A flying history of note

Have you ever wondered where Ratanga’s Dakota aircraft came from?

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Date 22 May 2017


Well it has a fascinating history.

The aircraft was built in December 1943 as a Douglas C-47A-DK in Oklahoma City for the United States Air Force. Its serial number was 12205. It later became the property of the United States Army Air Force and was issued with a military serial number 42-92408. This serial number was left unused and the aircraft was transferred to the Royal Air Force under the lend-lease programme as FZ647 "H" (The "H" was the radio call sign). On being impressed into the Royal Air Force, the aircraft was known as a "Dakota Mark 3". On June 5 & 6, 1944 she is confirmed as having been a glider tug with no 512 squadron RAF and was used in "Operation 'Coup de Main' / Operation Tonga",  the first stage of the Airborne assault in the Normandy landings in June 1944.

 In between the main airborne operations of D-Day, Arnhem and the Rhine crossing, it carried out casualty evacuation and general transport duties.

Following the end of hostilities it flew missions to the Middle East before moving to Egypt in early October 1945 and later Italy, from where it flew various routes including Greece, Egypt, Romania, Austria and the UK.  In February 1946, it returned to the UK, was demiltarized and thoroughly overhauled at Scottish Aviation before being sold to THY ( Türk Hava Yolları)Turkish Airlines as TC-EKE on the 25 July 1946.  It served THY faithfully for 12 years until it was sold in 1958 to Ethiopian Airlines and served them for 33 years! During 1969 she was leased to the Ethiopia-United States Mapping Mission to be used in the aerial photography of Ethiopia and Djibouti.. As one of the longest serving of Ethiopian Airlines DC-3's (DC-3 is the civilian version of the military nomenclature, C-47) it was eventually sold in April 1991 to Swaziland-based, Mozambican Airline, Scan Transportes Aéreos as C9-STF.  It carried food throughout Mozambique during the devastating civil war. In mid 1996 she was removed from service, stripped of useful components (to be re-used on other Dakotas)  at Rand Airport, Germiston, and later transported by road to Cape Town for static display at Ratanga Junction.
rnQuite a story, quite a history.