Around the world in 175 days part 23: India! Allahabad and Ambala

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July 1, 1924:  Much work had to be done to overhaul there aircraft for the next part of the journey.  After discussion with local officials it was decided that they could move there aircraft to a park in the center of Calcutta called the Maiden.  There under the shade of the trees they would do the needed work including swapping the floats for wheels, installing larger radiators, repainting the fabric, scraping off grease and on and on.  Even though the engines needed replacing they decided to send them on to Karachi instead so they could get through the monsoon regions as soon as possible.  While they were in Calcutta they stayed in the Great Eastern Hotel, Smith as flight leader was assigned luxurious suite of rooms so large and posh he asked Arnold to join him there so he did not feel so unaffordable. On the night of June 29, after yet another dinner hosted in there honor, Smith fell into a hole in the walkway and fell heavily on the ground, he was in intense pain but refused to admit it until the next morning when a British doctor examined him and found he had a broken rib.   They taped him up and although still in obvious pain he was determined that they would leave on schedule July 1.  The flight to Allahabad was relatively pleasant, the planes handled much easier without the large floats and the weather was not as bad as their previous few flights.  They followed the Hooghly river, crossed the plains of Bengal and eventually reached the large RAF flying field outside of Allahabad after six and a half hours of flying.

August 26, 2017: For the next leg of the flight I will be using the Bristol Beaufighter. The Beau first flew in 1939, intended as a heavy fighter it proved its worth in many roles.  Almost 6000 were built before production ended in 1946.    The version I am using today was made by Dave Garwood and the CBFS team and is one of my favorites.  My flight stated in excellent weather, few clouds at 12000 feet, light winds and a temperature of 28C.  Heading west toward Allahabad at 3000 feet,  eventually the clouds built and visibility dropped to about 4 miles. We descended to 1500 feet to stay under them and followed a compass heading until we found the Sone River, there was a ridge of hills on the far side of that so we followed the river until the ridge ended and at about the same place the clouds lifted and we were able to climb again to a safe altitude and continue to Allahabad Airport.  Alas a safe landing was not in order because P3D registered a crash into some invisible object as we crossed the runway threshold, but FSA still recorded it as a flight to the right destination so that’s good enough for me, I did go back and capture a shot of the AC on the ground to finish the sequence.  The 397 nm flight took 1.7 hours of flying.  

Here are some images from the flight.

Ready for Takeoff.

Heading out of the plains.

Glamour shots.

Weather closing in.

Following the river Sone.

Weather cleared.

On final.


July 2, 1924:  At 7:30 that morning, the flyers were off for the 480 mile flight to the city of Ambala, where the Royal Air Force had its main base on the Indian Frontier.  Along the way they passed near Agra, home of the Taj Mahal,  and the city of Delhi, crossroads of the ancients.  During the flight New Orleans engine developed a leak in one of the cylinder jackets.  Nelson asked the British for help finding a new one.  The RAF quickly volunteered to get them a new one airlifted from from there supply depot in Lahore, where they had a stock pile of 2000 liberty engines with parts.  The plane carrying it unfortunately crashed but the pilot was unhurt.  He rented a bullock cart to take him to the closest town where he could then get a train to take him the rest of the way.  By 3am he had arrived so Nelson and Harding could install it the next morning.

August 30, 2017:  For the next flight we will be using the Curtiss C-46 Commando. Introduced in 1941, the C-46 started as the Curtiss CW-20, intended to compete with the new Douglas DC-4 and Boeing Stratoliner, it had a pressurized hull and was powered by two 2000 hp R-2800 engines. Compared to the DC-3 it could fly higher and carry a heavier payload but was more complex to maintain and cost 50% more to operate.  3181 were built before production ended in 1945.  After the war it did not do well in its intended role as a passenger aircraft but saw success in cargo operations, used by the USAF till 1968 and some are still in service with civilian operators.  The model I am using today was recently released by Aeroplane Heaven and is quite nice.

Weather for the flight was good, 8 knot winds with few clouds at 3000 feet and a temperature of 28.5C/83F.  Flying at 3000 feet I was not sure what river or landmarks the original they followed so we first set a course for the city of Agra.   We few around till we spotted and few over the Taj Mahal then headed for our final destination of Ambala.  The flight was uneventful and we landed after flying 395 nm in 2.2 hours.  Here are a few pics from the flight.

Ready for takeoff.
Glamour Shots!


Flying over India.

Site seeing.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Our destination.


Thanks for reading, ATB.

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Great to see the flyers back in the air...the Liberty engine requires a mobile machine shop!


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3 hours ago, HLJames said:

Great to see the flyers back in the air...the Liberty engine requires a mobile machine shop!


I agree, I am always impressed they were able they were able to do this on such flakey engines, ingenuity of the flyers to keep them going is amazing.

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18 hours ago, Carlton1971 said:

Wonderful account of aviation history!

+1 and great shots to accompany the narration

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It is enjoyed very much, Joe. It is extremely interesting to read the story, to see the changing destinations and planes. And I admire your discipline.


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