View Full Version : B17g F-BEEA

15th Nov 2004, 02:38
Idle curiosity ..... in the late 1960's I remember seeing a B17G Flying Fortress registered F-BEEA at Port Moresby airport in Papua New Guinea. It was owned and operated by a French geophysical company.

Google tells me the aircraft was destroyed by fire in filming the "Memphis Belle" in the UK in 1989.

Just curious - what was the aircraft used for by the French geophysical company - survey, personnel or equipment transport?? One would have thought that, 23 years after the end of World War II, the economics would be against commercially operating this type of aircraft?

chimbu warrior
15th Nov 2004, 03:33
Woomera, the aircraft was operated by Institut Geographique National, of Creil France from 1948 until the 80's. This outfit operated nine B-17's over the years, although I doubt that they ever operated them all at once.

One can only presume that the low acquisition cost of these aircraft, combined with incredible range, made them a cost-effective machine for low-utilisation survey work.

You can refresh your memory by referring to page 130 of "Balus - volume II", where there is a nice shot of the machine.

Never saw it myself, being just a yung 'un, but would love to have flown something like that.

15th Nov 2004, 04:08
Yes, I saw it in Balus which brought back memories. Was polished aluminium with a day glo orange tail, which didn't show up in the Balus black and white photo.

15th Nov 2004, 04:56

There was a number of them operating out of Jacksons a few years prior to that.

Eric Mc
15th Nov 2004, 17:56
The Institute also operated a couple of wonderfully eccentric aircraft called the Hurel-Dubois HD34. I saw F-BICU operating out of Dublin Airport during 1972 (I think). They were twin radial piston engined devices with a really long span, high mounted large dihedral wing partially supported by struts (a la Cessna 172). They also had a fixed spatted pair of mainwheels but with a retractable nosewheel. To cap it all, the tailplane also sported a fin at each extremity, even though the plane had a conventional tall tail fin in the usual place.

Liffy 1M
15th Nov 2004, 21:42
Here are some pictures of F-BEEA when it visited Dublin late in its service with the IGN:




Fris B. Fairing
17th Nov 2004, 00:08

Here is one of her sister ships, F-BGSP, taken in New Caledonia in 1971. It wasn't all that unusual for aerial survey companies to use old aeroplanes, remembering that our own Adastra was using Hudsons up until 1973. With survey operations involving so much downtime awaiting perfect weather, it helped if the aeroplane was fully depreciated!

F-BGSP (http://www.adastron.com/aviation/F-BGSP.jpg)

Here is another survey B-17 which visited Sydney.

CF-HBP (http://www.adastra.adastron.com/aircraft/misc/h1cfhbp.htm)


17th Nov 2004, 07:12
Fris. Maybe it wasn't F-BEEA I recall at Port Morbid? It was certainly a French registered B17, polished aluminium with a day glo orange rudder, mid to late 1960's.

Wonder how long those antiques would last with today's Avgas prices?

The only survey aircraft I recall in PNG were the RAAF Canberras and a few old Queenairs (from Toowoomba?) as they bellowed triumphantly, using the curvature of the earth to defying gravity from PNG Highlands airstrips.

17th Nov 2004, 08:02
Eric Mc

Here are some pictures of HD34s (http://www.oldprops.f9.co.uk/HD34.htm)
tech data (http://membres.lycos.fr/neo2097/HD34.htm) (in French)
F-BICV website (http://membres.lycos.fr/hurelduboishd34/) (in French too)

The only aiworthy one is F-AZNH, formerly F-BHOO

wingspan is 46m (150 ft for the metrically challenged).
cruising (?) speed is120 kts, with a 12hr autonomy.

The idea behind the high aspect-ratio was to minimise induced drag, allowing for long cruising times at low speed, which is what you want for survey work.
The downside of that huge span is reduced yaw stability, hence the large and multiple fins.

17th Nov 2004, 12:04
Great thing is that IGN made possible both the flying B-17s now iun Europe (Sally B and Pink Lady), plus at least two preserved examples (Duxford and Le Bourget), plus certainly one returned to the US and still flies in Texas I think (via Doug Arnold and Stephen Grey).

Any others still around...?

Shame about F-BEEA, wonder what she'd be doing now.