Confidential air route book

[Royal Air Force]. Air Route Book. Cairo to Karachi via North Arabia and Persian Gulf (Cairo to Karachi via Habbaniya).

[Cairo, Navigation Branch H.Q. 216 Group], The Printing and Stationery Services, MEF, 1943.

Small folio (208 x 284 mm). (2), 115, (1) pp. With 2 folding charts, 1 full-page sketch map, 84 small sketch maps and 48 b/w half-tone photo illustrations. Original black cloth printed with purple type.


First edition. A confidential air route book, compiled for the use of pilots flying from Cairo to Karachi during WWII, covering the main air route of the time that passed through the Arabian Gulf at staging posts in Palestine, Iraq, Pakistan, Bahrain, Sharjah, and India.

The handbook covers all aspects for flying within the Middle East including distress signal code tables, tips for forced landings, colour-printed route maps, radio beacon maps, emergency airfield maps, and double-sided airfield leaves dedicated to single airfields along the designated route. Inserted stapled updates and small corrections show the importance of up-to-date information for navigation within the shifting sands of the country where the pilots were operating.

It is presumed that these hardbound versions were either used for office reference or as early print runs. Later, cord-bound copies were created for pilots' use in active service, presumably to minimise costs of production and tailor the information to strictly which flight the pilot was completing.

This edition is stamped number 108, suggesting a limited print-run. A small, continuous nick along the lower edge of pp. 84-88, otherwise leaves all crisp. Occasional updates stapled into the page or handwritten in blue fountain pen, such as in the Sharjah Staging Post. Nicks to the corners and bottom of the spine, some stains and wear, but in very good condition for a confidential book. Institutionally rare: LibraryHub locates just a single holding at the IWM.

Cat. no.: 38 Catalogue: Sharjah International Book Fair