While up in the central coast area of California, my wife and I
discovered the Estrella
Warbird Museum. They have a nice collection of warbirds from
multiple eras and a museum with a great layout. As we neared the
museum, this airplane caught my eye. It's rare to see aircraft here in
California with Israeli markings. It's even rarer to see it on a WWII
era aircraft. It was apparent that this particular airplane has quite a
This airplane is a
C-47B-5-DK by it's Douglas record with a construction number 25869. It
was manufactured in the 1943-1944
timeframe and was delivered to the US Army direct from the Douglas
factory in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Official records show it belonging
to the US Army through the end of WWII. The gentleman at the museum I
spoke with stated that this airplane is a veteran of D-Day, the Battle
of the Bulge and Arnhem. He said it was also a veteran of the 1967 Six
Day war and the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Before entering Israeli service,
this aircraft spent some time in Belgian, then French service. Israel
acquired over 35 DC-3/C-47/C-53 cargo/transport airplanes between 1948
and 1960, so this one entered Israeli service during that timeframe.
You can see some of the old markings and labels through the paint.
At the top is 016 under the gray, which matches with it's Israeli
designation, 4X-FNN/016. You can also see the 4X-FNN through the
camouflage to the left of the Star of David in the lower picture. You
can also make out part of the old civil US registry N47SJ under the
Radio rack next to the radio
operators desk, just behind the cockpit. The radio rack seems much
larger than most WWII era C-47s.
Cockpit switches and
guages are a mixture of English and Hebrew. There is also a mixture of
those in the radio operators compartment. Fuse panels were also a
mixture of English and Hebrew. There are Hebrew stickers and labels
throughout the airplane as well.
"The only replacement for a Dakota,
is another Dakota"
This is the traveler's prayer. The Traveler's Prayer should be recited at
the beginning of a journey,
according to the Talmud. In the prayer, the traveler asks for a safe
"May it be Your will, Lord, My God and God of my ancestors, to lead me,
to direct my steps, and to support me in peace. Lead me in life,
tranquil and serene, until I arrive at where I am going. Deliver me
from every enemy, ambush and hurt that I might encounter on the way and
from all afflictions that visit and trouble the world. Bless the work
of my hands. Let me receive divine grace and those loving acts of
kindness and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all those I
encounter. Listen to the voice of my appeal, for you are a God who
responds to prayerful supplication. Praised are you, Lord, who responds
This is where the first aid kits were located on the aircraft during
its operational use.
There was at least one C-47 modified to perform ELINT (Electronic
Intelligence). Looking at the amount of rack space for radio gear and
the number of antennas that are still on the airplane, along with a
number of connections to the outside of the airplane, it would appear
that ELINT was this airplane's main mission. The C-47s used for this
purpose were called "Barvaz", which is a Hebrew word meaning mallard.
That might explain this marking that is seen high on the fuselage and
This airplane was
withdrawn from Israeli service in 1999. By the end of 2001, all of the
C-47s of Transport Squadron 122 of the IAF had been retired. They were
based at Lod airfield before retirement, but had 4 different bases
throughout the life of the C-47 in IAF service. It is estimated that
the "Dakotas" flew over 100,000 hours in the service of the IAF. Six of
these aircraft were acquired by a private collector in February of
2001. There was talk of the Israelis keeping one in flyable condition
for a museum at Hatzerim.
After over 50 years of
military service all over the world, this C-47 has retired to a home in
California. It can be seen at the Estrella Warbird Museum in Paso Robles. The
hard-working folks there will take great care of this one, I am sure.
We will check in from time to time with the folks there to see how the
"Goony Bird" is doing. Thanks to the folks at the Estrella Warbird
Museum for speaking with me about and letting me photograph, this
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