As many readers will know, the D-Day Squadron is organizing a fleet of US-based Douglas C-47s to make the journey to Normandy, France in June, 2019 to take part in the 75th anniversary celebrations of D-Day. This is a challenging endeavor, not least because of the immense challenges surrounding its organization, but also because of the expenses involved. The D-Day Squadron has therefore been soliciting partners to help defray some of the costs of this worthy mission. They are very pleased to announce that noted aviation artist Gary Velasco, owner of Fighting Colors, will be supporting their efforts. Velasco will be creating a limited edition run of his famous ‘nose art’ panels which will feature recreations of artwork worn by specific C-47s in World War II. A percentage of the sales will be donated to a D-Day Squadron charitable fund that is helping to transport veterans, students and the vintage American aircraft to the celebrations in Normandy.
Moreno Aguiari, D-Day Squadron Executive Director said, “Gary and his team have painstakingly researched all available records of the artwork, aircraft and units they were attached to in replicating each panel represented in their catalog. I am really excited to have Fighting Colors as a partner of the D-Day Squadron.”
Gary Velasco added that. “We are very pleased that the D-Day Squadron choose Fighting Colors to create their C-47 panels. We believe in supporting good mission oriented projects and support the veterans in the process.”
Velasco has chosen to replicate the nose art for C-47A 42-24190 SUGARPUSS with his first panel. This aircraft belonged to the 90th Troop Carrier Squadron within the 438th TCG of the 9th Air Force and was based out of RAF Greenham Common near Newbury in Berkshire, England. The 438th TCG, commanded by Lt.Col.John M. Donalson, led the main airborne invasion force over Normandy in the early hours of June 6th, 1944, dropping elements of the 101st Airborne Division. The surviving crews returned later that day towing a fleet of 50 combat gliders (14 CG-4As and 36 Horsas) as part of Mission Elmira with Glider Field Artillery units aboard to support the 82nd Airborne in France. The 438th later received a Distinguished Unit Citation for their actions over Normandy. Flown by Lt.Gib Estrelle (pilot) and Lt.Marcus Portzline, C-47 SUGARPUSS was hit by flak on her second D-Day hop. With her fuel system compromised, it seemed unlikely the aircraft could make it back to base before having to ditch. However, Sugarpuss’s enterprising crew chief, Sgt. Porto, managed to splice some of the fuel lines together in the air, allowing the crippled Skytrain the range to limp back across the channel. She landed as soon as possible on the southern coast of England at RAF Warmwell near Dorchester, Dorset. Sugarpuss survived WWII and made it into civilian hands, however there is conflicting information as to her fate. Her manufacturer’s construction number 10052 appears in two different airframe histories. One of these aircraft, registered as NC64722, was lost in a fatal accident with Eagle Air Freight on March 8th, 1948. However the other aircraft passed through a series of operators in the USA and Canada, before ending up in Peru, where presumably, she eventually met her end.