That’s All Brother

In July of 2015, the 57th Alumni Association joined with over 2,106 backers to help save the airplane that led the D-Day Invasion.

A living history group joined “Pee Wee” Martin, front row, third from left. James "Pee Wee" Martin, one of a handful of men still alive that jumped with the 101st Airborne on D-Day.

That’s All, Brother | C-47A 42-92847

The Airplane that Led the D-Day Invasion

When Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, supreme commander of Allied forces in Europe, reviewed the major events of the Second World War, he identified four “Tools of Victory” -- items that had a significant impact on the war. His list included the Bazooka, the Jeep, the Atomic Bomb and a single aircraft type – the C-47. Of the more than 10,000 C-47s built, none is more central to the story of World War II than the aircraft that led the D-Day Invasion, That’s All, Brother.

Constructed at the Douglas Aircraft facility in Tulsa, Okla., in early 1944, That’s All, Brother was delivered to the 438th Troop Carrier Group (TCG) during the second week of April. The 438th TCG was already deployed to England in preparation for the planned invasion of Europe. That’s All, Brother was assigned to the 87th Troop Carrier Squadron, already renowned for their exceptional flying skills. These skills earned them the job of paving the route into France for the largest airborne invasion in history.

That’s All, Brother was selected to lead the invasion, by Lt. Col. John M. Donalson, commander of the 438th TCG. Donalson, who planned to pilot the lead airplane himself, picked That’s All, Brother because of its name, which he thought would be a clear message to Adolf Hitler.

That’s All, Brother was quickly outfitted with primitive radar called the SCR-717. It was hoped that with this specialized radar, That’s All, Brother would be able to deliver her troops, the men of the 101st Airborne Division, directly onto their targets. The 101st was charged with securing German strongholds and key inland routes from the Normandy beaches.

That’s All, Brother departed Greenham Common, just before midnight on June 5, 1944. 800 other C-47s, scattered bases around the English countryside began to assemble in formation, a task made more difficult because they were flying without navigation lights and under radio silence to avoid enemy detection.

Carrying more than 13,000 airborne troops, the mass formation led by That’s All, Brother flew south across the English Channel. As they approached the French coast, the aircraft began to encounter heavy enemy flak. Soon after, they encountered unexpected low clouds further complicating the mission.

Pushing on in face of adversity, That’s All, Brother succeeded in leading the invasion force into France, dropping her paratroopers at 0048 on June 6, 1944. As American boots touched the ground that night, the Liberation of Europe had begun.

Returning to England, the scale of the full invasion was visible to the pilots as more than 5,000 ships carrying over 150,000 men steamed toward the French beaches where they would begin landing at dawn. That’s All Brother wasn’t done either. Flak damage was repaired and she returned to service later in the day, delivering a glider load of troops and equipment to the men of the 82nd Airborne, also fighting in Normandy.

As soon as airfields were secured in France, That’s All, Brother flew needed supplies into the country and evacuated wounded troops back to England.

That’s All, Brother would continue to serve during the remainder of the war in Europe, participating in Operation Dragoon, Operation Market Garden, and Operation Varsity – and in the relief of the beleaguered defenders of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.

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That’s All, Brother Aircraft

Douglas C-47A, 42-92847

Wing Span: 95' 6"

Length: 63' 9"

Empty Weight: 17,865 lbs.

Cruising Speed: 160 mph

Range: 1,600 miles

Ceiling: 24,000 feet