Refurbishing the Yankee Air Museum’s C-47

The Yankee Air Museum's C-47 is currently undergoing a major facelift at Kalitta Air in Oscoda, Michigan. The museum has significant plans for further refinements, which will be revealed this July. (image via Kalitta Air)
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Oscoda, Michigan—The Kalitta Maintenance division of Kalitta Air is making quick work of a huge restoration project. They are putting a new finish on the Yankee Air Museum’s first airplane, a World War Two era Douglas C-47 Skytrain. The plane flew into Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport a scant ten days ago and the Kalitta team immediately pored and pored over the project to prepare it for fresh paint. First, the plane was washed of its severely weathered paint and then painstaking detail work was done by hand.

“This project is going well, very well,” said Greg Ruby, Structures Manager for Kalitta Maintenance. “Our team is loving this project. It’s unique for them and they’re learning about historical aircraft design and manufacturing techniques.”

Ruby said that once plane was stripped of its topcoat, close inspections were possible, and the airplane was found to be in great condition considering it is 73 years of age. Ruby commented that the Yankee Air Museum C-47 crew has been on hand periodically to check the condition of the aircraft and consult on its maintenance.

Kalitta Air maintenance personnel discussing plans for the refurbishment of the Yankee Air Museum’s C-47D 44-76716 “Yankee Doodle Dandy”. (photo via Kalitta Air)

“My dad was a World War Two Veteran and he would be very proud of this project,” said Bill Hensley, Account Executive with Sherwin-Williams Aerospace Coatings. “He passed away a number of years ago, but it would make him happy that this history is being preserved.”

Sherwin-Williams is supplying the paint and related products for the external restoration while Kalitta Maintenance is providing the technical expertise, skilled labor and facilities for the project.

“The coatings to be applied are military grade,” said Fernando Hernandez, Technical Service Representative with Sherwin-Williams Aerospace Coatings. “When the plane is done, it will be fit for service as everything we are supplying meets military specifications.”

Hernandez says careful attention was given to assure the paint mixtures replicate World War Two colors and are consistent from start to finish.

“The next time you see her, she’ll have color, and we will be reinstalling the control surfaces and getting her ready to fly again,” said Ruby. “We’re very pleased to be part of this project and make a contribution to aviation history and the Yankee Air Museum.”

This C-47 transport aircraft was first delivered to the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1945. It flew in a variety of roles until being acquired by Yankee Air Museum in 1982. After a 20-month restoration, the Museum started flying her again in May 1984. The Kalitta Air donation is providing the first exterior restoration in 34 years, and it will last a lifetime.

The Yankee Air Museum’s C-47D undergoing its external transformation at the Kalitta Air Maintenance facility in Oscoda, Michigan. You can see a pile of her engine cowlings in the foreground. (photo via Kalitta Air)

Kalitta Air, a worldwide leader in specialized, on-demand air freight services, and Yankee Air Museum jointly announced this restoration project in November 2017.


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