SHOOTING the Dark Continent


Among the Avro Lancaster’s most ambitious postwar tasks was mapping large parts of Africa – leaving a lasting legacy, as Andrew Thomas reveals



RIGHT Pictured flying over Mt Kilimanjaro, Lancaster TW652/P was part of the 683 Squadron detachment to East Africa 

The final Bomber Command squadron to fly the legendary Avro Lancaster successfully completed one of the RAF’s greatest peacetime initiatives. In 1943 various Colonial Office committees agreed that when the war ended, the Directorate of Colonial Survey (DoCS) based at Teddington, Middlesex was to conduct geodetic and topographical surveys of British-administered Africa. The results would, in many cases, give the first accurate mapping of large swathes of the continent and greatly assist in numerous planned development projects. 

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