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Author Topic: Microfilm passing Atlantic WWII  (Read 11061 times)

Offline KESTL

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Microfilm passing Atlantic WWII
« on: May 18, 2020, 03:14:56 PM »
Hello everyone.

For some time I have been deep in research surrounding the circumstances of a flight, or rather a series of flights, that happened  in 1942. I’m writing this post as I have not been able to come up with a reliable answer to (1) which aircraft were used and (2) on which dates the flights occurred.

My interest in aviation in general started not so long ago, when I saw a video displaying the wonders of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator “game”. It looks absolutely magnificent and their continuing efforts on describing all the mechanics that go into it, keep delivering for a promising true to life experience. I CAN’T WAIT.

I am a classical musician by profession, and I have always been fascinated with the story of how Shostakovich’s 7th symphony made the trip from war torn Russia to United States, for a premiere to be played in New York 4 months after the world premiere. In the last few weeks I have tried to find more information on the specifics of these flights through the book: “Symphony for the city of the dead”, by M.T. Anderson, and the paper: “Flight of the seventh”, also by M.T. Anderson. I have come up with the following (if anyone decides to find leads by themselves or know more please correct me at any step of the way):
Kuybyshev, Russia (present day Samara, Russia)- Tehran, Iran (by plane)
Tehran, Iran - Cairo, Egypt (hired courier by car)
Cairo, Egypt (Payne Airfield) - either Casablanca then Accra or direct to Accra (by plane)
Accra - Recife, Brazil (Ibura airfield) (by plane)
Recife, Brazil - Florida (most likely Miami) (by plane, U.S. Navy)
Florida - Washington DC (by plane)

Anderson explains that the score and parts for the symphony, which were kept on a microfilm, were supposed to leave Kuybyshev on April 9th 1942 in the pocket of a Pan Am Pilot flying himself to Washington DC. However, the pilot in question had not received nor heard of any microfilm, when he, as the microfilm had not turned up in Washington DC, was asked about it.
Eventually it turned up in Washington DC on May 30th 1942 and later went with a Russian agent to New York.

I want to do these flights in a flight simulator, and I would like them to be as historically accurate as possible (I’m still worried about navigating over the Atlantic, though 😖).
The date span is larger than I would expect it to take (April 9th-May 30th). I’m thinking that, as it did not go with the Pan Am pilot on April 9th, it might have stayed in Kuybyshev some time before leaving for Tehran.
Regarding aircraft I would imagine it could be a C-87 taking it over the South Atlantic Air Ferry route with the ACFC (, see ACFC foreign wing). Over land it seams the C-47/Li-2 is the best bet.

So, I guess my question is:
Are there any publicly available records showing specific cargo flights during this time period?
I would also appreciate some comments on my guess work and would also appreciate some additional guess work from more competent people than myself.

The article “Flight of the seventh” can be read for free at

Thanks a bunch
« Last Edit: May 18, 2020, 05:27:00 PM by KESTL »


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