C-47 Skytrain "Old Number 30" Airbase Arizona
“Old Number 30” is a C-47A produced by Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, CA and delivered to the Army Air Force in April 1943. The airplane was then assigned to the 60th Troop Carrier Group (TCG), 11th Troop Carrier Squadron (TCS) and flown to the Mediterranean Theatre in May 1943. During the period of 1943-1945 it operated from numerous U.S. and British Airbases in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. On those missions “Old Number 30” flew invasion troops into Southern Europe, towed gliders during the Invasion of Sicily, dropped spies, propaganda and supplies for the OSS and SOE in Serbia, delivered supplies, artillery and mules to Yugoslav Partisan forces, flew night rescue missions of partisans and war orphans in Yugoslavia, and dropped food to starving Greeks. Allied action in this region seriously weakened the ability of the Nazi’s to continue to control the territory. The 60th TCG and the aircrews of “Old Number 30” were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation – the highest unit award in the military. These stories, and “Old Number 30” in particular, were lost to history until recently. A Presidential Executive Order in 1995 resulted in the declassification of long-secret military documents giving details of many of these operations. Non-fiction books such as “The Forgotten 500” (G. Freeman) and “The Secret War in the Balkans” (R. Kraemer) began to tell the stories that included the exploits of the C-47 aircrews as some of the bravest and most heroic in aviation. Airbase Arizona member Col. Ben York dove into some serious research when “Old Number 30” was offered for sale locally, and what he found was breathtaking. As we continue ongoing research on “Old Number 30” and the history of the 60th TCG and its crews, we continue to learn of additional details of its missions.
Wartime Mission: Highly classified missions transporting spies and supplies and rescuing wounded and refugees. This actual aircraft’s heroic missions were lost to history for 70 years until now. “Old Number 30” is named after a mule, serial number 30, that was one of four mules flown along with four partisan commandos in the dead of night from Brindisi, Italy to a top-secret site in the Balkans in 1944. Mule #30, along with 35 other mules hauled twelve 75-mm guns through the mountains to attack Nazi occupiers. This was one of thousands of missions conducted under fire. Arizona CAF Museum has embarked on an ambitious fundraising program to restore “Old Number 30” to its authentic interior and exterior.
Post-war, the C-47 is a modified version of the Douglas DC-3 “Dakota” passenger airliner and was used as a corporate plane after WWII. She was then purchased by the “Wings of Flight Foundation” before arriving at Arizona CAF Museum.