September 30, 2022

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A World War Two veteran finds a resting place. Douglas Dakota VT-CGQ was formerly with the USAAF during the Second World War. The aircraft is now currently preserved at the Dharmasthala town Museum. Pic Courtesy : Laxman A A

Dharmsthala is a place of religious interest in the interiors of Southern Karnataka. It is quite famous for the Hindu temple of Lord Manjunatha and is also a famous center of pilgrimage. The town is located in Beltangady Taluk of South Canara district, and is about 300km from Bangalore, capital of Karnataka. The nearest airport is at the city of Mangalore, 75km from here.

Perhaps unusual for a town of religious importance is the existence of aircraft in the town. Though Dharmasthala does not have an airstrip, there are two aircraft that can be found in the town museum. A Douglas Dakota [VT-CGQ] and a HT-2 .

The Dakota has been given to the Town Museum by the Birlas, a Large industrial group in India. Pic Courtesy : Laxman A A The civilian registration markings of VT-CGQ can be seen in this view of the aircraft from the side. Pic Courtesy : Laxman A A
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‘Radar Equipped’ is written underneath the cockpit windows on either side of the aircraft. Probably a reference to a Weather radar fitted to it during its days with the Birlas. Pic Courtesy : Laxman A A

The Dakota was a veteran of the Second World War. It was one of the two Dakotas owned by the Birla Industrial Group. It was flown quite regularly till the middle of the 90s, before it was finally retired and donated to this town. The other Dakota belonging to the Birlas is with BITS, Pilani in Rajasthan as a display.

The Dakota seems to be in quite good condition. sporting a Red and White livery, the letters ‘Radar Equipped’ adorn the area underneath the cockpit windshields. The interiors of the aircraft is decorated in wood with many photographs of Lord Krishna and Radha. Our contributor, Mr. Laxman incidentally had the opportunity to go inside the aircraft and see its condition, which according to him is quite well maintained.

More photographs of the Dakota were sent by Shyam Mullerpatten. It appears the aircraft can today be seen under a shelter which speaks volumes about the care being given to the aircraft.

Click to Enlarge The local authorities in Dharmasthala had very thoughtfully built a shelter for the aircraft.
Photo Courtesy : Shyam Mullerpaten
Another view of the shelter over the Dakota. Photo Courtesy : Shyam Mullerpaten Click to Enlarge

Shyam also confirmed the presence of the HT-2 trainer at the same location. The HT-2 is painted blue in color and an accompanying display board mentions that the aircraft flew with the Bidar Air Force Station.

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Click to Enlarge The HT-2 “10” aircraft preserved at the Dharmasthala town museum. It is unusual for such a small town to feature ‘aircraft’ in as part of its collection!
Photo Courtesy : Shyam Mullerpaten

[Acknowledgements: Thanks to Laxman AA and Shyam M for their inputs and Photographs]

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