KN645, THE PENULTIMATE ROYAL AIR FORCE DAKOTA

Published: 31-03-2018 photo #23049 0 comments 0 votes

Category:Military - Historic    Manufacturer:Douglas    Country:United Kingdom    Year:2018 Group:RAF Cosford Museum, United Kingdom    Contributor:Peter Langsdale

Description

C-47-8-35-DK with USAAF serial 44-77003 photographed at the RAF Museum, Cosford, Shifnal, Shropshire on 4 March 2018. Built in 1945 by Douglas at Oklahoma City.
Although this is the last Dakota to have been operated by the RAF from May 1945 until April 1970, since 1993 there has been another, ZA947 on active duty with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire (where I was stationed in 1963).
KN645 was accepted on charge to the RAF under lend-Lease on 18 May 1945, with a flying time of 2 hours 15 minutes. It flew to the UK from Canada, arriving on 27 May 1945, and was assigned to 2nd TAF Communications Squadron at Brussels/Evere, Belgium. One month later the Squadron moved to Buckeberg, Germany and was renamed the British Air Forces of Occupation Communications Squadron.
In the winter of 1945 it was fitted out as a VIP aircraft, complete with kitchen and cocktail cabinet and used by Lords Montgomery and Wavell. It was overall silver at this time.
From 1946 it was used as the personal aircraft of the British Military Governors of Berlin. From August 1950 KN645 was one of 6 Dakotas at RAF Changi, Singapore on strength for use by senior officers, until on 7 June 1951 it went to 12 MU at Silloth, Cumbria for storage.
In January 1954 it was assigned to the Malta Communications flight, but on 28 March 1955 was again in Cumbria, at 22 MU. Up to 1966 this aircraft was occasionally assigned to RAF Northolt, including time with the Queen’s Flight.
On 27 April 1967 it went to Scottish Aviation for modifications and a nav/radio refit, before going to the A&AEE Boscombe Down, Hampshire for trials on 20 September, and repainted at Prestwick, having completed over 5,000 flying hours. Its last flight was on 3 April 1970, from Northolt to 5 MU at RAF Kemble, Gloucestershire. Here in 1973 KN645 was painted to represent KG374 of 271 Sqn in which Flt Lt David Lord won a posthumous VC over Arnhem.
On 1 May 1974 it moved by road to RAF Colerne and was given serial 8355M, although this was not painted on. On 16 October 1975 the fuselage went by road to Cosford, the wings following on the 29th. Public viewing as seen here in the new building began on 8 February 2007.

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