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Flight 714: fact and fiction in the details

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robbo
Member
#1 · Posted: 27 Aug 2010 00:46
I have always had a particular fondness for Flight 714 (to Sydney) because of the superb characterisation, action and atmosphere all conveyed by some of Hergé's most complete artwork.

I happened to look more closely at the grey background objects scattered amongst several frames of Flight 714, and I was intrigued to find they were WWII fighting relics.

It shows Hergé’s fastidious attention to detail that he saw fit to add these WWII details, even visible in an action frame, as the Carreidas jet careers down the temporary runway.

The assorted WWII wrecks are visible on pg16 frames 10&11(a gunboat and submarine?), pg17 frame 4 (landing craft with gun), frame 9 (airplane propeller, amphibious landing craft), pg21 frame 6 (gunboat?), pg22 frame 2 (unidentifiable fragment, jerry can), and finally pg42 frame 8 (landing craft with gun). These assorted wrecks could represent the remains of a Japanese landing operation.

Hergé’s fictional Island of Pulau-Pulau Bomba located in the Banda Sea was definitely occupied by the Japanese during WWII, as we are informed by Allan on pg 22.

The Japanese took over islands in the Banda Sea (previously occupied by the Netherlands) between December 1941 and April 1942. Babar Island, just over 100km to the south of Nila, is the nearest recorded island I can find that the Japanese occupied in their invasion operations of 1942.

On the Tintinology website the author states that the volcanic islands of Banda Api and Nila are the closest candidates; I have to disagree with his assertion that Banda Api is geographically more similar to Hergé's island. Nila island has a protruding peninsular shape which is very similar to Hergé’s island (unlike Banda Api). This peninsula served as the landing strip which is distinctly visible from the aerial drawings, and frontispiece of Flight 714.
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#2 · Posted: 27 Aug 2010 19:58
Very interesting research you've done robbo, well done!
Having looked at the frames you mention I agree, they do appear to be WWII wrecks. Personally, I'd never thought of it, or even noticed it before (it's funny how you can ignore details, or take them for granted without thinking about what they actually relate to). As you say, Allan mentions that the bunkers were Japanese on page 22, so it all makes complete sense.

Another observation: The Sondonesian uprising has been compared to the Khmer Rouge or East Timor fight for independence in Cambodia, but it might more directly relate to the issues of independence in the Maluku Islands and other out-lying Indonesian islands during the 1960s.
robbo
Member
#3 · Posted: 27 Aug 2010 20:34 · Edited by: robbo
Thank you Harrock n roll - I had never really paid much attention, but when I looked closely I was amazed at how much information Herge conveys in such tiny background areas.

I read Flight 714 when it came out in 1968 as a child and it's funny to think there are details in the drawings I simply never noticed in all this time.

Your Sondonesian observation is interesting - now you mention it I did come across some mention of atrocities? in the Maluku Islands after the declaration of a single Indonesian Republic and the Maluccan attempts at resistance. The Maluccans were only defeated in about 1967 and this would tie in nicely with the dates of Flight 714.

So altogether there is some very solid historical/political background to Flight 714 which largely goes unnoticed.

update:

I just noticed that on pg 59 the location of Pulau-Pulau Bomba is the Celebes Sea, which is nowhere near the Banda Sea as asserted on the Tintinology website. We will have to look for another volcanic island!

Mat
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#4 · Posted: 27 Aug 2010 23:17
robbo:
I just noticed that on pg 59 the location of Pulau-Pulau Bomba is the Celebes Sea, which is nowhere near the Banda Sea as asserted on the Tintinology website. We will have to look for another volcanic island!

I also noticed that just this evening! The radio report (on page 59, frame 8) is where it mentions that Pulau-pulau Bompa is in the Celebes Sea (see the region on google maps). Of course I realise it's a completely fictional island, but that would make it much further north of the Banda region. Going by Wiki's map of Indonesian volcanoes, most of the volcanic islands in the Celebes region are centred on the archipelago that splits out from the top of Sulawesi. So, could it be one of those islands?
Rianna Lauren
Member
#5 · Posted: 28 Aug 2010 02:29
I'm glad I came across this topic! What's better than having an Indonesian in this discussion? ;)

The WW2 thing was probably around the time the Japanese were... What do you call it, colonialising Indonesia. So it makes perfect sense. And the volcanic islands - actually the whole Indonesian archipelago has a LOT of active volcanoes. It is most likely somewhere around Sulawesi since from what I've watched (haven't read yet XP) it was mentioned that the pilot was having radio converstation with the Makassar tower, and Makassar is the Capital of Southern Sulawesi. So it has to be around there.
cigars of the beeper
Member
#6 · Posted: 28 Aug 2010 18:11
I would guess that the island itself is not actually real. It is perfectly acceptable for a work of fiction to contain fictitious places (as the Tintin books so often do).
robbo
Member
#7 · Posted: 29 Aug 2010 18:35
Harrock n roll:
most of the volcanic islands in the Celebes region are centred on the archipelago that splits out from the top of Sulawesi. So, could it be one of those islands?

I looked at these and none really fit the bill - they are either too near other islands or the wrong shape. Also the tv report on pg 60 states that Tintin and friends were found only 200 miles off their course; there is no way they could have got to the Celebes Sea as they were 200 miles from Sumbawa

So it looks like any attempt to pinpoint an actual volcanic island is not possible.

What is puzzling is that in other respects Herge is so accurate. The flight course and the places they were flying over: Lombok and Sumbawa, and the places they should have been flying over: Flores and Timor are real. It was at Sumbawa that they changed course towards the island of Pulau Pulau Bomba, flying below radar tracking.

Rianna Lauren:
I'm glad I came across this topic! What's better than having an Indonesian in this discussion? ;)

Glad to have you in the discussion Rianna; you should really read the actual album it's far better than the animated cartoon - let us know what you think if you do get the chance.

cigars of the beeper:
I would guess that the island itself is not actually real. It is perfectly acceptable for a work of fiction to contain fictitious places (as the Tintin books so often do).

Looks like you may be right cigars of the beeper.

Mat
Rianna Lauren
Member
#8 · Posted: 29 Aug 2010 22:29
Ah, I see. Really should read before jumping in. XD Sorry. Was just really interested. XP
robbo
Member
#9 · Posted: 29 Aug 2010 23:59 · Edited by: robbo
Rianna Lauren:
Ah, I see. Really should read before jumping in. XD Sorry. Was just really interested. XP

No need to be sorry Rianna, your special insight into the region is most welcome. There was nothing incorrect about what you said anyway; I was pleased you had taken an interest in the topic.

Mat
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#10 · Posted: 30 Aug 2010 13:44
Rianna Lauren:
Ah, I see. Really should read before jumping in. XD Sorry. Was just really interested. XP

Yes, your input is most welcome. Anyone is welcome to take part in these discussions. And I think you're right that they were somewhere around Sulawesi.

robbo:
Also the tv report on pg 60 states that Tintin and friends were found only 200 miles off their course; there is no way they could have got to the Celebes Sea as they were 200 miles from Sumbawa

Yes, that makes it a bit of a conundrum. Having looked at map of the region (always useful!) it doesn't seem possible. As you say, the places they flew over made them pretty much on course to Australia. On page 12, Skut says they'd just passed Lombok and were heading to Sumbawa. And on page 14 (directly after the hijacking takes place) Spalding reports they were over Sumbawa, just before they ducked down out of radar range. So that's almost a straight line from Jakarta towards Darwin in Australia. Yet the TV report states they were "found drifting in a dinghy more than 200 miles off their scheduled route", so how could they have been found in the Celebes Sea?

There's another clue: on page 16, a little after the plane had been hijacked, it says "ten minutes later" (frame 2) before they reach Pulua-Pulau Bompa. They may have flown for a little longer than ten minutes, so add a couple of minutes for page 15 where the plane changes course. Carreidas mentions on page 8 that the jet can fly at 1,250mph (at a cruising speed at 40,000 feet), so let's assume it was slightly less at a low altitude, say 1,200mph. Flying for ten minutes at 1,200mph would take them 200 miles.

Maybe Hergé was having an off day or didn't care which Sea it was (very unlikely, given his usual accuracy), so we could just ignore the Celebes Sea reference. It seems likelier that Pulua-Pulau Bompa was around 200 miles from Sumbawa, and probably along the archipelago given that it's on the tectonic rim with the volcanoes dotted along it, so perhaps in the Flores Sea?

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