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Douglas C-47 Skytrain
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One of the 25 airplanes that won it
still flying 70 years after victory.

AIR&SPACE Smithsonian, May 2015
13:48 4/21/2015
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I'd Rather Be Flying From Hangar 18
in the...
Douglas C-47 Skytrain
(Featuring some of the Ol'Kunnel's favorite airplanes!)

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Gooney Bird Action on D-Day

    It is 12:30 a.m. on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
    By the light of a full moon, Douglas C-47 Skytrains from the 89th Troop Carrier Squadron, 438th Troop Carrier Group, pass over the Normandy countryside.
These aircraft are among 850 C-47s preparing to drop over 15,000 paratroops behind German lines to participate in the initial assault in the D-Day invasion.
    General Dwight D. Eisenhower declared the C-47 one of the few pieces of equipment "vital to our success in Africa and Europe."
    The aircraft itself, however, would have meant nothing without the fearless airborne forces, who at the signal "Green light! Jump!" parachuted into the battle.
04/22/2017 1352

Angoville-au-Plain, France
    Early in the morning on D-Day, allied paratroopers dropped all over the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy in preparation of the beach landings that would happen after sunrise. The U.S. 101st Airborne Division parachuted in behind Utah Beach with the mission of destroying a German strategic route near the tiny hamlet of Angoville-au-Plain, and the village became the site of an intense battle.
    Amid the fighting, a pair of U.S. Army medics from the 501st regiment, Bob Wright and Ken Moore, set up an aid station in the hamlet’s 700-year-old church La Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine. Here, they treated both allied and German soldiers. The pews were used as makeshift beds, and the bloodstains from wounded soldiers can be seen _even _today.
    Wright and Moore braved the battlefield looking for wounded to bring back to the church and treat. The brave medics refused to allow weapons inside of the church, and soldiers on both sides heeded their request. At one time, a mortar shell fell through the roof of the church, shattering a floor tile, but it did not hit anyone and it did not explode. Perhaps the place was truly blessed.
    Two days after D-Day, two German soldiers emerged from hiding in the belfry and promptly surrendered.
    Paraphased from Atlas Obscura. All rights reserved.

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    In 1964, taking off from Bien Hoa AB, South Vietnam, the Douglas FC-47 (later redesignated AC-47) gunship, attacks enemy sampans, buildings, trails, and suspected jungle staging areas.

Pilot and Crew Memories
My grandfather was Lt. LeRoy Ruud, he flew a C-47 and was stationed in China and flew a lot of missions over the hump. If anyone knows anything about him please email me, Thank You!
09:45 6/5/2004
While surfing, I was happy to see that not everyone has forgotten the Gooney-bird.

I flew my first one in Feb 1943.  Actually it was not a real Gooney. The army had commandeerd a squadron of DC-3s from the airlines to use in transition training. Some of them still were made up as sleepers, complete with blankets and mattresses, believe it or not. We always flipped to see who could be first in the cockpit and then could doze on one of the comfortable bunks for the rest of the flight.  We flew eight transition pilots per flight, for approximately one hour at the controls. Our instructor pilots were airline pilots who apparently were commandeered with the aircraft.  They loved the airplane. And why not? One of them , in describing the characteristics of the bird cautioned us that there were two things not to try with the bird. That was to fly low and slow. Later on I found that he must have been talking about the DC-3 and not the Gooney. I went on to fly it through part of the North African campaign: Sicily and Italy, CG-4s and all, D-day with the 82nd, the British and the Poles and sundry things for the rest of WarII. I was there with the Gooney in Korea and the Indo-China conflict (later known as the Vietnam thing).

Of course I have flown many other aircraft the army and the Air Force provided. But when I think of flying in those days cannot forget my more than 10,000 SAFE hrs in the Gooney. Some of them; as an example, the shuddering shithouse (please excuse he expression but I cannot find a term more apt), the C119 which had a tendency to catch fire at rather frequent intervals, I would rather not have in my memory.

Anyway, I want to thank you for not forgetting our bird.

Memories of Ben Cole, September 2, 1998
September 1998

Thumbnail List
  1. Troop Carrier with D-Day Markings
  2. Douglas FC-47 (later redesignated AC-47) on display at the USAF Museum at Dayton, Ohio.
  3. A 'Gooney' Awaiting a Tasking.
  4. C-47s and Navy R4D unload at Tempelhof during the Berlin Airlift.
  5. The civilian drafted into the war version.
  6. Be sure to read my D-Day blurp.
  7. Over ice and snow we go!
  8. Eastern Air Lines DC-4.
* Interesting Facts
  • Kept same basic DC-3 throughout its history
  • Awarded the 1935 Collier Trophy
  • Built Under license by Fokker [Holland], Amtorg [USSR], Nakajima [Japan], and Airspeed {Britain]
  • Nicknamed, variously, "Gooney Bird," "Dak," "Tabby," "Spooky," "Puff the Magic Dragon"
  • Featured as ski-equipped system in 1951 sci-fi film "The Thing From Another World"
  • Appeared [as C-53 Skytrooper] in airdrop sequences of 1977 film "A Bridge Too Far"
  • One tested as a glider, after removal of engines
--From AIR FORCE Magazine, February 2013

The Ol'Kunnel's Last Flight
I could not help remembering while updating this page, my flight in the Gooney. It was while I was stationed in Rome, Italy, with the Military Assistance Advisory Group. That was back in 1956.
The Air Attache had a C-47 which we used to take a flight north to Leghorn [Livorno]. There was an Army Post complete with PX and Commissary; and, since we had no such facilities in Rome, we would take the opportunity to stock up on American goodies. This included refrigerators, auto tires and such, plus whatever we thought we would need.
Well, we took off from the Rome airport and headed north the pilot getting in some flying time and perhaps some training. On the way, he cut the power to the port engine but the Gooney just kept up the pace. You can't keep such a work of flying art down. [g]
There were about 10 of us aboard and after we 'ramsacked' the PX and commisary we loaded our loot and prepared to leave. The 'loot' included a couple of refrigerators and lots of other heavy stuff. We were packed to the rafters. The pilot looked out from the cockpit and said, "Well, I guess we can take off." Of course, the old Gooney came through with no trouble at all. However, I was a bit nervous in the service. [g]
-- Bob Clarke aka the Ol'Kunnel

15:06 2/9/2013
Hello Bob
My dad flew C-47, C-46 and what else who knows over the Hump. Was rated for four engine Aircraft also. Looking for any info on him. Or any one who knew him. His name is Charles(Charlie) Ervin Giles and was a Lt. Col. When he left the Army Air Corps at Wright/ Patterson field in 1946? Was in Burma and North Africa. I am Waiting for NARA to reply, The check is in the mail.
Thanks For your site. Enjoyed it very much
William C. Giles

Hello, Bill...
Many thank you for your message concerning the Gooney Bird. I hope that you will receive a lot of cards/letters from other folks associated with this fine aircraft. Let's hope they join us in the I'd Rather Be Flying! forum today.
Cordially, Bob....
14:31 3/2/2000

        If I had anything to do with designing an airplane, it would bear a model number which included "47." Four seven, in that order, is a winning combination. There was the Boeing 247D, the first all-metal, low-wing, multi-engine airliner; it lopped seven hours off coast-to-coast airline schedules and outran the Army's hottest fighters. And North American's O-47, the most widely used prewar observation aircraft. The Boeing B-47, Douglas C-47, Republic P-47, and Boeing 747 are pure gold, of course, not to forget the Bell 47 helicopter, some 5,000 of which were built during 27 years of continuous production. I cannot think of a single flying lemon that bore the number, "47."

--"View From The Cockpit" by Len Morgan, Copyright © 1985.

The Ol'Kunnel comments: Me, two! (grin)

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