One C-47 troop carrier was so visible in the D-Day Invasion of World War II that it was emblazoned with its own message for Adolph Hitler: “That’s all… brother.”
It’s been nearly 75 years since that day, and you might assume that one of the lead aircraft of the main invasion force would be on display in a museum somewhere – but you’d be wrong.
A few years back, an Air Force historian named Matt Scales was researching the late Lt. Col. John Donalson of Birmingham, AL who was reportedly credited with piloting the lead aircraft that dropped the main group of paratroopers along the French coast in preparation for the assault on June 6, 1944.
All told, 900 planes carried the message of “That’s all… brother” but Donalson’s was one of the leads because it was equipped with an early form of a radar system. When Scales dug deeper, he discovered that the plane – which had changed hands many times over the years – had never crashed or been damaged, and was actually sitting in an aircraft boneyard in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Texas-based Commemorative Air Force preserves military aircraft and set to work on the plane, which was badly corroded and partially disassembled. After rebuilding the piston engines and adding “modern navigation and radio equipment and a fresh coat of paint,” it was air-ready once more, making its inaugural flight in February of last year.
Now the C-47 will join other vintage planes at D-Day 75th anniversary ceremonies in June, including a staged reenactment where “paratroopers” will be dropped along the French coast at Normandy.