Dakota Update – Dumpster Diving: 71245 near Belgrade, Serbia

By me
All photos me too, copyrighted

A couple of years ago when I was starting this YuAF Dakota feature, I believe I’d mentioned one further example rumored to be rotting away at an automotive junk yard somewhere in Serbia. Preciously few information about this machine had then been available on the Net, so on a week-long pleasure trip to Belgrade with a friend back in January, I decided I might just as well set this right :). Surprisingly – proof that the Internet is still not omnipotent – we’d found the exact location out within an hour or so of first asking, and with a break in the day’s snow, we set out to find it…

We all live in a green submarine... wingless and tailless, this poor thing really does look like a sub - and will most likely become one once the snow starts to melt :).

Indeed located at a scrap yard on the Ibarska magistrala, a regional fast road leading south out of Belgrade, this poor-looking thing is most likely coded 71245 – but given the snow and the ad-hoc paint job, it’s really hard to tell for sure. Its exact version, series and serial number are also unknown – but given previous Dakotas, I’m inclined to believe it is a B model.

Despite its apparent sorry state – and significant dismemberment – the aircraft is actually in pretty good nick, no doubt helped by its location on fenced-off private property. Its life story is a bit muddled, but at some point in the not-too-distant past it had been turned into a cafe by the owner of the scrap yard (but was never used in that capacity). Interestingly, the owner had kept most of its major components, and even a handful of cockpit instruments and internal fittings. The largest missing piece of this puzzle, the engines – which were said to have had only 1100 hours total time on them – had been bought by a well-known local pilot and collector, and are today preserved in his hangar some 150 km south of Belgrade.

The yard - in various places - also contains most of the aircraft's major components, including the central wing box (seen here), both wings and the horizontal and vertical stabilizers.
During its conversion, the interior had been stripped of all original equipment - with the cockpit, rather fittingly, becoming the bar :D. However, since the aircraft had never been used in this capacity, the furnishings are in near mint state (save for some dust and dirt).

The tally:

Realistically probably the last Dak to be found in the lands of former Yugoslavia – here’s to hoping I’m wrong! – 71245 had brought the total score up to 11 examples accounted for:

  • 71203: derelict at Zemunik Airbase near Zadar, Croatia
  • 71212: derelict at the former Željava Airbase, Croatia
  • 71214: preserved at the Aeronautical Museum at Belgrade Airport
  • 71237: still flying as a turboprop C-47TP in South Africa
  • 71241: also a C-47TP in SA
  • 71245: partially preserved near Belgrade
  • 71248: preserved at Merville, France
  • 71253: preserved at Otok pri Metliki, Slovenia
  • 71254: now a C-47TP flying for the Red Cross in South Africa
  • 71255: derelict at Otočac Airfield, Croatia
  • 71288: preserved in Istanbul, Turkey

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