DHC-3 Otter Archive Master Index

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c/n 121

55-3274 bundled up.
Photo: Alfons Josef Kraus © c.1968

c/n 121

55-3274

FAN-1011

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• 55-3274 United States Army. Delivered 18th May 1956. Designated as U-1A.

Allocated to the 14th Army Aviation Company, Fort Riley, KS.

Re-designated the 1st Aviation Company and moved to Fort Benning, GA., 15-Aug-1956 until 02-Aug-1961.

57th Aviation Company at Fort Sill, OK., where it served  from 02-Aug-1961 until Mar-1963.

Transferred in Aug-1963 to the Panama Canal Zone. In Feb-1966 it joined the 937th Engineer Company, also based in the Canal Zone, flying on survey duties with the Inter American Geodetic Survey (IAGS). It was noted at Santos Dumont Airport, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in November 1967. This allocation continued until early 1968.

In April 1968 it went Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, CA., for depot level maintenance and was transported from there to Vietnam, arriving with the 388th Transportation Company in Oct-1968.

2nd Signal Group Nov-1968 where it served until February 1970.

56th Transportation Company from Feb-1970 as a “maintenance float”.

Allocated Mar-1970 to the 54th Aviation Company until Jan-1971when the unit stood down.

56th Transportation Company Jan-1971.

 388th Transportation Company at Vung Tau Feb-1971, who were responsible for storage and disposal.

Deleted from Army Inventory May and shipped to the Panama Canal Zone.

590th Aviation Maintenance Company at Albrook AFB., Panama Canal Zone where they were refurbished and painted in the colours of the Fuerza Aerea de Nicaragua.

• FAN-1011 Government of Nicaragua donated under a Military Aid Program for the Fuerza Aerea de Nicaragua. 1973

Accident: La Piragui, Nicaragua. 07-Sep-1976. Crashed in jungle and lay at the site for more than two years, until a rescue effort to retrieve them (to return it to Canada) arrived in February 1979 but was found to be too damaged to be salvaged and was cut up

Broken up

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Otter 121 was delivered to the United States Army on 18th May 1956 with serial 55-3274 (tail number 53274). It was allocated to the 14th Army Aviation Company at Fort Riley, Kansas. In August 1956 the 14th was re-designated the 1st Aviation Company and moved to Fort Benning, Georgia where it continued to fly the Otter until 1961, when it converted to the Caribou, relinquishing its U- 1As to other units. 53274 was then re-assigned to the 57th Aviation Company at Fort Sill, Oklahoma where it served until March 1963.

After depot maintenance, it was transferred in August 1963 to the Panama Canal Zone. In February 1966 it joined the 937th Engineer Company, also based in the Canal Zone, flying on survey duties with the Inter American Geodetic Survey (IAGS). It was noted at Santos Dumont Airport, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in November 1967. It was one of six Otters withdrawn from the IAGS in early 1968 for service in Vietnam and in April 1968 it went to the Sharpe Army Depot, Stockton, California for depot level maintenance and was transported from there to Vietnam, arriving with the 388th Transportation Company in October 1968.

It was allocated to the 2nd Signal Group the following month, where it served until February 1970, when it went to the 56th Transportation Company as a “maintenance float” and was allocated the following month to the 54th Aviation Company. It continued to fly for the 54th until January 1971 when that Company stood down. Its Otters were handed over in January '71 to the 56th Transportation Company and the following month were flown to the 388th Transportation Company at Vung Tau, who were responsible for the storage and disposal of all US Army Otters in Vietnam.

53274 was one of five Army Otters stored at Vung Tau which were selected to be donated to the Government of Nicaragua under a Military Aid Program. It was deleted from the Army inventory in May 1971 and the next month the five Otters were shipped from Vung Tau across the Pacific and unloaded at the Port of Balboa in Panama from where, with wings removed, they were towed to Albrook AFB and entrusted to the 590th Aviation Maintenance Company. Here they were refurbished and painted in the colours of the Fuerza Aerea de Nicaragua, 53274 receiving serial FAN-1011. The Nicaraguan flying and maintenance personnel were also qualified on type at Albrook, after which they flew the Otters to Nicaragua.

FAN-1011 continued in service with the Fuerza Aerea de Nicaragua until it crashed on 7th September 1976 in the jungle at La Piragua. That same day, Otter FAN-1015 also crashed nearby, the full story of this incident being told in the Nicaraguan Air Force section. The two Otters lay in the jungle for more than two years, until a rescue effort to retrieve them arrived in February 1979, with the intention of bringing them back to Canada. FAN-1015 was brought out of the jungle and returned to Canada, but unfortunately FAN-1011 was found to be too damaged to be salvaged and was cut up at the crash site. As Roy Westgate explains in his article (in the Nicaraguan Air Force section): “The fuselage of the Otter at the radio shack was kinked, so I used a gas-powered abrasive cut-off saw to remove only the most valuable parts, which included the front and rear spar carry throughs”. The wings of the Otter were also salvaged.

Full history courtesy of Karl E. Hayes © from DHC-3 Otter: A History (2005).

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