FRANCE 2015

Copyright Ruud Leeuw Photos © R.Leeuw

Whilst the holiday destination in France this year was in fact all about Loire Chateaux and the WWII village Oradour-sur-Glane, near Limoges, I did find opportunity to photograph three propliner transports: two Lockheed L.1049G Super Constellations and a military Noratlas.
Alas, all three premanently grounded, but good to take note of their present condition.
But I did run into a few surprises while at it and included this too.
Hope you will enjoy my report!

 

'SUPER G' CONSTELLATION F-BHBG

Lockheed Constellation F-BHBG
This Lockheed L.1049G 'Super G' Constellation has been parked as a garden ornament next to an (abandoned)
discotheque, 'Le Moulin'. Its location has been described a '10 km west of Quimper', 'near Plonéis' but is in
fact probably closer to Douarnenez, on the D765. I was glad to find I wasn't too old to climb fences!

Lockheed Constellation F-BHBG

Ralph M. Pettersen's website www.conniesurvivors.com has all the details of L.1049G c/n 4626:

  • Delivered to Air France October 1955 as L.1049G F-BHBG
  • Stored at Paris-Orly 1961
  • Re-entered service and stored again December 14, 1962
  • Retired April 18, 1963 and stored at Toulouse, France
  • To Aviasol February 1967 (or 1968)
  • Disassembled and moved to La Roche-Bernard, Morbihan, France as a tourist attraction
  • Moved to Vannes, France by December 1973
  • Moved to Quimper, France by August 1976 and parked adjacent to the "Le Moulin Discothèque”
  • Erroneously reported as destroyed by fire in early 2001
  • Only the center fin intact 2003 with the outer fins gone due to severe corrosion


 

Lockheed Constellation F-BHBG
No signs of fire, but stress markings can be seen on several places on the fuselage, probably incurred during
the various ground transports. Note the large landing light in the nose.

Lockheed Constellation F-BHBG
Well, it may be a hulk, but still a graceful one!

Lockheed Constellation F-BHBG
Its wings clipped...

Lockheed Constellation F-BHBG
Stay out!

Lockheed Constellation F-BHBG

Lockheed Constellation F-BHBG
Lights have been installed (visible on top left wing) at some point to have it light up next to the discotheque.

Lockheed Constellation F-BHBG
More stress markings, likely incurred during various ground transport.

Lockheed Constellation F-BHBG
This is how 'Constellation, parked next to discotheque Le Moulin' looks like.

Lockheed Constellation F-BHBG
I would say this 'Discotheque Le Moulin' looks abandoned, but in the dark, with bright lights and
plenty of booze it may well still shine in the night and play host to singing and dancing..?


 


 


Nord N2501 NORATLAS, No.160

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
Thanks to advise by Roger Soupart I could include a visit to this Nord 2501 Noratlas, No. 160
It is located on a small airport north of Vannes, or better said, slightly off the actual 'Aéroport de Vannes'.

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
The Nord Noratlas was a 1950s French military transport aircraft intended to replace the older types in service at the
end of World War II. Several hundred were produced in a run lasting over a decade, finding a wide variety of uses.
It looks rather similar to the US-produced Fairchild C-82 Packet and Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar.

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
More details can be found on Wikipedia

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
I noticed the hangar in the background had people going in and out...

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
Karl E. Hayes wrote me after reading this page: "Greatly enjoyed your report on trip to France, and those photos of
the Noratlas and Super Connies. Sad to see them in their current state.
F-BRAD (L.1049 Constellation, see below -Webmaster) flew to Dublin quite often with student charters.
It is a lasting regret that I, as a student, did not fly in it, but money was tight back then! Also, the French Air
Force had many training flights to Dublin with Noratlas, including the one you photographed,
and they were a great favourite with enthusiasts here! Sad they are no longer flying but your
photographs are a great reminder of them."

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
When I returned from a visit to the hangar (report futher below) I noticed people inside. So I joined them!

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
Unit badge of this Nord 2501 Noratlas

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
Identifying details on the tailfin: Nord 2501, No.160

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
Not a great deal of comfort entering or leaving this vintage warbird.

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
The cockpit looked even better than I expected, I've seen worse.

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
I was assured the cockpit crew consisted of 5 crewmembers:
pilot & copilot, flight engineer & radio operator, plus a loadmaster.

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
Crewstation for the radio operator or the navigator.

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
The cargo hold.

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
Details of the N2501 Noratlas on display against the bulkhead.

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
The rear of the cargo maindeck. Quite mesmerizing, those two 'eyes'.

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
Like the Fairchild C-82 Packet the N2501 Noratlas had clamshell doors to facilitate loading large size cargo of the
previous popular transports, such as the Douglas C-47. Compare the structure with www.c82packet.com/description

N2501 Noratlas at Vannes
There's also a side door to facilitate parachute jumpers.

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
I was told that the N2501 Noratlas was owned by the Vannes City Council. I probably got lucky here, to enter
the Noratlas, because of Ascension Day holidays and I joined a visiting group of people. Not sure how that fits
with the information on a starting aviation museum, but perhaps as a loan item.
Ah, there is a Lockheed T-33 jet trainer too...


Aviation museum with T-33 near Vannes, France
T-33 53091, while googling for details I found it was described as belonging to 'l'association Morbihan aéro musée'.
It seems that this group was formed during 2014 and is the start of an aviation museum here at Vannes.


Morbihan aéro musée (MAM)

Noratlas 160 near Vannes, France
I was allowed a look inside the hangar, unfortunately the exchange of details was
fragmentary because of my lack of French-speaking skills. I did understand that these two people are
two of a group of aviation enthusiasts and their interest may result in establishing an aviation museum.
Hopefully we will see and learn more of this group; see also-
http://www.ouest-france.fr/une-nouvelle-association-morbihan-aero-musee-est-nee-2777739

Warbird preservation near Vannes, France
The two people present were working on the remains of a Messerschmitt Bf 109, of which we see here the Daimler
Benz 605 engine. By researching documentation, followed by an extensive dig, these remains were unearthed!

Warbird preservation near Vannes, France

Warbird preservation near Vannes, France
Bits and pieces of the Messerschmitt 109 found.

Warbird preservation near Vannes, France
Images of the dig; they had to dig really deep.

Warbird preservation near Vannes, France

Warbird preservation near Vannes, France
An aircraft of one of the group members: Morane-Saulnier MS.733 Alcyon.
The card tells us that this hangar is one of the last existing ones used by the Luftwaffe in WW2.

I found a bit more information on Morbihan aéro musée (MAM), but only in French...

MAM - aviation museum Vannes

Warbird preservation near Vannes, France

Designed as a basic trainer for the French military the prototype MS.730 first flew on the 11Aug1949.
The prototype was a low-wing cantilever monoplane with a fixed tailwheel landing gear and powered by a 240 hp (134 kW) Mathis 8G.20 inverted V8 engine.
The engine was replaced with a German war-surplus 240 hp (179 kW) Argus As 10 and the prototype flew again in November 1949 as the MS.731.
Two further prototypes were built and flown in 1951 designated MS.732, they were each powered by a Potez 6D 02 engine and the original fixed landing gear of the prototype was replaced with retractable main wheels.
More details on production and operators, go Wikipedia

 

 



 

'SUPER G' CONSTELLATION F-BGNJ / F-BRAD

Lockheed L1049 Constellation F-BRAD, Nantes
Lockheed L.1049G 'Super G' Constellation (c/n 4519) preserved at the airport of Nantes, France.

Lockheed L1049 Constellation F-BRAD, Nantes
Renovation completed in 2007 and given the Air France tailnumber F-BGNJ, though more commonly known as F-BRAD

Lockheed L1049 Constellation F-BRAD, Nantes
'Super G' Connie

Lockheed L1049 Constellation F-BRAD, Nantes

And again I copy the background information on this Constellation from Ralph Pettersen's wonderful website www.conniesurvivors.com (highly recommended to explore it further on its plethoria of Lockheed Constellation information):

  • Delivered to Air France November 1953 as L1049C F-BGNJ
  • Converted to L1049E and later L1049G
  • Retired by Air France October 30, 1963 and stored at Orly-Paris, France
  • To TAE September 1966 as EC-BEN and painted in full color scheme but never delivered
  • Stored at Orly and possibly sold to a mysterious Panamanian company in August 1967
  • To Air Fret September 5, 1968 as F-BRAD
  • Used on Biafran Airlift
  • To CATAIR on December 31, 1969
  • Retired by CATAIR early 1973
  • Ferried to Nimes-Garons May 1973
  • Ferried to Chateau Bougon Airport, Nantes May 1974 for use as a tourist attraction
  • Painted in the color scheme of the prototype Super Constellation mid-1975
  • Painted in Air France color scheme by 1985
  • French government designated aircraft a 'historic monument' in 2001
  • Restoration began ~2001 and aircraft stripped of its Air France color scheme and green primer applied
  • Moved to the future site of AEROSCOPE at Chateau Bougon Airport May 1, 2004
  • Being painted in period Air France colors May 2006
  • 'Unofficial' rollout 16Apr2007 in period Air France colors as F-BGNJ
  • Interior restoration to continue with plan to put on display at AEROSCOPE museum in 2009
  • French military authorities prohibited access to aircraft in January 2009 saying it was parked in a restricted military area
  • Military authorities finally relented and aircraft moved to another space on the airport 17/18Oct2009

 

 

Lockheed L1049 Constellation F-BRAD, Nantes

Lockheed L1049 Constellation F-BRAD, Nantes
Pity we can't have a look inside!

Lockheed L1049 Constellation F-BRAD, Nantes


 

ROLAND GARROS, AVIATION PIONEER

Roland Garros, French aviation pioneer
A small detour for a quick look at Aérodrome de Cholet - Le Pontreau brought quite
a surprise! The name I only knew from tennis, actually had nothing to do with tennis, but was
amongst other things an aviation pioneer and gave his life for his country: Roland Garros!

Roland Garros, French aviation pioneer

Roland Garros lived from 06Oct1888 until 05Oct1918); he was an early French aviator and a fighter pilot during World War I.
Eugène Adrien Roland Georges Garros was born in Saint-Denis, Réunion, and studied at the Lycée Janson de Sailly and HEC Paris. He started his aviation career in 1909 flying a Demoiselle (Dragonfly) monoplane, an aircraft that only flew well with a small lightweight pilot.
He gained Ae.C.F. licence no. 147 in July 1910. (See photo below).

Roland Garros was the first to fly non-stop across the Mediterranean Sea, on 23sep1913!

In the early stages of the air war in World War I the problem of mounting a forward-firing machine gun on combat aircraft was considered by a number of individuals. The so-called "interrupter gear" did not come into use until Anthony Fokker developed a synchronization device which had a large impact on air combat; however, Garros also had a significant role in the process of achieving this goal !
As a reconnaissance pilot with the Escadrille MS26, Garros visited the Morane-Saulnier Works in December 1914.
Saulnier's work on metal deflector wedges attached to propeller blades was taken forward by Garros; he eventually had a workable installation fitted to his Morane-Saulnier Type L aircraft.
Garros achieved the first ever shooting-down of an aircraft by a fighter firing through a tractor propeller, on 01Apr1915; two more victories over German aircraft were achieved on 15&18Apr1915.
[source: Wikipedia]


Roland Garros, French aviation pioneer

As we can see on the photo above, Roland Garros obtained his flying licence here at Cholet.

Garros was captured but he managed to escape from a POW camp in Germany on 14Feb1918, after several attempts, and rejoined the French army.
He settled into Escadrille 26 to pilot a Spad, and claimed two victories on 02Oct1918, one of which was confirmed.
On 05Oct1918, he was shot down and killed near Vouziers, Ardennes, a month before the end of the war and one day before his 30th birthday...
[source: Wikipedia]

 

 

 

 

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