‘Beach City Baby’ flies!

After a five year period of restoration by Vintage Wings Inc. based at  Franklin - Venango Regional Airport (PA), Douglas C-53 41-20095 made its first flight on 14 May 2022. The Skytrooper, a passenger carrying version of the well-known C-47 Skytrain/Dakota, is registered as N34DF, and appropriately christened ‘Beach City Baby’.

The C-53 is a true WW II veteran, produced at Santa Monica (with c/n 04865) and accepted by the USAAC in January 1942. It was initially assigned to Ferry Command but transferred to the North African Wing of Transport Command.

As such, 41-20095 shuttled troops and VIPs over many theatres of operation, and surveyed the routes to and from England. These flights laid the ground for what was to become the so-called North Atlantic Route. This route was to be used by thousands of planes either during their ferry or during the transport of troops and supplies to England.

On 12 November 1942 the C-53 went to North Africa where it supported the Allied invasion known as ‘Operation Torch’. It eventually served with the North African Air Transport Command Wing and took part in the invasions of Sicily and Italy.

After its military career ended the plane was sold to Denmark, flying as OY-DCE initially for Danish Airlines, which later merged into SAS. In October 1952, the machine returned to the USA, becoming N9959F.

Later, registered as N34D, it served the Governor of the of State of Ohio, nicknamed ‘Ohio One’. The plane was eventually donated to the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton (OH) where it was displayed for a long period. During this period the engines were removed by the Ohio University for their own DC-3.

The plane was sold to Kenneth W. Joseph of Canton (OH) with registration N34DF in 1990. He managed to install ‘new’ engines and ferried N34DF to Beach City with the purpose to fully restore the plane. However, for some reason, he failed to do so, and the Skytrooper was slowly deteriorating until obtained by Vintage Wings Inc.

Their five year efforts have now led to the resurrection of a true ‘warbird’. Congratulations!

Photos: Vintage Wings Inc. 

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