- Associated Press - Monday, December 7, 2015

DALLAS (AP) - More than 70 years after it led Allied aircraft during the D-Day invasion, the C-47 That’s All Brother is being readied for its new home in Dallas.

Before it can fly to Texas, the historic World War II airplane is being resurrected from a Wisconsin aircraft boneyard, where it was discovered last year by an aviation buff.

“As soon as the news broke, there was a lot of interest from museums and aircraft collectors all around the world,” Adam Smith, the Commemorative Air Force’s executive vice president for strategic development, told The Dallas Morning News (https://bit.ly/1OyzJ6u). “The first thing that we had to do was to persuade them that the CAF was the best organization and the best home for the aircraft.”

The C-47 will be an anchor airplane for the CAF museum at Dallas Executive Airport planned to open by the end of the decade. If all goes well, the plane will be airworthy in about nine months. It will be based at Executive Airport, already home to CAF administration. The plane will be displayed for events and airshows.

That’s All Brother is an important example of the World War II workhorse, said Thomas Allen, curator of the University of Texas at Dallas Aviation Collection.

“Since it was the lead invasion aircraft, I would say it is an important artifice of World War II and would be worth restoring and having as a display,” Allen said.

The CAF was selected to buy That’s All Brother based on its reputation for preserving World War II aircraft, Smith said. Somewhat like a sports transaction, the purchase was an “overall deal” valued at $600,000, an amount that included another C-47 from the CAF inventory.

“They had some pretty lucrative offers from private collectors,” Smith said. “We wanted to make the case that this aircraft really should be put to an educational use and be something that was very visible.”

Smith estimates the restoration will cost about $1.5 million. The CAF has raised about $900,000.

“It’s somewhere between derelict and flyable,” Smith said.

One of That’s All Brother’s post-military owners added a metal cargo liner and insulation that trapped moisture and corroded the fuselage.

“That’s probably going to cost us six months and roughly $400,000 to fix that corrosion,” Smith said.

While the corrosion was a setback, the restorers also had a stroke of luck in their effort to bring the plane as close to its D-Day configuration as possible - paint, seats and electronics. A collector had spent several years assembling the interior to create a D-Day C-47 like That’s All Brother. That plane, however, was sold to an enthusiast who didn’t want the equipment.

“So they removed all this historic stuff - the seats and all of the navigator’s station and the radio equipment - it was all pulled out of this airplane and put in crates,” Smith said. “We were able to negotiate the purchase of that, so it was a huge bonus for us.”

The restorers are still looking for a few rare pieces, including the airborne radar.

“That’s the biggie,” Smith said. “We know they are out there because, after the war, they were used on the ground . for weather stations. We’re hoping somebody . has one of these in their garage somewhere.”

The CAF hopes to restore and preserve the C-47 so that it will still be flying for the 100th D-Day anniversary in 2044.

That’s All Brother has at least two Dallas connections.

David Daniel Jr., former UTD president and current UT System deputy chancellor, was a young man when he learned his father piloted the plane on D-Day.

“My mother told me,” Daniel said. “The front page of the Birmingham, Ala., newspaper said, ‘Local Boy Leads Invasion,’ or something to that effect. She always saved that newspaper.”

Daniel didn’t ask his father about the mission before he died.

“I suspect if I asked him about it he would have immediately shrugged it off and said, ‘Ah, I don’t have anything to say about that,’” Daniel said.

That’s All Brother stopped at Dallas Love Field on its journey to England from Tulsa, where it had been built by the Douglas Aircraft Co. and equipped with top-secret, ground-following radar.

“That journey means almost unquestionably it was flown by a woman,” Smith said. “The largest WASP unit, Women Airforce Service Pilots, was based at Love Field.”


Information from: The Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com

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