Monday, November 27, 2023

National Museum of Transportation Skytrain and T-Bird Outdoor Displays Represent Planes In a World of Trains and Automobiles

By Carmelo Turdo

Most visitors to the National Museum of Transportation in west St. Louis County, MO set out to enjoy the largest collection of vehicles in the world, including the renowned outdoor locomotive yard and the Lindburg Automobile Center. For the aviation enthusiasts, there are two aircraft displays that bookend the museum in the parking areas.

Upon entering the Barrett Station Depot side of the museum, one is greeted by a Douglas C-47A Skytrain, serial number 43-15635, wearing the distinctive D-Day invasion stripes. This aircraft flew a troop glider tow mission on the June 7, 1944 Operation Hackensack landing and resupply mission over Normandy. It continued to serve in the USAAF and later USAF until it was retired from the 131st FW, MO ANG in St. Louis and delivered to the museum in 1972. It is now on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, OH.

Here is how the C-47 arrived at the museum under a CH-54 Skycrane of the Kansas National Guard:

(Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Archives)

(Greater St. Louis Air & Space Museum Archives)

The current display at the National Museum of Transportation can be seen by all visitors, in a place of honor, as they approach the parking lot. Here is a walk-around view of the aircraft as it looks today:

The other aircraft on display, this one at the other parking area, is T-33A s/n 52-9446 marked as 52-9564 from the 438th FIS. The 438th was home to interceptors including the F-94B, F-89D, F-102A and F-106A based at Kincheloe AFB, Michigan before being moved to Griffiss AFB, New York and renamed the 49th FIS. T-33s provided target support for interceptor training missions, a mission flown by T-33s of the 131st FW in St. Louis as well.

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