Restoring a C47 cockpit
Working on my model I regularly checked Ebay to see if there were any DC-3 scale items for sale. I needed a landing gear, radial engine kits, pilots and other stuff. What also came up were real DC-3 parts. I looked at those but did nothing with it. Until I started to work on the model’s instrument panel. I looked all over for good pictures of the instrument faces so I could use them in the small panel. I ran into real instruments and thought it was a nice idea to have a real DC-3 part lying around.
So I bought one. One became 2 and so on. Than an Ebay seller sold of his stock after having closed his avionics workshop. Within a month I had nearly all the instruments a regular DC-3 or C47 had. This was fun. I stacked them on a shelf in my workshop and happily looked at them from time to time. And smelled them. Nothing smells like old aircraft stuff. Intoxicating odor.
Suddenly there was an old, beaten up, incomplete Throttle Quadrant on offer. I had to have that !! Just imagine that numerous pilots had touched those throttle handles to fly the plane to exotic places through hell and high water. I won the auction. The trim wheel, some knobs and the hand-brake handle were missing as well as all the placards.
There is this website called The International Cockpit Club that I had ogled a couple of times. Their members build instrument panels and whole cockpit sections. Wonderful stuff.
They have a wanted and for sale section and I left an ad. Within a week I was contacted by a Frenchman who used to be a volunteer at a French aviation museum. He got some spare parts as a thank you. He had the trim wheel, a handle, some of the placards and a brand new cockpit light that goes on the quadrant. That same week a German guy offered the missing knobs and a handle on Ebay. He had ripped those out of a wrecked DC-3 in the Dominican Republic. I had a complete DC-3 throttle quadrant within 2 weeks. Unbelievable. The more so because my quadrant turned out to be the very rare DC-3 one. Only a handful of these were made. The military counterpart, the C-47, was built more than 11.000 times during the war and that had a different quadrant.
It was almost like a sign that said: “you have to continue collecting”. And so I did. After the quad came the rudder-pedals, the hydraulic flap valves, the compass, the engine feather buttons, the inter-phone system, etc. etc.
In july 2006 I ran into a DC-3 nose-section here in Holland. It is made up out of the cockpit section of one C47 and a part of the fuselage of another. Together it will be about 15 feet or 5 meters in length. It now is still in parts, the cockpit is cut behind the pilot’s bulkhead and the fuselage part is cut in half both in length and in the middle.
The nice thing is that it also contains the radio and navigator’s station. That offered more parts hunting because I now also need the radio equipment and the navigator’s equipment.
What I have gotten myself into I don’t know. Building a scale model is one thing, reassembling, sheet-metalworking and riveting a real plane is quite another. But I’ll probably manage. I can find some help. About a kilometer away from me are a couple of guys who are building a cockpit section of a Lancaster bomber, from scratch using the original drawings. Everything is made exactly to the original specs. That is a much bigger and more difficult job than mine. They manage so why wouldn’t I.
In this website I will show the progress I make. Both in collecting as well as in restoring/rebuilding the nose.
I will try to update regularly. If you want to be informed of new updates just send me an email and I will put you on the update list. Don’t worry I will never ever use an email address for anything but letting you know when there is a new update.
Any help in the form of information, parts, whereabouts of derelict planes or anything you can think of is highly appreciated.
Bart Nopper, Amsterdam, may 2007
Most of the pics on this website are mine. Some I found through, some come from different websites I visited throughout the years. Should you see a picture that belongs to you, please let me know. I will either remove it or give credit where credit is due. That is up to you. I apologize beforehand for using a pic without your consent. I will say in my defense that this website is solely about my hobby and there is no commercial afterthought whatsoever.
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