No. 7402. Douglas DC-3A-456 R4D-5L Skytrain (12418 c/n 9358) US Navy "Que Sera Sera"
Photographed at National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, Florida, USA, 1988, by Ted Black

Douglas DC-3A-456 R4D-5L Skytrain

01/31/2011. Remarks by Jack McKillop: "Ordered by the USAAF under the s/n 42-23496 as a C-47A-20-DL Skytrain for the USN, this aircraft was manufactured by Douglas as a DC-3A-456 and delivered to the USN as an R4D-5 with BuNo. 12418, on April 8, 1943. In August 1944, it was assigned to the Naval Air Transport Service's (NATS) Air Transport Squadron Seven (VR-7) based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Moffett Field, Sunnyvale, California but was transferred to VR-3 at NAS Olathe, Kansas on June 3, 1945.

After the war, the squadron was reassigned to the Naval Air Reserve Training Command (NART) and based at NAS Minneapolis, Minnesota in February 1947 and NAS Olathe in August 1948. Placed in storage at Naval Air Facility Litchfield Park, Arizona in September 1949, this R4D was returned to service with Fleet Aircraft Service Squadron Seven (FASRON-7) at NAS San Diego, California on July 13, 1950 and was then assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Djakarta, Indonesia on December 3, 1950.

The aircraft was again placed in storage at NAF Litchfield Park on December 20, 1953 and again returned to service with Experimental and Development Squadron Six (VX-6) 'Puckered Penguins' at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland on May 24, 1955 and was converted to an R4D-5L, the winterized version of the R4D.

VX-6 had been established for operations with Task Force 43 in Operation Deep Freeze; the mission of this task force was to build facilities and airstrips and deliver supplies in Antarctica in support of U.S. participation in the International Geophysical Year 1957-58. VX-6 provided services for parties based ashore on Antarctica and made courier flights between that continent and New Zealand.

This R4D-5L arrived at McMurdo Sound on October 17, 1956 and on October 31, now named 'Que Sera Sera' (whatever will be will be) and piloted by Lieutenant-Commander Conrad 'Gus' Shinn and Captain William 'Trigger' Hawkins, it landed at the South Pole with seven men, the first to stand at the spot since Captain Robert F. Scott of the Royal Navy reached it in January 1912.

VX-6 returned to the U.S. and was based at NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island and this famous plane was transferred to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. for preservation on December 4, 1958. With the introduction of the new designation system in 1962, this R4D-5L may have been redesignated an LC-47H.

In 1974, it was loaned to the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida and was restored for exhibition in 1982. This aircraft is still at this museum."

Created February 28, 2008