With D-Day 75 just ten days away Fareham Borough Council is pleased to welcome three historic aircraft to Solent Airport tomorrow (Wednesday 29th May).
The aircraft are Douglas C-47 "Dakota" aircraft. 1,024 Dakotas were used extensively in the British and American airborne missions of June 1944. Formations of hundreds of these aircraft, often towing troop-carrying gliders, flew over Fareham and the wider Hampshire area during this time.
The visiting C-47 Dakotas arrived in the UK from America over the last few days, having been flown via Canada, Greenland and Iceland by the D-Day Squadron to participate in the D-Day 75 Commemorations. They are expected to arrive at Solent Airport at around 9am - 9-30am.
The aircraft are visiting Solent Airport, which as Royal Naval Air Station Lee-on-Solent, was the airfield closest to the heart of D-Day planning and preparations. RNAS Lee-on-Solent also had the most single critical role of any airfield during D-Day and the Battle for Normandy, that of operating base for the entire fleet of around 160 Spitfire, Seafire and Mustang aircraft that directed the big guns of the Naval Bombardment onto their inland targets.
At Fareham Borough Council's invitation and the kind support of Southwick House and Luckett's Coaches, the Dakota crews with be visiting the D-Day HQ at Southwick House during the day. The aircraft are expected to take-off from Lee-on-Solent to return to their temporary base at Duxford near Cambridge between 4pm and 5pm on 29 May.
Executive Leader of Fareham Borough Council, Councillor Seán Woodward, said: “I am absolutely delighted that the country’s busiest airfield on D-Day will be welcoming these aircraft which were critical to the operation. This will be a real treat for local residents to witness their arrival and departure. I am immensely grateful to Lucketts for providing a coach to take the crews to Southwick House and the D-Day museum in Southsea.”
Fareham Borough Council will be hosting two days of D-Day 75 commemorations at Solent Airport on 8 and 9 June. Tickets available from Ferneham Hall or from the Control Tower at Solent Airport.
One Dakota is known to have made an emergency landing at RNAS Lee-on-Solent during June 1944, having been hit by either ground fire or a fighter attack. The Dakota landed at Lee-on-Solent with only one of its two engines operable and an injured crewmember was transported to hospital (likely the Royal Naval Hospital at Haslar). Following this incident, the Lee-on-Solent fighter aircraft were also tasked to escort Dakota formations across the Channel as they flew supplies to Normandy airstrips and returned with wounded servicemen.
The aircraft will be parked outside The Control Tower and can be viewed by the public from Café at Zero Five.
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