WORTH A SECOND GLANCE
FRENCH PHOTO FORTRESS
Yet another airport – airport views are more likely to yield the unexpected. The original card is an oversize one (21 x 10 cms), which helped to make the small section of special interest enlargeable. The subject is the Airport of Tananarive Ivata in the then French Colonial Territory of the island of Madagascar off the East Coast of Africa. This in itself is of interest, as is the style of terminal building, probably new when photographed for Editions Tout pour L Ecole (= Everything for schools), themselves of Tananarive. The back also carries the slogan “Collectionez les Cartes Postales” which I guess does not need translating – although one doubts how many Madagascan ex - schoolchildren have acted on it.
Three aircraft can be made out on the ramp, the inevitable DC-3, a Nord 260 or 262 – and a Boeing B-17 Fortress ! This is shown in the blow-up section below.
Although no markings can be made out, probability suggests that this of one of around 15 operated by the French Institut Geographique National (IGN) and based at Creil, north of Paris. They were acquired, in most cases with minimal hours, from USAF surplus from 1947 onwards and used in a survey and mapping role. Together with those used in Bolivia for meat transport and US forest-fire fighters they formed a small reserve of B-17 survivors, many of which have passed to museums and preservation societies. Among them is the sole flying European B-17, “Sally B” based at Duxford by a charitable trust. Another passed through Blackbushe under the ownership of Douglas Arnold, in the early 80s and is now active with the Lone Star Museum in Galveston Texas. One, F-BGSH was different in that it had actually served with the 91st bomb group 8th USAAF at Bassingbourne, Cambridge. It was interned in Sweden, converted to a 14 seat transport for Swedish Airlines and then passed to the Danish DDL and the Danish Air Force before going to the IGN in 1955. Because of its active service history, although in poor condition, it was selected for restoration for static display in the USAF museum Dayton, OH. It was flown to Dover AFB in a C-5 Galaxie in 1978, and, although restored to flying condition made only a few short flights before going into the museum.
The IGN disposed of the last B-17s as late as the 1980s although they were long out of service. Unlike the usual trend of exotics being replaced by the mundane, the IGN had moved on a fleet of specially ordered Hurel-Dubois HD-34 high-aspect ratio transports in the late 50s, the only operator to use this type. One of these plus another IGN B-17 is with the French Musee de L Air at le Bourget.
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