C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by snoopy »

From yesteryear, back when our Sqn still flew radial Daks. When Noah was contemplating building the ark. :wink:

My own photo. They leaked oil, and rain, and they could make you go deaf if the mixture was wrong on start up, (pew,pew,pew, followed by a loud bang, followed by what sounded like a steam kettle's whistle whining down) and caused the Sqn OC to chew his pipe to pieces every time that happened....but these old girls were loved all the same. They were shot at often, but never got shot down during our war years. Even a terr shooting a SAM at flying dope and canvas, didn't work out on that day. And they flew fresh supplies into no man's land to soldiers far from everything, without fuss...for years on end.

They probably would have kept on flying till the USS Enterprise was pulled out of a space dock one day, but their new engines and mods shortened their lives.

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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by flypiper »

Yip to all the Dak lovers,

The line up at Swartkops we were there to experiance the nostalgia what a sad endiing of susch a workhorse.

Regards to all.
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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by V5 - LEO »

....can't help thinking that the old style of stick and rudder also phases out with the new generation of pllots and technology.
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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by StressMerchant »

So here's a question for the SAAF Dak fundis:
Why don't the SAAF Daks have data plates?

The TP Daks have data plates, but they were manufactured and installed during the turbine conversion program, they are not the original ones.

Over the years I have heard three stories:

Story 1: The data plates were removed because the aircraft were being used to supply UNITA in Angola and RENAMO in Mozambique. The lack of data plates meant that, should an aircraft be captured, the SA Government could deny it.

Story 2: The data plates were removed because the SAAF acquired several additional aircraft during sanctions, and wanted to hide their origins. They removed all data plates to disguise the additional aircraft. (Note: Records suggest that additional aircraft were acquired, and assigned SAAF numbers, ie 68xx, belonging to SAAF aircraft that had previously been written off)

Story 3: The 84 aircraft were originally delivered to the SAAF during WW2 as part of the lend-lease arrangement through the UK. At then end of the war an arrangement was made for the SAAF to retain some of the aircraft, but a (random?) list was generated of the airframes that were to be returned. The SAAF removed the data plates so that they could be selective of which airframes they returned.

Of the three stories, I personally favoured option 3. I was told that the Harvards, supplied under lend-lease (?), also had their original data plates removed.

Anyone have the real story?
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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by StressMerchant »

snoopy wrote: Fri May 10, 2024 12:48 pm From yesteryear, back when our Sqn still flew radial Daks. When Noah was contemplating building the ark. :wink:

They leaked oil, and rain, and they could make you go deaf if the mixture was wrong on start up, (pew,pew,pew, followed by a loud bang, followed by what sounded like a steam kettle's whistle whining down) and caused the Sqn OC to chew his pipe to pieces every time that happened....but these old girls were loved all the same.
From an old email I was sent, not sure of the original source:

We gotta get rid of those turbines, they're ruining aviation and our hearing... A turbine is too simple minded, it has no mystery. The air travels through it in a straight line and doesn't pick up any of the pungent fragrance of engine oil or pilot sweat. Anybody can start a turbine. You just need to move a switch from 'OFF' to 'START' and then remember to move it back to 'ON' after a while. My PC is harder to start. Cranking a round engine requires skill, finesse, and style. You have to seduce it into starting. On some planes, the pilots aren't even allowed to do it ... Turbines start by whining for a while, then give a lady-like poof and start whining a little louder. Round engines give a satisfying rattle-rattle, click-click, BANG, more rattles, another BANG, a big macho fart or two, more clicks, a lot more smoke, and finally a serious low pitched roar. We like that. It's a GUY thing ... When you start a round engine, your mind is engaged, and you can concentrate on the flight ahead. Starting a turbine is like flicking on a ceiling fan, useful, but hardly exciting. When you have started his round engine successfully, your crew chief looks up at you like he'd let you kiss his girl, too! Turbines don't break or catch fire often enough, leading to aircrew boredom, complacency, and inattention. A round engine at speed looks and sounds like it's going to blow any minute. This helps concentrate the mind! Turbines don't have enough control levers or gauges to keep a pilot's attention. There's nothing to fiddle with during long flights. Turbines smell like a Boy Scout camp full of Coleman lamps. Round engines smell like God intended machines to smell.
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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by Swivel »

All Dakotas had data plates mounted at the entrances to the cockpits.
It is true that the SAAF reallocated tail numbers during the bush war.
The data plates helped the number crunching enthusiasts to correctly identify the true identities while the aircraft were in SAAF service.
Data plates that are no longer present on aircraft, have often been removed by "collectors" who spoil identification for the true enthusiasts.
There is also documented evidence of data plates having been illegally swopped between airframes.
It was also not uncommon for SAAF tail numbers to be swopped between aircraft in an attempt to confuse enthusiasts (and spies) particularly when sensitive or secret (sanctions busting) work was taking place. I have logbook evidence of pilots not knowing the correct tail numbers of the aircraft they were actually flying.
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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by Hotspur »

Hi SM

T 'is I who has been dumb enough to tackle to Dakota in SA as a book project........17 years of blood, sweat and tears to date. Around 95% of the text is done, the sifting through some 6000 images and subsequent captioning will start in the next month or so. The plan is to go to print in October and release in November. At the moment the manuscript is 490 pages - text only - I suspect it will touch 550 prior to the images being added.

This is the current structure, however there are a couple more chapters to be added (eg the gunship project etc).

Very keen to hear from anyone who would like to contribute, be it a single photograph, a tale to be told, experiences......all most welcome. :D

With regards to the data plates, It doesn't appear there was a specific SAAF process in managing them, I've seen original ones on SAAF Daks, new ones on SAAF Daks, new ones on TP's etc etc. Yes, the SAAF did recycle some serial numbers with new arrivals during the sanctions era to try confuse anyone taking note of these things but even then it was fairly straight-forward to work out which numbers had been recycled. At the end of WW2 the Dakotas on 28 Sqn strength were ring-fenced and came down to the Union in September / October 1945 to add to the numbers operating with 5 Wing, but all would have been fairly low-time airframes anyway. A large number of Dakotas also passed through 28 (and 44 Sqn) during the war for only a couple of weeks before they were moved on to other (mostly RAF) units, a process which would have kept the hours down as well - thus it doesn't appear there was any real selection process.
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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by Ugly Duckling »

StressMerchant wrote: Sat May 11, 2024 12:21 pm
snoopy wrote: Fri May 10, 2024 12:48 pm From yesteryear, back when our Sqn still flew radial Daks. When Noah was contemplating building the ark. :wink:

They leaked oil, and rain, and they could make you go deaf if the mixture was wrong on start up, (pew,pew,pew, followed by a loud bang, followed by what sounded like a steam kettle's whistle whining down) and caused the Sqn OC to chew his pipe to pieces every time that happened....but these old girls were loved all the same.
From an old email I was sent, not sure of the original source:

We gotta get rid of those turbines, they're ruining aviation and our hearing... A turbine is too simple minded, it has no mystery. The air travels through it in a straight line and doesn't pick up any of the pungent fragrance of engine oil or pilot sweat. Anybody can start a turbine. You just need to move a switch from 'OFF' to 'START' and then remember to move it back to 'ON' after a while. My PC is harder to start. Cranking a round engine requires skill, finesse, and style. You have to seduce it into starting. On some planes, the pilots aren't even allowed to do it ... Turbines start by whining for a while, then give a lady-like poof and start whining a little louder. Round engines give a satisfying rattle-rattle, click-click, BANG, more rattles, another BANG, a big macho fart or two, more clicks, a lot more smoke, and finally a serious low pitched roar. We like that. It's a GUY thing ... When you start a round engine, your mind is engaged, and you can concentrate on the flight ahead. Starting a turbine is like flicking on a ceiling fan, useful, but hardly exciting. When you have started his round engine successfully, your crew chief looks up at you like he'd let you kiss his girl, too! Turbines don't break or catch fire often enough, leading to aircrew boredom, complacency, and inattention. A round engine at speed looks and sounds like it's going to blow any minute. This helps concentrate the mind! Turbines don't have enough control levers or gauges to keep a pilot's attention. There's nothing to fiddle with during long flights. Turbines smell like a Boy Scout camp full of Coleman lamps. Round engines smell like God intended machines to smell.
The sounds and smells are real :D
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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by StressMerchant »

They probably would have kept on flying till the USS Enterprise was pulled out of a space dock one day, but their new engines and mods shortened their lives.
I'd disagree with that, although we can probably debate it for years.

In my opinion the real issue was the lack of budget and people. The assigned operational budget was insufficient to keep the whole fleet operating, so they were pulled out of service one by one to be a source of spares to the remaining airframes. Add to that the loss of personnel when the Denel AMG contract was ended, and the type could simply not be supported.
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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by kudu177 »

Sad day indeed.

I was present at AFB Swartkop when the SAAF put dozens of radial-engine C-47s in the air for a flypast to celebrate the Dak's 50th birthday.

My Paratus magazine photographer caught the moment on film as they flew overhead. The noise was indescribable. :shock:
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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by Airframe driver »

And they will be replaced with…?

The old adage of …the only replacement for a Dak, is another Dak … comes to mind. But then again…

Having flown both the piston and turbine Dak, I am saddened to finally see them go.
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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by 7675 »

Unpopular opinion

The SAAF Daks should never have been upgraded in the first place and should have been retired in the late 80’s or early 90’s. The SAAF (even with sanctions) was offered more modern alternatives. Nostalgia is sweet, but the TP Dak was a poor decision.
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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by marius scheepers »

I wonder what happened to the money that was paid for the Airbus A400 transport planes which the SAAF reserved and later decided to abort the purchase, didnt that money go towards another stuff up in regards to some commercial airbus purchases?
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Re: C-47 Dakota (TP variant) to finally bow out of SAAF service

Unread post by snoopy »

marius scheepers wrote: Fri May 17, 2024 3:09 pm I wonder what happened to the money that was paid for the Airbus A400 transport planes which the SAAF reserved and later decided to abort the purchase, didnt that money go towards another stuff up in regards to some commercial airbus purchases?
Thats more related to heavier airlift capability - not the Dak's classification. SANDF was recently still looking at smaller transports from Brazil for example. As mentioned earlier. If the present regime replaces the Dak with anything it will probably a product originating out of the BRICS group of nations. But the ZAR is still royally buggered, and money is tight in government (self inflicted causes).

Airbus paid Armscor back R3.5 billion for pre-delivery payments made by Armscor. It wasn't the SAAF's money. But Armcor has changed a lot since 2011, and had the expense of a lot of downscaling. So one should ask what Armscor/Denel did with the money.

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