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Prangster
26th Oct 2022, 03:20
Navigation by Camelsat, 1920's ploughed furrow linking Cairo to Baghdad. Is anyone aware of a official history of what at first appears to be an almost biblical undertaking to link the two cities I understand it was a nav marker for DH9A's and Bristol fighters carrying imperial mails. Thanks in anticipation

OUAQUKGF Ops
26th Oct 2022, 06:36
An interesting article here:https://www.smithsonianmag.com/air-space-magazine/air-mail-to-baghdad-180968982/

WHBM
26th Oct 2022, 09:39
Whole chapter in Alex Frater's classic book "Beyond the Blue Horizon", about ancient and modern flights along the UK-Australia route, is titled "Flying the Furrow".

BigBoreFour
26th Oct 2022, 21:12
Whoa. Great article.

And here is the link to the documentary. 15 min film with some incredible footage.
Found at IWM . Org . Uk THE CAIRO BAGHDAD SERVICE AIRMAIL [Main Title]Search catalogue number : IWM 878


Some interesting things I noted.

1. 3:37min - Thatís a large biplane. Vickers Vernon? Never heard of them. Shameful I know. Iím guessing single pilot? Or was there an engineer / co-pilot / passenger that would help start the engines on landing stops in the middle of nowhere?

2. Same time frameÖdogs havenít changed. Little nuts chasing each other :p

3. 10:57 - as it taxiís past (with the airfield dogs chasing it) it maybe looks like there IS two pilots? Canít quite make out if there is or not.

4. 12:28 - nice shot approaching underneath the big bird. Looks like a swastika next to the RAF roundel. What was the purpose of that in the 1920ís on an RAF aircraft?


5. 13:00 - Iím assuming those are all the tail skid marks on the airfield?

6. 13:07 - control tower? Seems to be operating on around 0.004 movements per hour. Mostly that coming from the car (13:22). Interesting before cutting away he grabs a giant megaphone. Signalling arriving aircraft I assume?



Wow, amazing stuff.

India Four Two
27th Oct 2022, 05:28
An excellent article here:

Flying the Furrow: Saudi Aramco World (https://archive.aramcoworld.com/issue/200102/flying.the.furrow.htm)

WHBM
27th Oct 2022, 06:48
IWM film is here : THE CAIRO BAGHDAD SERVICE AIRMAIL [Main Title] | Imperial War Museums (iwm.org.uk) (https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060023307)

I think the aircraft is a Vickers Vimy Commercial derivative, which had that bulbous nose unlike the original WW1 bomber. Various versions of this seem to have gone by different names (Vanguard, Victoria, Vernon etc). The latter described here :

Vickers Vernon - Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vickers_Vernon)

I'm surprised it ran from Cairo. The mails brought from the UK by sea would have arrived at Alexandria, which became a key transfer point in the 1920s-30s for Imperial Airways, at the junction of their African and Asian routes, both for flying boats and landplanes. The mails would have had to be transferred on the Alex-Cairo railway, adding a day to the supposedly rush transit.

I wouldn't like to be right behind those huge, fixed-pitch props when starting the engines. Yet one of them even manages to keep his hat on !

treadigraph
27th Oct 2022, 07:40
Whole chapter in Alex Frater's classic book "Beyond the Blue Horizon", about ancient and modern flights along the UK-Australia route, is titled "Flying the Furrow".
Wonderful book, so too is his documentary "The Last African Flying Boat"...

SWBKCB
27th Oct 2022, 07:52
1. 3:37min - That’s a large biplane. Vickers Vernon? Never heard of them. Shameful I know. I’m guessing single pilot? Or was there an engineer / co-pilot / passenger that would help start the engines on landing stops in the middle of nowhere?

The Smithsonian article says crew of four

The Vernons were flown by a crew of four: two pilots, a mechanic, and a wireless operator.

longer ron
27th Oct 2022, 07:59
Whoa. Great article.

And here is the link to the documentary. 15 min film with some incredible footage.
Found at IWM . Org . UkTHE CAIRO BAGHDAD SERVICE AIRMAIL [Main Title]Some interesting things I noted.

4. 12:28 - nice shot approaching underneath the big bird. Looks like a swastika next to the RAF roundel. What was the purpose of that in the 1920ís on an RAF aircraft?

Wow, amazing stuff.

From the 'blurb' with the IWM film....
Vickers Vernon aircraft of 45 Squadron RAF are wheeled out and their controls are checked. (Both have individual identifying symbols painted on the underside of the lower wing inboard of the roundel. In one case the 'Solomon's Seal' or Star of David, in the other the left-handed swastika.



The swastika is an ancient symbol - used for various meanings by different 'reeligions' - LH Swastika in this case meaning 'good luck' or 'well being' ??

BigBoreFour
28th Oct 2022, 15:30
The Smithsonian article says crew of four
hmm Interesting. I did read somewhere else of it having a crew of three. So 2 pilots and one engineer Iím assuming. Nearly 8000lbs empty. Huge.

India Four Two
28th Oct 2022, 17:04
Swastikas are commonly seen as decorations on temples in SE Asia.

BigBoreFour
28th Oct 2022, 18:04
Yes that was what I was thinking. I knew the original meaning. Was that a standard RAF thing for that time or just for the section involved in this route?
The logistics, cost, effort involved in this seems huge for that time period. You’d want some good luck I’d think!

Prangster
29th Oct 2022, 08:18
[QUOTE=India Four Two;11321736]Swastikas are commonly seen as decorations on temples in SE Asia.[/

Wonderful response folks, many thanks for all your inputs. I'll work it up into a lecture for my u3a history group as they are always on the lookout for the quirky and unusual subjects. Seems more like Crossley tender and armoured cars than camelsat, interesting to see how often it had to be reinstated due to dust storms etc

pulse1
29th Oct 2022, 08:43
interesting to see how often it had to be reinstated due to dust storms etc

This reminds me of a story I was told many years ago by an RAF Flt Sgt aircrew signaler who had spent quite a long time in the Middle East. He became intrigued as to how the drivers of the buses which traveled from Damascus to Baghdad found their way. He said that they always traveled at night and each bus driver would go a different way across the desert.. Eventually he asked a driver if he could travel in the cab with him so that he could see for himself how they navigated. There was nothing to indicate any navigating process so he asked the driver how he did it. "I just know the way" he said.

This story fascinated me and I now see that modern science has gone on to confirm long held beliefs that humans do have a natural sense of direction. Unfortunately it was of no help to me during 600 hours of flying and many years of small boat sailing.

SWBKCB
29th Oct 2022, 09:07
This story fascinated me and I now see that modern science has gone on to confirm long held beliefs that humans do have a natural sense of direction.

As dad's have been demonstrating to their families for many years...

megan
29th Oct 2022, 17:03
3,200 year old piece of jewelry from north Iran.

https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/pprune.org-vbulletin/344x312/swastika_iran_cfe20f73371681dda47d8f01d4d7f4a216bdc10d.jpg

Bergerie1
29th Oct 2022, 17:11
SWBKCB,

I am sure primative peoples had a far better sense of direction (and position) in the past but, in our modern world this has been lost. However, how much of that is innate rather than observation from living close to the natural world and thus being very sensitive to the natural and stellar signs all around them is open to debate. Certainly, ancient travellers in the desert would have known the stars and also the signs on the ground, as did the Polynesian navigators with their understanding of the stars and the wave patterns in the sea.

Civilisation has submerged (obliterated?) so many of these ancient sensitivities.

Bill Macgillivray
29th Oct 2022, 19:11
I seem to remember the remains(?) of a ploughed furrow in the desert a bit "southish" from El-Adem to what then was known as "Nasser's Corner", before turning a bit port to get to Khartoum. Early '60's so maybe the memory ccts. are no longer reliable! Bill

WHBM
29th Oct 2022, 19:36
This story fascinated me and I now see that modern science has gone on to confirm long held beliefs that humans do have a natural sense of direction. Unfortunately it was of no help to me during 600 hours of flying and many years of small boat sailing.
I don't wish to blow my own trumpet, but I found during PPL training that I was better and more innate in which way to go and where we were over the ground than my instructor. Just to offset, he was of course way better at circuits, flaring, holding altitude, and a whole lot more. Different things for different people. I don't use the Satnav in my car much for directions.