Large crowd waiting to greet G-ABTL 'Astraea' arriving in the Far East , c 1932.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The huge four-engined high-wing 17-seat Armstrong Whitworth aircraft G-ABTL 'Astraea', later called the AW15 Atalanta, was built in 1931 to the order of Imperial Airways. Eight of these aircraft served the Nairobi-Cape Town and Karachi-Singapore routes. Its high cruising speed and ability to operate into high altitude airports in tropical weather were its main attributes and it was powered by four Serval radial engines. Five survivors of the original fleet were used to evacuate civilians during the Iraqi rebellion and, in March 1941, were transferred to the Indian Air Force as DG450 to serve with No 1 (Madras) and No 3 (Calcutta) Flights, IAF, until August 1942 when they were retired.