Merville Battery: Dakota Aeroplane

This aircraft which is displayed at the Merville Battery was not involved in the assault on the battery during D-Day. It is an example of the C-47 aircraft used by 46 Group Royal Air Force to deliver the British 9th Parachute Battalion to drop zone VICTOR, some 3km from Merville, prior to the assault on the Battery on the night of 4th/5th June 1944.

The British gave the name “Dakota” to the C-47. It bears American markings because it was used by the USAAF to drop American paratroops to the south of Sainte-Mère-Église that same night.

RAF aircraft bore the distinctive roundel on the wings and oblong on the tail plane.

The C-47 is based on the civilian Douglas DC-3. The Douglas revolutionised air travel because it had a carrying capacity, a speed and a level of comfort well above those of its predecessors. The U.S. military quickly became interested in the DC-3 and more than 10,000 military C-47 versions were produced from 1938 onwards.

In the months leading up to D-Day, the Douglas factories achieved the incredible production rate of 2 C-47s per hour. Largely assembled by female workers, each aircraft required no less that 500,000 rivets. It was to be given several names including Skytrooper, Skytrain, Dakota or Dak, Gooney Bird, and Fatsbo.

Towards the end of the Second World War, the C-47 was used as a glider tug, a paratroop carrier, a passenger aircraft, a freighter and an ambulance.

60 years later after D-Day, in the early years of the 21st century, 400 C-47s were still flying.

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