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 John Schmidt (dc8schmidt@twc.com) | Home > 
A Postcard History of Air India 8/2019
Air transportation in India began much the same as in the United States. Contracts were awarded to carry mail, which rather quickly followed with the transportation of adventurous passengers. In 1932, Mr. J. R. D. Tata began serving an air mail route from Karachi to Bombay and Madras. In the process of carrying 10.7 tons of mail 155 passengers were also transported.
In 1938 the airline became Tata Air Services operating a 6 seat  Miles Merlin. By 1948 the newly independent government acquired a 49%  
interest in the airline, and it became Air India. The year 1953 saw the creation of Indian Airways to handle domestic services, leaving Air India to be the International entity, similar to England's designation of BEA and BOAC. It was 2011 before the airlines were unified into the great airline known as Air India. Following are postcards illustrating the aircraft from 1948 to the present.
Album by John Schmidt. 1 - 87 of 87 Total. 2512 Visits.
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Tata Miles Merlin #1 KCF
The first passenger aircraft operated by Air India predecessor, Tata Airlines was the nearly unique Miles Merlin, delivered in 1935. A total of 4 of the little 5 seat aircraft were produced, 2 of which went to Tata.
Card is from the Air India Historical series, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu.

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Tata DC-3 KCF
By the time Air India was launched, Tata was flying DC-3s. Shown on this Air India historical issue, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu, is a replica of VT-ARI, originally delivered to American Airlines in 1941. it served in the RAF during the war, and afterward was sold to Tata.

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Air India Viking #2w

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Air India Constellation #1
Upon the Creation of Air India, three new Lockheed 749 Constellations were ordered to serve routes to the UK. Shown on this excellent Air India issue is VT CQS, the "Mughal Princess"

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Air India Constellation #5GS
The first flight to London was in June 1948, operating from Bombay with stops at Cairo and Geneva. This vintage card by courtesy of Greg Smith shows VT CQS at London.
When the 749A model Constellation was introduced, Air India sold their new 749s to Qantas, and ordered 4 A models

Enlarge photo 6
Air India Constellation #4
The new 749A models began arriving in November of 1949. This excellent Jaeger issue shows VT-DAR, The Maratha Princess in flight.

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Air India Constellation #6
The 749A's operated until January 1958, when they were removed from service and sold to Aeronaves de Mexico. The card is also a Jaeger Issue

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Air India Constellation #2
Air India only issued this card of the 749A, flying over Bangkok. Shortly thereafter the Super Constellations were being delivered.

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Air India L-1049 Constellation #2
The year 1954 saw the introduction of the L1049C Super Constellation which became a symbol of the airline for much of a decade. This early Air India issue shows VT DGL, the first received.

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Air India L-1049 Constellation #1
Air India's Super Constellations were a symbol of elegant air travel. This splendid oversized Air India issue also shows the first 1049, the Rani of Jhansi.
The airline operated the C, E and G models. Ultimately 10 L1049s served Air India, all of which went to the Indan Air Force.

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Air India L-1049G #1w
An Air India L-1049G is shown on this Dusseldorf Airport issued card. The radar equipped Super G's were the last operating Constellations at Air India.

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Air India 707-420 #7bd
The first Air India 707, is shown on this Spanjersberg issue shared by Bernd Dienel. The aircraft is shown in a sort of hybrid color scheme, but apparently was repainted before delivery.

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Air India 707-420 #2
An excellent Air India issue showing VT-DJI inflight wearing Air India's new colors. The first 707 operated from February 1960 until damaged beyond repair at Bombay in January 1971.

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Air India 707-420 #1
A 2nd Air India issue of their Rolls Royce powered 707-437. The airline operated a total of 6 437s.

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Air India 707-420 #5
By the time Air India retired the 437s, they were of no value. Three had been written off and the others were broken up. The above is an excellent over- length vintage Japanese publisher card.

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Air India 707-420 #6
Another vintage, logoed Japanese publisher card, often described as an airline issue.

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Air India 707-420 #8 KCF
Jaeger of Geneva issued this nice view of VT-DJI in 1961, which was kindly shared by Kuo-Ching Fu.

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Air India 707 Interior KCF 2
Air India had established a reputation for attentive service in the Constellation years. The tradition continued in the jet age as well. Shown on this vintage Japanese publisher card is a flight attendant in a 707 cabin. Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

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Air India 707-420 #4
One final view of the 437 on a rather common editions PI Issue.

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Air India 707-320B #1
The first 707-337B arrived at Air India on May 25th 1964. It served 24 years before sale to Air Atlanta Iceland.
The last of 5 fan jets arrived in August of 1968.
The above is a rather hard to find Air India Issue.

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Air India 707-320B #2 KCF
This spectacular postcard view of the 320B is on a counterfeit airline issue shared by Kuo-Ching Fu. It's much too nice an image to omit!

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Air India 747-237B #1
In April of 1971 Air India joined the airlines operating the 747  as VT-EBD was delivered. I believe that this was the first of a number of Air India issues of the aircraft.

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Air India 747-237B #2
This is a nearly identical Air India issue of VT-EBD. Sadly, after nearly 7 years operation this aircraft was lost in a crash on take off from Bombay.

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Air India 747-237B #3
A little better Air India postcard view of their 1st 747. The early Air India 747-200s retained the original upper deck configuration, rather than the 10 window option more common on the 200 models.

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Air India 747-237B #4
A later Air India issue, also believed to be of the first aircraft.

Enlarge photo 26
Air India 747-237B #5TH
This is an excellent Movifoto issue, with logo, of Air India's VT-EBO, kindly shared by Terry Hale. EBO was delivered in June of 1972, and after 18 years of service was destroyed in a landing accident.

Enlarge photo 27
Air India 747-237B #6
This is the first Air India issue showing the 10 window upper deck. Possibly an original aircraft image modified?

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Air India 747-237B #7
A somewhat later Air India issue showing the 237B in its final configuration.

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Air India 747-200 #5 KCF
One more outstanding but unidentified (Blank Back) card of VT-EBD, shared by Kuo Ching Fu. Possible AI?

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Air India 747-237B #8
In October of 1989 Air India unveiled a bold and really short lived new Identity. It is featured on this card, as well as one showing the same background with the aircraft climbing. Two years of grumbling and resentment towards the new livery resulted in its abandonment in 1991.

Enlarge photo 31
Air India Concorde #1 KCF
Like most major Airlines, Air India took options on the Concorde. The options were cancelled in February 1975. This representation of the Concorde in Air India colors is from a numbered set, and is shared by Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 32
Air India A-300 #1
In July 1982, the first of 3 Airbus A-300B4s joined the fleet. Shown is VT-EHN, still wearing its delivery registration. It served Air India for 20 years, and was sold to Ariana Afghan in 2002

Enlarge photo 33
Air India A-300 #2
This is a little later Air India issue of VT-EHN, still carrying the Airbus delivery registration F-WZMV

Enlarge photo 34
Air India A-310 #1
In April, 1986, Air India introduced the A-310 to its fleet. VT-EJJ, shown on this excellent Air India issue was the fourth 310 delivered.

Enlarge photo 35
Air India A-310 #2
This is another nice Air India issue of VT-EJJ. It was WFU after more than 20 years of service.

Enlarge photo 36
Air India A-310-304 #3
This is an excellent Air India issue of their first A-310, VT-EJG, after being painted in the new livery.
Ultimately Air India added a number of used A-310s, building the feet up to 24.

Enlarge photo 37
Air India A-310-304 #5
This beautiful Air India issue shows their 7th of 8 A-310s, delivered in the new Air India livery. Delivered in August of 1990 it operated for 22 years, and was sold for parts.

Enlarge photo 38
Air India 747-300 #1KCF
In 1988, Air India added to their 747 fleet by acquiring 2 747-337 Combis. VT EPW & EPX operated for 20 years, but Air India did not issue a card of them until this nice historical issue, kindly shared by Kuo-Ching Fu. Like most other Air India aircraft, the 300s found no new owners , and were WFU and broken up.

Enlarge photo 39
Air India 747-400 #10 KCF
My favorite postcard view of Air India's 437 model is this extraordinary card published by Oriental City Publishing. VT-ESM, shown above was the first 747-400 delivered. Ultimately 14 400 series 747s were operated, 8 of which were used aircraft.
Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 40
Air India 747-400 #1
The majestic 747-437 became the emblem of Air India in August of 1993. At last non stops from New York to Delhi were possible, and Air India's wings reached most of the World. Card is an excellent Air India Issue.

Enlarge photo 41
Air India 747-400 #2
An unusual Air India issue of the 747-400 with the aircraft raised on the face of the card. This card is one of 2 simultaneous issues of the 400 around early 1994.

Enlarge photo 42
Air India 747-400 #9 KCF
A very nice card shared by Kuo Ching Fu, showing the same view without the raised aircraft.

Enlarge photo 43
Air India 747-400 #4
A second Air India 747-400 card issued at the same time as the previous card.

Enlarge photo 44
Air India 747-400 #5w
Amazingly, the 747-400 is still active with Air India after 26 years of service. This outstanding Air India issue of their 1st 400 (VT-ESM) remains on my want list.

Enlarge photo 45
Air India 747-400 #8 KCF
A little harder to find is this newer Air India issue of their 747-400 in flight. This most current issue kindly provided by Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 46
Air India 747-400 #6KCF
The last Air India issue of VT-ESM, was this excellent historical card, also shared by Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 47
Air India Fleet
After the 747-400 had been added to the fleet, Air India issued this card celebrating their now "world class" set of airliners.

Enlarge photo 48
Air India Tristar 500
Air India had strongly considered acquiring the Tristar 500 earlier, but opted for more 747s. Later, in 1995, 2 ex Royal Jordanian Tristars were leased for a year to meet the need for additional capacity. The Tristar looked great in Air India colors.

Enlarge photo 49
Air India 777-200LR #1 KCF
The year 2007 brought the first of 8 777-237 LRs to Air India. The long range jetliner opened the door to new routes such as Delhi to San Francisco non stop. This Air India issue, shared by Kuo-Ching Fu,  shows VT-ALA, which was the prototype aircraft, delivered to Air India in July.
In 2014, the first 5 were sold to Etihad in anticipation of new 787 deliveries. Three remain in service.

Enlarge photo 50
Air India A-330 #1w
2007 also brought two A-330-223s to Air India. Originally built for Novair in 2000, they were returned to Airbus and leased to Air India. They operated through 2014, and are now flying for Onur Air.

Enlarge photo 51
Air India 777-300 ER #1
On October 10, 2007 Air India Received the first of their fleet of 18 777-337ER aircraft. The 777 fleet continues to be the primary international aircraft, even after arrival of the 787s.

Enlarge photo 52
Air India 787 #1
Air India has been a prolific issuer of cards featuring their newest airliner, the 787-8, in various settings and locations. This issue showing London was my first 787 card.

Enlarge photo 53
Air India 787-8 #3 KCF
The first Air India 787, VT ANI, shown on this excellent oversized card as well as all the others was delivered in October of 2012. Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 54
Air India 787-8 #5 KCF
Air India has taken delivery of 27 of the 787-8 aircraft. This is another nice oversized Air India issue shared by Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 55
Air India 787-8 #2 KCF
The last of Air Indias's 787s was delivered in 2018. This interesting Russian issue shared by Kuo-Ching Fu uses the same image shown on the other various backgrounds.

Enlarge photo 56
Air India  Express 737-800 #1
Inexplicably, established airlines like to create "discount" spinoffs, such as the ill fated Delta "Song", United "Ted", and Continental Lite.
The difference in this case is that Air India Express is successful and thriving on its own with a fleet of uniquely painted 737-800s. Shown on this card is VT-AXA, delivered in February 2005.

Enlarge photo 57
Air India  Express 737-800 #2W
The Airline was created in 2005. Thirty Three 737-800s are now in service covering a network of mid sized destinations.

Enlarge photo 58
Air India  Express 737-800 #3
Alternate livery applied to the same aircraft.

Enlarge photo 59
Air India  Express 737-800 #4 KCF
An alternate livery applied to an image of VT AXA

Enlarge photo 60
Air India  Express 737-800 #5 KCF
Another of the exotic liveries applied to Air India Express aircraft.

Enlarge photo 61
Air India A-319 #1
With the integration of Indian, Air India assumed a modern fleet of Airbus A-320s and their derivatives. As one can see, however this new A-319 was delivered  directly to Air India still showing its delivery registration. It became VT SCH in October of 2007.
Card is an Aiir India Issue.

Enlarge photo 62
Air India A-319 #2
A second Air India issue shows their new 319 in its current registration

Enlarge photo 63
Air India A-321
June of 2007 also marked the Arrival of Air India's first A-321. VT PPA, shown on this Air India issue is the first of 20 operated by the airline.

Enlarge photo 64
Air Services India DC-3  #1BM
Indian Airlines came into existence with the Indian government's takeover of 8 existing private domestic carriers.  The airlines were merged into one on August 1, 1953 in accordance with the "Air Corporations Act".
Shown above is a very rare Air Services India issued DC-3 postcard kindly shared by Bertrand Mouchmino. The airline had been formed in 1936, and at the time of merger operated 11 DC-3s in western India.

Enlarge photo 65
Indian  National Vickers Viking
Indian National like others was launched in 1933 with a government mail contract. By 1947, the airline had grown to include a fleet of 6 Vikings as well as DC-3s, and was one of the larger components of the 1953 merger. VT-AZA, shown on this photo from Air Team Images was delivered to Indian National in 1946, and continued with Indian until WFU in 1962.

Enlarge photo 66
Indian DeHavilland Heron BD
In 1955, the DeHavilland Heron joined Indian's primarily DC-3 fleet. A total of 8 were operated from 1955-1961.
VT DHD, shown on this rare Indian issue, was sold to a dealer and later operated for Hawaiian Air Tour Service in the early 1960s.
Card by courtesy of Bernd Dienel.

Enlarge photo 67
Indian Viscount 700
Indian Airlines joined the Viscount operator's club in July of 1957. VT DIO was delivered on July 30, 1957, operating until it broke up in flight in September of 1963.

Enlarge photo 68
Indian F-27
Indian began adding Fokker F-27-100s to their fleet in 1961, ultimately taking delivery of 16. The final F-27 was a 600 model, delivered in 1971.
On a serious contender for the worst airline issued postcard, we have a representation of VT-DMA, the first F-27 delivered, which was written off at Lahore in 1971.

Enlarge photo 69
Indian Caravelle VI N TH
In December, 1963, Indian took a big step forward introducing the Caravelle VI N to its fleet. Ultimately, 11 were operated, some of which were acquired from Sabena. This aircraft, shown on a Collection Vilain issue, is one of those. The first three new Caravelles were destroyed in landing accidents, Two went to Pushpaka, and the rest were scrapped. Card by courtesy of Terry Hale.

Enlarge photo 70
Indian HS-748
In June of 1967, the first of 14 HAL 748s was delivered to Indian Airlines. The Hindustan Aeronautics built 748s served until the government drafted the 8 remaining (after crashes) aircraft to create Vayadoot.
The card is another contender for worst airline issued postcard.

Enlarge photo 71
Indian HS-748 #2 KCF
A far better view of the HAL-748 (as it was designated) is on this very rare information card issued by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
 This rare gem kindly shared by Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 72
Indian 737-200 #3
Indian received their first 737, VT-EAG, shown on this excellent and rather hard to find card, in November of 1970. The 737 fleet ultimately reached 36.
This one operated 24 years before being broken up in Bombay

Enlarge photo 73
Indian 737-200 Interior KCF
The 737-200s were state of the art when Indian received them. This very rare Indian issued interior card illustrates the "wide body" look of the new aircraft. Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 74
Indian 737-200 #2
Another nice Indian issue of their 1st 737. It was the 269th 737 delivered by Boeing.

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Indian 737-200 #1
One final Indian Issue, shows VT-EAL, their 5th 737, which was less fortunate, having been written of at Hyderabad in 1978

Enlarge photo 76
Indian A-300 #1
Indian was an Early Airbus operator, taking delivery of their 1st B2 model in October of 1976. The fleet gradually built up to 12 by 1986. Card is an Indian Airlines Issue.

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Indian A-300 #2
Like most Indian airliners, the A-300s were were used up by the time Indian retired them, and all were scrapped. This great image was used on a publisher card as well as this Indian Issue.

Enlarge photo 78
Indian A-300 #3
A much more modern Indian issue shows VT EHD, a B4 model delivered to Indian in May of 1992. It too was WFU in 2008.

Enlarge photo 79
Indian A-300 #5 KCF
A really outstanding ramp view of A-300B2 VT EDW, the 36th A-300 built. It operated from 1976 to 2001, and was broken up at Bombay in 2003. This rare Indian issue kindly shared by Kuo-Ching Fu

Enlarge photo 80
Vayudoot DO-228
The Indian government created Vayadoot in January of 1981 to serve more remote areas in the Northeast. Originally operating HAL 748s and F-27s.
DO-228s were added in 1985, which were better suited for the thin routes in Vayadoot's service area. Losses continued and the airline was absorbed into Indian in 1993.
The card is an uncommon Vayadoot issue.

Enlarge photo 81
Indian A-320 #2
Indian acquired their first A-320 in January of 1990. This aircraft, shown on a nice Indian issue, became VT-EPP, and is currently operating for Air India.

Enlarge photo 82
Indian A-320 #1
This is an excellent and not too common Indian issue of VT EPC, delivered in July of 1989. It has been retired, in September of 2016

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Indian A-320 #3 KCF
One of a rare set of Indian Airlines destination cards, each showing an A-320 in flight over various locations, with identification on the back. There are six cards + cover. This set by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 84
Indian Destination set cover KCF
This is the front cover for the set described, The back cover is a route map

Enlarge photo 85
Indian A-320 #4
A little more recent Indian issue of an unidentified A-320.

Enlarge photo 86
Indian A-319 #2 KCF
The last additions to the Indian fleet before the merger were A-319s. Shown on this Indian issue is the first 319, delivered on December 5, 2005.
Card by courtesy of Kuo-Ching Fu.

Enlarge photo 87
Indian A-319 #1
This beautiful A-319, shown on an Airbus Issue, was delivered in October of 2006. Now, of course operating for Air India. Twenty A-321s on order by Indian have been delivered to Air India.

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