Aviation Historian 31
T.Culbert - The Hump pioneers
Captains Ziegler and Eveland (third and fourth from left facing camera) take a break from offloading their precious cargo - civilian refugees fleeing the Imperial Japanese Army in Burma - for a photograph at Dinjan in April 1942. The work of the four units was arduous, dangerous and vital in establishing the ‘‘Aerial Burma Road”.
Desperate times call for desperate measures - wounded British soldiers on stretchers are placed in the shade of a C-47’s wing while awaiting evacuation from Myitkyina to Dinjan in April 1942. Pilots also had to contend with ferrying refugees suffering from tuberculosis, dysentery, cholera, smallpox and malaria.
The workhorse of the four units that pioneered flying “the Hump” from India over the Himalayas to China during April-May 1942 was Douglas’s ubiquitous C-47 transport. A USAAF ABCFC example is seen here at a dispersal site near Dinjan in the Assam province of north-eastern India.
Former Pacific Alaska DC-3 NC19971 (c/n 2261) is seen here in CNAC service (as #47) at Li Kiang, China, during one of the first flights across the Hump, on November 23, 1941. PAA-Africa’s Chief Pilot Dallas Sherman stated that “surrounded by the ‘fog of war’, our operations in the Assam-Burma-China combat zone were to a large degree hidden, uncertain and confusing to both the participants and the directors. To accomplish results under actual combat conditions, many methods and means were employed, which of necessity appear abnormal and unusual. They were. ”
PAA-Africa Captain Wayne Eveland and his First Officer, Millard Nasholds, stand beside C-47-DL serial 41-7729 (c/n 4208) after a Japanese air raid damaged its port tailplane at Loi Wing on April 28, 1942. It was repaired and back in service within three days. Ironically, having survived one of the harshest environments of the war, it was destroyed in a fire at Newark, New Jersey, in March 1946.
The PAA-Africa crews shared the airfield at Loi Wing with the pilots and equipment of the 1st American Volunteer Group - the famous “Flying Tigers” - one of whose Curtiss P-40s was photographed by a PAA-Africa crew member. A pair of P-40s was obtained from the AVG to provide at least some fighter cover for the transports operating out of Dinjan.
One of at least eight DC-2s operated by CNAC being refuelled in typically primitive conditions.
Douglas DC-2 DG471/VT-AOS (c/n 1244) was one of 12 impressed into RAF service with No 31 Sqn in February 1941. It never made it to Dinjan, crashing at Karachi in October 1941.
Delivered into RAF hands by PAA-Africa pilots as “U.S.8” in September 1941, former TWA and Braniff DC-2 AX767/“N” (also formerly G-AGCI in BOAC service) operated with No 31 Sqn in India during April-May 1942. The unit received Battle Honours for its air transport work in Burma during 1941-42.