D-Day invasion leader found
The transport aircraft that led the D-Day invasion of Normandy more than 70 years ago has been rediscovered in an aircraft boneyard in Wisconsin. Believed lost to history, the aircraft was slated to be cut apart and remanufactured as a modern BT-67 turboprop. The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is launching a Kickstarter funding campaign to save and restore the C-47 to flying condition.
Five hours before the D-Day beach landings began, That’s All, Brother led a formation of more than 800 aircraft dropping 13,000 paratroopers behind enemy lines. Historic film, shot as the aeroplane departs on its D-Day mission, shows it was equipped with an early form of airborne radar to guide the invasion force to the drop zone.
The C-47, 42-92847, was named That’s All, Brother as a personal message to Adolf Hitler that, with the Allied invasion of Europe, his plans were done.
The CAF has negotiated for the opportunity to acquire That’s All, Brother from Basler Turbo Conversions of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The company had purchased the airframe to convert into a modern BT-67 turboprop and was unaware of its lineage until a researcher alerted them to its huge historical significance.
As part of the agreement the CAF must complete its purchase of That’s All, Brother by August 31.
After returning from the initial drop of 101st Airborne Division paratroopers on D-Day, That’s All, Brother towed a glider to Normandy, carrying essential supplies and men of the 82nd Airborne Division into the heart of the battle. It remained on combat status throughout the European campaign, participating in Operation Market Garden, the relief of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge and the crossing of the Rhine River. After the war it was sold surplus and, passing through 16 civilian owners, its story was forgotten.
The CAF plans to faithfully restore That’s All, Brother to airworthy condition, representing its exact configuration on D-Day. It will be a “flying classroom”, allowing schoolchildren and other visitors to board the aircraft and sit in the original paratrooper seats. Inside the darkened plane, hidden speakers and sensors will carry people back in time to the night of 5–6 June 1944.
The C-47 will be based in Dallas as a centrepiece of CAF’s new national aviation museum attraction. It will also be available to attend major national commemoration events, airshows and flyovers. The CAF also plans to fly the aircraft to Europe in the summer of 2019 to participate in the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the last opportunity for living veterans to attend a major commemoration event.
- Report by John King, photograph supplied.
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