An informative & entertaining online magazine from The Dakota Hunter about vintage aviation with a focus on the Douglas DC-3 / C-47 / Dakota.

This DC-3 Club Magazine will be updated every week with new posts running parallel with Hans’ FB site (https://www.facebook.com/thedakotahunter)

The Dakota Hunter Blog

Nippon’s WWII Aircraft Carrying Monster Submarines built to attack the US Westcoast.

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Nippon’s Imperial Navy was capable of astounding engineering prowess that surely must have surprised the Allied Forces during the wartime. In this Dakota Hunter Blog, you can read about their Monster Submarines: each of them carried three aircraft inside their hulls for an airborne launch from the open sea. With their unparalleled (and undetected) range underwater, the subs were capable of circumnavigating the globe one-and-a-half times without refueling. Raids were planned on the US Mainland with biological bomb attacks and on the Gatun Locks in Panama, in the hope to block the Canal for months. In the end, it came all to no avail, their effort being too late and too small-scale to turn the tide for the Axis Powers (as was the case with most of the Jap and Nazi wonder-weapons like the Jet powered fighters/ bombers, the V-1 & V-2, the Kamikaze aircraft etc.) Read More

Surprising TOP-25 List of most built Allied & Axis Aircraft Types,1940-1945.

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If you always wanted to know how many aircraft have been produced during the war years, here is your Must-Read List, ranked in an order of (American) Aircraft Output/ Quantities made between 1940 and 1945. On top, I have gathered some Production numbers of the German, Japanese and Russian Fighters made in WW II. Surprise, as the aircraft type that won the “Overall wartime-production/quantity-battle between 1940-45”, is probably not what you might think! (Feature Picture depicts the P-51D Mustang, the Post-war built Bf-109 look-alike. license-built Spanish Buchon, and the Supermarine Spitfire, all powered by basically the same Rolls Royce V-12 Merlin engine, photo by Michael McBroom.)

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Airborne Aircraft Carriers: Wing tip coupling giving a “free ride” to Fighters.

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In this DAKOTA HUNTER BLOG,  you will read about the concept of the Post-War Airborne Aircraft Carriers. During WWII, the flight range of the USAF  long-distance bombers made huge leaps forward with every new model that came out. Rapid technological development in Aero Engine Power output allowed upscaling to unprecedented dimensions of the airframe, wings, and internal fuel tanks. All that extra fuel stretched the flight range to well over 10.000 miles! Read More

PBY Catalina Operations over the SW Pacific during and after WWII

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In this Dakota Hunter Blog, you can read about the spectacular Military career of the Consolidated PBY Catalina in the SE Pacific from 1942 until the late-1950s.  The aircraft entered service with the USAAF, the US Navy, the RAAF, the RNZAF and the Dutch MLD (Militaire Luchtvaart Dienst) in what now is Indonesia. The Cat was so well designed for connecting the thousands of Islands that its Military service did not end by September 1945 with the capitulation of Japan. The amphibian soldiered on for another decade and longer, in Indonesia,  Taiwan, China, and the Phillippines both with the Military, the CIA and with civil operators. Read about that rather unknown episode in the history of the iconic Catalina in this Blog post. (For the full story with more information and 400 photographs, see my new book).

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A New Photo Album “80 Years, PBY Catalina”, the saga of the best Flying Boat ever made!

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Now presented by the Dakota Hunter, a stunning new photo album with over 400 unique photographs of the PBY.

Moments in time are captured in rarely seen images of  PBY Catalinas/ Cansos flying around the globe to places all over the Americas, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, to far-flung Caribbean and Pacific Islands, and to remote outposts in the Amazon, Alaska, Northern Canada, and Greenland. They can be seen at their mooring stations, even while attacking submarines, or hidden in lagoons as Black Cats during the war years. In the post-war years (1945-1999), you’ ll see the Catalina as a cargo/pax transport and as a water bomber in the firefighting role. Finally, there is a chapter with the Survivors, the Cats that made it into the New Age (2000-2017)

Romancing the Catalina: this book is made not only for the war-time history buffs but also for all those, dreaming of flying out one day around the world in their own air yacht, enjoying the total freedom in making a water landing in a blue lagoon or on a crystal clear lake. Also, many photos reminiscent of the “Golden Years of the Flying Boats“, with Cansos/ Catalinas being boarded by Holidaymakers/ passengers flying to exotic islands until the late 1950s, in Alaska, Canada, and Australia.

Read More

Melting Swiss Glacier releases debris of 1946 crashed USAAF C-53

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Feature photo no. 1



In this chapter, you’ll see a series of awesome photos of a C-53 Skytrooper that flew into an Alpine glacier some 75 years ago. All 8 passengers and 4 crew members on board were fortunate to survive the crash that ended in a harrowing slide over the snow-covered ice mass, named the Gauli Glacier in central Switzerland.

In that accident, the rugged C-53 remained remarkably intact, the reason that only a couple of occupants got lightly injured while all others stepped out unscathed. But their nightmare experience was not yet fully over. The position of the aircraft was not exactly known and hard to find in the adverse mountain weather. It took the rescuers six days and nights before they reached the spot and were able to airlift the occupants to the comfort of a hospital/hotel bed. Read More

Lockheed’s Mega Bomber that never was, the XB-30 based on the Constellation.

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INTRO: This Dakota Hunter Blog is en episode from a series of Vintage AVIATION related stories, published in my 2 Aviation Books, and/or in one of my 70+ Blog post about Aviation/ War History. My books & blogs are focused on stories related to the DOUGLAS DC-3 / C-47/ Dakota and the Consolidated PBY CATALINA/ Canso, but other vintage aircraft models like the P-51 Mustang, the Curtiss C-46 Commando, and the Lockheed Constellation are also featuring in my blogs. All Piston-Prop types are described in their Military roles during WWII, the Korean/ Vietnam-conflicts as well as in the post-war year in their civil operations as Coast Guard aircraft, Cargo/ Pax Haulers, or as Fire Fighters/ Survey Aircraft.

As the war came closer in 1939, the legendary  General Henry ‘Hap’ Arnold had the thoughtfulness to contemplate a list of specifications for the designing of a heavy bomber capable of flying a heavy bomb load of 8 tons over a long distance of 5,000 miles. A committee was formed (with Charles Lindberg as a member) to study the options that emerged with the awesome technological progress that had been made in the mid and late 1930s in aero-engines and airframe construction methods. New all-aluminum planes arrived that allowed for an unparalleled upscaling of speed and payloads by the stretching of aircraft to ever-bigger dimensions. Read More

Will the Douglas C-47/ Dakota forever fly or soon die?

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Feature photo nr.1
Could the new “Preferred Turbine-3” carry the Douglas  DC-3 legacy to its 100th anniversary?
Winter in America is cold, and out there in that winter wonderland, on 30 January 2018, I rode out to a small town named Kidron, somewhere in between Akron and Cleveland in the state of Ohio.
I was looking for a remote farm-road with a private airstrip. Hard to believe, but this is the place where they are remanufacturing old DC-3/ C-47 airframes into new DC-3 Turbo-Props, in series production!  I counted 12 DC-3/ C-47 airframes on the Preferred Airparts premises, in an odd mix of original airframes and extended fuselages that had already Turbo-Prop engines mounted before they came in here.
The photo nr 2: “Preferred Airparts, LLC” is the name of the company, and their President Brian Stoltzfus (at left) was so kind as to show me around. In their hangars, on their private airstrip. And their new projects on that cold winter day with snow-covered fields all around us.
More than 25 years ago, I visited the other existing DC-3 Turbo-Conversion company, Basler’s, in Oshkosh for purchasing their surplus Dakota parts. Ever since, I have been around in the world of the DC-3 and have met that legendary aircraft in all shapes between crashed wrecks, abandoned airframes lost in total decay or corrosion, dereliction, and full serviceability.
Visiting the Preferred Air parts hangars in Ohio with the ongoing works on engines and reskinning of wings and airframes was a more recent and an awesome experience for me. With all that vintage flying metal in the background, I’ll never have a dull day.
I have seen factories or hangars where they renovate or rather remanufacture the old Gooney Bird, in Oregon (with Paul Bazely’s AeroMetal), in Virginia (with Robert Randazzo).
And in my own country, in Lelystad, the Dutch Dakota Association (DDA does a similar job on their passengers-flying Dakota PH-PBA.  But also in El Alto, La Paz, Bolivia, and in Villavicencio, Colombia: there they did total overhauls of engines and complete reskinning jobs.
Visiting all those places over the world, I loved every one of them.
The photo nr. 3: Beautifully decorated DC-3 of Alaskan Bush Air Cargo. Ready for conversion,  this 75-year old transport awaits its turn for extending its commercial operations with yet another 25+ years lease of life.
That is what virtually happens out there now in Kidron, OH. I witnessed the total remaking of the oldest commercially operated transport in the World, preparing her to fly and work until 2044 and beyond.
Mishaps excluded, but if she makes it until or beyond that year, this icon of WWII origin will come to a respectable 100 years-of-age while still earning revenues for the owner!
 A century-old airborne transport still at work? Not like an oddball steam-locomotive or an exotic museum-supported aircraft that is maintained to be primarily an Airshow-Star.
But in Oshkosh and Kidron, they talk about vintage DC-3 aircraft, refurbished to surviving in numbers over a century, FAA-certified for commercial use, is that viable?
Let it be very clear; there is no boat, train, car, truck, or plane in the world that can come close to this achievement. If ever it will happen, the venerable C-47/ DC-3 will be most likely the first one in history to do so. being the World’s only age-old commercial transport.
This aircraft has a reputed ruggedness and longevity like no other machine in the world that made people moving faster and farther during (almost) a century.
Photo nr. 4: To prepare a flying time-machine to keep her airworthy beyond the year 2044, it takes some serious effort to make this happen. You cannot expect that the original radial engines, avionics, and electrical/ hydraulic systems can survive in an ongoing ‘war of attrition.’ They become simply less reliable and more expensive to keep them operational.
We all would love to see the original DC-3 with its P & W R-1830 radials surviving for a long time. Still, frankly, it will become less probable to sustain a commercial operation with this aircraft for another quarter of a century.
When it comes to surviving in a commercial role, you have to bring in the more advanced/ state-of-the-art aviation/ aero-engine technology. Simultaneously, the airframe remains intact, be it with a stretched fuselage for more payload.
For clarifying the rationale behind this, let it be said that the business-based operation of a DC-3 is a world apart from that of the C-47 in airshow operations.
While the authentic DC-3 with its radial engines always will prevail as being the absolute WWII ‘Icon of Victory’ in Museums and on airshows/ meetings, the competitive world of aerial transport knows quite different laws in which arguments like ” I like the original C-47/ Dakota/DC-3 better” are not adding much to its commercial value.
But yes, the argument surely adds sentimental value that counts big time for the aficionados (myself included) visiting those airshows and museums. But those privately/museum-owned DC-3s make a far lower number of flight hours, with less payload, and speed is no issue for those planes.
They are definitely not in the same demanding Commercial League where speed, payload, and operational costs are major factors to win an air-transport contract.
Brian, his brother Mark and nephews Colby and Austin are having strong confidence in developing this market of reconditioned/upgraded vintage aircraft as their Preferred Turbine-3 for commercial operations in the more remote regions where primitive conditions prevail.
In such circumstances, the ‘Old School’ design-features of the DC-3, like its big balloon tires and the taildragger configuration plus its low approach-speed, come to great avail. The non-asphalted airstrips, muddy jungle roads, and the Arctic’s harsh tundra tracks are mostly found in places where graders are not available to level the landing ground.
This creates a serious threat for modern aircraft with their high landing speeds and small (front-)wheels, that cannot handle serious bumps, pits, and potholes, often mud- or water-soaked and not very visible.
But the DC-3’s has the Big Wheels with soft Balloon tires. They keep on turning, in mud, sand, on beaches, riverbanks, or knobbly trails/moguls, where smaller wheels at high speed get stuck, collapse or run a flat tire.
The photo nr. 5: Preferred AirParts from Kidron, OH has collected old DC-3/C-47 airframes from all over the mainland USA and Alaska that came in flying or by ship/ road transport.
Also, from South Africa came the old “Dodson” Stock, and SAAF airframes from Wonderboom Airfield, Pretoria (photo courtesy Michael Prophet).
There is an ex-KLM DC-3 N3BA, and also two ex-‘Catalina Flying Boats Air Freight Service’ DC-3 airframes from San Diego, CA. The last one, N403JB was flown in on June 2017. It was still standing on the platform during my visit with original engines, waiting for conversion but forever ending the commercial flights with the old DC-3s on the US Mainland Westcoast.
They were replaced by the Cessna 208B Caravan (the Super Cargo Master), a high-wing monoplane, with max 13 passengers or 1,5-2 tons of payload, cruising at 200 knots.
Photo nr. 6: Latest information from Brian is that he also acquired the five C-47s in Zimbabwe from their Air Force and bought all of their spare parts and engines. The airframes were transferred by road to Wonderboom Airport near Johannesburg in July/August 2017.
Some years earlier, I saw the “Zim-Daks” coming for sale via an auction agency, based in South Africa. I was interested in parts, but the auction never took place. At least, it seems that they are now saved from the scrapper!
However, with five DC-3s that came for sale in Madagascar, it all went completely awry. For a long time, I negotiated with the Military out there.
All in vain, one day, I got a telephone call that all Dakotas were being scrapped and sold as aluminum ingots for the local production of domestic devices as pots and pans!
(For more details and photos of that horrible mishap in Madagascar, see my book The Dakota Hunter, chapter 7, ‘Dancing with Colonels’).
Here follow the ZIM DAK C/ N numbers, all info via Brian and Michael Prophet, my good friend and DC-3 Photographer:
Air Force of Zimbabwe 5 x C-47s:  reg nr. 3700-C/N 13164, reg nr 7036-C/N 14494/25939, reg. nr  7053- C/N 16011/32759, reg nr 7301- C/N 16335/33083, reg nr. 7303-C/N 13867/25312.

The advantages of the DC-3 Turbo Prop conversion are pretty impressive as we see this list of improvements over the original DC-3 performance chart ( see also their link http://www.preferredturbine-3.com/specifications.html).

** Max. Payload goes from 3,5 to 5 tons (45 % increase). That is made possible by adding more cargo stowing space on a stretched fuselage and cabin floor.
** Internal loading space makes a 35 % increase, mainly due to that stretching of the fuselage with some 40 inches, right behind the cockpit,
** Max Takeoff weight goes up from 25,200 to 29,000 lbs, with a new lightweight reinforced floor to carry all that extra weight.
** Engine Overhauls (TBO) are needed only after every 6,000 flight hours, compared to 1,200 flight hours for the radial P & W R-1830s. That makes a substantial gain in operational costs and less time lost in maintenance hours.
** Cruising speed makes a major step forward, to some 200 knots, more in the range of its competitor Cessna Caravan.
Read what Brian wrote to me:
“The main difference in speed is due to the shape of the cowling. The new cowling greatly reduces drag; our cowling is lighter and easier to remove for service. The sideward-directed dual-shaped exhaust stacks that we use also help keep the exhaust soot off the airplane. Very little soot collects on the airplane.
The radial engines weighed about 1,700 lbs each. The new Turbo engine Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6s weight is about 650 lbs each, some 60% less. We also eliminate the oil tank from the radial engines that carried 29 gallons of oil and replaced it with additional 116-gallon fuel tanks in front of the original firewalls.
It brings the total fuel capacity to 1032 gallons. The new 5-blade propellers are also much lighter than the old Hamilton Standard props and are fully reversible, allowing for better performance during takeoffs and landings on shorter tracks”.

Early 2018, I visited the Hangars of ‘Preferred AirParts’ in a cold NE Ohio.      I met the co-owner Brian Stoltzfus who showed me around in his ‘Phoenix Factory” where they resurrect old DC-3/C-47 airframes to a better-than-new state with Turbo-Prop engines and modern cockpit interiors for the commercial cargo market.

I was impressed, by the intricate works they did on the aircraft with total re-skinning of wings, parts of the fuselage and all-new avionics.

Brian surprised me with his modest but very dedicated attitude to make this ‘Longevity Winner’ Aircraft even better. He was the one who told me the DC-3 in this shape will make it as the first aerial transport in the World to stretch her operational life beyond the year 2044. I.e the year where the aircraft will become 100 years of age. And still making revenues for the owner!

But on 21 January 2019, Brian died in an aircraft accident. With his beloved DC-3 Turbo, he crashed shortly after take-off from his private airstrip in Kidron, OH.

After my visit, he helped me writing this chapter in February 2018.

A memorable visit to a most remarkable man, may this chapter bring a tribute to him.

In memoriam of Brian, RIP

Photo above was taken during one of my visits to the Capital of DC-3, Villavicencio in Colombia, the gate to the Amazon with a fleet of 10-12 Dakotas, divided over 5 companies. This was, is and will remain for a long time the realm of the old radial prop DC-3. Rather primitive conditions in the Jungle outback posts, cheap labor costs, good infrastructure for the vintage Dakota, with skilled skinners, lots of mechanics and a reputed workshop for radial engine overhauls. The first DC-3 TurboProp has also made its entry here now with Aliansa.
Finally, the gain in speed and payload brings the Turbo-modified C-47 like the Preferred Turbine-3, back in the sphere of a commercially purposeful proposition, in a time where the good old DC-3/ C-47 with radial engines is losing ground in its proficiency to generate revenues.
According to Michael Prophet,  US DC-3 freighter operations survived in only two US states: their number is down to only 10 operational piston cargo DC-3s in the US (and 4 in Canada). In Florida (Atlantic Air Cargo & Florida Air Cargo) and in Alaska (TransNorthern Air, Deserts Air, Bush Air)
Michael believes the piston cargo DC-3 is fast becoming an endangered species: TMF Aircraft Inc (Florida) went out of business 2 years ago and
‘Catalina Flying Boats Inc’ sold their last cargo DC-3 to Preferred Air Parts.
From the Commercial Dept.
If you like my stories about war history and vintage aircraft, may I recommend you my book The DakotaHunter?
It is a 320-pages book, jampacked with 240 unique photos and stunning stories, experienced during the past 25 years in over 20 expeditions that I made in search of the legendary DC-3 on the last frontiers. I encountered harrowing and sometimes hilarious situations with the military, war/drug lords and other heroes and villains that tried to sell me abandoned or crashed Dakotas which were never their property but in the jungle, such titles are only futilities.
Come to my Amazon order page, scroll down to the end and read the 20+ reviews of my book. You will be stunned to see this, comments like ‘Best book that I have ever read” and that is no BS. Scroll back on that page and make your order, the best book you can buy for your Dad, your Friend or yourself.  Click here for my book Amazon Order page The Dakota Hunter
 STOP PRESS. Check my newest book 80 Years, a tribute to the PBY Catalina‘. With almost 300 pages and 400+ photos, this luxury Lounge Table photo album covers the full 80-years career of the best Flying Boat ever made. With many photos never published before, full-page large-format spreads of the Catalina/ Canso during the war and in its post-war role as a transport and fire-fighter, the book  is MUST HAVE / Collector’s Item for all vintage Aviation Buffs. But also for those who like “romancing the era of the flying boats” that brought travelers to idyllic faraway Islands in the Pacific, the Caribbean, Canada, and Alaska.

Read the Reviews  here where you can also order my book:  http://www.catalinabook.com

Hans Wiesman



A New Photo Album “80 Years, PBY Catalina”, the saga of the best Flying Boat ever made!

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Now presented by the Dakota Hunter in a stunning new photo album with over 400 unique photographs.

Moments in time are captured in rarely seen images of  PBY Catalinas/ Cansos flying around the globe to places all over the Americas, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, to far-flung Caribbean and Pacific Islands, and to remote outposts in the Amazon and Greenland. They can be seen at their mooring stations, even while attacking submarines, or hidden in lagoons as Black Cats during the war years. In the post-war years (1945-1999), you’ ll see the Catalina as a cargo/pax transport and as a water bomber in the firefighting role. Finally, there is a chapter with the Survivors, that made it into the New Age (2000-2017)

Romancing the Catalina: this book is made not only for the war-time history buffs but also for all those, dreaming of flying out one day around the world in their own air yacht, enjoying the total freedom in making a water landing in a blue lagoon or on a crystal clear lake. Also, many photos reminiscent of the “Golden Years of the Flying Boats“, with Cansos/ Catalinas being boarded by Holidaymakers/ passengers flying to exotic islands until the late 1950s, in Alaska, Canada, and Australia.

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Bolivian Boneyards revisited, El Alto Airport, La Paz, Bolivia.

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Bolivian Boneyards revisited, El Alto Airport. La Paz. (Part 1)

Feature photo no.1

Feature photo no. 1  depicting the El Alto DC-3 in 2017 and in the background at left, the cannibalized Curtiss Commando C-46 CP-987.

In August 2017, I returned to Bolivia for yet another fabulous trip to the Magical Land of the old Inca Culture, where the High Andes and the Jungle are close neighbors.

The first time I arrived here in La Paz/El Alto Airport was way back in 1994 with a PBY CATALINA from Duxford, UK. (See photo n0. 13). Ever since, I was mesmerized by the weird array of vintage Propliner aircraft that you can see on this airport in all states, from totally stripped or near-decomposition to fully operational and busy, making money for the owner. Read More

Raiders of the Pacific: PT-Boat Mosquitos & PBY Catalina Black Cats as Rogue Sharks, Vol.1.

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In this Dakota Hunter Blog, you’ll read about two fighting groups of WW II fame, that conquered a solid reputation for often operating in isolation behind enemy lines. With a small group or on their own, fighting their mini battles in a World War of unreal proportions as history had never seen before. In that immense Pacific Ocean, the largest stretch of water in this world, mighty Naval fleets, and Armadas of fighters and bombers went to fight the “Empire of the Sun” with hundreds of thousands of soldiers, pilots, and sailors. But there was a handful of men out there in that war theater that fought the war on a much smaller scale against that same enemy. Those were the special Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB) squadrons of the US NAVY with their PT-Boats (patrol-torpedo), named the “Mosquitoes” and the squadrons of the USAAF/RAAF with their PBY-5A Catalinas, named the “Black Cats”.

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Japanese Monster Aircraft Carrier Submarines

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In this DAKOTA HUNTER Blog, you can read about the Japanese Monster Aircraft Carrier Submarines, built initially for raiding the US Coasts.
The Japanese Navy under the visionary Admiral Yamamoto (architect of the Pearl Harbor Assault in December 1941) developed a plan for a fleet of huge Subs that each carried 3 Hi-Tech attack/ bombers inside a tubular hangar, that was mounted on a double tubular fuselage. The novel design of the I-400 series (built in December 1944) gave stability with 2 hulls welded next to each other and made up for the largest Submarine ever built until the 1960’s nuclear subs came out.
Overall length was almost 400 whopping feet (122 m) and an unrivaled armament of a huge 140 mm canon (never seen before on a sub) plus 4 power packs with 25 mm AA guns and special torpedo’s inside. The Monster Subs were weighing 5,700 tons, carrying a crew of 200 and possessing a range of over 50,000 miles, with weapons and 3 aircraft designed to become the first Submarine fit for an offensive strike on the US mainland targets on West & East Coast!

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The awesome B-54 UltraFortress, Boeing’s best Piston Prop Bomber that failed ever to fly!

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The awesome B-54 UltraFortress, Boeing’s best Piston Prop Bomber that failed ever to fly!

In this chapter, you can read about the ultimate, stretched version of Boeing’s successful Bomber B-29 that had delivered the World’s first Atomic Bombs in early August 1945. The Empire of the Sun stumbled on its feet, and within a week, the beaten nation surrendered unconditionally, having no more answer or defense against such destructive power.

That final attack on Japan propelled the B-29 bomber straight into the “Aviation Hall of Fame,” along with other allied fighters, bombers, and transports as the P-51 Mustang, the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell, the Douglas C-47, the P-38 Lightning,  the P-47 Thunderbolt, to name a few.

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Dumbo PBY Catalina saved 56 USS Indianapolis sailors from massive Shark attack

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In this DAKOTA HUNTER Blog, you can read about some backgrounds of what is known as one of the worst WWII US NAVY disasters inflicted by an enemy torpedo attack and an ensuing Shark attack on the drowned sailors. Also, the heroic role of a single PBY Catalina that arrived on the horror scene where hundreds of sailors were adrift in the open ocean for more than three days.
It all happened in the closing days of the Pacific war when the Heavy Cruiser USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-58, causing the second-largest US naval disaster after the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941. To make things worse, the mighty battleship sank so fast that no SOS/ distress signal could be sent out or was not picked up, leaving nearly 900 sailors adrift for days in the shark-infested waters of the mid-Pacific. Read More

Tribute to the Canso/ PBY Catalina, the new Photo Album book is out!

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Feature Photo depicts a majestic landing of the Catalina between the Towering Icebergs in Greenland. More photos of the Catalina Odyssey plus the Atlantic crossings are in my new book, soon out. You can acquire the above photograph 10 x 7 in/ 25 x 18 cm, as a FREE bonus, autographed by the author if you sign in with a click on the Register bar below with your email. A newsletter and order form will arrive soon and with the ordering, you will receive this image as an inlay in the book. Happy Newyear to all my friends, followers and visitors. Photo courtesy Daniel Kordan.]

In April 2016, I wrote my first Dakota Hunter Blog `Catalina Photo Album`. That blog became overnight an overwhelming hit in the number of Shares and Likes on War History Online Magazine and on Facebook.  From this experience, it became clear to me that my huge collection of Catalina photos that I have in stock (most never been published previously) would deserve a better place than being stored in boxes out of sight of anybody. I went in search of other collections and soon had a plan: making a photo album from the best of all 3000+ photos that I could find. An album in 8,5 x 11-inch landscape format as a Luxury Coffee Table Book with such awesome photos selected as rarely seen in Vintage Aviation books.

Anticipating the publication of my book, I have made on my website an Early Bird Registration form that you can fill in with your name and email. You will receive a Newsletter, an Order form, and a Free Bonus if you send me this, click right here below for getting the free autographed photograph of the book’s front cover (see below) that you will receive when ordering the book;

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Madagascar Air Force Boneyard: Tragic end of Douglas C-47s, Mig-21s and Antonovs

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In this DAKOTA HUNTER BLOG, you will read and see photos of yet another Aircraft Boneyard that existed for years in Madagascar.  In one of my previous Blogs, I wrote about the Greek Boneyard (c.q. Museum) that still exists with a collection of a Junkers Ju-52 3m, a Stuka, an F-104 Starfighter, and C-47s. A weird mix of German and American aircraft. This Blog, however. is about a Boneyard with a mix of Russian and American aircraft that I visited some years ago with my friend Bart Nopper. It took place on that huge island of Madagascar, 300 miles east of Africa in the Indian Ocean.

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CIA’s Rent-a-Rebel Flying Circus of a PBY Catalina, A-24 Invaders, P-51 Mustangs.

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CIA’s Rent-a-Rebel Flying Circus of a PBY Catalina, A-26 Invaders, and P-51 Mustangs.


The photos in this chapter are low-res, but the story is a truly fascinating report, full of suspense, tragedy, and hilarious tales about a wild bunch of CIA-paid American pilots who in 1958 ruled the Northern Indonesian airspace for weeks, shooting up whatever they found with their WWII surplus aircraft.

With 15 A-26 Invaders, 4 P-51D Mustangs, and one PBY Catalina, they bombed harbors and even attacked in Borneo the Shell-owned refineries and Tankers. But that was one step too far. The Complaints Box was full now; Big Oil was ‘not amused.’The CIA paid the price for their flagrant miscalculation to topple President Sukarno with only a bunch of Flying Cowboys!

If you think this is a TV-episode of the Hollywood A-team, you are wrong. It was a pure reality way back in 1958, with a bombing and strafing assault on the Balikpapan harbor, a year after I left that city with my Mom and Dad.

But read how this ended with the capture of Captain Allen Pope. The CIA learned from this, a smarter makeover was needed, with no more Flying Circus. So, finally, was there a Happy Ending?


The son of one of the pilots (his name is Alan Seigrist) sent me photos of the Catalinas his father Connie flew during his covert missions in Indonesia. Among them, his first Catalina flight during the ‘Freedom’ War, from 1945-1949 against the Dutch Colonial Rulers. In service of the Indonesian Freedom Fighters, he flew weapons to many Islands of the Archipelago.

Years later, in 1958, Connie flew again in this CIA mission but now against the Indonesian State. Old friends had become the enemy, or better, a mercenary goes where the money flows.

The Rent-a Rebel services from Civil Air Transport (aka Air America)

You will find here the story of an almost forgotten episode in the long and fascinating history of the Civil Air Transport Corp (CAT), in 1959 converted to AIR AMERICA.  A misleading name might give you the impression that this CAT Corp. was a decent airline operator, where you could book a flight for yourself or cargo hauling.

That was correct at the company’s front door operation, but there was also a hidden back door, where you would be very unwelcome for whatever sort of reservation.  Allegedly, CAT was the covert air support operations agency of the CIA and hence involved in all of the more or less stealthy revolts, guerillas support, uproars, and other activities directed against the advancing communist influence in SE Asia in the 1940s-1950s.

The CAT Corp. soon had a somewhat dubious reputation: where their aircraft arrived in ‘sterile’ or misleading markings, things went awry, turmoil and insurgent uprisings were imminent! Read More

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