shackles and an astrodome in the cabin roof.
The C-47 was not the only variant that was on display at Daks Over Duxford. The list below shows these variants and their home country.
Douglas DC-3 Dakota
N25641 ‘Liberty’ - JB Air Services LLC (USA)
N877MG - Historic Flight Foundation (USA)
N24320 ‘Miss Montana’ - Museum of Mountain Flying (USA)
SE-CFP ‘Daisy’ - Flying Veterans Foundation (Sweden)
OH-LCD - Airveteren Ltd (Finland)
N33611 ‘Clipper Tabitha May’ - PMFG Flight Operations LLC (USA)
N431HM Hugo Mathys (Switzerland)
F-AZOX ‘Chalair’ - Association ‘Un Dakota sur la Normandie’ (France)
N18121 ‘The Great Silver Fleet’ - Blue Skies Air LLC (USA)
N341A Golden Age Air Tours (USA)
Douglas C-47 Skytrain
N88874 ‘That’s All Brother’ - Central Texas Wing Commemorative Air Force (USA)
N47SJ ‘Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber’ - Goony Bird Corp (USA)
N47E ‘Miss Virginia’ – Dynamic Aviation (USA)
N150D ‘101st Airbourne Tribute – Hugo Mathys (Switzerland)
N103NA ‘Flabob Express’ – Flabob Aviation Associates (USA)
N62CC ‘Virginia Ann’ Mission Boston D-Day LLC (USA)
N74589 ‘Placid Lassie’ – Tunison Foundation (USA)
N147DC ‘Mayfly’ Aces High (UK)
OY-BPB ‘Gamie Dame’ Foreningen for Flyvende Museumsfly (Denmark)
Douglas C-53 Skytrooper
N45366 ‘D-Day Doll’ – Inland Empire Wing Commemorative Air Force (USA)
N8336C ‘Spirit of Benovia’ – Benovia Winery (USA)
LN-WND – Dakota (Norway)
HA-LIX ‘Karman Todor’ – Goldtimer Foundation (Hungary)
Over the two main days of Daks Over Duxford, 4th and 5th June, there was an opportunity to see all these aircraft complete a variety of flights and displays. There was a flexibility to the flying display aspect as the weather would play a big part in the paradrop that was planned, which was sadly cancelled.
Other than the visiting Dakotas there was a showcase of aircraft types that were involved as part of the airborne invasion both before, during and after the 6th June 1944. The Taylorcraft Aeroplane Ltd Auster was used as an Air Observation Post during D-Day and the two Austers that flew battled against the wind to put on a spirited display.
A mix of World War II fighter aircraft flew individual displays, including the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, Nellie B flown by Paul Bonhomme, two North American P-51 Mustangs and a Grumman FM-2 Wildcat. A pair of Supermarine Spitfires completed a close formation display, both wearing D-Day stripes and the single seat Spitfire, ML407, was particularly interesting, as it is credited with the first kill in support of the D-Day operations.
An interesting flypast to celebrate the 75th anniversary was flown by the 352nd Special Operations Wing from RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk. Completing a formation flypast with six Lockheed Martin MC-130Js and six Boeing CV-22 Ospreys.
The 5th June saw the mass departure of the aircraft to fly over and drop their troops on sites in Normandy. There were not only volunteers who would be parachuting into France but the RAF Red Devils and the US Army Golden Knights would be completing tandem jumps with veterans from D-Day. Seeing the veterans walk to their aircraft and the sight and sound of that many Dakotas taxiing, departing and overflying was an unforgettable experience.