March 4, 2024
A "Birla Dakota" that survives - just like the others
Douglas Dakota VT-CYT of the Birla foundation on display at BITS. The aircraft is in good condition and is well preserved. The undercarriage raised on specially built stilts to look after the tyres.

Pilani is the place for the Birla Institute of Science and Technology, or BITS as it is more famously known in India. It is one of most premier Engineering institutes in India. The Birla Industrial group has invested a lot in this place, also maintaining a Science and Technology Museum here.

Outside the museum on display is a Douglas Dakota C-47 [VT-CYT]. VT-CYT is one of the aircraft used by Birla Industries – and finally retired for preservation at the BITS. Its the third Dakota preserved by the Birlas at locations where they have an industrial presence. The other two are at Dharmasthala and Birlagram.

Click to Enlarge The Engine cowlings are covered by steel mesh to prevent them becoming magnets for debris from locals..
The rear fuselage on the port side gives some background on the aircraft. Click to Enlarge

The aircraft has been well maintained by the Birla foundation. Special care has been taken to make sure it has a long life even though displayed outside. The wheels are raised and supported by stilts to prevent the tyres from collapsing. The Engine cowlings are covered in steel mesh to keep off trash and debris.

Click to Enlarge The rear three quarter view of the Dakota shows the VIP Window.

The aircraft seems to have undergone one modification in its service. The last two windows on the starboard side of the aircraft had been joined together by cutting the fuselage section in between them. The ‘long window’ would now provide a better view for the VIP passengers travelling in the aircraft. A Placard at the aircraft claims that none other than Sri GD Birla used this aircraft as his personal transport. No wonder that VT-CYT takes place of pride of all the three Birla Dakotas in existence.

Click to Enlarge Placard in between the engines states that the aircraft belongs to Sri GD Birla
Another view of the Dakota infront of the BITS Pilani Museum. Click to Enlarge

VT-CYT started out its life on 30 Mar 45 in the US as 44-76660 of the United States Army Air Force (c/n 16244/32992). The aircraft was acquired from surplus stocks by the Maharaja of Patiala for some time before being sold off to Bharat Industries. It came under the Birla’s Gwalior Rayon Silk Mfg and Wiring co in late 68 and stayed on with them till its retirement.

All photographs courtesy of Hari Charan Sammeta

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