VINTAGE KITS ANNEX 5
The B-36 is the largest airplane, in size, that has ever served with the USAF, and will undoubtedly retain that distinction forever. The B-36 was a WWII design with design efforts beginning as early as 1941. The first XB-36 (42-13570) rolled out on September 8, 1945, less that one month after the surrender of Japan, with a first flight on August 8, 1946. The first B-36As were delivered to SAC in mid-1947.
For a magnificent video of a B-36 (#5734)starting up, taking off from Runway 17 at Carswell AFB and cruising in the clouds, click here. Note in this movie scene that even with four burning and six turning on the ground runup, there is no vibration in the cockpit!
The B-36D version, the subject of this model, was powered by six R-4360-41 engines and had four J47-GE-19 turbojets added in wing pods - the B-36D entered service in 1950. All B-36s were manufactured by Consolidated Vultee Aircraft in Fort Worth, Texas. The last B-36 was retired in February, 1959.
The B-36 was the mainstay of SAC for many years and the subject of a very bitter and acrimonious inter-service rivalry leading to a Congressional investigation in 1949. Yet the B-36 has been the subject of very few models, either display or kits, and only a handful of paintings and prints. The print, shown below, by Raymond Moats, Another Nineteen Hours - RB-36E, depicts a RB-36E (coverted to E from the B-36A) flying out of Travis AFB. I have one of these prints available at $138.00.
The Allyn Sales Company made a series of metal models mounted on ashtrays (remember ashtrays?) and a few on stands. These models were sold retail and were purchased by many companies as promotional items and employee awards. This B-36 model is in pristine condition - many of these that show up at sales have jet pods or propellers missing or broken and can be riddled with corrosion. A truly delightful piece that reeks of nostalgia for the early cold war period. The wingspan of this model is 10 3/8 inches. A Air & Space magazine poster of the B-36 accompanies the model (see detail below).
The following photos show the Allyn B-36D model (sister model pictured)- the price of this exceptionally pristine display model is $850.00. You won't find a better one.
The Allyn Sales Co., Los Angeles 1, California, Also made a series of plastic models which came in kits. Many of these models came in completed display models in addition to the kits. Some of the "ashtray" models were also sold in plastic as kits; I had the B-47 model for example. CollectAir will offer a few of these kits. Allyn was a large manufacturer of 1/2A engines in the 1950s, with a complete line of "Sky Fury" .049s which were also offered in outboard and inboard boat versions; twins up to .148 displacement were also made. Allyn was bought out by K&B which were later bought out by RJL.
The P5M (P-5) Marlin had its genesis in 1944 as the Martin company began design studies for a successor to the PBM Mariner with the company designation of "Model 237", leading to award of a Navy contract for a prototype, the "XP5M-1", on 26 June 1946. The prototype "Marlin" performed its initial flight on 4 May 1948. It was was heavily based on the Mariner, and in fact was modified on the production line from the last, unfinished PBM-5 Mariner. The Marlin, with the same wing but an extensively modified fuselage, stretched 3.35 meters (11 feet) and with a hull that extended the full length of the aircraft. It also featured a single very tall tailfin instead of the twin tall tailfins of the Mariner, with the horizontal tailplane featuring a strong dihedral. The new hull was much more seaworthy, and featured "hydroflaps" near the end that were used as waterbrakes on landing and were operated by the pilot's rudder pedals. The Marlin was a pure flying boat, incapable of landing on a runway as were all of the PBM except the dash 5 version.
The Navy ordered the Marlin into production as the "P5M-1 / Model 237A", with numerous changes from the prototype. The Marlin was powered by two Wright R-3350-30WA Turbo-Compound radial engines with 2,425 kW (3,250 HP) each and fitted in long nacelles. As in the Mariner, the nacelles included weapons bays that could each accommodate two torpedoes or two 900 kilogram (2,000 pound) bombs. Up to eight 450 kilogram (1,000 pound) bombs or other stores could be carried on underwing pylons. In practice, the primary underwing store would be the 76.2 millimeter (5 inch) HVAR rockets, to be used against surface submarines. Normal crew consisted of eight. Initial service deliveries of the P5M-1 began in December 1951, with Navy patrol squadron VP-44 as the first operator. A total of 160 P5M-1s were delivered by 1954.
Martin began a major redesign of the Marlin in 1951, producing the "P5M-2 / Model 237B", which first flew on29 April 1954. The P5M-2 had a distinctive tee tail, with a MAD boom often fitted at the junction of the tailplanes. It also had much greater fuel capacity, which increased gross weight by over 5,500 kilograms (12,000 pounds), and uprated Wright R-3350-32WA Turbo-Compound engines with 2,760 kW (3,700 HP) each to handle the greater weight. The bow chine was lowered to reduce spray, and the crew accommodations were also improved. Over a hundred P5M-2's were built. Martin-Baltimore did a modernization program on the Marlins in 1958-1961.
The U.S. Navy operated the P5M-2 (SP-5B) Martin "Marlins" in support of the Vietnam effort between 1965 and 1967 as part of "Operation Market Time." Nevertheless, they were mostly out of service by 1965. The very last formal U.S. Navy flying boat flight, with a Marlin, was in 1967 (VP-40 from Cam Ranh Bay on April 11, 1967). The Aeronavale operated their Marlins until 1974. France withdrew from NATO and returned the flying boats to the US Navy. The Marlin was Martin's last full-production flying boat, and the last flying boat in operational service with any NATO nation. I have been told that the U.S. Navy Marlins in Vietnam were flown to Japan for scrapping - what an ignominious ending!
On July 8, 1968, the Navy's last seaplane, VP-40 QE-10, BuNo 135533, was restored for a commemorative flight from San Diego to NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, where it was officially turned over to the Smithsonian Institution. This historic aircraft is now on permanent display at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, Florida, and is the only surviving example of this aircraft type.
This Topping model of the Martin P5M-1 "Marlin" is a superb example of the display models created by that Akron/Elyria, Ohio firm. It is in 1:100 scale with a wingspan of 14 1/2-inches. These classy models were used by the aircraft manufacturers to promote their products to the military officials and operational officers associated with the particular type. Though a very nice Topping-style base (as pictured below), I don't believe that this is the original base but is of aftermarket manufacture. A standard Marlin base, without markings,is also available.
Complete and in perfect condition, this P5M-1 model looks the same as the day it left Elyria in the early 1950s. A hard-to-find, half-century old dash-one version of the U.S. Navy's last operational flyingboat, you can display this exciting model for $700.00.
The T-29/C-131/R4Y series of aircraft was one of the military's many cost-saving examples of purchasing existing civil and commercial designs for their utility and transport needs. The first military Convair-Liner was accepted on 8 March 1950. Military production eventually eclipsed civil production with the last Convair-Liner built being a military Canadair CL-66B, which was delivered on 3 March 1961. Although many versions were built, starting with the CV-240, the Navy R4Y is basically a CV-340 with some upgraded to CV-440. The CV-340, CV-440, R4Y-1/2 and C-131B to C-131F all have the same basic airframe unless they have a weather radar in an extended nose. Convair pictures shown below.
This Allyn model would be dated prior to 1962 as the Navy R4Y designation changed that year. The model represents a mid-1950s display model. These ashtray models with a military designation of R4Y would not have been actively sold to the public but were promotional items for Convair and their employees. I have talked with Convair engineers who had several of these models on their desk during their careers.
This model is intact with original props, a clean base and a glass ashtray. Decals are whole and the chrome finish on the model is nearly a "10". An excellent example of an Allyn ashtray model. The wingspan of this model is 7 3/4-inches. Photographing chrome with clarity escapes my limited abilities at capturing images - as a mirror, the chrome picks up everything around it.
The Allyn Sales Company ashtray model of the Convair R4Y Navy Transport is priced at $SORRY SOLD.
Interestingly, this Allyn ashtray series was used as a prop in a Collier's cover painting in 1953 (cover can be seen on the Vintage Kit Annex 4 page). The model is shown below in a detail from the cover painting.
Several European/NATO countries produced recognition models during the cold war period; models were produced in several scales and in various materials. I assume that some of these were also available on the commercial market. This B-58 model is in 1:200 scale with a length of 5.87 inches. The material is plastic and the model has a raised number "303" on the undersurface of the wing. This attractive example of a NATO recognition model is available for Sorry Sold.
The story is that Bill Topping entered the manufacturer's display model business by making F6F Hellcats for Grumman in 1943. The Hellcat, therefore, occupies a very special position in the line of over several hundred Topping models.
The first Hellcat prototype was designated as the XF6F-3; this new fighter first flew from the Bethpage, Long Island Grumman plant on June 26, 1942, piloted by Selden A. Converse. Deliveries of the production F6F-3 began in early 1943 and the first combat action was with VF-5 from the USS Yorktown against Marcus Island on August 31, 1943. The Hellcat, in various versions, went on to account for 75% of all Navy air-to-air victories in WWII - an amazing record for this outstanding fighter which combined ruggedness with performance. Not a "pretty" airplane, the Hellcat has taken a historical backseat to the handsome P-51, P-38, P-47, and Corsair, yet the Hellcat is arguably the most effective fighter produced by the U.S. in WWII. Production of the Hellcat totalled 12,275 until stopped in 1945. The fighter was used by reserve units and served as drones; I recall seeing many orange, drone Hellcats at Pensacola in 1951, having been converted at that facility.
This Topping model appears to be the F6F-3 and is in a large 1:40 scale. The stand shown is a replica of the original. I am assuming that Topping only made the F6F in the 1940s, and maybe none following WWII. The decals all show some signs of chipping as you can see in the pictures below. A Topping collection should include the airplane that kicked-off the Topping line; this Hellcat is available for $Sorry Sold.
The World War II provenance of the Topping Hellcat model is convincingly validated by the following story kindly contributed by correspondent Tom Miller. Tom owns the Topping Hellcat pictured below and has owned it since childhood which accounts for the missing propeller blades. This model was given to Tom by his Great Aunt, Mabel Edith (Brown) Parks (1888-1981). She worked at the Grumman factory in Dallas, Texas during WWII and she was given the Hellcat by Grumman as an award for perfect attendance.
The C-141 Starlifter incorporated ideas from Lockheed's earlier C-130 Hercules cargolifter, including a high wing; a loading ramp under the high tail; clamshell rear doors that could be opened in flight for airdrops; and main landing gear that retracted into fairings alongside the fuselage to ensure an unobstructed cargo hold. The Starlifter differed from the Hercules in having wings with a sweepback of 25 degrees and a tee tail, rather than straight wings and a conventional tail; and four Pratt & Whitney TF33-P-7 turbofans mounted in pods on underwing pylons, instead of turboprops mounted on the wing. There were five flight crew, including pilot, copilot, navigator, and two loadmasters. Initial flight of the Starlifter was on December 17,1963. The first C-141A, delivered to Tinker AFB, Okla., in October 1964, began squadron operations in April 1965. The C-141 was the first jet transport from which U.S. Army paratroopers jumped, and the first to land in the Antarctic. The first C-141B was received by the Air Force in December 1979. Conversion from A to B models was completed in 1982. Conversion to the C-models began in 1997 and was completed in 2001. The last active-duty C-141B retired Sept. 16, 2004, at McGuire AFB, N.J. and the C-141 was officially "retired" on May 6, 2006 at the Air Force Museum. AMC began transferring C-141s to the Air Reserve and Air National Guard forces in July 1986. There are 20 Reserve C-141C's are stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, and March Air Reserve Base, Calif.
This resin cast model measures 20 5/8" in length, making it about a 1:100 scale. This rather rough training model was used for USAF instruction in loading the C-141B. The fuselage lifts, revealing the interior cabin floor space and loading ramp. This model is a companion to the C-130 loading model previously offered here.
This interesting training aid has been restored with some new paint to match the original scheme and repair where necessary. These models would have been of very limited production; this C-141B model came from a West Coast AF base.
You can practice being a C-141B loadmaster for only $145.00.
This model of the C-141A by Precise would have been made in the mid-1960s. A very historical airplane, the C-141 Starlifter originated the configuration that all military jet transports have adopted - the four-engine, high wing, rear ramp layout as currently used on the C-17. This "A" model has a tail number of 61-3601 - the prototype was 61-2775. This number is probably bogus as the initial C-141 delivery in October 1964 was serial number 38078 (63-8078) which suggests that this model was contracted before the production ships came off the line. The white and gray paint scheme was the early scheme, later changed to the camouflage pattern known as European One on the "B" models.
This particular model is "brand new" as the box hadn't been opened since its original production 40-years ago. The unopened box is shown below along with the pristine contents that have been disturbed for the first time. Own a beautifully preserved display model of the C-141 for only $Sorry Sold
The Allyn Sales Co., Los Angeles 1, California, made a series of plastic model kits in the 1950s. The brochure shown above is on the back side of the Convair XF-92A kit instructions. Note that six of the aircraft were Douglas, one Convair and three Boeing. The models were rather basic with no panel lines, no landing gear, no pilot, and very little detail. Most of the single engine were in a large scale around 1:48. The models were cast in colored plastic (similar to many of the Topping models) requiring no painting. While these aircraft, in plastic, show up occasionally being touted as finished manufacturer's display models, I believe that they were sold by Allyn only as kits. It is very likely that the manufacturers bought these kits for promotional purposes and perhaps paid for their molds; Allyn sold these kits to the retail market and they were advertised in aviation and model publications.
Some of the Allyn metal "ashtray" models were duplicated in plastic kits. For example, the Boeing models shown as plastic kits were also available finished in chromed pot metal on both ashtray stands and metal stands which duplicated the plastic stands seen above. The metal models were also sold retail but were definitely used by the companies as promotional items, employee rewards, etc. Note the Convair B-36 shown elsewhere on this page.
An Allyn duo of a B-47 metal and a B-47 plastic kit is offered on the Display Model Annex 3 page which can be accessed at the bottom of this page.
The first fifteen minutes or so of the remake of the movie "The Flight of the Phoenix" has absolutely stunning aerial photos of the C-119 flying over the desert - I doubt that there has ever been such a handsome cinematic display of the C-119 presented in any venue. The airplane used is a late version, either an "F" or a "G" although don't understand the 3-blade propeller used on the "Phoenix".
The Fairchild C-119 first flew in 1947 as a growth version of the C-82A "Packet". Production versions covered the "B", "C", "F", and "G" to the "L". Some of the C's were built by Kaiser-Frazer during the Korean War. The different models, each with different engine/propeller combinations, can be identified most readily by their tail assembly. The addition of long dorsal fins, the elimination of the tailplane sections outboard of the booms, and the addition of ventral fins are features which identify the different models. Some of the C-119Fs and all of the C-119Gs had the ventral fin which is a feature of this Topping model. The C-119 was in production into the mid-1950s. A larger "H" version never went into production and the last version was the "L".
The picture below shows a C-119C as displayed at the Pima Air Museum in 1988. The "C" has the tailplane extending beyond the boom, which is evident. Not so evident in this photo is the lack of dorsal fins (also rudders have been removed). Note that the "C" has 4-bladed props ( a CollectAir photo).
Representative of the last production models of the "Flying Boxcar", this Topping model would be from the 1952 to 1955 era, making it a definite entry into the half-century club.
The Fairchild Aircraft Division ran the advertisement, shown below, in the March 14, 1955 edition of Aviation Week.
This Topping model has a special provenance associated with the Progressive Plating Company of Elyria, Ohio who did the buffing of raw moldings for Topping; this model was given to the plating company as a gift from Bill Topping. The model is in excellent condition; some slight decal roughness is evident along with some very minor scuff marks. The Topping C-119 is not a model that shows up very often and is rare in my opinion. The Topping identification is located on the under surface of the tailplane. Closeups of the nose section are shown below.
The C-119 was flown by the U.S. Air Force, the Navy and Marines. It was sold to many foreign nations including South Vietnam, Belgium, India, Italy, Morocco, Taiwan, and the Ethiopian Air Force. Some became gunships. It has also seen extensive civilian use - a truly historic airplane originally ordered for the Troop Carrier Command. This model has a large wingspan of 16 3/16 inches - about 1:81 scale. The price of this vintage Topping display model is $575.00.
When Boeing developed the B-29 Stratofortress during WW II, it was soon realized that it was the beginning of a new plateau of aircraft technology. The USAAF and Boeing soon realized that an impressive transport aircraft could be developed from the bomber, and the Model 367 (C-97) was flying by the end of the war. The B-29's wings, engines, and tail were mated with a completely new fuselage, whose dimensions at that time looked fantastic. The front looked bluff and unstreamlined, but the maximum speed was calculated to be as high as the bomber's. The plane was tailored to the military's needs, but as the war was winding down, the aircraft manufacturer began to think of ways this new technology could be translated into an airliner derivative.
Pan American was very interested in the plane, but thought that it would be even better equipped with the new Wasp Major engine, then in development for the B-29's successor, the B-50. With the promise of an order from Pan Am, Boeing had refined the Model 377 with the new engines by 1946, with all the latest refinements, including full anti-icing, light alloy structure, and foldable tail. The interior would feature a two-deck arrangement, with luxurious furnishings and a spiral staircase to a downstairs bar/lounge.
In June 1946 Pan American cancelled it's DC-7 order (an earlier model quite different from the eventual DC-7) and ordered 20 377's, now named the Stratocruiser. Further orders came from Northwest, American Overseas, SAS, BOAC, and United. The Northwest and United examples were built slightly differently, the most obvious change being the square passenger windows (note that this Bronzeart model has the early round passenger windows). However, total production of the Stratocruiser only came to 56, with most airlines shying away from the complex Wasp Major engines with their twin General Electric turbos and Hamilton Standard hollow-steel square-tipped props. There were indeed many problems with the "Strat" as it was placed into service, but the competing Connies and DC-6's also had problems that even lead to their temporary grounding. SAS never actually took delivery, their four planes being added to the BOAC order.
The Stratocruiser was typically used in first class transatlantic service (except for the United and Northwest planes), and other international routes. However, they were rapidly replaced by other more economical aircraft in the late 50's and by jets in the early 60's, and were sold to other operators. Many of these were converted to cargo operations, and several were used in the "Guppy" rebuildings. During the early 1960s, Aero Space Lines ballooned the Stratocruiser's fuselage into a whale-like shape to carry spacecraft sections. Nine of the variants were assembled. The first was called the "Pregnant Guppy," followed by five larger "Superguppies" and three smaller "Miniguppies." Much of this work was accomplished in Santa Barbara.
This elegant Bronzeart model is in a large 1:72 scale and would have been made in the late 1940s in New York. It is very heavy. The large, hollow Bronzeart models frequently suffered a breakout of the fuselage mounting point because of their weight. This model was no exception.
As a result, this all-metal display model has been completely restored to better than new condition and appearance. The weak-link, fuselage-to-stand attachment area has been structurally beefed up to provide a secure internal thread for the attaching bolt, guaranteed to be breakout proof. The model has been professionally repainted with a dead-on color match automobile paint. It took two months to pin down the color mix. The stand has not been resprayed and the original "Boeing Stratocruiser" decal is intact. An original, round, gold Bronzeart sticker is on the underside of the base. Some details of the model are shown below.
An outstanding example of a postwar Bronzeart metal model. Well over 50-years old, this exceptionally nice airplane conjures up the heyday of the propliners of the 1940s and 50s. Airline pilots of that era have many tales to tell about problems this mighty airplane had with the combination of the P&W R-4360 engine and Hamilton-Standard hollow steel prop. One story (true?) is that a Northwest Airlines 377 reported that they had "lost an engine" near the Great Lakes Naval Air Station; turns out that an unbalanced condition from a thrown prop had ripped the engine right out of its mount! I don't know if Bronzeart made a C-97, but this Stratocruiser must be one of the largest desk models to come out of that company. You can own this 1:72 scale model for SORRY, SOLD.
Variants of the Lockheed Constellation served as airborne early-warning aircraft with the U.S. Navy. The WV-1 was based on the Model 749 and two of these were built as test vehicles in 1949. The WV-2, or Warning Star, was a modified Super Constellation, Model L-1049, with first deliveries in 1954. 142 WV-2s were delivered; the U.S. Air Force also received the C-121 in many versions from transport to radar equipped. The WV-2 designation was changed to EC-121K in 1962.
This Lockheed factory display model is in 1:144 scale on its original Lockheed stand. The model appears to be resin. This model came from the estate of a gentlemen who was in Navy procurement for 40 years. It is an authentic early model of Lockheed's magnificent Super Connie as converted for the U.S. Navy. The WV-2/EC-121K served many roles and missions in naval service for many years. The EP-3E started replacing the EC-121K in the early 1970s. The last operational mission of a C-121 was with VAQ-33 on June 11, 1982 and the last military Connie was retired from the U.S. Navy on June 25, 1982.
The maker of this model was Lockheed - it has no markings. Connie display models are always particularly desirable and this model is sure to have reached the half-century mark being representative of the 1950s manufacturer's models. This Super Connie WV-2, with its 10-inch wingspan, is available for $SORRY SOLD.
The Air Force EC-121 radar aircraft were used extensively for perimeter defense of the U.S. in the late 1950s and 1960s. The Early warning Line (DEW) above the Arctic Circle and the Pinetree Line at the Canadian border provided radar coverage along with the Texas Tower radar platforms off the Atlantic coast in the same Cold War time frame. The Lockheed Warning Star radar equipped airplane filled the gaps in radar defense protective coverage of the U.S. Most of the EC-121s flew either from McClellan AFB near Sacramento (for the west coast) or Otis AFB at Cape Cod.for the east coast. The EC-121s became "well used" and by 1965 the H models were flying with heavier loads because of additional electronic equipment. Perhaps because of the heavily worked, "tired" aircraft, along with other maintenance factors affecting the aging airplanes, three Air Force EC-121s were lost between July 11, 1965 and April 25, 1967 with the loss of 50 lives. The fleet was temporarily grounded and eventually the Air Force deactivated their fleet by the end of 1969 with some airplanes entering Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve service.
The Grumman AF-2W Guardian submarine hunter and the AF-2S Guardian submarine killer were an evolutionary replacement for the famous TBF Avenger. The AF-2 first flew in 1949 and entered the fleet in October 1950 with the last deliveries in 1953; the AF-2 served for several more years before being replaced by the Grumman S2F (models also offered on this website).
The search and early warning radar-equipped AF-2W carried a four-man crew (two in the fuselage to operate the detection gear) and the AF-2S had a three-man crew. The AF-2S weapons bay could carry torpedoes, depth charges or bombs. The large aircraft had a 60-foot 8-inch wingspan and was powered by a P&W R-2800-48W. The two aircraft worked together to collaborate in anti-submarine warfare. The AF-2 served during the Korean War.
An extraordidnary pair of Topping models is being offered: a Hunter-Killer team of an AF-2W and an AF-2S. These large, 1:40 scale models are over 50-years old and are in excellent condition. Conduct your own anti-submarine hunt. The pair is available for $600.00.
The June 2008 issue of Flight Journal has an informative write-up about the Grumman Guardian development written by the famous Grumman test pilot Corwin "Corky" H. Meyer. Lots of inside stuff about the Guardian problems and a test solutions.
A Topping model of the Grumman AF-2 that can be converted from the -2S to the -2W. The same as the models shown above but this model comes with both inserts; a Hunter-Killer Team in one. Own this fine, large scale Grumman model for $375.00.
An aluminum model of the Short Bros. "C" Class boat "Canopus." This European-made model is in 1:76 scale (18-inch wingspan) and is of modern origin; it is reported that only about a dozen of these models were made with half in the bare aluminum finish and half painted. The Canopus was the first of the Empire series. Origin of the flying boat's name: a city 22 miles from Alexandria. It has its' name from Canopus, the pilot of Menelaus, king of Sparta, who died there. Canopus is also a star in Carinae. Aircraft was delivered in October 1936 and broken up in Hythe, October 1946.
The Empire Class flying boats were famous in their day (first flight in 1936) and were the forerunners of the Sunderland series used extensively in WW2. An extensive website by Brian Cassidy, author of Flying Empires, has complete info on the Empire Class including drawings, photos, videos and the ability to download a PDF file of his entire book. Access this flying boat classic by clicking here.
The following writeup is from Brian Cassidy's website: "Short Bros. built forty-two, nearly forty-three, Empire flying-boats at Rochester, Kent. The forty-third boat was nearly three quarters complete before it was scrapped.
"The Empire boats were designed in 1934 to implement the Empire Air Mail Scheme, carrying unsurcharged letter mail throughout the British Empire and Dominions between the terminals at Southampton, Durban and Sydney - later continuing to Auckland, New Zealand. Some of the payload was available for small numbers of passengers and freight.
"The boats were operated by Imperial Airways Limited (IAL), QANTAS Empire Airways (QEA) and Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL) and later, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). The IAL and QEA Empire flying boats ran the Empire air Mail Scheme & Programme for two years and ten months, ending with the outbreak of World War II in 1939. With Pan American Airways, the IAL 'boats pioneered the Atlantic crossing and one was employed on the Bermuda-New York service. Two 'boats were armed and impressed into the Royal Air Force to become casualties of the Norwegian campaign. Imperial Airways Limited (IAL) changed to British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).
"All the 42 Empire 'boats were built in the main assembly shop - No. 3 Erecting Shop - of the Seaplane Works at Rochester in Kent UK, beside the River Medway. Nothing is left of the Seaplane Works now, their former position only marked by the slipway. The first Empire boat, S. 23 Construction number S. 795 G-ADHL CANOPUS, went down the slipway outside No.3 Shop in July 1936 and the last, an S.33, S.1026 G-AFRA CLEOPATRA, in May 1940."
The February 2008 issue of Aeroplane carried an interesting article on the duties of a purser on the C-Class Flying Boat for Imperial Airways - he was one busy person with a huge array of tasks.
This model of the Canopus is available for sale at a price of $2000.00.
The photo below is an official Pan American Airways photo, circa 1938. Shown is a "C" Class Empire Cavalier and the Bermuda Clipper S-42B at the Port Washington, Long Island seaplane port. The Cavalier "C" Class of Imperial Airways was lost, because of icing, on January 21, 1939. This original 8" x 10" photo is available for $47.50.
Short Empire history with Quantas Empire Airways in 1942 is dramatically covered in the January 2009 issue of Aeroplane Monthly in a six-page article. The Short S-23 Empire Class flying-boat Corio was shot down by Japanese Zero fighters on January 30, 1942 while enroute to Koepang, Timor from Darwin, Australia. The article has a picture of the spacious cockpit of the Canopus. The CAHS/Airways Museum website at www.airwaysmuseum.com has many photos of the Short S-23 - worth a visit.
Some more photos of the Short S.23 "C" Class. These photos are from an interesting flyingboat website, www.seawings.co.uk.
The cutaway shown below is from the archives of Aeroplane Monthly as published in the excellent supplement, "Great British Flying-Boats," Archive No. 4.
A full size image of this cutaway may be viewed by clicking here. The image can then be expanded by clicking on the image. Use the back arrow to return to this page.