Questions
 

The source of these timings is unknown. Are they from genuine radio traffic logs? Other source?

The times agree, in general, with those published.  However a different 09.21 transmission is recorded as the aircrafts last. ("VTJOS GGX sending"). (12) Inconsistent between the two records are a 09.08 request for sunset time at Bahrain and the 10.10 e.t.a. call to Sharjah . It seems the aircraft was at Juwani at 05.32GMT, but did it arrive at 04.55GMT? This would give it a more consistent ground speed for Karachi to Jask.

Can anyone explain this last message? Sent in Morse code, is there any other interpretation? Some sources quote the British Political officer as quoting the last message as:- 'OS'.(18) Was there more?

How widely known are the times shown on the page above? 

The official report noted two main discrepancies. These were:-
1. The height of the Hannibal was reported at Jiwani as 100ft while both Sharjah and Karachi heard the message and recorded it as 1000 feet.
2. The Karachi w/t operator wrote  the time of the last message as 10:10 This should have been 9:10?. (13
If this last comment is true, why then the record of an 09:21 message to Sharjah? (The line 0921G = 1221L  msg to Sharjah, eta Sharjah 1035  above).
  "..at 1451E, Sharjah alone received an unidentified broken signal "...VTJ OS..." " (27)   The contents of the two sources are plainly at odds!
Could there have been a 2h:30m operating time discrepancy between Karachi and Sharjah? (Present Day time zones are 1 hour different, with an intermediate 30 min time zone that includes Jiwani. However India operates on +5:30 hrs. When did Sharjah move to +4 hrs?)
The Times, reported on 2 March that the last message had come at 10:10 GMT. (34)
The 10:10 message appears to originate solely as reported in the investigation report:- 
"At 1035 Karachi W/T passed information to the 
Karachi Airport Control as follows:-
    *GAAGX LAST HEARD WORKING VTJ AT
    1010 GMT - VTI OR VTJ NOT HEARD
    GGX SINCE EXCEPT FOR A FEW SECONDS
    AT 0921 GMT*
 The text of the message appeared ambiguous. However, 8 minutes later at 1043 a message from Sharjah stated that nothing had been heard from G-AAGX since 0921 when unintelligible signals were received from G-AAGX." (13a)

What was the content of the 10:10 message?

Should doubts be raised by the 08.50 and 08.47 position report discrepancy between the search map and the radio log?(13a) This may indicate two radio traffic logs.

  The official crash report states that time discrepancies should not be interpreted as any more than reasonable under the contemporary operating conditions.  
  The 1937 'Air Route Book, Egypt to India' reveals that Sharjah kept time 3 hours and 50 minutes ahead of GMT. Whether or not this practice was still continued in to 1940 has not been confirmed but might cause some confusion.

There is need for analysis of the timings used in various accounts of this event. Seemingly the times used are based on GMT. Britain had changed to War Time or GMT +1 on  February 25, 1940. British Double Summer Time GMT +2 was used  to make more efficient use of daylight, during the subsequent summers for the duration. Other times are based on a letter code ahead of Greenwich, Zulu, 0. Alpha, +1, Bravo, +2. Placing Karachi in E. Thus the last signal is timed at 1451E (27) (note 1/2 hour discrepancy! This discrepancy may be due to India adopting an intermediate time zone of 5:30. When?

Is CW197 a genuine flight number? 

   'Numbers such as these, have been called movement numbers.  I am not sure if these are the same as flight numbers as we know them today.' (14)

Yes, CW197 is a genuine flight number.  The CW prefix stands for Calcutta Westbound.  In the reverse direction, i.e. from England to Calcutta, flights were prefixed CE, for Calcutta Eastbound.  There are many references to the official IA flight numbers which I have seen in correspondence in Post Office Archives, London.  Also, I have an I.A. timetable which includes flight numbers and all the I.A. "Movement Charts" at British Airways Archive, Heathrow show them.  I think the evidence is conclusive.
   The London - Calcutta services commenced in March 1938 and I am pretty sure the reason for these additional services was the introduction of the second stage of the Empire Air Mail Scheme (which included India).  With the sudden extra loads to be carried, the services to Australia could not cope and thus these additional services were added. 
   The first service, CW1, departed Calcutta on 1 March 1938.  Exactly two years later Hannibal
(?) departed Calcutta operating CW197. (15)

Why do some sources quote 2 March 1940 as the date of the accident? (3)

'As the flight left Jiwani about 5:30 a.m., (GMT) it is possible the flight left Karachi on the 1st of March, and by the time it arrived and left Jiwani, it was the 2nd.  How long did it take for the Hannibal to fly from Karachi to Jiwani?  Probably more than 5 hours'. (14) The call for assistance with the search is recorded as March 1, pm 1940 in the Naval war diary for the period.(31)

Was CW197 issued for the flight from Calcutta or the westbound flight from Karachi?   Calcutta is a notional point, as it is understood that the HP42E's served the Heliopolis - Karachi leg of the Empire Air service.(12) 
Did a service CW197 depart Calcutta? Was a 'service' number assigned from Calcutta and carried forward by successive connecting aircraft? ie Atalanta to HP42 etc.
The passenger list indicates a departure date from Karachi as 1st. March 1940.
The Machines Prepared for Service certificate sd/-  C.W. Smith indicates 28.2.40 for the service on 29th-2-40. (i.e. the service departing Karachi but turned back to Jiwani? Otherwise, was the aircraft in use on the 29th?)
The  'Manifest and general declaration' show the departure point as Jiwani on 1/3/40. Transferred freight from 'AGX's CW196 indicates that 'Hannibal' was at Karachi on the 26th. February 1940. (13) This does not give enough time to transit via Bahrein to Alexandria and back.  February 1940 a leap year was 29 days and 1/3/40 fell on a Friday. (17) A further assessment of the dates and events suggests:-
26/2/40 Monday Karachi - Jiwani
Jiwani - Jiwani after strong Headwinds.CW196
27/2/40 Tuesday Jiwani (12)
28/2/40 Wednesday Jiwani - Karachi.
Prepared for service certificate issued
29/2/40 Thursday Karachi - ?
CW197 Did not depart until after midnight 1/3/40
1/3/40 Friday Karachi - Jiwani - Loss

The air search was not started until March 2. Thus accident records may be confused between event and search.  Hannibal's whereabouts on 27th and 29th?

Search efforts were carried out by R.A.F., Royal Navy and Civil aircraft in the area. Part of a Navy flotilla comprising HMS Hindustan and HMS Lawrence proceeded to the search area in the p.m.. of March 1. Search efforts continued throughout the night and were not stopped until March 6 when normal naval patrols were resumed. On March 2 HMS Hindustan visited Dibba and Khor Fakkan to enquire if the aircraft had been seen. "She had not" (31)
What was the source of the 'Oil Patch' found in the Gulf of Oman on the intended course? Was there associated 'flotsam'?(13a)

"HMS Hindustan searched position of oil patch reported by aircraft." on 3rd March. "Three Blenheim Bombers were sighted assisting in search." (31)  "A nearby oil slick was too large to come from an aircraft, probably having been discharged by a tanker in the area." (12)

Why was 'wreckage on shore' found at Ras-al-Kuh? Was it consistent with Hannibal?

It, "turned out to be that of an Arab dhow". (12)  "Imperial Airways Plane GAAUC indicated position of possible wreckage."  HMS Hindustan landed a search party on the 4th and 5th determining the wreckage to be a dhow. Further search aided by two Blenheim Bombers until dusk found no other indication of the aircraft. (31) Noteworthy in this record is that shore parties from "Hindustan" spent considerable time and effort on March 4 and 5 along with aircraft searching the 'foreshore' at this point. Why?

Navigation error in broad daylight?
Why report an ETA of 25 min to Sharjah if still over the Gulf of Oman? 

The search map included in the accident report shows that land areas were also searched between 2.3.40 and 6.3.40. The Musandam Peninsula area on two occasions.

Was there a compass error outward from Jask assuming VFR navigation prior?

It is believed that the two coasts in question are inter-visible by an observer standing at some altitude. Suggesting that aircrew on the route would be able to aim toward their waypoints under VFR conditions. This leaves the question of the presence of haze, airborne dust or other cause on March 1st 1940. 

If VFR, and intervisible was "Hannibal" flying toward Khasab rather than Dibba?

This possibility is reviewed in the official report and seems to be more likely due to weather and performance factors.

How much fuel/range remained after 4h26m flying? (The ETA at Sharjah)
Was Hannibal on a different course from that reported?
Why report 'turned west' when general track of the flight was westward?
Was Hannibal diverted before continuing across the Gulf of Oman?
Is there any record of weather conditions at Sharjah that day?
       a) Extreme haze/cloud conditions combined with a tail wind, putting the aircraft down north of the Trucial coast? 
       b) A strong head or side wind perhaps?

Hannibal had been turned back to Juwani by strong headwinds two days previously. (12)  The weather recorded on the 1 March is described as "not unusual , with surface winds of 10 to 20 mph, southwest to west". (12) Winds from the Arabian peninsula are likely to raise a considerable dust cloud that may remain for a number of days causing visibility reduction. (See Meteorology below)
Winds were notable enough for the phenomenon to be recorded in the Sharjah Political Agents diary for late February. (36)
There has been the suggestion that the aircraft was recalled to Karachi. Presumably for high priority passengers. (27

Catastrophic failure or internal/external aggression?

 "Structural failure was a possibility. Helena was condemned on account of extensive corrosion." (12)
The question of sabotage may be raised with relation to the purpose of one passenger's journey. Sir A. T.  Pannirselvam's suggested intent to travel to Britain to negotiate a separate and loyal state of Dravidistan in southern India in response to demands for independent Muslim states in the north.(19) The political complexities of such a move should be understood outside the scope of this investigation. It would seem however that to target this passenger would have been more easily achieved while on the ground in India.

Was it deliberately diverted to a remote airstrip for some purpose?

 That Kalba / Fujairah was accessible to the RAF by air raises the possibility of diversion to emergency landing grounds.(18) What known landing grounds were there? Could an attempt be made to head to one of them? It is known that between Bahrain and Karachi there were landing grounds at Sir Bani Yas,  ("There was an emergency airstrip and fuel tank on Sir Bani Yas, established between the world wars to serve the Britain-India route of Imperial Airways", (18)). Sharjah, Jiwani, Gwadar, Pasni . As these would have been  frequently spaced from earlier route proving days what others are known? Is there any historical precedent to modern fields at Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Umm al Qwain. Ras al Khaima? More essentially, for the route taken to Karachi via Dibba was there a landing ground there? The HP42 could take off in under 525yds, and presumably land in 220yds from 50mph, any suitable patch of flat ground presenting it self may have been attempted.
 A landing field at Dibba was rejected due to lack of suitable flat land and the proximity mountains.(21)

Air Facilities in Arabian Peninsula, on Eve of World War II (38)
Location: Extent of Facilities:
Yas Island emergency RAF landing ground; seaplane anchorage; fuel and oil depot
Abu Dhabi RAF landing ground; fuel and oil depot
Dubai Imperial Airways seaplane anchorage; fuel and oil depot
Sharjah Imperial Airways landing ground; resthouse; fuel and oil depot; beacon; wireless station  VTJ
Ras al-Khayma seaplane anchorage; fuel and oil depot
Kalba Imperial Airways emergency landing ground; fuel and oil depot; beacon; seaplane moorings and shelter for passengers
Shinas
emergency landing ground with fuel
Suhar emergency landing ground
Muscat RAF depot with wireless station; nearby RAF aerodrome at Bayt al-Falaj and seaplane anchorage at Bandar Jissa
Ras al-Hadd RAF landing ground
Khawr Jarama seaplane anchorage; fuel and oil depot
Gwadar aerodrome 12 miles inland, used by RAF, Imperial Airways, Air France, and KLM

Did the aircraft come down in the Hajar Mountains to be lost in a deep wadi?
Is the aircraft buried in the sand dunes between Sharjah and the mountains?
Did the crew file an official flight plan? Was the choice of route and altitude entirely at the Captains discretion?
What colour scheme was G-AAGX in - Silver or camouflage?
  The three remaining HP42E's were returned to UK in silver in April 1940 after being grounded during the Court of Inquiry.(12) Three HP42's already impressed received camouflage and serials AS981, 982, and 983. "Horsa" G-AAUC was involved with the search on March 5.(31)

Attitude of tribes to foreign intrusion, such as shown in loss of Sterling Airways Caravelle OY-STL in March 1972?
Are there remnants of Hannibal used in hill tribe constructions?

  This area of investigation was suggested to the Royal Geographic Society Survey of the Musanadam Peninsula during the winter of 1971/72 under the leadership of N.L. Falcon. ."The expedition camped on the peninsula and carried out various geological,  archaeological and other studies, which were subsequently published."
"In a letter addressed to the RGS expedition the leader of the original search party for CW197 asked the expedition to look out for any signs of wreckage on the peninsula.  There is nothing in - subsequent reports to indicate that any wreckage was found."  Interesting that by inference the original findings of the 1940 search were not conclusive.(16)

  "In March 1940 Squadron Leader A.J. Young, then serving in the RAF at Karachi, was in command of the search for the "Hannibal". Despite a wide search of the Gulf of Oman and carrying out himself a low flying search over the mountains, no trace of the aircraft was found. He returned to Trucial Oman in 1946-47 and 1947-48 on exploratory expeditions (not directly relating to the search) but found no trace when his work in establishing a chain of triangulation brought him to the western foothills of the mountains to Buraimi Oasis."(16) Records show that Young was involved with 'N.R.Fallon' in producing plane table maps in the Jebel Faiyah - Jebel Hafit area of northern Trucial Oman. (28)
  "In contacting the 1971 expedition, Young was of the opinion that it was credible that Hannibal may have crashed in the very remote mountains of Musandam without news reaching Sharjah. But he concluded that it seemed most likely that the aircraft had engine failure over the Gulf of Oman south west of Jask, alighted on the sea and sank virtually intact.
  "He asked the 1971 expedition to look out for crash debris, enquire of the Shihuh tribe regarding any crashes in the area, especially if any aircraft parts were found. e.g. interplane struts used in the villages.  There is no evidence that any such details were found." (16) 
  Reports of this expedition indicate that it was conducted primarily at the northern tip of the Musandam, where narrow land isthmuses separate deep fjord like inlets. 

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Copyright R. W. Hobby 2005 - 8 Not for further publication or distribution without the authors permission.

Richard Hobby, 2002 - 8. ( This page is a collation of information from various sources, please address any concerns about source and accreditation to page author )