VALIANT AIR COMMAND FLAGSHIP
Our much loved flagship, "Tico Belle" is a remarkable flying memorial to the men who flew her, and flew into combat in her. More than 75 years ago, on the 5th June 1944, at about 2300hrs she, along with hundreds like her at other airfields all over southern England, was at Station 469 - Ramsbury was at RAF Ramsbury in UK as members of the 82nd Airbourne Division boarded C-47's and gliders for the assault on Hitler's "Festung Europa" - Fortress Europe.
DOUGLAS C-47 SKYTRAIN
One of the most prolific aircraft designs of the 20th Century the Douglas C-47 was a direct militarized variant of the Douglas DC-3 airliner. First flying on December 23rd, 1941, a mere sixteen days after the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor. The C-47 utilized several modifications over the pioneering civilian DC-3's including a strengthened floor, a larger cargo door, hoist, and astrodome above the cockpit for celestial navigation. When production ceased a total of 10,174 C-47's had been produced with the majority seeing extensive service with all allied nations throughout WWII. Serving as the backbone for air transport in most theaters and a pivotal piece of the allied invasion of mainland Europe the C-47 remains one of the most iconic military transports in history.
At 0407 hours, 6th June 1944, at about 500 feet and in the face of determined flack from the defending German troops, "Tico Belle" lined up on Landing Zone "O" near St Mere-Eglise and dropped these brave men into Normandy and into history.
Her crew on that mission was as follows:
1st Lt Jay E Bloch, O-731802, Pilot , Oregon, 26
2nd Lt Oscar B Hill, O-745093, Co-pilot, New York, 25
S/Sgt John A Quinn, 12203294, Crew Chief, New Jersey, 21
Pfc J D Calhoun, 15353761, Radio Operator, Ohio, 20
Tico Belle went on to serve, and survive, a distinguished record of combat in the Liberation of Europe.
Normandy - June 1944 – Operation Neptune (D-Day)
Southern France – July 1944 - Operation Dragoon
Holland – September 1944 - Operation Market-Garden
Belgium - December 1944 - Relief of Bastogne (The Battle of the Bulge)
Germany – March 1945 - Operation Varsity
After the war, she stayed in Europe and participated in the Berlin Airlift before passing to the Royal Norwegan Air Force and finally the Royal Danish Air Force. She came home to the VAC in 1988 after service as the VIP transport for the Danish AF.
It is our honor to preserve and fly Tico Belle, C-47 42-100591, as a living monument to the men and women who served in WW2.
Come visit a piece of living history.
FROM NORMANDY TO THE BAHAMAS-C-47 TICO BELLE CONTINUES HER MISSION
75 Years after her history changing missions over the beaches of Normandy and 70 years after her much needed support of the German people during the Berlin Airlift, our tireless C-47 was once again called into action. This time the mission was in support of the devastated areas of the Bahamas following the catastrophic Category 5 hurricane Dorian. Our C-47 "Tico Belle" along with many other incredible volunteers and individuals delivered much needed supplies to the Bahamian people. Her unique characteristics and performance made her the perfect platform to ship these essential supplies. We are pleased to report that through our efforts we were able to raise $36,000 to assist in Bahamas relief efforts.