The Plane Chains team is honored to release edition 7. This release has us working on a very special aircraft that played a crucial role during the blockade of west berlin in 1945.
Edition 7 is made from multiple engine cowlings that were removed during restoration.
The C-54 is a four-engine reliable transport aircraft that was first introduced in 1942 having its first flight on February 14th, 1942. It was primarily used in World War II and the Korean war. The C-54 is derived from a civilian airliner also known as the DC-4. The C-54 would not only be used for military use but also for the transport of presidents, prime ministers, and cargo. To allow the newly designed C-54 to fulfill her role, they had added four extra fuel tanks and a large cargo door which would enable the C-54 to carry more and travel further. It even features a pressurized cabin along with air conditioning.
There were many variants made of the C-54 all serving different roles such as air-sea rescue, scientific and military research, and missile tracking and recovery. The C-54 also played a very important role in the Berlin Airlift, supplying Coal, food, and equipment as it could carry up to 10 Tons. The C-54 has the distinction of being the first purpose-built aircraft to fly a US president.
Being a very reliable capable aircraft, 1,170 C-54s were made in both Santa Monica, California, and Orchard Place/Douglas Field, Illinois. There were as many as 35 different air forces that operated the C-54, including the United States, Canada, and Germany. Today there are very few C-54s remaining, those remaining examples are now viewed and cherished as historical aircraft.
Our C-54 keychains were made from the engine cowlings of N500EJ. Her story starts off on May 30th, 1945, when she was built as a C-54E-15-DO by Douglas at their Santa Monica, CA facility. N500EJ was accepted by the United States Army Air Force as 44-9144. She was then transferred to the United States Navy as BuNo 90414 as an R5D-4R and flew with markings QF-414 before being converted into a C-54R. Shortly after the conversion to the C-54R, she began her mission as part of the Berlin Air Lift, from June 26th, 1948 to May 12th, 1949. She joined Squadron VR-3 up until the end of the blockade. While in this squadron N500EJ flew transatlantic flights between the United States and Germany in support of Navy squadrons VR-6 and VR-8.
Between 1949 and 1975 she was transferred to the USMC to transport cargo, personnel, and VIPs. In 1975 N500EJ was transformed to be used as a cargo aircraft by several operators.
After 19 years of serving as a cargo transport aircraft, she was finally purchased by the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation. The talented team would then start a full restoration transforming her into a flying exhibit, commemorating the aircraft's service to the Berlin Air Lift. After many painstaking hours, the team was able to make her fly once again and saved her from being scrapped. By doing so the public would be able to enjoy and cherish this historical tool that was extremely important in helping not only the United States Military but also helping those in need on the ground in West Berlin during 1945.
Unfortunately, N500EJ’s life came to a very sad undeserving end. On April 13th, 2020 a tornado struck Lowcountry Regional Airport, SC, flipping N500EJ on her back. This damaged her, and it was decided that the damages would cost too much to be repaired. The team at Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation continues to preserve historical aircraft. to support this amazingly talented team you can give them a visit at http://www.spiritoffreedom.org/.
Claim your own piece of N500EJ, today!