No follow up was received on the Handley Page cards, so here are some new research topics. The first one is a bit “blind”. I was shown a card at a local postcard club and had hoped to get a scan for inclusion but it was not available when time ran out. So here are the basic details :-

- real photographic. No title or publisher.

- 2 engined biplane Flying Boat or Amphibian RAF markings, serial (?) N179

- Resting on a cradle on land, river in background.

- 2 workers standing to attention on the lower wing. VIP party in foreground, one in naval uniform, one in mayoral regalia.

Diagnosis so far

- Naval VIP looks like the Prince of Wales, later, briefly Edward VIII

- Bow of craft similar to Supermarine Sea Eagle

So, did the Prince of Wales  inspect the riverside Supermarine works at Woolston, Southampton, and if so when, and was there a Supermarine boat serialed N179 and if so what type?

The second mystery card, which is illustrated, came with a collection including a mixture of postcard-backed and other photographs of a RAF base somewhere tropical. The cards include a number of groups in pith helmet/shorts uniforms including one in cricket gear together with local players in a mixture of muslim/cricket dress. This raises the suspicion that the site may be Karachi or somewhere else in the present Pakistan.. Other photos show unusual visitors including a Fokker titled Ciudad de Buenos Aires and a biplane in apparently French markings.  Such exotics would seem likely to have routed through Karachi rather than more remote bases.

Having set the scene , here is another exotic visitor.

Face on is the worst possible view for single engine props that share a common engine, but this looks like a Bristol F2B Fighter or variant. The Asian member of the team looks on first glance to be wearing a modern US style cap but the magnifying glass reveals a star motif.   Similarly, the underside of the lower wings show inscriptions in Arabic. So we have :-

- an Asian, probably military person, in a non British uniform

- a Bristol Fighter with markings in Arabic

The only independent Arabic-using states in the region at the time were Iran and Afghanistan.  The Star motif in the uniform resembles that in the design of early Afghan stamps (philatelic members please confirm).

So, was the Afghan Air Force established with Bristol Fighter equipment ? Now, up to WW2, Janes All the Worlds Aircraft used to review World Air Forces and Airlines as well as aircraft.   Under “Afghanistan” the 1938 edition says…

“ The original Afghan Military air arm during the reign of ex-King Amanullah consisted of about 15 machines. There was an aerodrome and sheds at Kabul. The personnel were Russian. About 50 Afghan youths were sent to Russia to be trained. Plans were made to build aerodromes at Herat, Kandahar, Muzarisharif and Jelalabad  (It is not clear when this was or whether it was Imperial Russia or the USSR)

In 1924 the British Government supplied two Bristol Fighters to the Afghan Government. The Afghans had at that time two German pilots.”

So, I submit that this is one of the Bristols on delivery. Pity there is not a fiercely competitive group of Afghan collectors on the Internet

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