Dakota Update – 71255’s Identity Revealed

By me

Having been in doubt about the history of 71255, in my previous post on the subject I’d stipulated that it had actually flown in French service before bought by the Yugoslav AF in the early or mid 70s. What gave me this hunch was a very faint code on the tail, almost barely visible through successive layers of paint: 349296. So, to try and clear this up and see what’s what, I ran this code through Google – and interestingly enough, got a match almost immediately :).

Sloppy paint jobs finally have an advantage!

It turns out that 71255 is actually a C-47B-15-DK, manufactured in 1943 under the serial 15112/26557. Its first service was with the RAF as a Dakota Mk.IV coded KK107 until 1947, when it was returned to the USAAF. Indeed sold to the French Air Force soon afterwards (I think maybe the same year), it then became 349296, also known by its radio callsign of F-RAVA. Flying in this guise for more than twenty years, it had been transferred to the Yugoslav AF in the early 70s as 71255, most probably operating out of our very own Zagreb airport :). The records are moot from that point on, and I haven’t (yet 😀 ) been able to determine when it was withdrawn from service…

Photos are even harder to find, but once again Airliners.net came to the rescue:

349296 at Berlin in 1965 @ Airliners.net

349296 at Berlin in 1968 @ Airliners.net

EDIT: with many thanks to Marko Beloglavec for the heads up, I’ve managed to confirm that 71255 had actually been produced on 8 November 1944, and not in 1943 as I had previously thought. A more detailed search under its temporary USAAF serial of 43-49296 – and with some very helpful input from Marko – revealed that the ’43’ in the serial is actually the fiscal year in which it was ordered; but given the huge backlog of orders, the aircraft had left the production line only at the end of 1944…

6 thoughts on “Dakota Update – 71255’s Identity Revealed

    • Hvala! Ovaj prvi sam vidio, dobio sam link na to sa našeg avio foruma kad sam tražio materijale za prijašnji post :). Šteta što tako nešto ne naprave sa ovom s Otočca, ona je u najboljem stanju od svih u Hrvatskoj…

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