Martin W. Bowman
ARRSE Rating
5 Mushroom Heads
When I first picked up this substantial hardback book, I was expecting to find a small amount of information on the DC3 some build sheets, statistics and long list of Airframes and aircrews along with pictures, that alone would have made a useful book and an informative one.

However the Author has gone much much deeper into the background of the DC3, its crew and its use, and the book is so much more than a dry history or record of facts.

The book opens with a quotation from Martha Gellhorn describing first hand the start up of operation Husky in 1943 which gives a sobering and accurate description of the men leaving to fight the unknown enemy.

The Author then goes on to relate how the C47 was derived from the commercial DC3 and its first use for paratroops. I had not realised that a C-53 version existed either this aircraft lacking the large side door and reinforced floor of the C-47.

The Author relates how the Douglas Aircraft company had to make many changes to increase the speed of production for war, the reinforced bottom and floor, the wide loading door, hand riveting replacing automatic riveting, fibre material replacing alloy in many places. Forging instead of gas welding and flash welding sped up production, the marvel being that it was just as strong and could so easily be transformed from troop carrier to parachute aircraft and onto a hospital plane or glider tug; a jack of all trades and master of every single one !

It was also the first aircraft to tow a glider across the Atlantic, he goes on to list the vast amount of these aircraft built by 1943 more than 2,000 at Douglas Long Beach plant, and that the RAF were supplied with a staggering 1,900 of them.

One of the nicest things about the book is the personal stories and voices of the aircrew that flew them, their comments and thoughts , and human stories make the book all the more revealing,

The Monica guided landing system is well illustrated and details of how problems showed up during training when a fleet of aircraft attempted to hone in one one transmitter, causing all manner of distortion and poor signalling, eventually the lead aircraft was set up to use it, and then signalled the following aircraft by lamp.

The book goes into the most amazing details of both the pilots lives and work, and the bases that sprang up to house this vast fleet. Also losses during training are recounted, and then losses during the final run ins, many, sadly, due to lack of self sealing fuel tanks.

This large book of over 300 pages, and with lots of original pictures is a must read to any one interested in both the Dakota and the airborne troops that served with them, a real tribute to that workhorse of the sky and the brave men that flew in them, the book is just as much about the Airborne troops as it is about the good old Gooney Bird and her crews.

So many personal stories are contained her that to relate any one would spoil the book for you.

Buy it! you will not be disappointed.

This really needs Ten Mushroom heads for its sheer quality and level of research.

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Joshua Slocum
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