A selection of my photographs of North American air tankers taken during the 1980s.
DC-4, DC-6, DC-7 and Lockheed PV-2 fire tanker photos are included in their own pages in this Photographs series.

World War II production Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers were still in use as fire tankers, although by now most had been
sold to museums or as warbirds.  B-17F N17W was tanker #04 with Aircraft Specialities Inc, Mesa, Arizona.

These pictures of N17W in action were taken in September 1981 at the US Forest Service Fox Air Tanker Base at Lancaster,
California in the Mojave Desert when 8 tankers were working from Fox Field against a mountain wild fire near Tehachapi.

Tanker 04 departs the Fox Field reloading ramp for another retardant drop on the Tehachapi mountain fire.

Another Aircraft Specialties Inc Fortress N93012 tanker 99 was at home base Mesa-Falcon Field Arizona November 1981.

These two Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateers were reloading at the Fox Air Tanker Base while working the Tehachapi wildfire
in September 1981.  Both were owned by Hawkins & Powers Aviation based at Greybull, Wyoming.
Tanker 121 was a former US Coast Guard PB4Y-2G and retains the Coast Guard nose and rear fuselage observer position.

Tanker 127 was a surplus US Navy PB4Y-2 which has had the nose gun turret and rear fuselage blister removed.
Hawkins And Powers rebuilt their PB4Ys as Super Privateers with more powerful Wright R-2600 power plants.

A discrete puff of oil smoke behind tanker 127 as the Wrights are fired up for the next sortie

The Privateer's direct descendancy from the wartime B-24 Liberator bomber is evident in this view.

Hawkins and Powers Privateer N7962C tanker 126 lands at Billings, Montana USFS Air Tanker Base at dusk in August 1989.
With three other tankers it worked a wildfire in the Little Bighorn Mountains in nearby Wyoming until dark.

Billings Air Tanker Base early the next morning. The crew were already on board preparing for the day's flying.

In the Hawkins and Powers Aviation junk heap at Greybull Wyoming August 1989 was the wreck of their Privateer N2870G,
tanker 122.  It was badly damaged in 1980 when it ran off the runway on takeoff at Ramona, California due to a burst tyre. 
Airframe sections were transported back to Greybull to be used in the rebuild of a stripped PB4Y-2 hulk which H&P traded
to the US Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola.

Super Privateer N3739G tanker C30 rests at T&G Inc back at home base Chandler, Arizona in November 1981 at the end
of the annual fire season. This PB4Y-2 had been operated by T&G Inc parner Sergio Tomassoni for 16 seasons by then.

By 1989 Canadian water bomber operator Avalon Aviation had 8 Catalinas or
Cansos retired from service on the edge of a lake at rural Parry Sound, Ontario.

C-FGLX was built as an OA-10 Catalina for USAAF in 1944 by Canadian Vickers at Montreal

C-FIZO was built as a PBY-6A with tall tail but rebuilt during Canadian civil service with a standard PBY-5A tail section.

Consolidated PBY-6A C-FPIU had been retired at Parry Sound for several seasons by 1989

Aircraft Specialties Inc Grumman TBM-3 Avenger N9927Z tanker 39 looking very smart after a recent repaint at home base
Mesa-Falcon Field, Arizona in November 1981. Like many TBMs it was fitted with a dual-purpose belly tank capable of
dropping retardant on a fire or holding insecticide chemicals for spraying. This aircraft now flies in France as a warbird.

Other surviving Aircaft Specialties Inc Avengers looked more hard-worked by 1981. TBM-3E N9590Z tanker 25.

This battered TBM-3 was in the Aircraft Specialties Inc storage yard at Mesa AZ November 1981, still in faded US Navy
blue paintwork as Bu91436 "NAS Seattle". It had been sold surplus in 1957 and registered N9569Z but held as a spare
by several tanker companies, including CISCO of Lancaster, California whose name is daubed in red on the fuselage.
This weathered hulk became the basis of a warbird restoration to original military configuration, now flying as N436GM

Different models of military surplus Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcars were operated as fire bombers by several US companies.
This is Hawkins and Powers Aviation tanker #140, a former Royal Canadian Air Force C-119F.

Hawkins and Powers Aviation C-119F N8093 tanker 140 at home base Greybull, Wyoming August 1989.

More C-119Fs at Greybull in August 1989. Hawkins and Powers Aviation purchased a large stock of surplus RCAF C-119Fs
which were stored at Greybull, to be given civil conversions with roof jetpak and internal retardant tanks as required.

N3003 at Greybull in August 1989 was fitted with spray bars. The identitity of this aircraft was uncertain because its quoted
Fairchild serial number belonged to one of the stripped RCAF C-119F spares airframes nearby on the airfield.

Remaining RCAF C-119Fs at Greybull August 1989 had been stripped for parts and were on the airfield junk heap

RCAF 22116 with hand-painted registration N5217R was among the stripped airframes.  Hawkins and Powers Aviation's
aircraft trade deals with military museums resulted in this C-119F being rebuilt and ferried to Fort Benning, Georgia.

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