Dakota Mk III KG600

From war machine to luxury airliner and the birth of a baby!

 

July 1942 

Ordered for the USA Army Air Force as part of contract number AC-28405 for 2000 C47A-DK's with serial numbers 42-93284-823 and 42-108934-993. Constructor's number 13331 was one of these and received the USAAF serial number 42-93421, and like its sister ships, was built at the Douglas Aircraft Company's Oklahoma City Plant.
 

17 May 1944

 The aircraft completed acceptance tests by the USAAF but did not see USAAF service, being transferred via 45 Group, at Dorval, Montreal, Canada to the British Royal Air Force under the lend-lease programme. In British service it became a Douglas Dakota MK111 and received a new number in line with the Air Ministry system KG600.
 

29 May 1944

She was delivered to the United Kingdom and allotted to 105 Transport Operational Training Unit at Bramcote, Lincolnshire.
 

28 September 1944

The aircraft remained on the RAF inventory, but was transferred to the Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron 437 which was formed at Blakehill Farm, Wiltshire on the 4th September 1944. The Squadron took part in the Arnhem landings, towing gliders from the 17th September, and when the Allies had secured the territory, the Squadron switched to providing a continental shuttle taking mail, passengers and fuel to the Allied forces. The aircraft wore the letters Z2: DC at this stage.
 

March 1945

The Squadron took part in “Operation Varsity” the airborne crossing of the Rhine, towing 24 Airspeed Horsa gliders as part of the invasion force. After the war, Squadron 437 switched to POW flights, detachments being based in Norway. By November 1945 the Squadron had moved to Odiham in the United Kingdom.
 

16 June 1946

Squadron 437 disbanded and the next day KG600 was transferred to the Canadian Air Force inventory and returned to Canada. The aircraft served in various units until 1953.
 

26 August 1953

 The aircraft was withdrawn from use and became a ground instructional airframe with a new number A-601B. Budding technicians learnt and practised their trade on her and she was even loaned to Trans Canada Airlines for similar tasks.
 

19 August 1958

She was retired from the RCAF service for good and sold to the Beldex Corporation in the USA. After an overhaul she was registered in March 1959 as N96U with the Freeport Nickel Company.
 

27 May 1959

The DC-3 was exported to Cuba where she became CU-P-702 with the Moa Bay Mining Company.
 

March 1960

The DC-3 was returned to the USA and purchased by the Freeport Sulphur Company and re-registered as N702S.
 

5 October 1962

The aircraft was purchased by the International Telegraph Corporation of the United Kingdom.
 

19 November 1962

Upon transfer to the UK she received a new identity G-ASDX and worked under a subsidiary Company STC Standard Telephones and Cables; this, however, was to change! The British ARB noticed that the constructor's number for G-AJRY was the same as this new aircraft and assuming that G-AJRY had returned to the UK gave it that registration instead of G-ASDX! Now under an assumed identity (the real truth only became known much later) she was purchased by TD Keegan of Keegan AirFrame and was operated by Transmeridian Air Cargo.
 

16 September 1971

She was transferred back to T D Keegan.
 

1 April 1974

The aircraft was sold to Sandriver Safaris in South Africa, who allocated her to their subsidiary, United Air Services.
 

9 April 1974

The directors of the company were “Pieterse, Theron, Bouwer & Partners” and the registration sequence for the company thus all began with the letters PT.
 

9 July 1974

The aircraft was allotted the registration ZS-PTG and was a sister ship to ZS-UAS. The colour scheme was red and blue stripes on a white top and fin with the rest of the aircraft in polished bare metal.
 

15 October 1975

During a scheduled flight between Sishen and Johannesburg for United Airlines a baby girl was born on board at 17h55. The baby was called “Delaney” - a name the aircraft sports to this day!
 


 

8 February 1980

In 1980 aircraft were needed for the elections in Zimbabwe and as South African aircraft were not, at that stage politically correct, ZS-PTG was deleted from the South African register and exported to Botswana. She was leased to Air Services Botswana, was registered as A2-ACG and used in Zimbabwe.
 

14 March 1980

She was re-registered as ZS-PTG to Sandrivers Safaris trading as United Air.
 

January 1987 

By January 1986 she was standing engineless and inactive at Rand Airport near Johannesburg. On the 19th December 1988 United Air was taken over by Wonder Air and the aircraft was registered into the names of its subsidiary company Avia Air Charter at Wonderboom Airport near Pretoria.
 

28 December 1988

The aircraft underwent an overhaul and was repainted in Avia's two-tone grey and white scheme. By 1992 she was based at the short-lived airfield at Freeway, north of Pretoria where she operated until the closure of Avia in 1995.
 

23 December 1995

Avia sold ZS-PTG to Debon Air.
 

January 1996

The aircraft was refurbished and painted in blue/white/natural metal with a large “Delaney” painted on the cabin roof, and went into service with Debon Air.
 

14 June 2002

Purchased by Rohan Vos of Rovos Rail. The aircraft has undergone an extensive overhaul and refurbishment and sports the green and cream trim of Rovos Air and is now registered as ZS-CRV. The interior of the aircraft has also been extensively refurbished and upgraded to an all business class configuration with 21 very comfortable green leather seats.
 

30 September 2008 

Rovos Air ceases operations and ZS-CRV is leased to NAC Namibian Commercial Aviation. 
 

The reunion between Captain Terry Chiole and Delaney, the girl who was born on board the Dakota ZS-PTG in 1975.