History of DC-3 c/n 33301, by Gil White

 

VH-MMD
C/n 16553/33301

Manufactured by Douglas Aircraft Corporation at Oklahoma City in Oklahoma and rolled off the production line on 19/5/1945. Aircraft was designated as a C-47B-35-DK. During the war years allocated U.S. serial number 44-76969. On 31/5/1945 acquired by the Royal Australian Air Force under the terms of the Lend-Lease agreement and given the serial number A65-109 seeing war service with No 1 Communication Unit, No 111 Air Sea Rescue Flight, No's 36 and 38 Squadrons, No 90 Transport Wing in Malaya and finally with No 86 Transport Wing using the radio callsign VHRGX. Struck off charge on 27/5/1958 when withdrawn from use.

On 24/6/1958 purchased by MacRobertson Miller Airlines P/L. Registered VH-MMD to Commercial Aviation P/L on 8/10/1958. Whilst in service with company aircraft was named RMA 'Durack'. On 11/6/1962 aircraft inaugurated the company's 'Explorer Tours' of the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Ownership of aircraft transferred to MacRobertson Miller Airlines and registered to the company on 22/12/1966.

On 10/2/1969 sold to Ansett Airlines of Papua New Guinea P/L and registered to the company on the same day. Departed Perth on the same day on the ferry flight to New Guinea and routed via Forrest, Whyalla, Broken Hill, Rockhampton, Cairns and arrived at Lae where it commenced operations shortly after arrival.

On 1/11/1973 sold to Air Niugini, which was based at Port Moresby in New Guinea and reregistered P2-MMD on 1/6/1974. On 13/12/1975 reregistered P2-ANU. Purchased by Travmar Holdings P/L, which was based at Rutherford on 28/6/1977. Prior to departing New Guinea it entered the hangar at Port Moresby where it was overhauled and painted in Travmar's red/blue colour scheme. On 22/7/1977 departed New Guinea for Bankstown and was reregistered VH-MMD to the company on 12/8/1977.

Whilst in service with Travmar it was mainly used for charter flights. When the company ceased trading withdrawn from service and parked at Bankstown where it slowly deteriorated in the weather. Later sold to Setair but the aircraft remained at Bankstown parked alongside another DC-3 that had been used at one stage been used by Norman Gunston for a series of humorous documentaries and painted with a blue upper fuselage with Norman Gunston titles and a picture of his head on the rudder. Struck off the Australian civil register on 10/7/1980.

On 9/12/1984 aircraft was acquired by the Power House Museum in Sydney from the Australian War Memorial in exchange for the Museum's Hawker Sea Fury fighter as the latter aircraft was deemed not to be relevant to civil aviation. Reportedly stored at the Museum's Castle Hill storage facility. As no progress was being made on the restoration of the DC-3 it was decided to respond favourably to a request from the Australian Aviation Museum at Bankstown to restore and display the aircraft along with their other exhibits. The aircraft was de-accessioned from the Powerhouse Museum collection on 18/12/1997.

Parts of the aircraft have been removed and transported by road to Bankstown Airport but the fuselage reportedly remained at Castle Hill as it had been decided that the fuselage could not be transported by road. But when the aircraft arrived at Castle Hill back in 1984 it had been transported by road. The fuselage has arrived at Bankstown on 18/12/1999 where museum volunteers will restore it to display standard and at this stage the wings and engines have been fitted to the fuselage.

Since March 2000 the following work has been undertaken on this aircraft, all major sub assemblies are located in one area, control surfaces stripped of fabric, tailplane, fin and tail cone stripped and treated for rust prior to being painted with primer, cockpit cleaned and all broken glass removed, instrument panel removed for overhaul, floor reinforced and repaired with carpet tiles being laid, seat rails overhauled and cleaned, major areas of corrosion completely removed, escape hatch stripped of paint and hinges replaced, pitot tubes, vhf antennae, ADF housing corrosion treated cleaned and painted with primer.

In the next twelve months it is hoped that the following can be achieved, tailplane fin and tail cone refitted, control surfaces repaired and ready for covering with fabric, wing panels repaired and refitted, main doors overhauled and hinges repaired, corrosion areas under fuselage to be treated and primed, fuselage stripped of all paint, engine mounts and engines refitted, propellers assembled and cockpit overhauled. All being well and going to schedule as planned this aircraft will be in pristine condition by the middle of 2002.

© Gil White

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Last updated 26.3.2006