6832 Restoration Committee

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6832 Restoration Committee

The Friends of the South African Air Force Museum, Ysterplaat, have appointed the following committee to manage the Friends involvement in the restoration of C-47 6832:

David Owen Smith (Chair)

Michelle Viljoen (Secretary)

John Coutts (Treasurer)

Norman Tinkler

Darrell Ackermann

Peter Elrick

Campbell Lyons

Bernard Schaffer

Reggi Leader

Kirk Kinnear

Project 6832 is a Friends of the South African Air Force Museum Society initiative.


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The Flight to Fetch a Fish – coelacanth C-47 6832

 

On December 21st, 1938, a strange fish was caught off the East London coast. Professor J. L. B. Smith was fascinated by this fish, identified as a coelacanth. This fish was thought to have been extinct for over two hundred million years.

(NOTE: Travel here for a full version of this story…)

556px-Coelacanth1

Excited at the possibility of obtaining a second specimen, he printed hundred’s of notices requesting information on the coelacanth. Almost 14 years later he received a telegram informing him of the capture of another coelacanth in the Comores Islands. As it was December 24th, he found difficulty in arranging transport. In desperation he contacted the Prime Minister and persuaded him of the importance of the find. The Prime Minister instructed the Chief of the Air Force to assist. In due course, a signal was received by the O.C. Natal to send an aircraft to Durban to collect Prof. Smith, and then to travel to the Comores ‘to fetch a fish.’

(l to r) Director of Fisheries, Mayotte, Mr E. Breton; Capt. Eric Hunt; Prof. JLB Smith;Commandant Blaauw; Captain Letley; Lt. Ralston; Cpl. van Niekerk; Lt. Bergh; Cpl. Brink.

At the time the paint scheme was silver, with dark blue anti-dazzle on the nose and engine cowlings. Her squadron code, strangely enough. was K-OD. The Air Force insignia at the time was an orange roundel with Springbok.

Dakota 6832 on arrival in Grahamstown (l to r) Lt. Bergh; Cpl. Brink; Cpl. van Niekerk; Mrs Margaret Smith; Commandant Blaau; Prof. JLB Smith; Capt. Letley; Lt. Ralston; William Smith. The coelacanth is in the box in the foreground. Prof Smith’s son, William Smith, well known for his participation in the TV show “A Word or Two” and his educational program.

Dakota MkII (C47A-10-K) was built in Oklahoma City and allocated Serial Number 42-108863 by the U.S.A.A.F. In February 1944 she was placed on charge by the R.A.F. under Serial Number KG 4434. In March 1944 she was transferred to the S.A.A.F. and received Serial Number 6832. On being transferred to 28 Squadron she received the codes K-OD. 6832 is currently being restored.


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Douglas C-47 Dakota

The most famous of the C47’s, 6832 was the aircraft that was sent to retrieve the coelacanth in 1952.

Image by Irene McCullagh

C47 Dakotas 6862 and 6869 at 35 Squadron, Cape Town International in 1996. 6862 was sold shortly after this image was taken.

The C47 prototype first flew in 1935. One of the most famous aircraft of all time, the ‘Dakota’ was powered with two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 radial piston engines of 1200 hp (882 kw)

With a length of 19,66 meters, height of 5,16 meters and wingspan of 28,96 meters. The maximum speed at sea level is 346kmh and the service ceiling is 6300 meters.

Known by many names, this aircraft has been used for many purposes. Over 10000 were produced, the last rolling off the assembly line in May 1946. Over 40 were operated by the SAAF, with the first delivery to the SAAF having taken place in June 1943.

The SAAF still operates a number of these aircraft, having performed a turboprop conversion.


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