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Bits and Pieces

DC-3 Lands at Short Strip in St-Mathias sur Richelieu

By Ian Brown, Editor - Bits and Pieces, EAA 657159

Aviation BL in St. Mathias, Quebec, had an interesting visitor recently. Yvon Guertin sent in some photos of a DC-3 dressed in Normandy Invasion stripes. Actually the military version, with a larger cargo door and reinforced floor, was designated as a C-47. It had landed at BL for some propeller work. These shots just remind us how capable the aircraft was when landing on rough, short terrain. The strip at St. Mathias is only 32 feet wide and 2,000 feet long. A thousand feet past the end of the runway flows the Richelieu River.

Short-field takeoff through the corn

Aviation BL was founded as a crop-spraying outfit, but they expanded to specialty maintenance including structural and propeller repair, which is now a significant part of their business. The author's connection to this organization is that he had his propeller repaired there as well as fluorescent dye testing of his crankshaft. That work was done by Guertin, shown in the DC-3 cockpit here.

Checking propellers or just having fun?

Invasion stripes were ordered for the Normandy Invasion to avoid the risk of friendly fire. It was estimated that the risk would have been high with Allied anti-aircraft at the ready and so many aircraft in the air. Most of them were removed within a month and all by the end of the invasion year, 1944. The stripes were on both wings and the fuselage. Since painting the stripes was kept secret until the last moment, applying them was a hurried affair, sometimes with less than perfect results.

If you have any more information about this particular aircraft, please feel free to comment.


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