After almost three years of restoration work, “Beach City Baby”, a Douglas C-53 Skytrooper (41-20095, c/n 4865) flew for the first time in more than 20 years this past Saturday. Jason Capra, a captain for Republic Airways, and his band of volunteers completed the aircraft to a point where FAA could grant a “ferry permit”. This allowed the aircraft to be flown from Beach City, OH to her new home at Venango Regional Airport (KFKL) in Franklin, PA.
This aircraft was built in 1941 and was accepted by the US Army Air Corps in January 1942. She served with the Air Transportation Command in places like North Africa and Italy as a troop and VIP transport. After the war, the aircraft was sold to Danish Air Lines (later SAS); many European airlines were “jump started” after the war with surplus DC-3s. She returned back to the US, and from 1963 until 1983 served as the official transport of the Governor of Ohio. Eventually, she ended up in Beach City where she sat since 1992.
The de Havilland Vampire needs no introduction. The aircraft was originally designed to meet the British government’s 1941 specification E.6/41. First flight of the Vampire prototype took place in September 1943. After the war the Vampire became a commercial success and was eventually delivered to the air forces of over 30 countries.
Among the export customers was Finland whose small air force (“Ilmavoimat”) was in dire need of new equipment in the early 1950s (last Messerschmitt Bf 109s were retired in 1954). The first single-seater Vampires were delivered to Finland in January 1953 and subsequently served with the No. 11 Fighter Squadron (HävLv 11). Vampires were phased out (replaced by Folland Gnat and Fouga Magister -aircraft) in the early 1960s.
The pictures in this blog post depict “VA-2”, c/n VO692, a Mk.52 variant. The aircraft served with several Ilmavoimat units (including HävLv 11, 33, 13, and 21) and was finally retired in 1962. It then spent almost 10 years as a “gate guardian” near the Halli air base, and as is evident from the pictures, its mixed wooden structures (plywood and balsa) did not fare particularly well in Finnish weather. In the 1990s the aircraft was restored and is now displayed at the Finnish Aviation Museum – the full history of “VA-2” is described in an article in Feeniks 1.1997 (see bibliography below). Continue reading →