30 Dakotas fly from RAF Duxford for 75th D-Day anniversary

Dakotas returned to the skies to mark 75 years since they took thousands of troops across enemy lines to reclaim France from the Nazis on D-Day.

Thirty vintage Douglas DC-3 and C-47 Skytrains, more commonly referred to as Dakotas, flew in dramatic formation this afternoon to recreate the historic journeys the planes made on June 6 1944.

Dakotas, or Daks, were used to drop 156,000 British and other Allied forces on Normandy’s beaches on that fateful day, which marked the start of the road to victory over the Nazis 11 months later.

They came in to land at the Imperial War Museum at RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire after their impressive mid-air display, which saw the greatest number of Daks together in one place since the Second World War.

Thirty vintage Douglas DC-3 and C-47 (three pictured) Skytrains, more commonly referred to as Dakotas, flew in formation this afternoon to recreate the fateful journeys the planes made on June 6 1944 before landing at RAF Duxford

 

Thirty vintage Douglas DC-3 and C-47 (three pictured) Skytrains, more commonly referred to as Dakotas, flew in formation this afternoon to recreate the fateful journeys the planes made on June 6 1944 before landing at RAF Duxford

A Douglas C-53, or Dakota, is pictured taking off from the run way at RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire today as part of this week's 75th D-Day anniversary commemorations

 

A Douglas C-53, or Dakota, is pictured taking off from the run way at RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire today as part of this week’s 75th D-Day anniversary commemorations

Today's impressive mid-air display saw the greatest number of Daks together in one place since the Second World War

 

Today’s impressive mid-air display saw the greatest number of Daks together in one place since the Second World War

Parachutists are pictured running through their drills today at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire. The site boasts the greatest number of Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft in one location

 

Parachutists are pictured running through their drills today at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire. The site boasts the greatest number of Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft in one location

'Daks Over Duxford' is taking place over two days as more than 30 Dakotas flew over the museum in Duxford. The aircraft is legendary for its participation in the D-Day landings. Pictured: parachutists at the site this afternoon

 

‘Daks Over Duxford’ is taking place over two days as more than 30 Dakotas flew over the museum in Duxford. The aircraft is legendary for its participation in the D-Day landings. Pictured: parachutists at the site this afternoon

Pictured: A Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, today as the Imperial War Museum hosts 'Daks Over Duxford' to commemorate the D-Day landings, which paved the way for the Allies to secure victory against Hitler's forces

 

Pictured: A Douglas C-47 Skytrain aircraft at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, today as the Imperial War Museum hosts ‘Daks Over Duxford’ to commemorate the D-Day landings, which paved the way for the Allies to secure victory against Hitler’s forces

The planes came from the UK, United States, France, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Denmark, Finland and Hungary to take part in today’s commemorative flight.

Operation Overlord saw 1,200 planes take part in an airborne assault followed by an amphibious attack involving more than 5,000 boats.

British, American and Canadian paratroopers landed on French soil shortly after midnight and came in either by parachute or by glider.

It is thought as many as 4,400 were killed in the operation Winston Churchill described as ‘undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place’. The style of aircraft is considered one of the most effective in military history.

Parachutists are pictured at Duxford in Cambridgeshire, where D-Day is being commemorated with 30 vintage planes taking to the skies in remembrance of the air offensive against the Nazis at Normandy

 

Parachutists are pictured at Duxford in Cambridgeshire, where D-Day is being commemorated with 30 vintage planes taking to the skies in remembrance of the air offensive against the Nazis at Normandy

Parachutists run through their drills at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire, where Dakotas today took to the skies to bring the D-Day air offensive to life

 

Parachutists run through their drills at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire, where Dakotas today took to the skies to bring the D-Day air offensive to life

Earlier today in Normandy, crowds applauded as British veterans arrived at the American cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer to pay tribute to their fallen colleagues.

Across the Channel in Poole, British veterans were given a proper military welcome as their ship, the MV Boudicca, docked on the Dorset coast as part of their week-long anniversary tour of the UK and France.

Flotilla and other small boats put on a sea display as the cruise liner approached the port as serving Royal Marines waved Union Jacks from the shore. Two boats have been commissioned to take veterans on a week-long tour of the UK and France this week.

 

A Douglas C-53 named D-Day Doll takes off from the runway at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire as part of the attraction's D-Day 75 anniversary week of events

 

A Douglas C-53 named D-Day Doll takes off from the runway at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire as part of the attraction’s D-Day 75 anniversary week of events

D-Day Doll Douglas C-53 is pictured coming into land at RAF Duxford after a breath-taking formation flight over the countryside

 

 D-Day Doll Douglas C-53 is pictured coming into land at RAF Duxford after a breath-taking formation flight over the countryside

Dak aircraft (one pictured) are considered one of the most effective in military history

 

Dak aircraft (one pictured) are considered one of the most effective in military history

Two Douglas C-53s, which were used to take Allied troops beyond enemy lines in June 1944, on the ground at the Imperial War Museum at RAF Duxford

 

Two Douglas C-53s, which were used to take Allied troops beyond enemy lines in June 1944, on the ground at the Imperial War Museum at RAF Duxford

Dakotas (group pictured ahead for their anniversary flight yesterday), or Daks, were used to drop 156,000 British and other Allied forces on Normandy's beaches on that fateful day, which marked the start of the journey to victory over the Nazis 11 months later

 

Dakotas (group pictured ahead for their anniversary flight yesterday), or Daks, were used to drop 156,000 British and other Allied forces on Normandy’s beaches on that fateful day, which marked the start of the journey to victory over the Nazis 11 months later

Final preparations are made at RAF Duxford last night ahead of today's formation flight over the English countryside

 

Final preparations are made at RAF Duxford last night ahead of today’s formation flight over the English countryside

Pictured: Over 30 Douglas C-47 Skytrains (Dakotas) making final preparations at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, before flying across the English Channel to mark the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion

 

Pictured: Over 30 Douglas C-47 Skytrains (Dakotas) making final preparations at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, before flying across the English Channel to mark the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion

One of the planes is seen before taking off on the mission on June 6, 1944. The planes dropped thousands of troops behind enemy lines in the middle of the night. The ensuing battle for Normandy ultimately helped pave the way for Hitler's defeat and bring the Second World War to an end

 

One of the planes is seen before taking off on the mission on June 6, 1944. The planes dropped thousands of troops behind enemy lines in the middle of the night. The ensuing battle for Normandy ultimately helped pave the way for Hitler’s defeat and bring the Second World War to an end

The 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment are loaded onto a C-47 plane called 'That's All, Brother.' The slogan was plastered across the nose of the plane as it headed for the French coats on D-Day

 

The 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment are loaded onto a C-47 plane called ‘That’s All, Brother.’ The slogan was plastered across the nose of the plane as it headed for the French coats on D-Day

Troops are pictured gathered around the 'That's All, Brother' plane as the D-Day offensive that paved the path to victory gets underway in 1944

 

Troops are pictured gathered around the ‘That’s All, Brother’ plane as the D-Day offensive that paved the path to victory gets underway in 1944

D-Day: How paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines under the cover of darkness to battle Nazis on beaches

Operation Overlord – the code name given to the Normandy landings – was a pivotal moment in World War II. It marked the first step that the Allies took on the road to defeating Hitler’s forces.

There were two phases to the D-Day assault on the beaches of Nazi-occupied France. Phase one consisted of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French troops landing shortly after midnight on June 6 1944. Phase two involved an amphibious landing of infantry and armoured divisions on the coast at 6.30am.

A total of 156,000 Allied troops landed on the coast as paratroopers from the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions joined British combat jumpers in the offensive, which used 1,200 planes.

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing. Some 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved. 

 

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing. Some 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved

The US, British, and Canadian paratroopers landed on French soil shortly after midnight after parachuting onto enemy soil.

Gliders, C-47s and Douglas DC-3s dropped the soldiers behind enemy lines with the objective of taking St. Mere Eglise to secure key approaches to the beaches.

The California-made C-47s were able to carry 28 fully armed soldiers or 6,000 pounds of cargo and were nicknamed Gooney Bird, Dakota and the Vomit Comet. Two Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp 14-cylinder radial engines producing 1,200 horsepower powered the plane.

The C-47 Skytrain was fitted with a cargo door, strengthened floor and hoist attachment – as well as a shortened tail cone for glider-towing shackles. The military transport first flew on December 23, 1941. It has a wingspan of 95ft and 6 inches, and a length of 63ft 9 inches, measuring 17ft high.

Landings took place along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.

Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel into France that day by air or sea to lay the foundations for victory on the Western Front.

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved.

In total, 1,500 U.S. paratroopers were lost that day – 338 were killed and 1,257 disappeared. Between 4,000 and 9,000 German troops were killed.

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