For the people of France, liberation did not begin with the sound of crashing waves, or machine gun fire raking across landing craft. It began with a distant rumbling, which rose steadily to a roar as more than 800 C-47s streamed overhead dropping elite American Airborne troops into the dark of night. For the Nazis this was the sound of their impending downfall, and for the oppressed people of Europe – it was the sound of freedom!
As we mark the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, it only makes sense to check in on the significant progress that has been made on the restoration of That’s All, Brother, the airplane which led that aerial armada of more than 800 aircraft to Normandy. The airplane continues to be carefully reconstructed by the skilled craftsmen at Basler Turbo Conversions in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. This week marked an important milestone in the project. A team of CAF volunteers arrived in Oshkosh to lend a hand getting the airplane ready for her appearance at EAA AirVenture this July.
This volunteer support effort, spearheaded by Ray Clausen of the CAF Central Texas Wing, is aimed at preparing the interior of the fuselage to receive its paint so that Basler’s technicians can complete the aircraft wiring, hydraulic plumbing, placement of fuel lines and running of control cables. Each and every one of these tasks is critical to maintaining the timeline as we look forward to the Return to Normandy in 2019. This eager team of volunteers is ensuring that nothing will slow down this important work.
Removing the caked-on insulation glue hastily applied when the aircraft was converted to a freighter is no easy task. While That’s All, Brother’s original interior coating was partially visible in sections of the aircraft, the enormous amount of glue had largely covered it. Previous efforts to remove the glue in order to carefully preserve the zinc chromate finish original to the aircraft were not effective, leaving the restoration team no choice but to strip the glue and approximate the original finish with a robust modern anti-corrosive paint supplied by Poly Fiber.
It is back-breaking work, on hands and knees inside the aircraft for hours removing the glue, but when asked how he felt about it, Clausen explained, “It is a very humbling experience, especially today (June 5, 2017) knowing that 73 years ago today they were loading for a mission to Normandy. I think about the incredible young men and their thoughts and feelings as they prepared to stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door and jump into history.”
73 years ago today, That’s All, Brother led a force of more than 800 aircraft that, just after midnight on D-Day, dropped two American Airborne divisions behind enemy lines in Normandy.
The That’s All, Brother restoration project continues to demonstrate its power to excite and invigorate people, bringing contingents from Texas and Wisconsin together in a dedicated effort to see this project stay on track for a first flight later this year.
If you are interested in supporting the restoration of That’s All, Brother with a donation, volunteering time or just sharing this story and getting the word out, we appreciate your help! Donate, sign up for updates and learn more about this fascinating project at ThatsAllBrother.org.
A special thanks to the volunteer crew this week – Ray Clausen, Paul Holdridge, Mike Creegan, Miles Guslick, Tom McDermott, and James “Wyatt” Ellis.
Miles Guslick and Mike Creegan of the CAF Wisconsin Wing travelled from Waukesha to support the effort and help strip adhesive from the interior of That’s All, Brother.