Aviation Historian 16
K.Honey - In the Land of Black Gold
One of the more exotic types photographed at Sebha was Boeing B-17G N5845N, originally serialled 42-102542, which was being used by Philadelphia-based Aero Services Corp for high-altitude survey photography work. It is believed to have been written off in a non-fatal landing accident at Jeddah in 1959.
One of several Douglas DC-3/C-47s operated by Silver City in Libya sits in the shadow of the classic adventure-book fort at Sebha in the country’s central Fezzan region. Rebuilt in the 1920s during Italy’s colonisation of Libya and named Fort Elena, the imposing building was captured by Free French forces in January 1943 and renamed Fort Leclerc.
Locals crowd around a Silver City DC-3 being refuelled at Ku fra during one of the author’s visits to the remote oasis during 1957-59. The local schoolchildren were fascinated by the huge machine, none of them ever having seen an aircraft before.
Silver City’s C-47/DC-3s were more than able to cope with the lack of formal facilities in Libya, the Sahara presenting no shortage of makeshift runways for the rugged, dependable Dak. Here C-47B G-AMYX (c/n 33042), named City of Rochester in Silver City service, is greeted by a caravan of Land Rovers at the landing ground at Waw an-Namus in southern Libya.
Dakota G-AMYX on the dark sands at Waw an-Namus during a supply visit to a geological team based close to the volcano. Inside the crater lie three small salt lakes and an oasis of rich foliage, creating a startling contrast to the surrounding Sahara. INSET The author in the right-hand seat of a Silver City Dakota over Libya.
Former Africa ir Douglas C-47A ZS-DDC is prepared for another flight in Libya. The author explains: “I found out several years later that DDC had been operated by Silver City in 1946 with the British registration G-AIRH, but we certainly had no idea of that at the time”.
A joyful photograph showing the reaction of the local schoolchildren at Kufra to the arrival of G-AMYX. Note the wrecked pre-war Nissen-style hangar in the background, by 1958 one of the few mementoes of the original Buma airfield, built by the Italians after the nation’s capture of the strategically important Kufra in 1931.
Named City of Guildford in Silver City service, C-47B G-AMZB (c/n 26980) was acquired by the company in October 1957 and is seen here on change-over day at one of the many oil camps.
Some might say the only way to travel by helicopter - one of the more unusual tasks for Silver City was the transporting of helicopters to remote strips, including Bell 47 N136B, whose seats are being used to good advantage here!
The wreckage of Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer G-AOEO in the Libyan desert shortly after its crash in December 1957.
The forlorn sight of the Twin Pin’s almost-complete port wing some 100yd from the main wreckage. The forward tube of the V-brace structure holding the lift strut to the outer panel of the wing had failed owing to metal fatigue.
Douglas DC-2 ZS-DFX originally joined Swissair as HB-ITO in February 1935, serving with the airline until it was sold to South African operator Phoenix Airlines in the summer of 1952. It was then acquired by the Astra Aircraft Corporation and operated by the Basutoland Railway Administration, before joining Silver City’s Libyan fleet in 1957.
Ouch! The tailplane of DC-2 ZS-DFX after its close encounter with the port propeller of a runaway DC-3. It was repaired and continued to fly with Silver City until it was acquired by French company Airnautic, with which it operated from Nice as F-BJHR. The hardworking DC-2 was withdrawn from service in the autumn of 1961 and was finally scrapped in 1964.