Of all the aircraft that flew at Kaboom Town 2014, the largest was a veteran of the Vietnam War, the CV-2B Caribou, which is part of the Cavanaugh Flight Museum’s collection of airworthy aircraft. De Havilland Canada designed the Caribou to meet the U.S. Army requirement for a tactical transport capable of supporting troops in forward battle with supplies and by evacuating casualties. The prototype DHC-4 Caribou made its first flight in 1958. Caribou production ended in 1973 after De Havilland Canada built 307 aircraft.
Impressed with the DHC-4’s short takeoff and landing (STOL) capabilities, essential for operating in forward areas, the US Army ordered five for evaluation. The airplane could haul more than three tons, which works out to 26 fully equipped paratroops or 20 litter patients or two Jeeps. The rear ramp allowed quick loading and unloading and air drops of cargo delivered by parachute.
Initially designated the YAC-1 (with Y identifying it as an evaluator), in 1962 the Army changed it to CV-2 and named it the Caribou. It purchased 159 aircraft for use in Vietnam, where larger cargo aircraft such as the C-123 Provider and the C-130 Hercules could not land on the shorter landing strips. In 1967, when the U.S. Air Force was given responsibility for all fixed-wing tactical transports, the Caribou was redesignated the C-7 upon this interservice transfer.
The Air Force operated the Caribou in active, reserve, and air national guard service until the 1980s. Upon this retirement, the Air Force transferred 20 Caribous to the Army National Guard, which operated them until the early 1990s.
The Caribou now in the care of the Cavanaugh Flight Museum, Serial No. 62-4149, entered service with the U.S. Army in 1962, which was assigned to the 61st Aviation Company, XVIII Airborne Corps at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina in early 1963. On June 20, 1963, it was among the 18 aircraft deployed to Vietnam.
The CFM Caribou donned its Air Force colors in 1967 and first served with the 457th Tactical Control Squadron. After that it flew with the New Jersey Army National Guard in 1976-77, followed by the Maryland Guard 77-87, and the Connecticut Guard from 87-90.
The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation completely restored the Caribou to its original Army configuration and markings in 1999. The restoration revealed 21 patched bullet holes, testifying to the aircraft’s Vietnam combat experience. The Cavanaugh Flight Museum added 62-4149 to its collection in 2007.