One the best responses to WDYK in some time was triggered by Peter Marson’s request for information on C-69 Constellation and Zurich photographic Constellation cards. We already have two Constellations in this issue but as they were all Wright-powered they fit in with the theme and one card can set us of on another course of enquiry. The card below was reported by both Alan Van Wickler and Bill Peters from the US group. It is a real photo card of an early C-69 by W.J Gray L/A (= Los Angeles ?) and has a background of Lockheed P-38 Lightnings. It may be Lockheed Company production as the lengthy text reads :-

“LOCKHEED CONSTELLATION The largest, fastest and most powerful cargo or transport plane in the world. Faster than a Japanese Zero fighter, or any four engined bomber now in service.  Its four 2000 h.p Wright engines will fly the new giant cross the continent non-stop Los Angeles-New York in less than 9 hours and Honolulu in twelve. Can carry 55 passengers and crew of 9. LOCKHEED AIRCRAFT CORP, Burbank, Calif”



In fact the second prototype Constellation flew Los Angeles to Washington on delivery to the USAAF on 17th April 1944 in 6hrs 37 mins, flown by the president of TWA Jack Frye and Howard Hughes – it was painted in TWA colours for the occasion. This was a little over a year since the  first flight of the type on 9 Jan 1943 (misquoted last time).


The “faster than a Japanese Zero” claim appears in the back text of other cards too. An attention-grabbing claim, one wonders if it was also inspired by Hughes. It does appear to be true as well. Janes for 1945, by which time the Constellation was no secret and Zero fighters had been evaluated in the US, quotes the top speed of a Zero as 340 m.p.h and the same for a loaded L.049 Constellation.


Recent new member Martin Christen has found more cards from Zurich – all real photographic. Two are take off shots of TWA 749s N91202 & N6017C by Photo Schait B18 and Hugo Kopp 6146W plus ground shots of Air France and BOAC. The BOAC with “M” on the nosewheel door appears to be G-ALAM “Belfast”, destroyed at Singapore-Kallang in 1954. The card is by Kopp, Zurich 6149W. The Air France is Swissair 8027.



The “faster than a Zero claim” raises an interesting issue re Japanese cards. Firstly while Germany and Italy issued many propaganda cards intended to show the superiority of their equipment, on the face of it Japan took a different approach. As far as can be determined, unscientifically, from the contents of dealers “Aviation” boxes, Japan did produce quite a lot of cards of military aviation in the 20s and early 30’s but few or none later. As the view of Japanese equipment held pre-1941 was that it was second- class, maybe this was a deliberate strategy with all more advanced equipment embargoed for publication. Even after Japan’s early succeses, aircraft do not seem to have featured heavily on postcard propaganda, although a reproduction of the one below depicting the attack on Singapore was on sale in that city a few years back.



Also given Japan’ s later pre-eminence in photographic technology the real photo card seems to be a rarity not only in the WW2 period but also afterwards, at a time when German photography was widely displayed on black and white postcards. The only photographic card I recall seeing from pre war or war time Japan was a battered faded shot of a Nakajima AT production line – the text was not in Japanese characters but seemed to be Thai or Burmese.  Japanese airline cards from the 30s, like this other Nakajima AT from Japan Air Transport are relatively crude in their print quality.



So, does anybody know anything about Japanese military or photographic cards from the 1930/40 period ?


There is some new  information on an old topic, Vickers issue Viscount cards. A few more have surfaced , namely :-

In the slightly oversize, artist drawn series, a TCA Viscount at a snowy airport.



In the “text at bottom” series, Cubana 700 CU-T-604 flying right and also Hunting-Clan 800 Flying right. These only carried these colours for a short time before the merger into British United. This example does not carry the Vickers logo and can be assumed to be by Vickers for the airline.



The Cubana and TCA both have pre-printed back-text about traffic increases following the introduction of the Viscount.

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