This is a homage diorama which captures a moment in time.

       It is June 5, 1944 at precisely 22:10 British Double-Summer Time. The location is Upottery Airfield in Devon, England.

       1st Lt Richard D. Winters calls for the 1st & 2nd squads of the First Platoon, Company E (Band of Brothers), 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division to board “Chalk Number 67” for the invasion of Normandy. In less than 24 hours, Winters would become the acting company commander of Easy company; shortly after midnight CN #66 carrying Lt Thomas Meehan and the entire Headquarter platoon of the company would be destroyed by anti-aircraft-fire.

       “CN #67” is a C-47D Serial # 1942-100646 of the 91st Troop Carrier Squadron (“L4”), aircraft “E”, 439th Troop Carrier Group, 50th Troop Carrier Wing. The pilot is 1st Lt William Sammons.

       The model is a Monogram 1:48 scale kit which has been out of production for many years. It was worth almost $75 on eBay but my intention was always to keep it to build it as a D-Day drop plane. After reading Steven Ambrose’s “Band of Brothers” and Dick Winter’s own autobiographical “Beyond Band of Brothers”, I decided to do some research and attempt to identify the aircraft which (mis-)dropped Winters and his stick near St Mere Eglise on the Contentin pennisula. The internet made it possible to research the actual aircraft right down to the serial#. With the exception of the national marking, all decals are custom made on my computer using Visio USAAF stencil fonts on an Inkjet printer. The aircraft is painted in Polly Scale acrylic paints.

       All tactical Allied aircraft operating in the Normandy area, with the exception of high-altitude bombers, wore “Invasion Stripes”. The width and placement of each stripe was dictated by whether the aircraft was a single or multi-engine aircraft. These recognition stripes were adopted in response to an incident during the invasion of Sicily where 23 C-47’s had been shot down by US Navy shipboard gunners in the offshore invasion fleet. Those C-47s were part of the second wave of drops. The gunners had, within the past hour, fought off an attack of Ju-88s. They mistook the C-47s for a second wave of Luftwaffe bombers. 318 paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne and aircrews were killed in one of the worse friendly-fire incidents of WWII.

       The paratroopers are wearing the M-1942 “Yarborough” jump suits. Used in North Africa, Sicily and Naples by the 82nd Airborne, the light khaki color would prove to be totally unsuitable in the verdant foliage of northwest Europe, especially at night. The uniforms would be removed from service when the airborne forces were returned to England in July. Unlike the 82nd Airborne, which pioneered the use of U.S. flag armbands since N Africa, the 101st would not wear flag armbands until September as part of Operation Market Garden. Hollywood usually gets this wrong. In the “Longest Day” all American paratroopers are depicted wearing the armbands as well as wearing the later issue 1943 olive drab field uniform.

       The paratroopers have blackened their faces with a mixture of linseed oil and cocoa powder. Some have bare hands blackened with the mixture. Others are wearing the standard issue yellow-tan horsehide gloves.

       As the plane’s jumpmaster, Winters is wearing a cardboard sign around his neck which identifies the chalk number of the aircraft handling his stick’s drop zone. Each trooper has a first-aid pouch attached to his helmet ( a drop of shaped white glue painted in olive drab. The helmets have been festooned with bits of scraped plastic to simulate the burlap strips woven into the helmet netting to break up the shape of the helmet. Each paratrooper has a Screaming Eagle patch on the left shoulder, and an assortment of PFC, Corporal and Sgt stripes. These are custom made decals scaled down from images obtained off the internet. The rank stripes were a scanned-photo-reduced image of my father’s Staff Sgt stripes from WWII.

       Numerous training jumps in England has caused the resulting streaming static lines to wear away the paint from the top trailing edge of the jump door.

       The boarding stairs are made from cardboard from the kit box.

       All latches on the cargo doors have been covered in multiple layers of masking tape. This was done to prevent the static lines and web gear of the troopers from being snagged or cut during the jump. The need for this had been learned through tragic accidents.

       The medic was a standard trooper whose weapon bag was sanded-off to disarm him to a legal status as a non-combatant. Helmet and armband decals are custom.

       Musette Bags attached below the reserve chutes are painted a mix of colors either tan or olive drab to represent the different dyes used by suppliers. They all wear the coveted “Corcoran boots” made in Britain exclusively for the US Airborne.

       The crew chief is removing the "REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT" covers from the pitot tubes under the nose.

       Glossy black electric de-icing boots have been added to the leading edge of each blade.

       The propeller hubs have been painted over in black to reduce glare/reflection

       The cowlings have also seen the usual wear. I painted the cowling with aluminum paint, then place small bits of moistened salt around the leading edge. After spraying the camouflage color, I just knock off the encrusted salt to reveal the bare aluminum beneath. The same technique is used on the wing roots where mechanics have walked and dragged fueling hoses.

       The wheel chocks are stenciled with "646" to prevent other devious crew chiefs from "borrowing" them for their planes!

       The antennas on each cheek are receivers to pick up the homing signals from the transmissions which were to be broadcast by pathfinder troopers who jumped one hour ahead of the main force. As it turned out most American paratroopers were lucky to be dropped within 5 miles of their intended drop zone.

       Anyone who has been around a radial aircraft engine knows they constantly leak oil. The pavement stains under each cowling show that 646 is no exception.

       I used Google Earth to locate and closely examine the remains of the field at Upottery. The runways were blacktop, but the ramp areas where the aircraft would stand as dead-weight for long periods of time were concrete. Each square was 15’x17’ and apparently was laid in a braided-weave to increase the area available for parking so many transports in as small an area as possible. The width of the ramp was precisely 50’. Getting these details right would have been almost impossible with the internet.

       Upottery Airfield, Devonshire, England today. Notice the two braided aprons, one to the west the other north. The plowed fields within the runways indicate that the land has been retuned to farming.

       This is a modern-day photo of 1942-100646.

       After the war the aircraft was sold to the Finnish national airline. In the late 1980’s it was purchased by the Dutch Dakota Association (Dakota being the British nickname for the DC-3/C-47). It was re-registered as PH-DDA (cn 19109) and flown and displayed throughout the Netherlands as a historical artifact involved in the liberation of the Netherlands.

       On 25 September 1996 while returning on charter-excursion flight to Shiphol/Amsterdam Airport, a front master pushrod bearing failed on the left engine. The propeller feathering-system also malfunctioned which caused to propeller to randomly changed pitch. The resulting asymmetric drag made it impossible to maintain control at minimum airspeed. This historic aircraft crashed into the Waddenzee about 15 minutes after takeoff while attempting to make an emergency landing at Texel, Netherlands.

       All 6 crew members and 26 passengers onboard were killed.

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