ABOVE: Former US Navy C-54D 56498 was undergoing restoration at North Weald

The C-54 Skymaster Society and Charitable Trust has announced that, ‘with a heavy heart and great sadness,’ work on restoring North Weald-based C54-D 56498 has come to a close; stating on social media that ‘despite the unwavering dedication and efforts of our members,’ it is ‘no longer economically feasible’ to continue the project.

Although the original intention had been to return the 1945 Skymaster to airworthy condition, a recent survey uncovered the need to replace the main spar and wings of the aircraft, with the estimated cost of that repair alone exceeding £300,000. With uncertainty as to the extent of other potential corrosion issues (compounded by exposure to the elements) yet to be discovered, the group therefore determined that ‘proceeding with such a significant financial burden would not be prudent’.

Despite the Skymaster volunteers managing to get three engines running (including rebuilding number three engine during the last couple of years), they note that funding promised during the pandemic was not forthcoming, with offers ‘subsequently withdrawn and redirected to Covid related causes’.

Although what will happen with the Skymaster itself remains unclear, the ground equipment will be donated to the Sally B, with any remaining funds donated to the Veterans Foundation.

‘On behalf of the committee, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to all members for their unwavering support throughout this journey. In particular, I want to acknowledge the dedication of our weekend engineering team, whose tireless efforts have been instrumental in our endeavours,’ said the Society. ‘While it saddens us to say goodbye, we can take pride in knowing that we gave it our best shot’.