My interest in Indian Civil Aviation, Tata Airlines, Air-India, Indian Airmails and Indian Rocket Mail and Indian Zeppelin Mail required that I learn more about the subject, and catch up on the years I missed out as I developed this interest only over the last 5 years. I have listed below some books that have been a delight to read, and invaluable to my study.
They are all relevant to the topic on hand, and also have a direct connection with India. Some are devoted entirely to one of these subjects in an Indian context, while others may have only have a few relevant chapters or listings. There are many more great books on Aviation and Airmails, but not directly relevant to India. I have avoided listing those.
The titles have been organised under specific lists, and then arranged chronologically according to year of publication.
- Books on Indian Civil Aviation
- Books on JRD Tata and Civil Aviation
- Books on Air-India
- Magic Carpet - The Staff Magazine of Air-India
- Books on Indian Airlines
- Books & Journals on Indian Aerophilately
- Books on Indian Rocket Mail
- Books on Zeppelin and Catapult mail (India listings included)
I have consulted these publications and a variety of other on-line resources to gather information used on my web-site.
Books on Indian Civil Aviation:
The History of the Jodhpur Flying Club and The Royal Air Force in Princely India by Peter Vacher. Published in 2008. Jodhpur played a major role in development of air routes in India and was an essential stop on the eastward growth of the London - Karachi route. Maharaja Umaid Singh played a pivotal role in this endeavor.
Books on J. R. D. Tata and Civil Aviation:
Books on Air-India:
The Story of an Airline, 1932 - 1953. Published in 1953, by Air-India International, this book gives an insiders view of the evolution of the group. Starting with Tata Air Lines, growing into Air-India and finally Air-India International. Rare photographs, and history recorded as it was happening. A must read for all Air-India collectors.
I am very grateful to the Tata Central Archives, Pune for providing me a B&W xerox copy of this publication. This book was never sold, and meant for distribution only. Not too many copies are known to survive.
Disaster in the Air: The Crash of the Kashmir Princess, 1955. Colonel A. K. Mitra's first hand account, Published in 2001, about the conspiracy to assassinate the Chinese premier, Chou-en Lai who was to fly the chartered Air-India Lockheed Constellation L-749, the Kashmir Princess from Peking to Jakarta. The author was the Military, Naval and Air Force Attache to the Embassy of India in Indonesia, and a member of the International Commission of Investigation into the Air Crash. While never proven, this was widely suspected to be a CIA plot.
Air-India Art Collection. Curated by Prof. Rajeev Lochan. 2013. Air-India Salutes Indian Masters. A catalogue of art from the Air-India Collection exhibited in the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi in 2013.
On the right, an interesting trophy with the Maharajah adorned in an artist's smock with a paintbrush and palette in hand, and what looks like labels with names of various recipients of this award.
Magic Carpet - the Staff Magazine of Air-India:
Books on Indian Airlines:
The Viscount and You (N.D.). Ok, so it is not really a book; more a promotional booklet from Indian Airlines Corporation when they introduced the Vickers Viscount into their fleet. With amazing graphics, the pride and excitement is evident in the Viscount story. I will certainly upload a pdf of this book very shortly.
You can download the pdf by clicking the link here Indian Airlines Corporation - Viscount.
Books & Journals on Indian Aerophilately:
Indian Air=Ways, Part I by Stephen H. Smith, published in 1926. Perhaps the first book on the subject and since it was written as history was being made, it no doubt captured information that was the source of rich information for future publications. Part of a 3 volume set which he wrote on the subject.
All-Up Air Mail by John C. W. Field, published in 1978. A booklet form reproduction from the Aero Field, about this path breaking scheme which changed the way people from different countries communicated. At once the world shrank, and it also served as a model for the All Up scheme introduced in India for domestic Air Mails in 1949.
Movement of Aircraft on Imperial Airways' African Route 1931 - 1939 researched and compiled by Peter Wingent. Published in 1991. Contains listings of all available information on every flight on the Imperial Airways African Route taken from The Times newspapers archives. Very useful for studying Indian airmails to and from Africa.
La Service Postal Aerien dans les Pays D'Expression Francais by Pierre Saulgrain. Published in 1996, this catalogue in French records flights 1906 -1986 between French territories. This is the only modern listing I have come across for flights to French Territories in India and complements lists published by Muller almost 50 years before this.
Imperial Airways' Empire Flying Boat Services 1936 - 1939 researched and compiled by Peter Wingent. Published in 1997. Largely compiled from the Southern Daily Echo, Southampton. All reported information on the service including the Australia route which naturally passed through India, and peppered with maps and philatelic material.
Movement of Aircraft on Imperial Airways' Eastern Route, Volume 1, 1927 - 1937 researched and compiled by Peter Wingent. Published in 1999. Contains listings of all available information on every flight on the Imperial Airways Eastern Route taken from The Times newspapers archives. A must for studying Indian airmails of that era.
The Royal Air Force Cairo - Baghdad Air Mail Service 1921 - 1929 by William C. Andrews. Published in 2000. The Cairo - Baghdad Air Service was taken over by Imperial Airways in 1927. This book gives the history before this change. The pioneering effort of the RAF and plenty of information on mail carried. of interest to Indian Aerophilatelists because this was the vital air link needed to connect India by air to the west.
Movement of Aircraft on Imperial Airways' Eastern Route, Volume 2, 1937 - 1939 researched and compiled by Peter Wingent. Published in 2005. Contains listings of all available information on every flight on the Imperial Airways Eastern Route taken from The Times newspapers archives. A must for studying Indian airmails of that era.
Bridging the Continents in Wartime by Hans E. Aitink and Egbert Hovernkamp. Published in 2005, and reprinted in 2013, this book has the most detailed information on flights covering all important airmail routes during 1939 - 1945. A must for anyone interested in studying routes and rates, of simply making sense of wartime mail to and from India during this period.
Intercontinental Airmails, Volume Two, Asia and Australasia by Edward B. Proud. Published in 2009, this is Vol II which is the one relevant to Intercontinental Indian Airmail, of a three volume set he wrote with amazing detail about airmails; flights, schedules, postal rates, ship connections etc. From the start of airmails, and all the way through the war. Lots of information on wartime routes and rates as well.
The Ross Smith Stamp & its Postal History by Tom Frommer. Published in 2011, this book has everything you want to about the stamp and mail on that flight. The author has tracked down and listed and illustrated to the extent possible every known mail article carried, including the very rarely seen mail to and from India.
Books on Indian Rocket Mail:
A Specialised Price Catalogue of Indian Rocket Mails Stamps and Vignettes, compiled by Jal Cooper. Published in 1960. This is the book that re-kindled interest in collecting Indian Rocket mail, and pretty much lists all of Stephen Smiths rocket mail experiments in India and in Sikkim. Detailed listings with quantities and prices.