C-47 #43-15073 : an important witness to our history
On 29 January 1944 a C-47 troop transport aircraft left the Douglas factory in Long Beach, California. She wore the serial number 19539 and entered the fleet of the US Army Air Force, serial number 43-15073. She cost the American tax payer $109,663.
From the time she became part of the 9th US Army Air Force, she crossed the Atlantic and arrived in the United Kingdom via West Africa. Assigned to the 440st Troop Carrier Group she took part in multiple exercises in support of the American Expeditionary Corps, in preparation for the invasion along the coast of Normandy. On 6th June she crossed the channel towards the Cotentin Peninsula and dropped paratroops of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (101st Airborne Division) south of Sainte-Mere- Eglise. Throughout the battle of Normandy she flew supply sorties using temporary landing strips, returning to the UK with wounded soldiers.
In August 1944 she took part in operations in Provence, in September she carried men of the 82nd Airborne Division to Nijmegen to capture the bridge that led to Arnhem, the operation immortalised in the Film ’A Bridge Too Far’. She was hit several times by enemy fire. Some months later on 27 December 1944, riddled by flak, She and her crew were very nearly lost.
At the end of the war she was sold to a Czechoslovakian airline who refitted her for civil use and made her the pride of the fleet. Repurchased by the French Air Force in March 1960 she was sold again in 1972 to the Yugoslavian army. At a base near Sarajevo, where she was used for many years as static instructional airframe, she was machine-gunned during the war that engulfed the Balkans but luckily survived the conflict.
At the beginning of 2007, the Association for the Management of the Merville Battery discovered the existence of this plane, unveiled her history and launched the operation ’Saving C-47 #43-15073’, designed for the repatriation, restoration and display of the plane to the public, in Normandy.

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July, 27, 2013
The cockpit, left hand side view.

Rot away or the breakers yard
Is this to be the unenviable destiny of this exceptional plane and her unique heritage? This fails to take into account the enthusiasm and willingness of the volunteers of the Merville Battery, people who do not want to see this icon of our modern history disappear. Similar to the aircraft that dropped our brave paratroops of the 9th Battalion at Merville. It is just a blink of an eye to the other flank of the allied invasion and the American paratroops of the 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles). After D Day, she would take part in all the major airborne operations leading up to the fall of the 3rd Reich : Dragoon, Market, Repulse, Varsity. From the landings in Normandy to operations in Provence, from the battle at Nijmegen to the siege of Bastogne and the crossing of the Rhine she is a veritable piece of history, and an invitation to remember and to reflect on the price paid to regain freedom.
The plane's green light was the signal for paratroopers to jump. The C-47 was known as the "workhorse of World War 2" and should not be cut up for scrap. It's a symbol of those brave aircrews and men of the U.S. 82nd/101st and British 6th Airborne Divisions that forever rest in the fields of Normandy. To scrap it would be the same as turning our backs on history and the great sacrifice that these men made.
With your help, we will save C-47 #43-15073.
© Merville Dakota 2007 - 2024