Work on the restoration of the legendary Douglas C-47 aircraft, delivered to the Soviet Union along the ALSIB Air Route during the Great Patriotic War, is scheduled to be completed this year. The aircraft, which was evacuated from the Taimyr tundra as part of the project of the Russian Geographical Society, is being carefully restored by specialists from the Novosibirsk company “Helicopter” in a special hangar on the territory of Mochishche Airfield. The historical appearance of the future museum exhibit will be returned according to archival documents. The work is coordinated by the Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society.
“The work is carried out in difficult conditions, taking into account the rising cost of parts and the difficulties encountered in delivering original materials from abroad. But the restoration is not stopping, and we expect to receive the aircraft at the end of 2024. After that, the ‘Tyurikov’s Plane’ will return to Krasnoyarsk as an interactive museum exhibit. Throughout the time, we have been helping our Novosibirsk colleagues to restore the ‘Tyurikov’s Plane’. Many thanks to Rosneft and personally to Igor Ivanovich Sechin for financial support in the restoration of the aircraft," said Igor Spiridenko, chairman of the Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society.
The specialists from the company "Helicopter" have already completed a large amount of restoration work. The restoration is carried out strictly according to historical evidence, so that the aircraft looks exactly as it did almost 80 years ago.
“The restoration of the outer parts of the wings has been fully completed, the wings of the aircraft have been completely painted. A plan for marking the fuselage and wings of the Douglas has been agreed upon. It was decided that the markings would be applied according to the plan from the time of operation of the aircraft as part of the 26th transport squadron of the Krasnoyarsk Directorate of the Civil Air Fleet of the USSR (1947). The plan is based on historical photographs of similar machines dating back to 1946-1947, as well as traces of previous designations recorded on the surface of the aircraft. The inside of the fuselage has been painted in the final color, small elements of equipment and paintwork of the cargo cabin have been restored (buckles of seat belts, caps of window openings, door handles, etc.). Work has begun on the manufacture of cargo cabin windows. In addition, the painting of the outer surface of the fuselage has already begun. The construction of the primary structure in the nose has been fully completed, the cockpit floor has been restored, and the installation of the outer panels of the nose continues. Restorers continue to put back the instrument panels of the cockpit," said Alexander Matveev, head of the Commission for the Preservation of Historical Memory of the Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society.
Earlier, restorers completely restored both engines and propellers to the condition of a museum exhibit. The aircraft engines are historically reliably painted, all auxiliary units (starters, generators, oil pumps) and even the manufacturer's marking are adjusted.
The project “Tyurikov’s Plane: The Return” is a large-scale international expedition of the Russian Geographical Society to evacuate the unique Douglas C-47 aircraft from the Taimyr tundra in 2016-2017, which was delivered to the USSR from the USA via the ALSIB Air Route as part of the Lend-Lease program during the Great Patriotic War.
In 1947, the Douglas made an emergency landing in the north of the Krasnoyarsk Territory, while it was possible to save all those on board. Crew commander Maxim Tyurikov and on-board radio operator Alexey Smirnov went in search of help and tragically died. The remaining people survived for three weeks in the harsh conditions of the Far North and waited for help.
In 2018, the project won the Russian Geographical Society Award in the category "The Best Expedition in Russia". The RGS Award was presented to the expedition leader Igor Spiridenko by President of Russia, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society Vladimir Putin.