TRIBUTE TO THE AMERICAN COMBAT GLIDER PILOTS OF WORLD WAR II
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GLIDER TOW SHIPS
Douglas C-47 "Skytrain"
Also known as the "Dakota" by the British
The Douglas DC-3, designated the "C-47" for U.S. military use, is one of the most successful, if not the most successful, aircraft designs in aviation history. Durable and capable of taking considerable damage from attacks, the C-47 towed gliders and carried paratroopers into battle during World War II. Some C-47's used as glider towships, when they went through a U.S. Air Force IRAN Program (Inspect and Repair as Necessary - an aircraft rehabilitation program), after World War II, were found to be as much as four inches longer than the day they left the factory. This stretch was attributed to the stress of towing gliders.
C-47's continue to fly in commercial and military service today. The C-47 saw service in the Korean War and again in Vietnam as a gunship. A USAF aircraft commander who flew the converted C-47's as gunships in Vietnam reports that some of them still had parts of glider tow assemblies from WWII mounted in the fuselage. In the late 1950's, my Father once accompanied a Frontier Airlines pilot on his pre-flight inspection of the DC-3 he was about to pilot from Boise, Idaho to Reno, Nevada. At the aft end of the craft, Dad pointed out to the pilot the remains of a glider tow assembly, something the pilot said they were never told about when qualifying in the aircraft.
C-46 Curtis "Commando"
C-47 with invasion markings prominently displayed to allow for easier identification, mostly by ground troops. These markings were intended to avoid casualties and damage from "friendly fire," following the U.S. Navy's mistaken attack on Allied air convoys carrying troops in the invasion of Sicily.
A C-47 taking off with a Waco in tow.
Paratroopers bailing out of C-47s
A Liberator - Thunderbird Squadron. Location unknown. Bombers were sometimes used as tow ships. Photo courtesy of Mary Martin and Troy Wynne - From Donald D. Martin's collection.
Undignified end for a proud bird
The C-47 -- one of the best -- perhaps the best -- aircraft ever to fly
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