Phase Three: The B-17 Celebration
07/03/2013: After visiting one site which saw B-17 operations, namely the U-boat pens, we then visited the key target for the July 5, 1943 attack, namely the airfield and factory areas in support of German air operations against the United Kingdom.
Nantes airport (formerly known as Aéroport Château Bougon)owes its origins to a military airfield, conceived in 1928 on part of the current site. In 1936/7 the Société Nationale de Constructions Aéronautiques de l’Ouest opened an aircraft factory adjacent to the airfield, initially building MB.210 bombers, followed by M.S.406 fighters and LeO 45 bombers. In 1939 the first paved runway was constructed, with a length of 900 meters (2,953 ft).
During World War II the airfield was briefly used as a British Royal Air Force base before being captured by German forces.
Under occupation the aircraft factory was closed, and the airfield was used by the Luftwaffe as a base to bomb targets in England.
As a consequence the airfield was hit by a damaging air raid on July 4, 1943, which also destroyed the adjoining aircraft factory.
The photos in this slideshow were shot on June 29, 2013 and credited to Second Line of Defense.
The factory no longer exists but the control tower built by the British does and is seen in the photos.