Dakota FZ692 'Kwicherbichen'
Pictured here on final approach to Blakehill, is C47 Dakota MkIII FZ692 Built by Douglas in the United States in 1943 it was delivered to the RAF in February 1944. The aircraft served with 233 Squadron at RAF Blakehill Farm until September 1944 when it was transferred to 437 Squadron RCAF. FZ692 was painted olive drab green all over and shortly before D-Day had the black and white ‘invasion stripes’ added for identification purposes. The stripes on the rear fuselage covered the ‘5T-UK’ squadron code letters so the aircraft’s individual letters ‘UK’ were transcribed onto the nose. (This is not, therefore, an indication of the aircraft or unit’s nationality!) FZ692 was named ‘Kwicherbichen’ and this was painted on the port side of the nose under the cockpit. Just behind the port cockpit window was a block of symbols detailing the ‘ops’ it had flown. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Dakota (ZA947) is painted to represent Kwicherbichen.
What is remarkable, is not only did FZ692 survive the war, but a refit of the air-frame uncovered some forgotten secrets.......
This C47 is still flying with Environment Canada wearing the civilian registration C-GRSB and is housed at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.
This is what she looks like today, with modern instruments and measuring equipment in the rear fuselage.
During maintenance work in 2015, the cladding was removed from the interior load compartment. Pictured here is what was found - original graffiti from soldiers who during WW2 had either been flown to the front line by FZ692 or flown back as casualties to the sick quarters at RAF Blakehill as part of experimental CASEVAC operations with the famous Flying Nightingale nurses.
Driver Pryer from Loders, Bridport - wounded in Germany 27th February 1945 - Blighty 4/4/15
Trooper Wright 4693974 of 27 Well Lane, Chapel Allerton Leeds, Yorkshire
These images were then posted to Facebook via the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum asking for anyone who may be able to help in tracing these men, or provide any information of the wartime role of FZ692. The website author, who happened to be awake drinking beer at the time of the post, jumped at the chance to help. Although not able to trace any details of the men who left the graffiti, I was able to undertake a project on behalf of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, bringing together some of the facts of RAF Blakehill, resulting in a 10,000 word essay and survey report which was sent in December 2015. What was truly staggering was that a few months afterwards, Hon Col Peter Porter of 437Sqn RCAF who flew FZ692 from Blakehill, visited the museum, having last visited RAF Blakehill to pay his respects on the 6th June 2008. Mr Porter visited his old aircraft and was shown the copy of my work. Here is Mr Porter with FZ692 and a copy of my original work in the loading door. The essay was called "From War To Wildlife" - the rest as they say, is history.........
Re-dedication from the
RCAF Husky Squadron July 2019
After going through a full overhaul, in 2019 FZ692 was repainted in her RAF Blakehill Farm colour scheme and rededicated by the RCAF at a ceremony held at the Canadian Heritage Warplane Museum.