The story of ‘Iron Ass’

History of a C-47A #42-92099

 

C-47A #42-92099 saw action in World War 2 as one of the planes of the 435th Troop Carrier Group.

 

In the first stage of the war, the plane was part of the 75th Troop Carrier Squadron. In a file dated 28 October 1943, the plane is listed with the names of the men who flew this plane from the USA to England. The location connected with the date is West Palm Beach, Florida.

The following men were aboard of this aircraft:

 

1st Lt. Edgar H. Albers Jr. (P)

2nd Lt. Roy E. Alderman (CP)

2nd Lt. Ralph S. Gorton (N)

S/Sgt. Edward I. Baldwin (CC)

Cpl. Joseph B. Jablowski (RO)

M/Sgt. George W. Chester (PAS)

T/Sgt. Lewis F. Romine (PAS)

SGT. Nelbert E. Anderson (PAS)

 

The plane did get the nickname ‘Iron Ass’painted on the nose. A donkey was added. In that fashion, the plane would continue flying the two large airborne operations.

 

On June 6, 1944, the C-47 and crew were involved in the Normandy invasion.

At 0120 they dropped paratroopers on DZ-C. this was as part of Serial 13 that dropped the

3/501 PIR and elements of Div HQ, Div Signal and Div Arty HQ.

That same afternoon the 435th was involved in towing gliders to Normandy. This was Serial 33 and 50 gliders brought in 320th GFa Bn. The gliders landed at LZ-W at 2310 h.

For both missions, ‘Iron Ass’ was flown by the same crew:

 

1st Lt. Edgar H. Albers Jr. (Pilot)

2nd Lt. Charles F. Bryan (co-pilot)

1st Lt. Ralph S. Gorton Jr. (navigator)

T/Sgt. Edward I. Baldwin (crew chieg or engineer)

S/Sgt Joseph B. Jablowski (radio operator)

 

It is assumable that the crew and C-47 flew missions to Southern France.

 

In the Holland mission, the plane flew in the number 16 position  dropping paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division. The crew by:

Capt. Edgar H. Albers Jr.

2nd Lt. Charles F. Bryan jr.

1st Lt. Ralph S. Gorton jr.

T/Sgt. Edward I. Baldwin

S/Sgt. Joseph B. Jablowski

 

The second day of the Holland mission, the same crew flew the plane Serial A-49 at position #29. They towed a glider piloted by F/O Lett.

A thrd mission was flown in Serial A-73 when the same crew flew the plane, towing a glider piloted by F/O Fisher. The C-47 landed at Borum on their return, because of battle damage and fuel. The crew, with exceptance of T/Sgt. Baldwin, was picked up.

 

In October the 75th Troop Carrier Squadron got some new C-47s.

# 42-92099 moved to another squadron and we see the plane again on the re-supply missions to Bastogne.

At that moment, the plane was in service with the 78th Troop Carrier Squadron.

On December 26th, the following men flew the plane to supply the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne:

 

Lt. Francis L. Kirby (P)

Marvin J. Nichols (CP)

Paul E. Williamson (CC)

Louis Zisa (RO)

 

The following day, another crew flew the same ship on a similar mission to Bastogne.

 

Arthur C. Pierce (P)

Erwin L. Scharf (CP)

James E. Cahill (CC)

Tom L. Brown (RO)

 

A few weeks later, the life of C-47A # 42-92099 came to an end.

On January 19th, 1945, Lt. Francis L. Kirby flew the plane to field A-39.

They missed the field on the first approach and had to home on the radio beacon. While circling the field at 300 feet both engines failed. Without power they were unable to make a landing on the field. Instead they dropped into an open field nearby. The landing gear had been lowered and there was not enough time to raise it. The right wheel touched first and was sheered off, dropping the plane onto the wing. It then lurched over on the left wing and the left wheel collapsed. The ship was considerably damaged, but none of the crew were injured with the exception of a medic who received a cut on the eyelid that required a stitch to close.

 

Left: “Iron Ass” in the early days when the 75th Troop Carrier Squadron planes were carrying the original SH squadron code. (Photo T. Albers)

Right: This photo shows the plane later in the war. The SH squadron code has been changed into CK.

(Photo Ch. Gordon)

The D-day crew pose in front of their ship. Left to right: Lt. Edgar Albers, Lt. Ralph Gorton and T/Sgt. Edward Baldwin. ( photo T. Albers)

An undated photo shows Lt. Edgar Albers in the cockpit of his aircraft. The SH code makes it possible to say that this was a pre D-day photo.

(Photo Ch. Gordon)

 

The two pilots conected with the plane. Left is Lt. Edgar H. Albers Jr. Who flew the plane during the first large operations in the war.

(Photo T. Albers)

On the right is Lt. Francis L. Kirby of the 78th Troop Carrier Squadron. He flew the plane on one of the Bastogne resupply missions and piloted the plane when it crashed. (Photo H. Den Brok collection)

Airborne Troop Carrier - Miscellaneous