Boeing C-97 Stratocruiser in Spain

 


Roger Soupart sent me this photo, in search of identification. He wrote:
"While scanning some slides I came across this one, taken somewhere during the late-1970s or early-1980s (I think) in Spain.
This was, in my opinion, a KC-97 which had been delivered to Spain for use of parts and is not one of the three which are still around in Madrid and San Cugat.
I think this one was burned at some point, but of that I am not certain either.
Perhaps you can help solving this little mystery?"


So where was this restaurant?

 

Aad van der Voet (of OldWings.nl) was the first to respond:
"Apart from the three well-known C-97s they operated, the Spanish AF also purchased two additional C-97G aircraft for use as a spares source at the air base at Albacete.
These were sold off when the three main aircraft were withdrawn from service (which was in Sep-1976). One of those spares aircraft was 53-275 c/n 17057. This was sold to a scrap dealer and broken up at the Albacete air base, I assume around 1977 or 1978.
The other aircraft was 53-241 c/n 17023, and this is the aircraft in Roger's photo. It was transported from Albacete to Sotillo de la Adrada (about 75km west of Madrid) and converted to a cafetaria / discotheque. This must have been around 1977.
As Roger suggests, this aircraft was indeed completely destroyed by fire, on 02-Feb-1985.

 

Jörg Windmüller provided the following information thru the AB-IX forum (quoted from Mike Bursell: "European Wrecks & Relics", 1st Edition, Earl Shilton/Leicester 1989; pdf file):

- SOTILLO DE LA ADRADA (discotheque): This ex-New York ANG Boeing C-97G (USAF-s/n 53-0241, no wings) was delivered to Albacete AB as a spares source for the KC-97 fleet. It was moved to Sotillo de la Arada - west of Madrid, alongside the M-501 motorway, after it was of no more use. It served as a discotheque until Feb 2, 1985, when it unfortunately burnt out. The remains were scrapped.

Other C-97s in Spain:
- TARACÓN -> BARCELONA (cafe -> discotheque): This Boeing KC-97L 'TK.1-2/123-02' (USAF-s/n 53-0225) moved from storage at Torrejon AB in 1983 to Taracón - some 80 km south-east of Madrid, alongside the N-III/E-901. It lingered here as an attraction at a cafe. The aircraft was removed by 1987 and reappeared by late 1988 alongside the A-7 highway north-west of Barcelona. Together with (s.b.), they are preserved at San Cugat, a huge discotheque.

- ALBACETE -> BARCELONA (playground -> discotheque): This Boeing KC-97L 'TK.1-1/123-01 (USAF-s/n 53-0172) was preserved in a playground about half the way between the airbase and the city, alongside the M-3211 [CM-3203 ?]. The aircraft was removed by 1985 and reappeared by late 1988 ... (s.a.)

Another one is currently preserved at Museo del Aire/Cuatro Vientos AP ('TK.1-3/123-03', USAF-s/n 53-0189,), which was moved from its gate guard position at Albacete AB (noted 1979-1984) in Apr 1987.

Another spares source C-97G (USAF-s/n 53-0275, no wings) was scrapped at Albacete AB.

Jörg Windmüller wrote: I personally think, the photo at

shows '123-02' at Taracón, before it moved to Barcelona!
Why:
- she still has its wings,
- on the left underwing you can see the provision for the jet-engine (a "G" did not have them),
- she served as a cafeteria,
- the photo shows the radial engines missing, like on one San Cugat airframe.

(Graham Robson: "I think you will find that the C-97G had auxiliary fuel tanks fitted to the same hard-points under the wings that KC-97Ls utilised for the J-34s, so the theory that this could not be a C-97G is probably not correct"


KC-97L 128-03

Aad van der Voet responded to this:
"Jörg may certainly be right, but according to your webpage Roger himself stated that this C-97 was "not one of the three which are still around in Madrid and San Cugat." Which is why I ruled out TK.1-1 and TK.1-2.
Now if Roger is not too sure about that, or if I took this claim too literally, this puzzle will be very difficult to solve. We have no clue about its location, and at least two of the C-97s served as cafés / discos.

We're down to TK.1-2/123-02 and 53-241 as the two likely candidates, and possibly TK.1-1/123-01, but I don't think that one was ever used as a café. Not too sure about that though, because it was preserved near a playground in Albacete before going to San Cugat del Vallès. It may also have served as a café there.

I am fairly certain that the two spares C-97Gs were also including their wings. The USAF did cut through their main spars to prevent them from ever flying again, but they did not cut off the wings entirely.
So I believe that the fact that the aircraft in Roger's photo still has its wings does not mean very much. Nor do the missing engines, because most aircraft in these conditions are sold minus engines. I would expect that the one at Cuatro Vientos is the only one that had its engines still on.

I do agree though that the provision below the wing for the mounting of a jet could point to this being a KC-97L, and not a C-97G. Which would indeed rule out 53-241.

I think we need to do a bit more digging to solve this one. Didn't anyone else go on spotting trips through Spain in the early 1980s? A few photos of the preserved C-97s would be very helpful indeed..."

Michel Lozares Sánchez (of Asociacion de Amigos del Museo del Aire) offered his help:
"This KC97 was the TK.02, and was a bar (road-restaurant) in the late-1970s near Taracón village (Cuenca). At the present it is one of the two KC97s that are as discoteque near Barcelona (St. Cugat). I remember we went to see her, with my father, when I was a child."

Michel is an aviation historian & -enthusiast and published in 2007 a book on the PBY-5A Catalina in Spanish service; details on my webpage dedicated to a 2004 visit to Museo del Aire at Cuatro Vientos.

SOLVED !

 

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