Tripling of the Empire Air Mail Service - 1938

The entry of Australia into the Empire Air Mail Scheme led to the Australia-UK air service being increased to thrice weekly from 9 August 1938. The cover illustrated was issued by Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) and was flown on the inaguration of this additional service, service AE1 (Australia-England) aboard S.23 G-AETV Coriolanus (c/n S0838) from Sydney's new Rose Bay Flying Boat Base. The pilots were Capt G.U. 'Scotty' Allan and R.B. 'Russell' Tapp.

The Empire boats were interchanged on the route between QEA and Britain's Imperial Airways. QEA crews operated between Sydney and Singapore, with the remainder of the trip flown by Imperial crews.

When the Australia-England air route was cut by the Japanese in February 1942, Coriolanus was stranded at the Australian end of the route. On 12 August 1942 it was re-registered to QEA as VH-ABG. One of the few long-lived Empire boats, VH-ABG operated the final Empire Boat service on 24 December 1947 before being broken up for scrap at Rose Bay in May 1948.

(Phil Vabre collection)


The illustration at left is a cigarette card issued by John Player & Sons in 1936 from their 'Album of International Airliners'. The aircraft illustrated is Short S.23 G-ADHM Caledonia, the second of the Empire Boats which made its first flight on 11 September 1936.

Original card 67 x 35 mm.

(Phil Vabre collection)

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