Aircraft close to "Horsa Bridge"... ?

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by horsapilot, Dec 30, 2011.

  1. horsapilot

    horsapilot Member

    In the red square, an aircraft but different than a Horsa or Hamilcar, has been discovered...
    Picture taken on June 15, 1944


    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    Enlarged, is this a C-47 (can't get a better quality unfortunately...) ?
    If yes, did he made an emergency landing... ?
    Did he brought some officials in to visit de troops and bridges taken by the "Coup de Main" party... ?
    Or another type of aircraft ?
    Thanks for suggestions/help to solve this "mystery" !

    Thru all reading, never heard op the presence (on the ground) of a powered aircraft that close of the bridges

  2. horsapilot

    horsapilot Member


    Definitely not a Horsa nor Hamilcar !

    But knowing that about 73 Dakotas were involved in Operation Mallard on the evening of June 6th, does somebody know if one of them failed to return to base... ?
  3. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    512 squadron reports losing a Dakota on a resupply mission that night but unsure of the exact loss location.

    512 Squadron
  4. horsapilot

    horsapilot Member

    Thanks Orwell !
  5. nicks

    nicks Very Senior Member

    I don't think that could be a C-47/Dakota as there does not appear to be any engine nacelles, the eppenage also looks to be too thick.

    Could it be a Horsa that has nosed over on landing?
  6. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    just to play devils advocate - are we sure its an allied aircraft?
  7. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    In the sub-forum "The War In The Air" these same photos -- credit Patrick Elie -- were posted by him under the topic "Markings on aerial photograph". In response, I posted the following, not knowing that the same discussion had taken place on the "Airborne" sub-forum and that Horsapilot had already speculated on the possibility of the aircraft being a C-47/Dakota. Just thought I'd present my evidence here, also.

    I imagine there must have been oblique photos taken which would solve the ID problem, at least, or show that the mystery aircraft was not part of the glider force.

    Here's what I posted to the other sub-forum:

    I would consider the possibility of a C-47/Dakota. It's the wing shape that jumps out at me. The trailing edge of the wing is a straight line perpendicular to the fuselage. The leading edge of the wing inboard of the engines parallels the trailing edge, and then the outer wing panels angle back as the wing width narrows.

    For size comparisons, here are the approx specs for length and wingspan:

    C-47: Length 64' Wingspan 95.5'

    Horsa: Length 67' Wingspan 88'

    Hamilcar: Length 68' Wingspan 110'.

    I don't see plow marks for a crash, but the shadow does seem to indicate a port wing high/starboard wing close to the ground configuration. Maybe a forced landing, wheels down, and a ground loop? As for engines, it could be a) one or both were ripped off in the crash, or b) the resolution of the image fools the eye a bit. It could even have been on the ground long enough pre-D-Day for engines to have been removed.

    I don't claim that this is the answer -- a C-47/Dakota, but that's my initial hunch. It's definitely not a Horsa or a Hamilcar, I'd say. [I revised this in a followup posting. Definitely not a Hamilcar, and I don't think it is a Horsa.]

    See the plan view of a C-47.



    Attached Files:

  8. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    If it is a Dakota it might be the one shot down by flak on Operation Mallard, flown by F/O. J.E. LeHuray of 48 Squadron, 46 Group. This is a scan from, Red Devils in Normandy by Georges Bernage.

    There is a lot of shadow at the front of the 'aircraft' could that be a clue to what it is. I don't know if anyone remembers the program last year on BBC 2 about the aerial photography of V1s and making aerial photographs into '3D'. Is there anyway the same could be done for the unknown object?

    BBC Two - Operation Crossbow

    Attached Files:

  9. horsapilot

    horsapilot Member

    Can't be KG329 as the aircraft is flat and on the air to ground picture, the shadow confirms the contrary... but for me definitely not a horsa nor a Hamilcar but a C-47 seen the wing shape !

    But no trace of a lost aircraft at that location ?
    Quid the different air resupply missions as from June 7th... ?
  10. matchbox

    matchbox Junior Member

    Though Without Anger - Colin Cummings - Nimbus Publishing

    06-Jun-44 KG426 Dakota 48 Sqn Normandy

    The aircraft had taken off with a Horsa glider on tow at 1850 hours and the glider was released successfully at 2107 hours. Two minutes later the aircraft was hit by AA fire in the starboard engine and it began to lose height. Two of the crew baled out but one fell into a canal and drowned before he could be rescued.
    Sergeant Raymond Carr, Wireless Operator, age 21
    The pilot, Flying Officer J Le Huray, crash landed the aircraft and together with Flying Officer J M Woodcock and Flying Officer H A Farrell, eventually returned to the UK.

    Essential reading for the afficinado
  11. horsapilot

    horsapilot Member

    Thanks Matchbox... looks interesting !

    Is this book (Though Without Anger) only talking about Normandy... ?
  12. matchbox

    matchbox Junior Member

    covers all theatres, UK, Europe, Middle East, Far East
  13. horsapilot

    horsapilot Member


    On the air to ground picture, there is a shadow meaning the aircraft is not flat !
    So it can't be KG426... ?
  14. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

  15. horsapilot

    horsapilot Member

    Right about the Lysander wings but seen the scale compared to other planes like Horsa's and Hamilcar, on another picture, it is not a Lysander.

    A comment on another forums say's even a DC-2 or C-46... but definitely pointing the "DC-3 family"...
  16. brithm

    brithm Senior Member

    If it is a Dakota these are some of the aircraft that were shot down or crashed, so it has to be from RAF 46 Group so it has to be from 48, 271, 233, 512, 575 Squadron.

    6th June 1944.

    92638 (c/n 12461) to RAF as Dakota III KG426. MIA on mission to Normandy Jun 6, 1944 48 Squadron

    92552 (c/n 12365) to RAF as Dakota III KG356. MIA over Normandy Jun 6, 1944 233 Squadron

    92636 (c/n 12459) to RAF as Dakota III KG424. MIA on mission to Normandy Jun 6, 1944 233 Squadron

    92641 (c/n 12464) to RAF as Dakota III KG429. Missing from mission to Normandy Jun 6, 1944 233 Squadron

    92542 (c/n 12354) to RAF as KG347. Missing from supply dropping mission to Normandy Jun 6, 1944. 512 Squadron

    92645 (c/n 12469) to RAF as Dakota III KG434. When taking off from Broadwell with glider in tow to Normandy Jun 6, 1944, aircraft sank back, struck runway, and belly landed. DBR. 575 Squadron

    7th June 1944.

    92517 (c/n 12326) to RAF as KG329. Shot down by flak near Ranville during supply drop mission Jun 7, 1944. 233 Squadron

    92446 (c/n 12247) to RAF as FZ667. MIA Jun 7, 1944 (Normandy invasion) 271 Squadron

    92756 (c/n 12592) to RAF as Dakota III KG480 Mar 13, 1944. MIA Jun 7, 1944 from supply dropping mission to Ranville. Presumably shot down by enemy flak, 512 Squadron lost to Navy AA.
  17. Matt Poole

    Matt Poole Member

    Thanks for the latest Brithm. The date of the photo was 15 June, '44, which means that the aircraft could have come down any time before this date -- maybe pre-dating Overlord, for all we know at this point. And it could be an American aircraft. Honestly, I don't know squat about the use of the C-47/Dakota prior to Overlord in this area. It makes sense that it's D-Day related -- if, in fact, it turns out to be a C-47/Dakota. I'm still betting on this being the case.

    M kenny, with all due respect, clearly it can't be a Lysander. I agree with horsapilot re the scale. The Lizzie's wingspan is 50 ft -- much, much shorter than the other types mentioned. Also, the wing shape is very complex, and so different than a C-47/Dakota. The shadow in the photo reveals none of the wing complexities of the Lizzie, and nothing of the substantial wing-support struts and wheels/spats of this aircraft.

    I have attached an overhead plan view of a Lizzie. In solid black are the fuselage, wings, tail, and canopy framing. I have left the struts and wheels in outline form. I have also aligned the view to match the photo. You should be able to recognize that the shape of the Lizzie wing would be a much closer visual match to the aircraft in the photo -- but only if flipped 180 degrees in relation to the fuselage. Attached, also, for easy comparison is the C-47/Dakota plan view.

    Again, the shadowing shows no undercarriage and wing strut structures. And the clincher is scale, with the Lizzie being a relatively small aircraft.

    I can easily match up the 1944 crashsite image with modern Google Earth imagery. Given time, I could come up with a pretty reasonable measurement of the wingspan on that wartime image...I just haven't done so! But it's definitely a much larger aircraft than a Lysander.

    I don't mean to come across as all-knowing, but I'm firm in my belief that, at least, it's not a Lysander. I know the lack of engine evidence adds confusion to the argument that the aircraft on the ground is a C-47/Dakota, but it is a poor quality, fuzzy image -- and I have enough experience with air photos to know that the eye is easily fooled.

    There is another excellent source for wartime air photos -- the US National Archives at College Park, Maryland. The system of researching photo recon flight lines, and then ordering film, has become extremely ponderous, because the imagery is stored underground in the central US.

    One has to search index microfilm to guess at a flight line location that might cover a particular area like Horsa and Pegasus bridges. Then film must be ordered, without it being known for certain if the film even exists any more. After three or four work days one has to return to the Archives and HOPE that the film is in for viewing. The Archives staff in Maryland cannot communicate with the people who physically search for the film in the underground vault. If the ordered film doesn't arrive, there is no explanation, and that's that!

    So it isn't known if film was destroyed ages ago, or another researcher has ordered it, or it is in for simple tape repair due to a rip in the plastic, or a contractor has pulled it to make duplicate copies for a client, etc., etc. Maddening -- but it is a fantastic resource when it works!

    And images are FREE if one uses a digital camera to photograph the 9" by 9" negs backlit on a light table. I am attaching a 26 Feb 1944 photo recon shot found at the US Nat. Archives showing RAF Liberators of 159 Sqn on the ground at their base at Digri, India. Note that the eye is fooled by some shapes and shadows, or a lack of expected shapes and shadows. One would swear that some engines are missing, and parts of outer wings, etc., but no, each of the six Libs in the photo was intact and being prepped for an op flown a few hours later to the Rangoon area. I mention this as an example of the way we can be deceived by what we see in these less-than-ideal old images -- and this applies to the mystery aircraft from Normandy.

    This Liberator image was taken at no cost with a basic digital camera. Ordering proper prints would have cost an arm and a leg.

    Horsapilot, you mentioned another forum where someone mentioned a DC-2 or a C-46. I don't think the C-46 Commando was flown over this area. I doubt a DC-2 would have, either. Just a hunch.

    Lastly, Horsapilot, where is this other forum discussion? I haven't been able to find it. If you can send me a private message, I'd appreciate it -- if you're not comfortable giving a direct web address, that is.

    Regards to all,


    Attached Files:

  18. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Here are a couple of other views of the area in question found in my aerial folder. Unfortunately they are too small for useful analysis. One is from June 14th 1944. In the oblique view the aircraft in question is not much more than a smudge half way up the second field in from the River Orne.

    Not really helpful other than to suggest high quality images of the area are needed from a number of angles. Or better yet someone with an "in" at RCAHMS in the aerials or reconnaissance section ... :)

    Attached Files:

  19. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    M kenny, with all due respect, clearly it can't be a Lysander.
    Who said it was?
    I mentioned the wing shape being similar rather than saying I thought it was a Dakota.
    My choice of words was very precise for that reason:

    "The wing shape reminds me more of a Lysander that a Dakota"

    Anyway 'stung' by this assertion I decided to give it a bit of my time.

    An almost identical photo can be found in the Battle Zone Normandy book number 1 'Orne Bridgehead' on page 126 dated June 6th and the A/C is visible there.. (IWM photo ID is MH24891)



    Not having a dog in this fight I just make observations.
  20. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    and just to be mischievous there appears to be a light aircraft just south of the bridge


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