I had found the black and white postcard with the picture of a seaplane among my Father’s collection of postcards from Germany, where he was studying before World War II broke out between the years of 1937 and 1939. There was not a single line or date written on the unused postcard. The only thing printed in the back was “CARTOLINA POSTALE-CARTE POSTALE “ and ”Gevaert”. I did not know why my father had purchased this postcard, the huge seaplane must have been an important airplane of the time. There was a flag waving on board of the plane, but from the black and white picture I could not tell which country it belonged to. When I looked carefully I noticed that few people were boarding the airplane from a small boat. For some reason I thought the plane had landed on a lake in Switzerland, but that was just a guess. After examining the postcard with a magnifier, but not coming to a conclusion, I decided to write to a navigation expert whose name I had found on the internet. Steve de Roeck was an expert who had a photo gallery on the internet with all kinds of historic military airplanes photos.
Dear Mr. Steve de Roeck, Jan 4, 2008, 1:24 AM
Can you please tell me what model and year the sea plane in the attached photo is? My Father Hamza Özmeral, who passed away last year at the age of 90 was a Turkish navy cadet studying in Germany between 1937 and 1939. The plane could be from that era.
After the war broke out, they were returned to Turkey and in 1942 sent to the USA to M.I.T. for a Masters degree. Because of the German submarines in the Atlantic they took the train and bus to Adana Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Egypt,.There they boarded on some "low flying transport planes (400-500 meters over the sea)" to Khartoum, Kongo, Ivory Coast, Natal(Brazil), Trinidad , and Miami. The journey from Istanbul to Boston took 3 months.
I am posting his old postcards to the Internet and need your expertise . The picture looks like the cover of the book " Flying Boats and Seaplanes " by Stephane Nicoloe.
Wishing you a prosperous new year
Cem Ozmeral Fri, Jan4,2008, 1:42 AM
Dear Cem Ozmeral
Thank you very much for sending your picture. The aeroplane is a Dornier Do X flying boat. Only three were ever built, one used byGermany and two by Italy. It appears that this particular aeroplane may bear Italian markings. The German aircraft only flew the Atlantic once on a round trip and the aeroplane was not capable of climbing above 600 m when loaded for the crossing.
I would be very interested in hearing more about your story, please. If you have any more information or pictures, I can put up a reference on the Internet and search for a more complete story for you, if you wish.
Happy New Year.
Steve de Roeck.
Mr. de Roeck shed some light to my unanswered questions. The flag as he guessed belonged to pre-war Italy with the green- white-red tricolor pales with the royal crown and the cross on the white pale. The airplane was most probably the x2, named Umberto Maddelena , one of the two planes ordered from Italy. “Gaveart”, the word printed on the postcard, which I initially paid little attention pointed out that the postcard was published by the Belgian company, manufacturer of photographic paper.
To learn more about the Dornier X Flying boats of Germany and Italy I had to research on the internet and found the following information about the so-called flying boat.
The Dornier Do X, or as the Germans call it “Der Flugschiff '' was the largest and heaviest flying boat of its time. It was produced by the Dornier Company of Germany in 1929. Although initially the public showed great interest in the airplane, because of few non-fatal crashes, it was commercially not successful and only three of them were produced. The first one built and operated by Dornier was called Dornier Do X. The other two were ordered by Italy: The Do X2, named Umberto Maddelena registered as I-REDI and Do X3 ith thw name Alessandro Guidoni registered as I-ABBN.
Dornier DO X was launched for a test flight for the first time with a crew of 14 people onboard on July 12, 1929. To satisfy skeptics about ıts commercial feasibility, on its 70th test flight the plane had 169 people on board, mostly production workers and families, journalists and 10 aircrew members. The flight set a record for the number of people on a single flight which was not broken for the next 20 years.
Hoping to utilize the United States commercial market the Do X started a transatlantic test flight from Friedrichshafen Germany on November 30, 1930 to New York. The itinerary in Europe included stops in Holland, England, France, Spain and Portugal. In Portugal a tarpaulin made contact wıth an exhaust pipe and most of the left wing was burned out. After 6 weeks of delay the plane was repaired and took off to West Africa. After several mishaps and delays the Do X landed at Cape Verde on June 5, 1931. From there it took off flying over the Atlantic and landed in Natal Brazil.
Finally 10 months after departing from Friedrichshafen on August 27,1931 the Do X reached New York where it sayed for the next nine months making several trips with sightseers to the Glenn Curtis Airport or as we know it today : The La Guardia. Unfortunately the marketing plans for the Dornier did not realize partly because of the great depression and it departed New York on May 21, 1932 for the flight back home via Newfoundland and the Azores. 3 Days later the Do X landed in Berlin and was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd of 200 000 people.
Soon after arriving in Berlin in 1932 the DoX was turned to LuftHansa, the flag carrier airline of Germany. LuftHansa planned commercial flights of the Do X to Vienna, Budapest and Istanbul in 1933. But because of an overly steep landing accident by the reservoir lake near Passau the plane's tail section broke and the journey came to an end. From there Do X was flown back to Lake Constance and finally to Berlin where it was put on display at the Hauptbahnhof Aviation Museum. On November 24, 1943, during an air raid by the British Royal Air Force the Do X exhibit was completely destroyed. Today pieces of its tail section are displayed at the Dornier Museum in Friedrichshafen.
In an accident similar to Do X1, the Italian Do X 2 was severely damaged one month later and taken off service at Marina di Pisa and broken up for scrap in 1937.
Basically this was the story of the airplane on the old postcard, the Dornier Do X , and I am happy