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A DC 3 with an OZ Connection

 

Prepared By – Alistair Heathcote

 

In April 2012 I visited the Pacific Aviation Museum (now called The Pearl Harbor Museum) on Ford Island, Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. My visit was on a Sunday morning and the Museum had just finished towing a DC3 (minus outer wings) from Honolulu International airport to the Museum location!! The tow was carried out during the night when minimal traffic was about. Fortunately most of the trip was along the freeway. (Imagine doing the same from Mascot to Bankstown!) As you can see in the photo we (with youngest grandson) saw it still in the open, just after it had arrived.

In May 2013 I visited the museum again and saw remarkable restoration progress as shown in the next photos. When I introduced myself as an “aviation enthusiast” the restoration guy was only too pleased to show me around. For the flying control surfaces, Stits fabric is used and sewn on to the ribs and spars. Several coats of dope are applied before the rib tapes, then four or five further coats. Randolph colour dope is then applied. (Stits Fabric is like heavy duty Koverall available from Sig)

A can of Rust-oleum primer is used for touch up on metal before final coats (Since my visit I have tried Rust-oleum white primer, which is available in Bunnings, with excellent results – just a bit pricey). It is interesting to note the under camber on the outer aileron structure and the holes in the leading edge skin.

I visited again in November 2015 to see it in primer and having its outer wings fitted prior to full paint job. The photos show the changes. As staff were busy with the wings the area was cordoned off with no access for visitors.

The aircraft will be for static display only and, due to the large amount of restoration work going on in the facility, will not have full interior structure rebuild.

Now fully restored:

HISTORY

  • Built Long Beach 1943 as C47
  • Delivered to 5th Air force at Brisbane – Dec 12 1943
  • Withdrawn from use and transferred to the US Foreign Disposals Commission 1945
  • Sold to Australian National Airways in August 1945
  • Converted to 21 Passenger and entered Australian Register as VH-ANX Dec 1945 named Tarana
  • Worked for various Australian Airlines until prepared for Inter Island Transfer, Hawaii in 1972
  • Departed Melbourne Aug 27 1972 – arrived Honolulu 30th August 1972
  • Leased to GENAVCO AIR CARGO in 1976 (this can just be observed on the first fuselage photo)
  • Registered to GENAVCO in March 1978 and observed under restoration 1983
  • Operated by Aloha Airlines (Hawaii) April 1988 by which time it had flown 51,000 miles
  • Observed with AERO VENEZUELA markings in May 2001(reason not known but it was used as back ground in the Disney Pearl Harbour film in late 1990’s)
  • Withdrawn from use and stored April 2004 and offered for sale
  • Aircraft donated to Pacific Aviation Museum in 2010 and transferred in April 2012

Apologies for some of the photo quality but they were a bit small on the Museum Internet page.             http://www.pacificaviationmuseum.org/    If you explore the website you will see they have an R/C day each year on the airfield runway – it is in June. The Museum is now called Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum

I have enjoyed visiting this restoration site as it is normally completely open and visitors are welcomed to get up close.

Cheers - Alistair