Karachi Airport (1943)

Karachi Airport (1943)
This rare photograph shows fighter planes, most likely belonging to the US Air Force, parked at Karachi Airport during World War II.

It was taken in 1943, about a decade after civil aviation pioneer JRD Tata landed the first plane on what was then called the Drigh Road airstrip – a Puss Moth carrying mail from Bombay.

Karachi was a key transshipment base for USAF during World War II, for supplies destined for eastern India, Burma and China. A large number of aircraft came to Karachi for assembly and testing. Soon, the airport also began to send cargo and passenger flights to other cities in India, as well as the Middle East and China.

Around that time, large black hangar was built on the airport for an R101 airship – one of only three in the world. The airship crashed when it had only reached France, but the hangar stayed on as a visual marker for pilots, and as a tourist attraction, until it was dismantled during the Ayub Khan regime.

Two extra terminals were added to the airport during the Ziaul Haq era, and a major expansion program was undertaken in 1994. Now, the Jinnah Terminal handles domestic and foreign flights. Terminal 1 is the headquarters of the Civil Aviation Authority, Terminal 3 hosts commercial offices, and Terminal 2, which came under a Taliban attack earlier this month, is used only for Hajj operations.