08/31/2006. Remarks by Jack McKillop: "This aircraft was delivered to the USAAF as C-46F-1-CU s/n 44-78663 in July 1945. It was leased to Meteor Air Transport of Teterboro, New Jersey, USA, on February 10, 1950 registered N53594 and used to fly clothing to Detroit, Michigan, USA, and auto parts back to New Jersey. It was sold to Metropolitan Air Terminal on August 1, 1957 and immediately leased back to Meteor Air Transport.
The aircraft was purchased by Peoples Trust Company of Bergen County, New Jersey, on August 1, 1960 and immediately sold to Riddle Airlines of Miami, Florida, USA, which provided cargo service in the eastern USA. On July 1, 1963, it was sold to Zantop Air Transport of Ypsilanti, Michigan, and used as a cargo airliner. Zantop was sold on September 21, 1966 and became Universal Airlines.
The aircraft was operated by several companies owned by Ortner Air Service of Wakeman, Ohio, USA. The last civilian owner was Plymouth Leasing of Detroit, Michigan, who purchased it on April 18, 1973 and leased the plane to Rosenbaum Aviation, who in turn cut holes in the sides, put spray booms on the wings, and used it as a pinecone beetle sprayer. Finally, the Confederate AF purchased the aircraft on February 20, 1978 and assigned it to the East Texas Wing, located at Conroe, Texas, USA, where it was given the name "Humpty Dumpty" in honor of the C-46s that flew over the Himalaya Mountains (i.e., 'the Hump') during WW II.
An engine failed in 1980. This posed a bigger problem than the East Texas Wing wanted to handle, and the plane sat in non-flying condition until the summer of 1981. The newly formed Southern California Wing wanted a plane, and they were offered the C-46 if they could come up with two new engines and install them. It took the entire summer of 1981 to replace the engines. Then, on its first test flight, it skidded off the runway into axle-deep mud. With lots of coaxing, it finally left Conroe and flew to 'Airsho81' at Harlingen Texas, where two main oil lines failed.
During 'Airsho81' the C-46 was officially assigned to the Southern California Wing. On October 12, 1981, it was flown to Van Nuys Airport, California, USA, and then to its permanent home at Camarillo Airport, Camarillo, California, in the spring of 1982, where work began in earnest to make it a 'star airshow airplane.' Over the course of several years they cleaned up corrosion, patched up lots of sheet metal, overhauled the propellers, replaced the passenger windows, and gave the plane a new coat of shiny aluminum paint and bright USAAF markings. They also gave it a new name, 'China Doll'. The aircraft is now displayed at numerous airshows and military base displays."