NEWSLETTER #58 - MARCH 2007
Members will have noticed that the US pages sometimes carry an earlier date than the main newsletter. This is because the US page is added to the main paper newsletter when it is circulated in the US in arrear of the UK edition, so it is actually published between UK paper editions.
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By Leonardo Pinzauti
Undoubtedly aviation postcards are part of the advertising/promotion instruments airlines, airports, airframe manufacturers etc. have used since the very beginning of human flight. On the other side such post-cards have been widely used as an information vehicle, sometimes related to political and social issues. Combining these two elements is relatively easy because in recent times, postcards have been used to support protests, to solicit national and local administrations, to inform passengers etc. We have selected three issues which may be good examples of what an aviation-related postcard has to tell to a specific target.
1 - The first card shows an Alitalia DC 9/80 parked in front of Brindisi/Papola Casale terminal, the Southernmost airport of Apulia region open to scheduled operations. The large text at the bottom ("La Puglia vuole decollare" = Apulia wants to take-off) stresses the need to keep alive the direct link to and from Milan. In early '90s Alitalia wanted to limit its network to a selected group of airports, setting up more efficient hub-and-spoke systems. Because of the nature of Italian territory (North-South, approximately 1,200 kms lenght) this was going to be a little bit more complicated, in comparison with more "square" countries (i.e. France, Germany, Spain etc.). Furthermore Alitalia plans were very much opposed by some regional airports (and their respective supporting local authorities and official groups) which wanted to keep direct links, considered essential for their business, connecting with the two main Italian points of traffic, Milan and Rome. This card was printed by Neografica, issued by the local branches of the 3 major labour unions of Italy (CGIL, CISL, UIL) and circulated together with the main local daily newspaper "La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno". The back side is pre-printed and addressed directly to the Minister of Transporation, Rome.
2 - The second card is clearly a protest card, against Heathrow 3rd runway. It shows a British Airways A.319 artificially superimposed in a final approach attitude over roofs. The text doesn't need any further comment. The back side is pre-printed. It is addressed to the Secretary of State for Transport in London. The card is a little bit oversize and was issued under the auspicise of Hounslow Council.
Bill Peters , Maryland, USA did indeed have the answer to the December mystery giant and it was indeed the Barling Bomber, shorthand for the Wittman-Lewis XNBL-1 , designed in 1920 and delivered to the US Army Air Corps in 1923. It had span of 120 ft, gross weight of 42,569 lbs and was powered by 6 420 hp Liberty engines. The Barling name came from designer Walter H Barling also shown on Bill’s card below. Barling was a British designer (of what ???) invited to the US by general “Billy” Mitchell specifically to design a large bomber.
Anticipating current Boeing and Airbus practice it was built in sections, largely in Teterboro, New Jersey and shipped ( by rail) to Dayton, Ohio for assembly. Despite the 6 engines it was underpowered and was stored out –of-service at Dayton until 1928 when it was broken up. This was after some difficulty with getting permission to write off the $700,000 investment in the aircraft and its hangar. Permission was initially refused but granted after submission of a proposal to write off a hangar containing miscellaneous spares – omitting the fact that the spares were actually assembled into the XNBL-1.
Two tyres survived and are held by the USAF museum at Dayton. The Witteman business was bankrupted due to having agreed a fixed price contract with the Army for the XNBL-1 without freezing the specification. Their factory became the home of Fokker in the USA.
Thanks to Chris Ludlam, Simon Penn & Duncan Crewe the Imperial list (including precursors) has reached 573 cards. Of these :-
148 are believed to be Imperial issue, including those in conjunction with publisher, Rafael Tuck.
18 of these are Pilot cards with facsimile autographs
36 cards feature the pre-Imperial companies, AT&T, Daimler, Handley Page, Instone and Air Post of Banks.
The main types featured are the Handley Page HP.42 (94), Short Empire (74) Handley-Page W series (64) Armstong Whitworth Argosy (64) Scylla/Syrinx (36)
Predictably, the majority of landplane ground shots are at Croydon, although this is not often explicitly stated.
While we decide what to do next, further contributions are welcome and the current list can be E_mailed or sent by post (44p large sae please).
My preference for further action is a combination of extended scope and limited publication, which would be on CD. Recent attempts to distribute similar listings (e.g the VC-10 catalogue) by E-Mails have fallen foul of upload size restrictions. The CD would contain the listings and a selection of images – maybe ALL the official issues, plus a selection of the rarer and more interesting. Whatever the decision on whether to list all the officials there would certinaly be a need to show all the early interiors as they are almost impossible to distinguish by verbal description.
The use of CD, to my mind, encourages expansion of scope to fill the capacity available although this could be text at the expense of pictures. My feeling would be to add all the pre-1939 UK carriers, with the original British Airways Ltd and its component companies and Jersey Air Lines having the most cards, followed by Railway Air Services, with cards also known of such as West Coast, Western, Northern & Provincial, Midland & Scottish etc.
Opinions are more than welcome. Meanwhile the following article highlights some lesser known cards and locations already identified
Imperial Airways Overseas – Part 1 Europe
As befits its title, Imperial Airways saw Europe as an inconvenience situated between Britain and Empire, which, due to limited range, could not be completely overflown and ignored. There were a few exceptions.
Initially the presence of British forces in occupied Germany provided a reason for maintaining links with that country. Similarly the heavy post-war diplomatic traffic to Paris, coupled with the attraction of that city to the British Establishment meant that the Croydon-Le Bourget route was always the prime Imperial European service. If Paris in Spring was a rich persons playground then so also was Switzerland in winter and so this was duly served also. But, by and large, the rest of Europe could be left to the railways and, later, other British carriers or European National airlines.
So , it is not surprising that the majority of cards of Imperial in Europe are from FRANCE, and within those, the majority are at Paris Le-Bourget. Indeed some of the earliest cards of British airlines come from that site. This is an Aircraft Transport & Travel Ltd deHavilland DH. 18 G-EARO and the card is one of many by Editions Farineau. It was used to write a message in January 1921 but not mailed as a postcard.
G-EARO subsequently passed to the Instone Air Line and was captured by another Le Bourget publisher, Editions Duberne on the next card Mailed in 1923 – no aviation content in the messages on either of these.
Editions Farineau also captured the rare Westland Limousine G-EAJL of Air Post of Banks Ltd. This outfit was set up by the Banks to speed up clearing of international transactions between London and Paris so that they used the latest technology to ensure that they had the benefit of the customers money for much longer. Plus ca change. The service ran from Sept to Oct 1920 only, but the card is dated 11 jan 1922.
The next card by another Le Bourget publisher CLD No.7 shows latest technology baggage handling and may be the only card ever to feature “L arrive’ des bagages” as its central theme. The Handley Page Transport Ltd named cart implies that each company provided its own equipment. The bags have arrived on W8 Prince George G-EBBH.
With the foundation of Imperial Airways Farineau pictured both the DH34 and the later Argosy of the new airline. A private postcard-backed-photo captured something much rarer a Bristol 75 G-EBEV operating an Express Freight service .
In later years Le Bourget publishers, notably Godneff continued to show Imperial aircraft, HP42s, Scylla and finally Ensign and Albatross, as in the example shown in the Internet report earlier. But Le Bourget was not the only French airport to host Imperial.
Imperial also used French airports at Lyon and Istres, near Marseille. Atalanta G-ABTK Athena is shown at Lyon-Bron on a Cigogne card mailed 1934.
This rather crude (and battered) card of a Vimy Commerical at Istres may be Instone or Imperial. The date does not help as it was not mailed until 1931.
By contrast this Istres card of HP.42 Helena by Combier is a very high definition close-up
France still featured after the switch to Flying Boats. Empire G-ADUV Cambria at Macon on another Combier card, mailed 1938.
By contrast with over 50 cards of Imperial and antecedents in France, the rest of Europe only yields 14. But those from SWITZERLAND are notable. This is Handley page W10 G-EBMR at Basel by Editions Franco-Suisse.
And again, with one of little known Avro Tens ( = Fokker FVII/3m) G-ABLU of the Charter division at Zurich-Dubendorf by Wehrli, a publisher still active with Zurich Kloten cards into the 90s at least.
No cards are available to show of the early services to Belgium or Germany but KLM issued a card of a DH34 in an early series which curiously showed airliners of their competitors, presumably by the air photography unit (Luchtfoto) that later became KLM Aerocarto. G-EBBS of the Daimler Airway inaugurated Croydon-Amsterdam in October 1922, which may be when this was taken.
It did not survive to join Imperial being wrecked at Ivinghoe in 1923 – the wreckage being the subject of a set of cards from Halton Camp photographer Ratledge. Imperial returned to Northern and Eastern Europe in the late 1930s, using the DH86. From GERMANY G-ADUG Danae is at Cologne on a card issued by the airport restaurant.
In CZECHOSLOVAKIA G-ADUH Dryad features on two cards from Prague , almost certainly taken within a few seconds of each other by Photocentrala Vitek. One was mailed in 1937.