It just took 24 hours to save "That's All Brother", the Douglas C-47 that led the massed paratroop drop on D-Day. The forgotten D-Day bird "That’s All Brother" will be restored thanks to Kickstarter fundraising campaign. It'll fly back to France in 2019 to participate in the 75th anniversary of D-Day. 

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF), a non-profit based in Dallas, jumped into action and launched a Kickstarter campaign to save and restore the forgotten D-Day bird. At the CAF they are honored and humbled by the overwhelmingly positive and generous response to his call of help to rescue this proud old airplane. It'll be based in Dallas at the CAF’s new national aviation museum.

Seventy-one years later, almost to the date, rusting away in an aircraft boneyard in Wisconsin, nearing the end of its life, was sat one of the most notable and iconic planes in U.S. history. It's still alive, but on its deathbed. It was the Douglas C-47 "That's All, Brother" - the airplane that led the massed paratroop drop on D-Day.

It was discovered and found by accident. This discovery was thanks to a researcher for the 101st Airborne Division was doing research and noticed a serial number on the plane, Melissa Ogden, Chief Development Officer for Commemorative Air Force (CAF) explained, said to the

 (Via Kickstarter)

“The plane at the time during the war was called That’s All Brother,” Ogden explains to the “The reason that it’s so historically significant is because 10 minutes after midnight on June 6th, 1944, there was a massive formation of over 800 troop transport planes that dropped 13,000 paratroopers behind enemy lines in Normandy, and this was the lead plane; the tip of the spear.  The name of the plane was a message to Adolf Hitler, with this, his invasion plans were done.”

“I got a gift from a guy who sent in 101 dollars in memory of a family member who had jumped with the 101st on Normandy,” Ogden said with a smile.

“We will be able to fly this plane around the country. Taking it to schools around the country. We’re going to use it as an amazing experiential education program. When you board we’ll darken the interior. They’ll be hidden sensors and speakers. You’ll feel like your actually flying through the night skies in Normandy.”

Today, the aircraft is painted as an AC-47 gunship from the Vietnam era, but never served in that role (Via Kickstarter)

An aircraft restoration project does come with risks alongside the joy of success. The CAF is no stranger to these dynamics and has analyzed the various risk factors involved with "That's All, Brother".

CAF sent an experienced mechanic to conduct a detailed pre-purchase inspection, which concluded that the aircraft was a good candidate for restoration. "That's All Brother" was in airworthy condition as recently as seven years ago and its airframe and engine logbooks are intact. Most importantly the basic airframe is in solid condition with minimal structural corrosion. The Douglas C-47 was produced in large quantity and is still used extensively in military and civilian operations today, which provides a heightened level of access to spare parts, expertise and equipment. CAF is acquiring the aircraft from Basler Turbo Conversions LLC which has pledged ongoing technical support and access to its extensive holdings of C-47 spare parts.

Today, the aircraft is painted as an AC-47 gunship from the Vietnam era, but never served in that role (Via Kickstarter)

Additionally, CAF’s confidence in approaching this restoration is based on numerous similar projects that have been successfully completed since the organization was founded in 1957. CAF is the largest operator of vintage military aircraft in the world, supported by a staff of 30 people and several thousand passionate volunteers.

Finally it is acknowledged that while flying a historic aircraft can be a source of unparalleled inspiration and educational value, it also carries a level of operational risk. This risk is mitigated by the CAF's robust safety management system, the 70+ year operational record and flight characteristics of the C-47, and the existence of several C-47s preserved in static museum collections around the world: for example the Pathfinder 42-93096 at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

42-92847 led Mission Albany a formation of 432 aircraft that, just after midnight on D-Day, dropped more than 6,600 paratroopers behind enemy lines on the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy. Named "That's All, Brother", this airplane led the first major blow in the Allied liberation of Europe.

Did you notice a small dog in the first few seconds of the film? We know that one of the pilots of “That's All, Brother” took his dog along for the historic flight on D-Day! 

The airplane was commanded by Col. John M. Donalson of Birmingham, Alabama. For superior flying skills exhibited in extensive daylight and night training, his unit had been selected to lead the American airborne landings in Normandy. The full flight crew of “That's All, Brother” on D-Day was:

  • Lt. Col. John M. Donalson, Command Pilot (438th Troop Carrier Group Commander) 
  • Lt. Col. David E. Daniel, Pilot (87th Squadron Commander) 
  • 1st Lt. Barney Blankenship, Co-Pilot 
  • 2nd Lt. John N. Shallcross, Navigator 
  • S.Sgt. Harry A. Chalfant, Crew Chief 
  • 2nd Lt. Robert G. Groswird, 2nd Navigator 
  • S.Sgt. Woodrow S. Wilson, Radio Operator (wounded by flak during the D-Day mission)

In researching the history of the aircraft we discovered an amazing piece of film shot at Greenham Common airfield in England at dusk on June 5th, 1944. It shows “That's All, Brother” departing on its historic mission to launch the liberation of Europe.

“That's All, Brother” actually flew two missions on D-Day. In the evening of June 6, 1944 it towed a glider carrying men of the 82nd Airborne Division as part of mission Elmira.  

“That's All, Brother” had an impressive combat record after D-Day. It participated in Operation Market Garden, the relief of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, and Operation Varsity.

Click Here [PDF download] to read a more detailed history of “That's All, Brother” written by the CAF's Curator, Keegan Chetwynd.

Original video footage from the evening before D-Day, June 5, 1944 filmed by American Military personnel.
Seen in the video members of the 101st Airborne Division, and more specifically, men of the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) are preparing the aircraft at Greenham Common Airfield in the United Kingdom The men seen are marching to the aircraft with camouflaged faces wearing their battle equipment. Before these men board and depart for the invasion of Normandy, they are read a letter, circulated from Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe. The video depicts on board aircraft of the 87th Troop Carrier Squadron (438th Troop Carrier Group). The focal point of the video is the preparation and departure of the lead aircraft named That's All, Brother (42-92847) present at her send off are Lt. Gen. Louis H. Brereton, commander of the 9th Air Force, and Lt. Col. Louis R. Goodrich. Piloting the aircraft will be Col. John Donalson, commander of the 438th TCG and Lt. Col. David Daniel, commander of the 87th TCS (Via CAF Media - Youtube Channel)

What’s next?

  1. Restore That’s All, Brother to flying condition, with the most authentic WWII configuration possible.
  1. Create a unique educational program that uses That’s All, Brother as a “flying classroom” that travels throughout the country

Source: | | | CAF Media (Youtube)

WW2 Timeline: 

Nation in war: 


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