Military Displays and Vehicles
Dakota Flypast - now confirmed for Saturday - see below
1940's Food Stalls
ENSA Concert Party Shows
Intensive Steam Train Service
Plus much more from the dark and difficult days of World War II
At Horsted Keynes:
Fare details and advance ticket purchases
Douglas C47 (DC3) Dakota ZA947 was manufactured in March 1942 and initially issued to the United States Army Air Force. In September that year the aircraft was transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and served mainly in Canada but was latterly used in Europe until declared surplus to requirements in 1971.
The Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough then purchased the aircraft, which was allocated the UK military serial number KG661, as it had carried the serial 661 with the Canadians. During her time with the RAE, KG661 was used for a variety of tasks and trials, including dropping sonabuoys through holes cut in the fuselage and launching remotely piloted vehicles.
For some time, however, there had been some doubt about the aircraft's serial number; research showed that the original Dakota KG661 had been destroyed in an accident, so the aircraft was allocated a new number: ZA947. Cleared for para-dropping, she often displayed in this role or appeared in the static park at airshows. In 1992 the Defence Research Agency, the successor to the RAE, declared her surplus to requirements and offered the aircraft for disposal.
The aircraft was adopted by Strike Command and issued to the BBMF in March 1993, after Air Atlantique at Coventry had completed necessary engineering and structural work. The Dakota is a year-round workhorse for the BBMF being used in a variety of roles, including general support tasks, such as transporting groundcrew and equipment to display venues or other operating airfields. Importantly, as there are no other multi-engine tailwheel-configured aircraft in RAF service outside the BBMF, she is used for training aircrew for the BBMF multi-engine aircraft and in keeping the pilots of the Lancaster current on a multi-engine tailwheel aircraft during the winter months when the bomber is out of action.
Increasingly, though, the Dakota has become a display aircraft in her right and now appears regularly on the airshow circuit either on her own or as part of a BBMF 3-ship formation, in company with a pair of fighters. She continues to be capable of para-dropping and is used in that role for special commemorative events. During 2004, original and authentic 'para-seats' were re-fitted to the Dakota, returning the cabin interior to the original, wartime specification. In 2007 clearance was gained to drop the RAF freefall parachute display team, 'The Falcons', and in 2008 clearance was gained to use the latest military static line parachute, thus enabling BBMF to drop the current generation of paratroopers. We hope that in 2009 the Dakota will drop members of the Parachute Regitment in the Arnhem 65th anniversary celebrations.
Dakota ZA947 currently wears the livery of 267 'Pegasus' Squadron, which flew in the Transport, Trooping and Re-supply roles in the Middle East and the Mediterranean Theatres during 1943/44.The squadron employed various colour schemes on its Dakotas but always displayed its 'Pegasus' emblem prominently on the aircraft's nose. The Squadron's role included the re-supply of partisans and resistance fighters, behind enemy lines, either by para-drops or by landing at clandestine airstrips.
Your ideal Film/TV location?
© Copyright, credits and disclaimer.