SYLMAR, CA – PPG has donated aerospace coatings to Air Heritage in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, for restoring a C-47B Skytrain military transport aircraft known as Luck of the Irish. PPG provided DESOGEL™ EAP-9 adhesion promoter, DESOPRIME® HS 7233 high-solids military epoxy primer, and DESOTHANE® HS 8221 high-solids semi-gloss military and defense topcoat for Air Heritage volunteers to paint the aircraft as it looked when it flew its final World War II mission on May 28, 1945.
According to Duane Utter, PPG Global Segment Manager, Military Coatings and Defense Products, the exterior of the repainted aircraft not only has been restored to its former glory but also will benefit from technological advancements in coatings.
"PPG is fortunate to collaborate with Air Heritage in restoring this important C-47B plane, and we selected coatings that will maintain the aircraft's appearance for years to come," Utter said. "PPG Desoprime HS 7233 primer and PPG Desothane HS 8221 series topcoat have been used on thousands of military aircraft that are in service globally today. The coatings comprise a very durable system that resists ultraviolet light and fluids, while the primer, in conjunction with PPG DesoGel EAP-9 pretreatment, offers exceptional corrosion protection."
Paint experts from PPG's aerospace facility in Mojave, California, mixed the PPG Desothane HS 8221 series topcoat in original Federal Standard colors – dark olive drab for the plane's upper fuselage, wings and tail; neutral gray for the underbelly; and gray, white, blue, orange, green and red for the markings. Air Heritage volunteers worked from drawings to recreate the historic paint scheme, including the nose art that pays homage to two Irish crew members.
Good color retention for the topcoat was important since the aircraft sits outside several months a year. Due to PPG's innovative technology, only one coat was needed.
"We've always wanted a C-47," said Greg Werking, Air Heritage's Project Manager. "Everybody wanted one. It's just a great airplane. There's so much history behind it."
In addition to coordinating the donation's logistics, Bill Mitchell, PPG Senior Sales and Market Development, Philadelphia Application Support Center, met with the volunteer paint crew and provided product literature and application guidelines. His technical support enabled the painters to achieve a smooth finish.
Air Heritage volunteers continue to work on the C-47B plane, with expectations that it will fly in air shows and have roles in movies and TV shows once it is fully restored.
The Luck of the Irish had a noble mission during World War II that led one Air Heritage volunteer on his own mission to learn its history. Tyler Pinkerton found Capt. Edward “Elmo” Frome, who piloted the plane during the war, and spoke with him and his daughter before his death in 2013. Among the many items his family donated to the museum was his U.S. Army Air Forces 435th Troop Carrier Group’s yearbook, which includes the only picture of the plane Pinkerton found. Pinkerton also connected online with a C-47 historian who provided an electronic copy of Capt. Frome’s squadron war diary that detailed the history of the plane from the time it entered service in September 1944 until its last mission. In addition to the U.S. Army Air Forces, the C-47B has flown with the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and Florida’s Lee County Mosquito Control District.