Dakotas return to the skies to commemorate 75 years since D-Day

The Dakotas fly again: Thirty vintage planes from nine countries including US, Finland and Hungary reunite in the skies over England to commemorate lethal D-Day air drop

  • Group of 30 Douglas DC-3 and C-48 Skytrains, more commonly known as Dakotas, took off from RAF Duxford
  • They flew in formation after arriving at Cambridgeshire air base from USA, France and all over the world 
  • Dakotas considered one of most effective military planes in history and dropped 1000s on Normandy shores 

Dakotas returned to the skies to mark 75 years since they took thousands of troops across enemy lines to reclaim France from the Nazis on D-Day. 

Thirty vintage Douglas DC-3 and C-47 Skytrains, more commonly referred to as Dakotas, flew in dramatic formation this afternoon to recreate the historic journeys the planes made on June 6 1944. 

Dakotas, or Daks, were used to drop 156,000 British and other Allied forces on Normandy’s beaches on that fateful day, which marked the start of the road to victory over the Nazis 11 months later. 

They came in to land at the Imperial War Museum at RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire after their impressive mid-air display, which saw the greatest number of Daks together in one place since the Second World War.  

Thirty vintage Douglas DC-3 and C-47 (three pictured) Skytrains, more commonly referred to as Dakotas, flew in formation this afternoon to recreate the fateful journeys the planes made on June 6 1944 before landing at RAF Duxford

A Douglas C-53, or Dakota, is pictured taking off from the run way at RAF Duxford in Cambridgeshire today as part of this week’s 75th D-Day anniversary commemorations 

Today’s impressive mid-air display saw the greatest number of Daks together in one place since the Second World War

The Douglas DC-3 and C-47 Skytrains, commonly referred to as Dakotas, ferried thousands of Allied troops into Nazi-occupied Europe on D-Day.

During Operation Overlord, 1,200 planes were used as part of an airborne assault – which saw as many as 4,400 British, American and Canadian paratroopers killed.

The C-47 Skytrain was developed from the Douglas DC-3 civilian airliner.

It was a crucial part of the Allies’ arsenal in World War Two – and is still used in military service.

The C-47 was fitted with a cargo door, strengthened floor and hoist attachment – as well as a shortened tail cone for glider-towing shackles.

C-47s were used to transport troops, cargo and the wounded.

The planes came from the UK, United States, France, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Denmark, Finland and Hungary to take part in today’s commemorative flight. 

Operation Overlord saw 1,200 planes take part in an airborne assault followed by an amphibious attack involving more than 5,000 boats.

British, American and Canadian paratroopers landed on French soil shortly after midnight and came in either by parachute or by glider.

It is thought as many as 4,400 were killed in the operation Winston Churchill described as ‘undoubtedly the most complicated and difficult that has ever taken place’. The style of aircraft is considered one of the most effective in military history. 

Earlier today in Normandy, crowds applauded as British veterans arrived at the American cemetery near Colleville-sur-Mer to pay tribute to their fallen colleagues.  

Across the Channel in Poole, British veterans were given a proper military welcome as their ship, the MV Boudicca, docked on the Dorset coast as part of their week-long anniversary tour of the UK and France.

Flotilla and other small boats put on a sea display as the cruise liner approached the port as serving Royal Marines waved Union Jacks from the shore.  

Two boats have been commissioned to take veterans on a week-long tour of the UK and France this week.  

Dakotas (group pictured ahead for their anniversary flight yesterday), or Daks, were used to drop 156,000 British and other Allied forces on Normandy’s beaches on that fateful day, which marked the start of the journey to victory over the Nazis 11 months later

Final preparations are made at RAF Duxford last night ahead of today’s formation flight over the English countryside 

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