The Berlin Candy Bomber
Col Gail Halvorsen, the Berlin Candy Bomber will be appearing with this aircraft throughout Airfest 2006!!
Manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Company S/N 27370 and delivered to the Army Air Corps in March of 1945 as 44-9144. She was then part of a transfer of 25 C-54E's to the United States Navy and recieved a BuNo of 90414 on May 30, 1945. She then took on the designation of R-5D-4.
In May 1998, "Spirit of Freedom" undertook a 70 day European Tour to mark the 50th Anniversary of "Operation Vittles", the Berlin Airlift. This tour included stops at Westover AFB, Mass., Goose Bay Labrado, Prestwick Scotland Biggin Hill England, Berlin -Templehof Germany, Berlin-Schonefeld Germany, Rhein-Main AB, Frankfurt Germany, Wiesbaden Army Air Base, Wiesbaden Germany, Duxford England, Kemble England, Coventry England, Luxembourg City- Luxembourg, and Nancy, France. During this trip, "Spirit of Freedom" was honored by visits from German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, and U.S. President Bill Clinton.
The Berlin Candy Bomber, Col Gail Halvorsen, USAF (Ret):
One of the most poignant stories of the Berlin Airlift was that of one 1st Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen. Halvorsen was somewhat of an ammeter moviemaker, and on July 17, he decided that on one of his off days, he would hitch a ride as a passenger on a C-54 and visit the City he was saving. Once at Tempelhof, Halvorsen walked to the end of the runway to film some aircraft landings when he noticed a group of children near the fence watching the planes, too. He went over to them. The asked questions about the aircraft, the cargo, how fast it was going and things like that. During this conversation he noticed that these children, unlike others he had encountered in Europe as a Ferry command Pilot during the War, did not ask him for any candy or gum, like others always had. This struck him funny, and he knew that they were too proud to beg for such things. Some having been born during wartime had not even heard of treats like that. He made a fateful decision at that moment which was to become one of the symbols of the airlift. He reached into his pocket and found that he had only twosticks of Wrigley's Doublemint Gum. He remarked that if they did not fight over it, he would drop some candy to them if they were there the next day. They agreed, took the sticks of gum and divided it amongst themselves, some happy to get only a piece of the wrapper. Before he left them, a child asked him how they will know it was him flying over. He replied, "I'll wiggle my wings."
True to his word, the very next day, on approach to Berlin, he rocked the airplane and dropped some chocolate bars attached to a handkerchief parachute to the children waiting below. Every day, the number of children would increase and he made several more drops. Soon there was a stack of mail in Base Ops addressed to "Uncle Wiggly Wings', "The Chocolate Uncle" and "The Chocolate Flier".
History of the C-54:
Douglas decided to produce a four-engine transport about twice the size of the DC-3 and, in 1938, developed the single DC-4E to carry 42 passengers by day or 30 by night. It had complete sleeping accommodations, including a private bridal room.
It proved too expensive to maintain, so airlines agreed to suspend development in favor of the less complex DC-4, but it was not put into commercial service until 1946. Its military derivative was the C-54 "Skymaster" transport, ordered by the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1942.
The DC–4, seemed to fit the ATC’s requirements. Like the B–24, and unlike the “tail draggers” of the day, the DC–4 mounted tricycle landing gear, giving it a horizontal attitude on the flight line. Original specifications for the DC–4 originated with a proposal funded by five separate airlines in the United States. A prototype made test flights in 1938, but only United and American Airlines pushed development that led to the DC–4, which first flew in 1942.
Douglas built 1,241 of the DC-4s and its military counterparts. During the war, C-54s flew a million miles a month over the rugged North Atlantic - more than 20 round trips a day. A special C-54C, nicknamed the "Sacred Cow" by the White House press corps, became the first presidential aircraft, ordered for Franklin D. Roosevelt. After World War II, commercial airlines placed more than 300 civilian DC-4 transports into service.
An unpressurized airliner, the C–54 military type appeared in many variants. Early models carried only twenty-six passengers, but the manufacturer quickly introduced stretched versions to carry between forty and eighty people. The C–54B, for example, typically seated fifty medical evacuees or twenty-six stretcher cases. The C–54A represented a heavy-lift type, equipped with an oversized cargo door and capable of loading fourteen thousand pounds or more, including vehicles like trucks and road-building equipment. Later versions of the C–54 carried more than twice the payload and could fly missions of more than forty-four hundred miles at a cruising speed of 220 mph; the airplane boasted a top speed of about 285 mph. Wartime production totaled 953 aircraft, the largest transport to be mass-produced during World War II. A number of executive modifications appeared, though none so well known as the “Sacred Cow,” equipped for the personal use of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Like the C–47, dozens of C–54 transports soldiered on into the postwar era at Air Force and allied bases on every continent.
In the years immediately following the war, new DC-4s and used C-54s carried more passengers than any other four-engine transport. Some were still flying through 1998.
Three World War II-era transport planes served in Korea: the C-46 Commando, the C-47 Skytrain, and the C-54 Skymaster. The three were designed to carry troops or equipment, and the C-47 and C-54 also had provisions to carry cargo under the fuselage. The Skytrain and the Skymaster could both carry paratroops, but the Commando proved inadequate for this mission because its tail often fouled the parachutes. All three aircraft filled an airlift role in Korea, supplying everything from aircraft engines, ammunition, medical supplies, rations, and fresh fruit. In the winter of 1950, C-54 aircraft were used to airlift over 900 Korean orphans from Kimpo during Operation CHRISTMAS KIDLIFT.