Notes from the Past

Catapult Mail

Mail carried by an aircraft catapulted from a ship at sea.  By the late 1920s aircraft had undergone considerable development, but were not yet powerful enough to fly non-stop across the oceans.  Experiments were therefore carried out by mounting aircraft on the decks of passenger liners, and dispatching them by catapult several hundred miles before the ship reached her destination.  In this way it was possible to deliver the mail at the terminal port rather more rapidly.  The first catapult mails were those flown from the French Liner Íle de France, on the North Atlantic run, in 1928 and 1929.  But the best known were those from the German liners Bremen and Europa introduced in 1929-30.  In 1933-4 the German Government experimented with an airmail service across the South Atlantic, using a ship, the Westfalen, as a halfway refuelling base.  Planes were catapulted from this vessel on several occasions.  Most items of catapult mail can be identified by special cachets applied prior to the flight.
- R. J. Sutton 6th edition revised by K. W. Anthony
The Stamp Collector's Encyclopaedia
Published 1966
 Posted January 11, 2000

Index of 507 Notes from the Past

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