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   C-47A "Irene" Serial Number 41-18646 Nose 52
Former Assignments
Guinea Airways

5th AF
54th TCW
374th TCG
6th TCS

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AWM 1942

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1943 via Steven Ford

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas at Long Beach, California. Constructors Number 6007. Delivered to the U. S. Army. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the 5th Air Force on October 31, 1942. Assigned to the 54th Troop Carrier Wing, 374th Troop Carrier Group, 6th Troop Carrier Squadron. Assigned nose number 52 and call sign VH-CFB. Assigned to pilot S/Sgt. Ernest C. Ford of Manzanola, Colorado with crew chief T/Sgt. Amerigo Grassie. Nicknamed "Irene" the crew chief's wife, as he was the only person in the crew that was married.

This aircraft had a long history of flying resupply missions based at Port Moresby. On November 3, 1942 dropped supplies over Kokoda. On February 6, 1943 flew to supplies to Wau.

During July 11, 1944 transferred to the RAAF and registered as VH-AER but no serial number was assigned. The next day assigned to ANA and converted for civilian service at Essendon Airfield. Leased to Guinea Airways starting on January 29, 1945 until October 14, 1946.

On October 14, 1946 transferred to Trans Australia Airlines (TAA). Nicknamed "Batman" and later "Dampier". Next, to East West Airways as"'Oxley City" on March 11, 1955 and registered as VH-EWF on June 14, 1955 and VH-EWE on August 22, 1955.

Afterwards, sold to the NSW Department of Lands and nicknamed "Phillip F. Adams on November 3, 1965 then sold to Connair on July 13, 1973. Next to Fleetair Services of Tasmania on October 14, 1976 and IPEC on March 11, 1977, but remained in Fleetair colors until April 29, 1979, then nicknamed "Spirit of William".

Sold again to Masling Commuter Services during December 1979. Then to Racovolis Provedores Pty, Melbourne on February 12, 1980 and operated with Setair colors. During September 1980 to Cranways Pty and General Cargo Australia during 1981.

Transported by road to Adelaide and installed as part of a McDonalds Restaurant at Turner Drive, West Lakes SA on December 3, 1983. Displayed in the markings of VH-AER in 1948 colors. It was displayed there until the end of the 1980s. Finally, during 2000, sold to Jeff Morgan of Karoona, South Australia

Steven Ford adds:
"My father, S/Sgt. Ernest C. Ford, was pilot of “Irene”  On the day C-47 “Early Delivery” was shot down, the Japanese were making an attempt to capture the Wau airstrip. Hundreds of Australian troops ‘Kanga Force’, ammunition and supplies were transported by the USAAF’s 54th TCW. So important was this battle, that the Department of Information of the Australian Military Forces published the brochure,The Battle of Wau,for the “Australian people” to know the seriousness of this battle. My father was given a battlefield commission and ended up flying the most combat missions of any USAAF pilot, 365. On behalf of the Ford Family,we thank you for an excellent and informative web site."

AussieAirliners - VH-AER Douglas DC-3

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Last Updated
January 31, 2018


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