• July



Military Aviation Museum Welcomes the Curtiss C-46 Commando!

The only flying example of its type represented in a museum collection, the C-46 is expected to arrive at the Museum in time to debut at
the South Pacific Luau and Hangar Dance, Saturday, July 22nd.

The Military Aviation Museum proudly announces the acquisition of the Curtiss C-46 Commando, known as “The Tinker Belle,” from its caretakers, the City of Monroe, NC, in partnership with the non-profit organization Warriors and Warbirds.

“The Tinker Belle” has long been a centerpiece of the Warbirds Over Monroe Air Show at the Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport, where it was based. It has captivated audiences across the United States and Canada, becoming a symbol of the heroic efforts during World War II.

Officially designated as the Curtiss C-46 Commando, “The Whale,” as it was affectionately known, played a crucial role in Air Transport Command operations over the Himalayan Mountains, famously referred to as “The Hump,” in the CBI (China-Burma-India) Theatre during WWII. The crews who flew these C-46s and C-47s became the backbone of history’s largest and longest airlift. Despite their tremendous achievements, this triumph came at a significant cost, with the loss of numerous aircraft, crew, and cargo.

By the end of WWII, the Hump airlift operation was a staggering endeavor, with aircraft crossing every 1.3 minutes on average. This figure is astonishing and becomes even more so when compared with the one every 13 minutes that Air Transport Command was operating across the Atlantic, and the one every 90 minutes that they were dispatching across the Pacific. Over 34,000 USAAF personnel and 47,000 local laborers from Burma, India, and China were instrumental in making this airlift operation a reality. It even involved utilizing local elephants to replace unserviceable forklifts!

“We are very excited to welcome the C-46 to the collection here at the Military Aviation Museum,” said Museum Director, Keegan Chetwynd. He noted further that, “Visitors to the Museum will be able to enjoy an up-close look at the aircraft, and even the opportunity to get inside “The Tinker Belle” in the not-too-distant future.”

To learn more about the Military Aviation Museum, click here.

Story credit: Military Aviation Museum Newsletter

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