This incredible photograph, shot in 1940s, shows a BOAC Airlines DC-3 sitting on the ramp at what would become RAF Gibraltar, as searchlights flood the night sky in search of enemy aircraft. Below is the almost otherworldly picture in its entirety.

Gibraltar Airport started out as a Royal Navy sea plane base during WWI but was expanded to add an auxiliary runway by the late 1930s. During WWII, the airstrip was extended using rock blasted while making tunnels close by, eventually turning it into North Front airfield, and eventually RAF Gibraltar.

Today, Gibraltar Airport services both civilian and military flights with its 5,500 foot runway. The south side of the base remains RAF Gibraltar, with the north side being used as a commercial ramp and terminal.

The airport handles about 3500 flights a year and is somewhat famous in the aviation community as it has a major roadway that bisects the runway. During aircraft operations, traffic is held off in a similar fashion as a bridge crossing. This feature, the airport’s tight confines and the majestic background, make it a favorite destination for aviation photographers from around the world.

Panorama shot via Dura-Ace/Wikicommons, Tornado takeoff shot via Moshi Anahory/Wikicommons

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Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com