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History of individual aircraft in the Secret War

The purpose of these "histories" is to illustrate the travels that some of these aircraft took during their life before participating in the Secret War. They have been stitched together from various sources including Joe Baugher's excellent aircraft serial number files, and Alexandre Avare's Air Transport Data Base company files.

Although there was a significant amount of buying, selling, leasing and lending of aircraft during this period, one cannot assume that it was all nefarious and wreaking of CIA intrigue. Having said that there was a maze of companies moving aircraft among them. Added to this were the aircraft movements among governmental organizations and between countries. Sometimes records were kept and often they were not. Instances of tail numbers being changed and aircraft being rebuilt are also true. This just adds spice to an already interesting story of aircraft movement.

When I flew on some of the "relics", such as the venerable "50 kip" courier (See C-47 c/n 13174 below), I wondered where their kind had been before they hauled me around. Maybe you will find some old friends here. I hope so.

Tom Lee
May 2002

C-47-DL c/n 4309    USAAF 41-7810

This may have been one of  most senior C-47s, at least by construction number.

Delivered to the Caribbean Wing of USAAF Air Transport Command 23 April 1942. About a year later it was transferred to Pan American Airways where it continued its wartime duties. On 28 July 1945 it was relegated to the RFC for disposition. It was reregistered as NC75409 and by 1953 was operated by Arabian American Oil Company as its "Pigeon". It was re-registered to N716A in 1955. It was sold by Miami Aviation Co. in 1966 to Continental Air Lines and operated by Continental Air Services (CASI) from 1966 to 1970 as N716A when the registration was cancelled. Does anyone know what happened to it?

C-47B-20-DL  c/n 9342    USAAF  42-23480

Delivered to 9th Air Force in Europe on 6 April 1943. After World War II, it  became part of the new Czechoslovakian Air Force as OK-WDG. When the Iron Curtain came down, it moved to the French Air Force as 23480 and later 223480. It operated under several call signs for about 25+ years including F-YFLY and F-YCIB. It finished its Gaellic career in New Caldonia in the South Pacific. It was sold to Colgair Inc/Stanair Corp (an aircraft broker?) where it assumed US registration N16896. This appeared to have been used as a "floating" registration as it is recorded for three separate C47s in the Far East held by this company at various times. Then it was registered to International Air Ltd. as N77777 which also is associated with several different aircraft. In January 1975, it was registered to South East Asia Air Transport (SEAAT) as N95AC. SEAAT has been identifed as a CIA cover or was one of their proprietary air carriers. Later, Bird Air, a long time SEA air operatior with CIA ties, registered the aircraft as N23BA. The aircraft was reported to have been broken up in Bangkok.

C-47A-20-DK    c/n 13174    USAAF 42-93280        "50 Kip"

Many secret warriors rode "50 kip" at one time or another as a means of getting around Laos and Thailand. I remember the aircraft was painted slate gray. If it had markings I don't remember them. It had a full complement of seats. You caught it by asking the right people where to stand on the ramp at the right time. 

Delivered to the USAAF 3 May 1944. By 9 June 1944 it was noted at Elmendorf AAF, Alaska. It left military service in June 1946 and became NC91053. In 1951 it was registered as N65MK and belonged to the Morrison-Knudson Company, a major world-wide construction company. It was purchased by Continental Air Services (CASI) in 1965 and re-registeded to N650K (50 Kilo - or Kip for the Laotian currency). It served faithfully until 1973 when it was leased? to Air Alliance Inc of Los Angeles. It is doubtful that it left Asia as it was noted with Sahkol Airline of Singapore in September 1975 and back to CASI that November. The registration was cancelled in December 1976. It was next noted as 4WABY with the Yemen Air Force or Airlines. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair at Marib on 14 November 1978.

Note to those who flew, maintained or managed these aircraft. Your assistance is solicited. Stories about your favorite or not so favorite aircraft are appreciated. If there are errors, please help me in getting the information correct. Please contact the webmaster below.

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Created May 2002, Updated September 2002
Copyright Thomas E. Lee 2002, All Rights Reserved.
[Note: These histories are a compilation of copyright and non-copyright materials. Not for commercial use of any kind.]