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Monday, February 22, 2016 - 18:33

Above is a postcard of an SAA Airways or Suid-Afrikaanse-Lugdiens DC-7B aircraft. This post card came my way when it fell out of a book I bought recently. The reverse is blank, so it was never sent and simply says "with the compliments of South African Airways” (in English and Afrikaans). The interest to me is the backdrop of Johannesburg viewed from the air. The challenge is to date the photograph. The central iconic building is Escom House (completed in 1937 and demolished /imploded in 1984) and the view is in a westerly or north westerly direction. The postcard must have been a free handout/promotional material from SAA. In answer to the obvious question, when did SAA fly DC-7Bs, Wikipedia and the SAA museum society archives provide some answers online. 

I found a second aerial photo, dated 1956. The view is towards the mine dumps to the south / south west of the city. Aerial photographs of Johannesburg make for a fascinating record of the changing face of the city. Most early aerial photographs date from about 1931. I would be interested to find out if anyone has aerial shots from an earlier period ... i.e. 1920s? [Please post details in the comments section below if you have any]


ZS-DKE Douglas DC-7B (1956). Photograph: SAA Museum Society Archives


In 1956 South African Airways introduced the Douglas DC-7B, at that time the world's fastest piston-engine airliner and with a range that made intercontinental travel far speedier. The DC-7B replaced the Lockheed Constellations on the European routes. It was introduced on the Johannesburg–London route with only one stop at Khartoum and taking 21 hours for the journey.  SAA pioneered a service over the Indian Ocean to Perth with the DC-7B from late 1957, it flew fortnightly and took passengers via Mauritius, the Cocos Islands and then Perth. The four DC-7B aircraft were later used internally before being sold in 1966/7. (sourced from Wikipedia)

A collection of views of the city of Johannesburg, with planes being the subject in the foreground and the city in the background would make a fantastic heritage collection! Does anyone have any material to share? [Again please add details in the comments section below]


Here is a close up view of Escom House also taken from the air.  Architect originally P Rogers Cooke but completed by Prof G E Pearse (with involvement of past students at Wits, J Fassler and R Martienssen), 1935-37


Can you date this SAA / Johannesburg aerial photograph? Clearly later than the photograph below.


Aerial view of Johannesburg (delcampe.net)


Above is a delcampe.net post card (for sale online) with the label 'Aerial view of Johannesburg', listed as 1930 to 1950s. In fact the post card is quite late with Hillbrow high rise apartment blocks making their appearance and in the foreground a late high rise block is in place (it is still there). Majestic Mansions to the right (corner of Clarendon circle/place) is still there and that heritage block was demolished in 1971. Majestic Mansions was a Cowin Powers and Ellis building circa 1928. I would be grateful if readers could help me identify the buildings in this post card. [Please post details in the comments section below]


Majestic Mansions (via Artefacts)



1950 aerial view of Johannesburg


Above is a 1950 aerial view of Johannesburg, recently sold on the Bidorbuy website. It's dated because it was a used postcard (posted 1950 ) and the printed information on the reverse reads:

Johannesburg, the Golden City is the largest city in the world that is built on neither sea, lake or river, it is also South Africa's largest city. This is a view of downtown Johannesburg with mine dumps of white sand. Population 750 000.


For good measure the air hostesses of circa 1960s? (via Pinterest)


The Fleet!


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