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C-46 Commando joins the Military Aviation Museum Fleet

(July 11, 2023, Virginia Beach, VA) - The Military Aviation Museum proudly announces the acquisition of the Curtiss C-46 Commando, known as The Tinker Belle, from its caretakers, the City of Monroe, North Carolina, in partnership with the non-profit organization Warriors and Warbirds.

"The Tinker Belle" has long been a centerpiece of the Warbirds Over Monroe Air Show at the Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport, where it was based. It has captivated audiences across the United States and Canada, symbolizing the heroic efforts during World War II.

Officially designated as the Curtiss C-46 Commando, "The Whale," as it was affectionately known, played a crucial role in Air Transport Command operations over the Himalayan Mountains, famously referred to as "The Hump," in the CBI (China-Burma-India) Theatre during World War II. The crews who flew C-46s and C-47s became the backbone of history's largest and longest airlift. Despite their tremendous achievements, this triumph came at a significant cost, with the loss of numerous aircraft, crew, and cargo.

By the end of World War II, the Hump airlift operation was a staggering endeavor, with aircraft crossing every 1.3 minutes on average. This figure is astonishing and even more so compared to the one every 13 minutes that Air Transport Command was operating across the Atlantic and the one every 90 minutes they were dispatching across the Pacific. Over 34,000 U.S. Army Air Force personnel and 47,000 local laborers from Burma, India, and China made this airlift operation a reality. It even involved utilizing local elephants to replace unserviceable forklifts!

“We are very excited to welcome the C-46 to the collection here at the Military Aviation Museum,” said Museum Director Keegan Chetwynd. He noted further that “Visitors to the Museum will be able to enjoy an up-close look at the aircraft, and even the opportunity to get inside *The Tinker Belle *in the not-too-distant future."

Photo Credit: Scott Slocum / AeroMediaGroup.com

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