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C-47 “Placid Lassie” N74589

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Construction
The Aircraft was built in 1943 in Long Beach, California by the Douglas Aircraft Company as a C-47. She was Army Air Force order number AC-20669 and cost $109,683.00. Her contract number (or serial) number was 9926. On 26 July 1943 she was turned over to the U.S. Government and assigned the military registration number 42-24064.

Her warttime crew
Pilot : 1st Lt. Richard H. Lum
Co-pilot : 1st Lt. Ralph C. Lungren / 1st Lt. Merton E. Eckert
Navigator : 1st Lt. William E. Vaughn
Radio Operator : Staff Sargent Ed Tunison,
Crew Chief : T/Sgt. Eddie A. Apodaca

Her name
The crew named the aircraft “Placid Lassie”. They named the left engine “Idling Ada” after the crew chief’s wife and named the right engine “Eager Eileen” after the Radio Operator’s wife. The Squadron marking was ID and she had a radio call sign of N

D-Day history
The leading parachute drops in the Normandy invasion were codenamed ALBANY (101st Division) and BOSTON (82nd Division). 13 waves of C-47s in ALBANY dropped pathfinders and troops into three Landing Zones (LZ) from 00:20 to 01:43. 14 waves of C-47s in BOSTON dropped pathfinders and troops into another three LZs from 01:21 to 02:44. Meanwhile back in England, Placid Lassie and the 74th took off at about 0200 towing Waco gliders. They were part of the CHICAGO mission carrying troops and equipment for the 101st. They took off from Aldermaston at 02:00, formed up at 1000 feet and flew to their first checkpoint. They dropped down to 500 feet and crossed the Channel. Checkpoints Austin, Elko, Flatbush, Gallup, Hoboken, Reno and crossed the coast at Muleshoe at about 03:49. A and B flights spread the formation laterally. LZ E was near Hiesville, France with one side along the road between Ste. Marine-du-Mont and les Forges about a mile behind Utah beach. One plane from CHICAGO (71st TCS) was shot down. The 74th came over the release zone at 450 feet six minutes early and released the gliders. About half of the gliders landed within two miles of the LZ.

Market Garden History
Placid Lassie and the 74th TCS flew four missions in four days consisting first of parachutes, then two glider missions and finally a resupply. 2nd glider mission was in extremely bad weather with gliders out of visual contact with the tow planes.
17 Sept: Southern Route: 74th was in the second serial, just a fewminutes behind the pathfinders, and dropped 2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Regiment, 101st into LZ A (outside of Veghel) at 13:06. One C-47 from the pathfinders was shot down as one C-47 from the Lassie’s Serial was lost (from 73rd TCS)
18 Sept: Northern Route: Placid Lassie was in the first Serial taking off at about 11:20 and realeasing her glider carrying elements of 1st Bn, 401st Glider Infantry Rgt, 101st at 14:37 into LZ W. Two C-47s from her Serial were lost (from 72nd TCS)
19 Sept: Southern Route: The 74th flew in the 6th Serial of a 10 serial mission to bring artillery towing gliders with elements of the 321st Glider Field Artillery Bn, 101st to DZ W. The mission took off between 1130 adn 1320 into poor weather with clouds at 1200 feet. The weather deteriorated and was zero visability by the time that they hit the coast. Gliders could not see tow C-47s. Across the channgel the could cover was at 200 feet. 82 gliders aborted over England, 17 ditched in the channel, 31 broke free over Belgium and 213 made it to the target. The 74th made it the drop zone at 15:45 with could cover at 600 feet and visability less than 1 mile. Entense flak was encoutered en route. 17 C-47s were lost and 5 made hard landings. 70% of the planes took hits. 1st Lt. Lundgren (Placid Lassie’s former co-pilot) was killed when his plane crashed.
20 Sept: Southern Route: the 74th dropped supplies, mostly ammunition, for the 82nd in the late afternoon (16:48 to 17:49) at altitudes from 400 feet to 1800 feet into DZ-O
23 Sept: the 74th towed gliders to resupply the 101st.
26 Sept: the 74th dropped artillery shells to resupply the 101st into LZ W at 16:41.

Post War History
After the War the aircraft was owned by a number of operators. RFC, West-Coast Airlines, Aero-Dyne, Saber Aviation, Express Air Cargo and Dodson International Air.

In 2010 James Lyle and Clive Edwards looked for a DC-3 for James to purchase and for Clive to restore. They found Placid Lassie was derelict at Covington where she had sat in tall-grass storage for a decade. Clive and his team did an intense eight-week restoration with the goal of flying her to Oshkosh for the 75th DC-3 Anniversary “Dak-Meet” in 2010. Despite setbacks the newly named “Union Jack Dak” flew to Oshkosh. Later they found out that she was a D-Day veteran and learned her history as Placid Lassie. James Lyle owned and operated Placid Lassie from 2010 to 2017 bringing her to airshows and in 2014 to the 1st Daks over Normandy event. In 2017 he founded the Tunison Foundation, named after the last surviving crewmember of Placid Lassie’s wartime crew who passed in 2016, and donated the plane to the foundation.
Images: John Dibbs