Aviation Historian 5
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P.Vabre - Any port in a storm ... From Qantas Empire Airways
Short S.23 VH-ABD Corio, in the plain markings it wore when first delivered to Qantas Empire Airways in September 1938. After the outbreak of war it would later wear grey/green camouflage and have its British registration, G-AEUH, applied to the fuselage above distinctive red, white and blue recognition marking stripes.
A glorious photograph of Short S.23 Empire Flying Boat G-ADUT Centaurus arriving at Wellington Harbour, New Zealand, on New Year’s Eve, 1937.
Short S.23 G-AEUA Calypso (later the RAAF’s A18-10), and Corio at 108 Berth at Southampton Docks in 1938. Both aircraft have been docked in Braby Pontoons, which allowed the passengers to walk to their aircraft and made freight-loading a much easier process than back in Australia, where the facilities were somewhat cruder.
Short S.23 Empire VH-ABD, named Corio, in service with Qantas Empire Airways at Karumba, Queensland, circa 1938. The brainchild of Arthur Gouge, the Empire represented a quantum leap in flying-boat design, offering previously unheard-of levels of comfort for passengers and crew alike.
Corio on the step while in service with QEA before the war. In January 1942 the aircraft would be attacked by Japanese Navy Mitsubishi Zeroes during a flight from Darwin to Koepang on Timor.
Corio on final approach along the Norman River to alight at Karumba in Queensland, before the war. August 1938 saw the inauguration of Stage 3 of the Empire Air Mail Scheme with the departure of service SW1 (‘‘Sydney Westbound”), which brought Australia into the Scheme.
The first of the Qantas Empire flying-boats to be used over the Singapore-Brisbane section of the Empire Air Mail Scheme, VH-ABA Carpentaria, arrives at Southampton from the Short factory at Rochester on December 5, 1937. Within days the aircraft had departed Southampton for Karachi, and on to Australia to enter service.
The August 1938 edition of the Qantas Empire Airways monthly in-house gazette, the cover photograph emphasising the comfortable and spacious passenger accommodation offered by the Empire flying-boats. Competitor KLM/KNILM’s land-based Douglas and Lockheed airliners seemed cramped in comparison.
Qantas Empire Airways promoted tourism to the many glamorous and remote destinations on its route. This advertisement from 1939 uses an Empire flying-boat in the context of local colour to encourage Australians to sample the exotic delights of Java.