The source of these timings is unknown. Are they from genuine radio traffic logs? Other
| 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
"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
| 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
were prefixed CE, for Calcutta Eastbound. There are many
references to the
official IA flight numbers which I have seen in correspondence in
Office Archives, London. Also, I have an I.A. timetable which
flight numbers and all the I.A. "Movement Charts" at
Archive, Heathrow show them. I think the evidence is
The London - Calcutta services commenced in March 1938 and I am
the reason for these additional services was the introduction of the
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
these additional services were added.
The first service, CW1, departed Calcutta on 1 March 1938.
years later Hannibal (?) departed Calcutta operating CW197. (15)
Why do some sources quote 2 March 1940 as the date of the accident? (3)
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 5½ 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.
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
||Karachi - Jiwani
Jiwani - Jiwani after strong Headwinds.CW196
||Jiwani - Karachi.
Prepared for service certificate issued
||Karachi - ?
CW197 Did not depart until after midnight 1/3/40
||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?
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?
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
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)
||emergency RAF landing ground;
seaplane anchorage; fuel and oil depot
||RAF landing ground; fuel and oil
||Imperial Airways seaplane
anchorage; fuel and oil depot
||Imperial Airways landing ground;
resthouse; fuel and oil depot; beacon; wireless station VTJ
||seaplane anchorage; fuel and oil
||Imperial Airways emergency
landing ground; fuel and oil depot; beacon; seaplane moorings and shelter
emergency landing ground with fuel
||emergency landing ground
||RAF depot with wireless station;
nearby RAF aerodrome at Bayt al-Falaj and seaplane anchorage at Bandar
||RAF landing ground
||seaplane anchorage; fuel and oil
||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?
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
"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
"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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