Dakota Update – 71255 at Otočac (LDRO)

By me
All photos me too, copyrighted

As it so often happens, the things that are closest to you in the end turn out to be the furthest ones away. You always think “naw, it’s close, I can visit any time” and you never do, as it inevitably slips your mind, shoved aside by the more exotic, distant places. Case in point is 71255, one of the ex-Yugoslav AF C-47s that I’ve wrote about in a number of previous posts (readable here). Located at Otočac airfield, it is pretty much a stone’s throw away from the country’s biggest north-south highway, a highway I go down at least 5-6 times a year. In a dazzling display of consistency, I’ve never ever stopped to photograph it, reckoning “it’s just an hour’s drive away, I can visit it anytime”…

Well, today I’ve finally decided to make good on that promise :D. Returning from an Open Day celebration at Zadar’s Zemunik airbase with a couple of friends, we unanimously decided that, while we’re there and having plenty of time to spare, we can just as well finally get it over with :). And this is what we’ve found…

In a much better state than poor old bullet-riddled 71212 at Željava - but still a sad sight nevertheless...
Mired deep into the ground from its long stay... also looks like the aircraft had some sort of muffler installation fitted, which could mean that it had remained in service for a comparatively long time
Weathered and beaten, 71255 retains pretty much only its basic parts. Everything of any use that could be taken away was hauled off, leaving the aircraft an empty shell (save for the engines, which seem to be in a better condition). Notice also the tear running down the fuselage...
A classic DC-3 shot as seen on Airliners.net :). The clear air and an excellent cloud backdrop contributed to give this poor old bird a more lifelike appearance...
Inside, the situation is even worse... up front, near the navigator's station, even the floorboards had been ripped out!
A view outside from the first cabin window is hardly better... almost reminds of an engine fire...
Looking back from the navigator's station... the only piece of usable "furniture" remaining was an old wooden desk that would not look out of place in a schoolroom... hardly a fitting piece of equipment for such a famous aircraft
Just one of those shots where everything - the subject, the terrain, the sky, the light - line up perfectly! 🙂
Years of neglect have - as usual - resulted in years of vandalism... quite a contrast between the precise, purposeful propeller serial numbers and the random, useless doodles that people have the need to leave behind...
Traces of its former identities can still be seen faded-out on the vertical stabilizer. Given that many of the YuAF C-47s were bought from France - which had operated them after WW2 in both civil and military roles - it is possible that the fainter 349296 code may be a remnant of 71255's French AF service
A touch of pure symbolism through and through - the roundel of the former YuAF shot and faded, a stirring representation of the violent breakup of former Yugoslavia
A roundel in a much better shape underneath the starboard wing. Fifteen years after the end of the war, this is fast becoming a rare sight...
Reaching for the skies, one last time...

EDIT: using the power of my 400 mm anti-aircraft Canon ( 😀 ), I’ve also managed to nail Zadar’s 71203 at extreme range while at the base during the Open Day. Distorted by heathaze, it isn’t up to my usual standard, but for now it’ll do :).

Close to 600 meters away, this was the best that I could do. But even despite the questionable photo quality, you can see that 71203 is in by far the worst shape of all the Daks I've seen. Looks like the left upper engine mount has cracked, with the engine sagging downward. For some reason, the aircraft has the "312" code painted on the tail, though this may also be part of its former identity...

9 thoughts on “Dakota Update – 71255 at Otočac (LDRO)

  1. I like your photos and there is no need to apologize for cropping a photo … it’s what ‘s needed to get the shot and it is a godo one as it shows the DC-3 in its current context.

    Like the An-2 you wrote so well about this aircraft also has been in service for a very long time — 65 years I think. And, like the Colt, it continues to provide commercial service.


    Joe May

    1. Joe,

      Indeed, the DC-3 is a fantastic aircraft. During my research for this YuAF Dakota series, I’ve found out that three of them are still flying in South Africa, two as BT-67s. Produced during WW2 and still flying in the 21st century – that is really hard to beat!

      The one thing I’ve never been able to live down is that I’ve only ever seen three examples in flight… an unmarked DC-3 sporting a N-number at the Paris Airshow, the Breitling C-47 and the Goldtimer Foundation’s stunning Lisunov Li-2, the only one flying today… but I hope that will change!


  2. Hi Boran,

    We live in opposite hemispheres – I’ve seen DC-3s fairly often but only three Colt’s (all of them as static displays). I’m no expert but there are several at the Opo-locka airport near Miami Florida and airliners.net indicates that manty are flying commercially in Alaska. In Florida we aerially apply inspecticide to keep the mosoquito populations down and a few counties here use DC-3s for that as well.

    The beginning of a TV show here called Burn Notice has a clip of a DC-3 flying out of Opa-locka — that one is a commercial operation between that airport and destinations in the Bahamasas. There are a air of turboprop DC-3s that fly out of Ft. Pierce to Haiti regularkt as well. So they seem to not only be around but here to stay, I guess.

    Thanks again for your posts,


  3. Went past that DC-3 yesterday on my way from Plitvice to Pula but unfortunatelly could not stop.
    Today google’ing it found this post!
    Well done! Great shots and background info of the aircraft!
    When is the next Open day in Zadar?

    1. Thanks! I expect to do a similar, fairly detailed report about the one at Željava airbase soon, so that too may dig up something interesting :).

      As for the Open Day, there’s still no official word out, but we expect it to be held sometime in August.

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