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HARS to restore 9-decade-old Douglas DC-2

written by Jake Nelson | July 8, 2024

HARS will restore this Douglas DC-2, built in 1935. (Image: Ian Badham/HARS)

An 89-year-old Douglas DC-2 airliner has arrived at the HARS Aviation Museum for restoration.

The historic aircraft, which was built at Douglas’ Santa Monica plant in May 1935, will be restored and put on display at the museum at Shellharbour Airport in NSW, though is not expected to fly again at this stage.

According to HARS, the plane has a “fascinating history” which fits well with the society’s mission to preserve Australia’s aviation heritage.

“Although overshadowed by the later DC-3 and its military versions (C-47/Dakota), of which more than 16,000 were built, the pioneering DC-2 changed passenger aviation history with 156 constructed,” said HARS in a press release.

“Originally operated by Dutch airlines in the East Indies, the DC-2 was evacuated to Australia from the then Batavia ahead of enemy invasion in 1942 where it was taken over by the US Army Air Force under orders by General MacArthur before it was badly damaged in Port Moresby by an enemy bombing raid in 1942.

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“After the Second World War, it was reconfigured to seat 17 passengers for ANA in Melbourne, then was sold to Sid Marshall at Bankstown Airport to operate weekend joy flights over Sydney under the registration of VH-CDZ. It was damaged in 1957 and struck off the register, then owned by a number of parties under successive aims for restoration or dismantling for parts.”

The DC-2 is the latest in a long line of HARS restoration projects, including the Lockheed Super Constellation “Connie”, Smithy’s “Old Bus” Southern Cross replica, and a former RAN Grumman S2 Tracker.

“HARS flies three DC-3/Dakota aircraft, including ‘Hawdon’, which flew the first passenger flight for the then Trans-Australian Airlines from Melbourne to Sydney in 1946,” said HARS.

“Visitors to HARS Aviation Museum are able to see restoration underway on a former RAN Dakota which was part of the Queens Flight back in 1954.”

The Southern Cross replica flew again publicly last December for the first time in more than two decades, having been restored by HARS over more than 12 years since the society purchased it in 2010. Led by project engineering manager Jim Thurstan, the effort was funded by donors such as Robert Greinert and Dick Smith.

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