Home Dakota Roadhouse
Dakota Roadhouse Johannesburg South Africa

C/N 26114

GZBY at 5 Wing
6845 (1)
Struck off charge 1946
To Dakota Roadhouse, Johannesburg
To Argentine Navy

Preserved at the Trade Employees Union in Paraná Argentina
-31° 47' 11.71", -60° 30' 36.35" click coordinates to open in Google Maps or copy coordinates and paste into Google Earth



A typical shuttle service Dakota interior with troops returning home from the Middle East.
Photograph: Dave Becker
Dakota Mk.4, 6845, after its incident at Tabora, East Africa on February 16, 1945
Photograph: Dave Becker
SAAF 6845 (1) soon after arrival at Langlaagte, with the aircraft erected on poles and the roadhouse being built beneath.
Photograph: Dave Becker
C/N 26114
Dakota Roadhouse, circa 1948
Photograph: Dave Parsons
C/N 26114
The Dakota Roadhouse - By Dave Becker
Many aircraft worldwide have been acquired by restaurant/cafe/disco/roadhouse owners as attractions once their flying days were over. These have enabled many aircraft to linger on and in some cases later be acquired for museum display. The Short Sunderland at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford is such a case. However, it is much more unusual for such aircraft to be returned to flying status. This did however take place with an aircraft in South Africa.
Many older residents of Johannesburg will remember the Dakota Roadhouse, which was established soon after World War II in Main Reef Road, Langlaagte. For many years, this roadhouse had a real live Douglas Dakota mounted on the roof. Many people confuse this aircraft with the Vickers Viking ZS-DKH on the roof of Vics Viking Garage at Devland (now replaced by the Shackleton 1723) and still others confuse the location with the roadhouse at Uncle Charlie’s, some distance from either site.
But how did a Dakota end up on top of a roadhouse and where is it today. The answer to the first question is straightforward but its whereabouts today...? Read on! The South African Air Force received a total of 84 Dakotas from the US via the UK Government as part of the lend-lease contract between the UK and the USA during WWII. Further Dakotas were acquired post war, both new acquisitions and lend-lease aircraft re-acquired. Of the original 84, 58 were supplied directly to South Africa, with the balance coming from the surviving aircraft of 28 Sqn who brought their aircraft back from North Africa. Those of 44 Sqn were all returned to the Royal Air Force for onward disposal.
The locally based Dakotas during WWII were all used by 5 Wing which fell under No 4 Group SAAF and were primarily used on the Shuttle Service, which operated between South Africa and Cairo with links further on as the occasion demanded. 5 Wing was formed as No 1 Bomber Transport Brigade on June 1, 1940, and was redesignated 5 Wing on February 4, 1941. Early in the war it operated ex SAA Junkers Ju 52/3ms, Lodestars and a variety of other types but received Dakotas from June 25, 1943 which partially replaced the earlier types.
The SAAF used two Dakota variants, the C-47A Dakota Mk.3 with Pratt & Whitney R-l830-92 engines and the C-47B Dakota Mk.4 with the R-1830-90C motors with two-stage supercharger allowing an increase in all-up weight from 29 300lb to 30 000lb. Our future "roadhouse" aeroplane was one of the latter and was officially designated a C-47B-5-DK (the suffix indicated it being built by Douglas Oklahoma plant) and was built on Contract No AC-40652 which included 305 aircraft for the UK government of which five were replaced by other models capable of towing gliders and 10 were diverted to South Africa.
C/n 26114 was one of these ten and was allocated USAAF serial no 43-48853 with the RAF number being KJ940. It was delivered from the factory on September 25 1944 in the standard USAAF/RAF finish of Olive Drab top surfaces with dappled patches of Medium Green, the undersides in Neutral Grey and RAF roundels in the standard positions. It was delivered via Miami and RAF Nassau, in the Bahamas (a plum posting for some!) where it was picked up by a SAAF crew and brought back to South Africa where it arrived on October 20, 1944.
It was taken on charge by 15 Air Depot and prepared by 1 AD for service and given the SAAF number 6845, being allotted from 15AD to Zwartkop Air Station (for no 5 Wing) on December 4, 1944 along with 6843, 6844, 6847 and 6802. All 5 Wing aircraft were marked with a 4-letter code on the fuselage side in yellow. 6845's code letters were GZBY. This aircraft joined the group of Dakotas operating from ZAS to Cairo and return and began clocking up the hours.
On February 16, 1945, 6845's undercarriage leg fell into a hole while taxiing at Tabora, Tanganyika (now Tanzania) but little damage was done and the aircraft returned to service.  December 13 proved to be an unlucky day for 6845 however. Capt WL Chiazzari was scheduled to do an air test on 6845. He took with him A/Cpl's FO Burger, JL du Toit and P Harrall. The camouflage paint on the wings of the Dakota did not easily reveal the position of the fuel filler caps and the fact that the port filler cap was not locked tightly in place was not noticed during the pre-flight. After takeoff from Zwartkop Air Station the crew noticed fuel streaming from the port fuel tank. The hot exhaust gases ignited the fumes and despite a hurried landing, the centre section, port motor, port main plane and port elevator were all damaged by the fire before the fire tender could put it out.
6845 was subjected to a Board of Survey on March 12, 1946 (the date quoted is 12/31-14 on the document - but this is wrong!) which recorded the total time flown as 1843 hours. The aircraft was transferred to 15 Air Depot for disposal on March 19 and struck off SAAF charge on August 7. While repairable the SAAF just had too many Dakotas available for peacetime use. The board recommended also that in future, fuel filler caps were to be painted red with arrows to be marked on the cap and on the wing which would coincide when the filler cap was locked closed. The hull of the luckless 6845 was sold, allegedly for £120 and its new owner moved it to Johannesburg where with the camouflage removed and a civil type "cheat line" painted down to window line it was re-erected on top of a new roadhouse building and the Dakota Roadhouse was in business.
This continued until the mid 1950s until a customer showed up at the roadhouse who showed an interest in purchasing the old Dakota. It is not clear whom this was but the SAAF had acquired at this time 60 Harvards from the USA which had been overhauled by Volitan Aviation of Pacoima, California, which was a division of Calair International. The purchaser may have been from this company as a deal was struck and the aircraft was purchased by Calair International, dismantled and shipped to the USA, where it was registered as N123S. The aircraft went to Volitan for repair. Date is not known but was about 1956-7. The roadhouse continued to operate but now without the Dakota.
Meanwhile in far away Argentina, the country was in the grip of a Poliomyelitis epidemic and a fund was set up for equipment and treatment. One item of equipment needed was a fully equipped hospital plane to reach outlying areas. The Argentine Public Health Service commissioned a search for a DC-3, the most suitable type and Calair's ex roadhouse DC-3 was chosen. Iron lungs, operating tables, equipment and stretchers were ordered. N123S was fitted out by the General Logistics Corp. of Pasadena California in 1958. The aircraft received the temporary registration LV-PKP and the name "Spirit of Argentina". It also received the now fashionable white cabin top and fin and a red cross to indicate its ambulance status. A crew of five from the Armada Argentina (Argentine Navy) flew the aircraft back to its new home where it was registered as LQ-MSP to the Min de Asistencia Socialy Salud y Publica in September 1960.
From here the trail becomes faint. Argentina used large numbers of C-47s and DC-3s post war but full details of many of the aircraft are not yet known. However, it is thought that the aircraft may have been transferred to the Fuerza Area Argentina as T-02 which was operating with No 1 Brigada Area in 1967. T-02 was believed to have been re-numbered TA-02. C/n 26114 is not listed amongst any of the surviving DC-3s in Argentina and the type is now withdrawn from use. Did it crash somewhere, was it sold elsewhere or did it end up like so many other historic aircraft - in the hands of the scrappers?


From the Argentina Air Force (Research by Ian Nel)
During the poliomyelitis epidemic, the Nation’s Secretary of Health and Welfare entrusted the Argentine Navy’s Purchase Standing Committee, in the U.S., with the acquisition of an appropriate aircraft for distributing the vaccine and attending the most serious sick people. In the middle of 1957, the Argentine government purchased the Douglas C-47 Dakota, registration mark N123S. The selling company, Volitan Aviation Inc from Pacoima (California), specializing in aircraft updating, made important changes in order to adapt a Pulmotor, a central equipment of oxygenation therapy, a surgery table with surgical instruments and an autoclave equipment, as well as seats for the doctors and their companions. With this equipment, on-board surgeries and sanitary evacuations with vital support could be carried out. Besides, it could be quickly turned into a pure cargo aircraft for the transport of personnel or sick people, with capacity to transport 14 stretchers. In the US, the aircraft received a lot of publicity and was named “Spirit of Argentina”; however, such name was never applied to it.
In order to move it to Buenos Aires, an Argentine legal permit, under the registration mark LV-PKP, was given to it. It arrived on August 9th, 1958. It was allocated to the Health Aviation Department of the Nation’s Secretary of Health and Welfare and was operated by the Air Naval Transport Second Squadron of the Naval Aviation Command, with its headquarters in Ezeiza. Besides, the naval unit provided the crews and the logistical support. It received the military registration mark CTA-25, although it was never painted on the aircraft. The CTA-25 immediately started carrying out sanitary evacuations. In May, 1960, due to the fact that an earthquake had devastated the south of Chile, the aircraft of the Secretary of Health –as it had been designated- took off headed to Santiago de Chile carrying medical and nursing personnel to contribute to the evacuation of casualties and to transport medicine and supplies to isolated areas.
On September 20th, 1960, it received its definite registration mark LQ-MSP and was registered in the Aircraft National Register Office as Douglas DC-3C, and was assigned to the Secretary of Health and Welfare (then, Secretary of Welfare). It was named ‘’Esperanza’’, but its pilots and ground technical personnel knew it with its nickname ‘’Malaspina’’, taken from a geographical accident under that name whose MSP radio indicative coincided with the last three letters of the registration. In the following years, it was regularly used in operations of sanitary evacuation or of civilian emergency support. In December of 1961, it was used to transport to Niteroy (Brazil) a group of doctors and nurses, from Buenos Aires Burning Institute, in order to assist the victims of a fierce fire which had occurred in a circus. In January of 1962, the ‘’Esperanza’’ flew to Peru and helped the victims of the earthquake which had taken place in Huascar snowcapped mountains. In 1964, it provided support to the victims of the accident which the Douglas DC-3C from Aerotransportes Litoral Argentino had suffered in Zarate (Buenos Aires). In the eight years during which it was operated by the Naval Aviation, the ‘’Esperanza’’ made 1286 sanitary flights and transported 1453 sick people in 5215 flight hours which represented 1.454.205 flown. Two surgeries had taken place on board.
On August 16th, 1967, the “Esperanza” was registered in the Aircraft National Register and transferred to the Argentine Air Force General Command, under the registration mark LV-MSP. On February 7th, 1968, it was incorporated to the Argentine Air Force under a Decree of PEN Nº 5769/67 and received the military registration mark S-4. On August, 21st 1968, the S-4 suffered a minor accident at El Palomar military base (BAM). There was an on-board fire which caused damage of 2% attributed to inadequate maintenance. Subsequently, the military registration mark was replaced by TS-04, which indicates that it was still being used as sanitary aircraft. This situation remained up to 1969, when it was assigned to the Military Aviation School with training purposes, under the registration mark E-301. In 1974, it was separated from sanitary uses and was assigned to passengers’ general transport, under the military registration mark T-103.
On July 31st, 1981, it was transferred to the National Aviation Institute (INAC) to be finally reassigned, in the mid-eighties, to the 2nd Air Brigade, located in General Urquiza military base (BAM), Paraná (province of Entre Ríos). There, it was operated until 1989, when its service was discontinued. It was sold to Hector Mendizabal, who resold it to Carlos Areta Lamas and this, in turn, to Martín Picasso. It must be mentioned that in spite of its successive transfers, its civilian registration mark LV-MSP was never renewed, and that it never flew again. It remained out of service, behind LAER repair shops, at the Paraná Airport, where –some years later- it was scrapped and sold out.


27 March 2010
The story of this aircraft continues. The following was received from Robert Gwynedd...
Mr John Austin-Williams,
John, I've enjoyed the story about the C47B-5-DK, C/N 26114 on your web site, but let me give you another ending:

The aircraft is still in Paraná in the Trade Employees Union:
I will be pleased to hep you if you need any asistance.
My best regards, Robert.
Four hours after the above e-mail was received, the following was received...
Hello friend, I read your interesting article about the history of the C-47 T-103 (Argentine). And I want to comment to you that thankfully, it was not dismantled, but one finds it in the suburbs of Parana.

Regards Tomas Charras

Robert Gwynedd later wrote:

 I found these 3 pics from the Classic Skydiving Argentine Championship, In Grl. Pico, La Pampa, 1982 with the legend:

A few days after the event, we learned that the commander of the aircraft was given 5 days of arrest for allowing the photos

26114 T-103 Robert Gwynedd 1


26114 T-103 Robert Gwynedd 2


26114 T-103 Robert Gwynedd 3

26114 T-103 Tomas Charras 1

C/N 26114
At the Trade Employees Union in Paraná Argentina
-31° 47' 11.71", -60° 30' 36.35" click coordinates to open in Google Maps or copy coordinates and paste into Google Earth
Photograph: Tomas Charras

26114 T-103 Tomas Charras 2

C/N 26114
At the Trade Employees Union in Paraná Argentina
Photograph: Tomas Charras

26114 T-103 Tomas Charras 3

C/N 26114
At the Trade Employees Union in Paraná Argentina
Photograph: Tomas Charras






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