An R4D (and DC-3's)
Not like this:
MAAM's award-winning R4D has been the first opportunity for thousands to see, touch, and in some cases, even fly in the famous DC-3 - acclaimed by many as the greatest aircraft of all time. This wonderful craft has also, along with the museum's somewhat newer Martin 404, has also been a primary "bread winner", and the loss of engines on both these aircraft has been a costly misfortune. Your donations will help not only to replace the engines, but again bring the "golden age" of aviation to enthusiastic airshow visitors and not incidentally, restore the flow of airshow income which is so important to MAAM's continued survival and growth. More information
|Mail your donations to:
Mid Atlantic Air Museum
11 Museum Drive, Reading, PA 19605
call (610) 372-7333 for a credit card donation,
or donate at the online store.
|Check out in the MAAM R4D Simulator (proceeds from sales of the simulator CD go to the engine fund - purchase it at the online store.)|
A Brief History of R4D-6 50819 (from the March/April 1990 Members Newsletter)
The big Douglas R4D-6 was acquired as the Mid Atlantic Air Museum’s first aircraft in May, 1981. After a long career with the Navy and then with the FAA, the aircraft was offered as surplus in 1980. Museum President, Russ Strine, undertook to sponsor the acquisition and subsequent restoration costs for the Douglas.
Built as an R4D-6 for the Navy at Kansas City, it came off the assembly line during November 1944. (R4D-6 breaks down as follows: R=Transport; 4=4th type transport procured by the Navy; D=Letter designation for Douglas; 6=6th model of the 4th type procured, hence R4D-6). The R4D received USN Bureau number 50819 and was immediately assigned to the Naval Air Transport Service, Squadron VR-2, at Norfolk, Va. (V=Heavier than air; R=Transport; 2=Second Squadron). "819" served in the "Pool", shared by Quonset Point, RI, and Norfolk before being outfitted as an Admiral’s ship. Records indicate the aircraft also served at Olathe; San Diego; Memphis; Barbers Point, HI, and at Lakehurst, NJ, acquiring a low 7000 hours before being retired at the Navy’s Litchfield Park storage facility in 1959. In 1960, the FAA undertook the acquisition of 20 R4D aircraft for use as airways facility flight check aircraft. In this program the FM outfitted each aircraft with electronics in a standardized manner and assigned them to various regions of the United States to perform airway facility flight checks and to check the various beacons and instrument landing systems within the assigned areas. Carrying the registration numbers N60, N68, and later N68AH, "819" performed these duties at Boise, Idaho, and San Francisco, among others, with its last assignment the FAA’s NAFEC facility (National Aeronautical Facilities Evaluation Center) at Atlantic City, New Jersey.
While assigned there, the aircraft had an engine failure while flight checking the Harrisburg (Middletown) Instrument Landing System, and narrowly escaped destruction while parked at NAFD when a TWA 707 performing crew training crashed and burned coming to rest just yards away. As a result, "819" suffered damage to a wing tip and received numerous holes in the left wing. Those patches can still be seen. In 1976, the aircraft was again surplus and was transferred to the USDA at Douglas, AZ., for use in their screw worm eradication program. Soon after departure from Atlantic City for Arizona the left engine failed, and the crew diverted to NAS Patuxent River for repairs before finally going on to Douglas, Arizona. When inspecting the aircraft during the fall of 1980 for possible acquisition, museum President, Russ Strine, found the last entry in the logbook read "remember - left engine is new - 13.2 Hrs."
Russ also found the aircraft in original FAA condition with little or none of the equipment removed. "819" had remained idle for nearly four years since the "screw worm program" was wrapping up in the area and the aircraft really wasn’t needed.
Having accumulated just over 21 ,000 hours, the R4D was about to begin a prestigious new life. The decision was made to accept the airplane, with the acquisition cost being $3,000, although much more would need to be spent to get the airplane home, and then restored.
Gene Strine, his truck loaded with new tires and tubes, oil drums, tools, misc, parts, and two helpers left for Arizona. In a week‘s time, the R4D was ready to come home, arriving at Harrisburg in late November 1980.
Restoration work was begun inmediately. On the outside, the old paint was
removed, and inside the old flight check equipment, wiring and radio racks were
from the fuselage. In all, 4800 lb. of radios and racks including a three-sided console and a workbench with a vise, and 600 lb. of wire were removed. At the same time, professional sheetmetal specialists went to work to remove two "picture windows" which had been installed in the forward fuselage and to rebuild the cockpit and forward cabin areas.
A search was conducted for original seats, which were procured more or less piece by piece from around the country. By May, 1981, the aircraft was airworthy, though very incomplete, and attended its first two shows - York, Pa., and McGuire AFB, NJ. The aircraft had not been painted nor had the interior been installed; however, several seats had been fitted to allow those then new members who helped make the restoration a reality to participate.
Now came MMM’S first big test - to paint the R4D in authentic award-winning-style in the 10 day period between the McGuire show and the Canadian Warplane Heritage show at Hamilton, Ontario. Dedicated and enthusiastic members met the challenge, however, and with a number of late nights both men and women alike cleaned, masked, papered the airplane and arranged stands for Gene Strine who was to do the painting. 32 gallons of a specially mixed flat silver polyurethane paint was applied along with authentic markings - all in time for Hamilton. The R4D was well on the way to becoming a hit and regular airshow fixture at east coast shows.
During the second winter the interior was completed, and in the authentic high style of the period. Flat racks were procured and installed as was flooring, baggage area, radio racks, lavatory, headliner, etc. As well, the exterior was further upgraded with correct antennas, an original nose, and other details. An "airline" style radio package was also installed and disguised under WWII style controls. (That first year the flying had been done using a single portable radio plugged into a cigarette lighter receptacle for power).With the R4D now completed, MAAM attended the 1982 EAA Convention at Oshkosh where the "Best Transport" Award was bestowed on the R4D by the EAA Warbirds of America. In 1983, after two years of "working restoration" the effort paid off. The R4D was awarded the "Grand Champion Warbird" Award and MAAM received the Lindbergh trophy for the effort. MAAM also received a citation award from the Pennsylvania Senate, and a congratulatory merit letter from the Governor.
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