WWII C-47 finds home in N.O.

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
Perhaps Les can go on a field trip to this museum and take a bunch of pics for us!

WWII C-47 finds home in N.O.

New Orleans bureau
Published: Sep 1, 2006


A C-47 aircraft that played a pivotal role in World War II, including dropping paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne into Normandy on D-Day, landed Thursday at Lakefront Airport and will be moved this month to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

The purchase and restoration of what museum president Nick Mueller called “a true hero of World War II aviation was made possible by Badger Oil Corp. chief executive officer Paul Hilliard of Lafayette and his late wife Lulu.

“Like the Higgins boat, the Sherman tank and the jeep, the C-47 was so important to the success of the war effort that the National World War II Museum would not be complete without it, Mueller said during a press preview for the C-47 also known in civilian aviation as a DC-3 at Lakefront Airport in eastern New Orleans.

This particular C-47, 096, carried Pathfinder paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne into Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, dropped a Pathfinder paratrooper team of the 101st Airborne into German-occupied Holland in Operation Market Garden; flew in a massive resupply mission to the 101st Airborne during the Battle of the Bulge; and took part in Operation Varsity the Rhine Jump in 1945.

But one of the more remarkable aspects of the National World War II Museum's latest artifact, which has seats for 26 paratroopers, is how it was discovered.

We found it on E-Bay. It was a great find, Mueller said, noting that the purchase price was $155,000 and another $50,000 was put into the aircraft to restore it. We think that's a steal. It was purchased from a private owner in Hondo, Texas, with funds donated by the Hilliards.

The public can view the historic cargo aircraft, free, 9 a.m. until noon Saturday at the former Taylor Energy hangar at Lakefront Airport. The first 200 children to arrive will receive Army Air Corps wings.

The museum will present hands-on activities for youth, and World War II re-enactors in authentic paratrooper uniforms will share their extensive knowledge about the war in the air and on the ground.

The C-47 was described by famed war correspondent Ernie Pyle as the workingest airplane in existence ... Almost any pilot would tell you it was the best airplane ever built.

Mueller said the C-47 will be mounted aloft in the museum's Louisiana Memorial Pavilion. To make room for it, an Avenger will be moved from the museum to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, he said.

The museum opened June 6, 2000, as the National D-Day Museum and was renamed in June. After Hurricane Katrina struck Aug. 29, 2005, the museum remained closed until Dec. 1. Once it reopened, it was drawing about 10 visitors a day, Mueller said. Now, the museum is attracting a few hundred a day, he said.

Mueller said the museum's acquisition of the C-47 is a signal that our museum is coming back.

This old city is alive and kicking, he said.

The museum's C-47 was built at the Douglas Aircraft Manufacturing plant in Oklahoma City and delivered to the U.S. Army in April 1944. It arrived in England in May 1944 and flew its first combat mission during the predawn hours of June 6, 1944, as part of Operation Neptune/Overlord: the Allied invasion of Normandy.

The museum was built in New Orleans because historian Stephen Ambrose's interest in local boatbuilder Andrew Jackson Higgins, who designed and built the drop-front landing craft used during the Normandy invasion. Higgins Industries churned out more than 20,000 of the boats from 1941 to 1945. The company built a lot of the landing craft used in all of the amphibious landings of World War II.

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