The Aircraft

Douglas DC-3 (C-47 Skytrain / Dakota (N473DC)

  • Douglas DC-3 (C-47 Skytrain / Dakota
  • Operator: Aero Legends.
  • Year of Manufacture: 1944
  • Powered by: X2 Pratt & Whitney engines
  • Colour Scheme: USAAF – 42-100882, code 3X-P, ‘Drag ‘em Oot’

Aero Legends ‘Drag ’em Oot’, is a 1944 C-47 Douglas Sky Train. This Douglas C-47 c/n 19345, was delivered to the United States Army Air Force on 28 December 1943 and had serial 42-100882 assigned. She joined operations with 87th Troop Carrier Squadron based at Greenham Common in England equipped as glider pick up, her crew named her ‘Drag ‘em Oot’ (slang for ‘Drag Them Out’).

She participated in the air assault during D-Day when at 00:46 on 06 June 1944 she dropped 18 paratroopers of the US 82nd Airborne Division just behind the Normandy beach heads, near St. Mere Église. She returned safe to the UK and after a second mission that very same day, she started to resupply the troops in France.

In September 1944 she was transferred to the Royal Air Force, designated a Dakota C.3 and assigned the British serial TS422. Once with the RAF she was assigned to Number 1 Heavy Glider Servicing Unit, attached to 38 Group RAF at Netheravon, Wiltshire. The RAF wanted to have a specialist glider recovery unit and TS422 started recovering Horsa assault gliders from the Normandy beach heads as soon as she joined the RAF. The unit recovered about 40 Horsa’s prior to Operation Market Garden. TS422 herself was just like the Horsa’s she recovered from the Normandy beaches, in action during the biggest Para-dropping in history: Operation Market Garden in September 1944. During this mission the pilot must have been severely wounded considering this Dakota was found to have signs of 12 bullet holes on the top of her cockpit and nose; probably caused by being attacked by a German fighter at some point but this Dakota warbird could take a beating. She was repaired and in August 1945 she joined 435 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force which had just returned from Burma to the UK.

After the war ended the Dakota left for Canada, where she served with the RCAF as a trainer, a transport and whilst equipped with skis and jato rockets, as a search and rescue aircraft.

After her fruitful military career she ended up in the USA, serving with various civilian companies, being registered as N5831B.  She was then grounded for a few years until Paddy Green found her in Arizona upon his search for a C-47 to be restored as a WW2 veteran.
Following an inspection (plenty of DC-3 / C-47 hulks around but most are in deplorable shape when inspected thoroughly) she was purchased and prepared to a condition suitable for the long ferry flight back to England. The flight to Liverpool took 7 days and 35 hours flying time, but occurred without any technical problems.

Once in the UK she was registered N473DC and repainted in the livery she now appears in: the original markings as worn during her missions on D-Day 1944 with USAAF serial 42-100882 and coded 3X-P, nicknamed ‘Drag ‘em Oot’ then piloted by Bill Allin.

‘Drag ’em Oot’ will be kept in military trim and used by Aero Legends in a number of roles including parachuting, air displays and in support of the soon to be launched re-enactment business – Combat Legends Ltd. ‘Drag ’em Oot’ will remain hangared at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre for the foreseeable future.

Large image: Richard Paver
Small image: Darren Harbar