CWHM C-47 Dakota restored to Second World War RCAF colours

Dakota FZ692 C GRSB at CWHM

Dakota FZ692 C-GRSB at CWHM as it appeared in April.

The Douglas C-47 Dakota Mk. III of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is now looking just as it did when it flew with 437 RCAF Squadron during the Second World War. Dakota FZ692/C-GRSB, a true D-Day veteran, underwent extensive maintenance at the museum during the past year, including overhaul of the engines.

The ‘Dak’ is making a strong impression with a fresh coat of paint, applied with the help of KF Aerospace. A formal dedication will be held on July 6, Air Force Day at the museum. A month before that, the aircraft will take flight to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. On August 28, it will be among the highlights of the Community Charity Airshow at Brantford.

This aircraft has undoubtedly earned the accolades in light of an impressive history. It was originally built in 1943 for the USAAF. Delivered to the RAF as FZ692 in February 1944, it served in 233 Squadron and was one of 30 aircraft from the squadron that flew in D-Day operations. CAHS member Bill Cumming, Volunteer Editor of CWHM Flightlines, noted it was piloted that night by Canadian Warrant Officer J.S.R. McCrae of Agassiz, BC.

In September 1944, FZ692 joined No. 437 Squadron RCAF. Bill noted it flew numerous wartime operations in and around Europe. FZ692 participated in Operation Varsity, the major airborne operation of the crossing of the Rhine River. It operated in Europe until May 1946, when the squadron returned to Canada.

The transport was officially taken on strength with the RCAF in August, 1946. It then served in a variety of training roles, including supply and live-para drops, as well as towing Waco gliders, and later search and rescue. In 1970, after the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces, FZ692 was renumbered as 12945. It served with No. 424 Squadron at CFB Trenton and among other things performed a JATO ignition at the 1970 Canadian National Exhibition Air Show. It was struck off strength in 1973.

The final chapter in a storied history, as traced by Bill, saw the Dakota operated briefly as a cargo aircraft by Gilley Airways Corporation, registered N91GA. Then it returned to Canada, to the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources in Ottawa as C-GRSB. Between the late 1970s and into the early 1990s, numerous modifications, mainly for test equipment in the cabin and also including a modified nose, were completed by Innotech Aviation in Toronto. C-GRSB finished its career in environmental and energy surveys and development of survey equipment.
The government ultimately donated the Dakota to the CWHM and it was flown to Hamilton on May 22, 2014. “One of the things in our favour is we had committed to repatriate her to the 1944 livery ad keep the aircraft flying,” said museum CEO Dave Rohrer.

The C-47 is the only real combat veteran in the museum’s fleet. It shares the famous heritage of Douglas twin-engined aircraft with the museum’s DC-3, registered C-GDAK, which became part of the collection in 1981. The DC-3 proudly wears the ‘Canucks Unlimited’ colours of the RCAF’s No. 435 and 436 Squadrons that operated in Burma in 1944-45.

Report and photos by Gord McNulty, CAHS Vice President

CWHM Dakota FZ692 C GRSB was refinished this winter

CWHM Dakota FZ692 C-GRSB was refinished this winter into
437 Squadron markings.

C 47 Dakota C GRSB after its May 22 2014 arrival

C-47 Dakota C-GRSB after its May 22, 2014 arrival at the
CWHM in Hamilton.