The C-47 Skytrain is the military version of a modified Douglas DC-3 commercial airliner. The C-47’s first flight was in December of 1941 with over 10,000 aircraft being assembled. Its primary mission was to transport troops, cargo, and the wounded. While C-47’s flew in all theaters of operation, the Pacific Campaign is where their range and cargo carrying made them an invaluable asset. One of C-47’s more memorable roles took place on D-Day, June 6, 1944, dropping paratroops behind enemy lines in Normandy, France, to begin the liberation of the European Continent. This particular C-47 named, “Lilly Bell, II”, was assigned to the 89th Troop Carrier Squadron, 438th Troop Carrier Group based at Greenham Common. General Eisenhower visited the 438th on the eve of the mission to encourage the airborne troops and aircrews and watched them as they took off. “Lilly Bell, II” was one of the lead aircraft to drop its paratroops from the 101st Airborne Division north of the Normandy town of Carentan. C-47s continued to fly for numerous Air Forces long after the end of WWII and you can still see these amazing aircraft flying today from airfields across the country and around the world.
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