Imperial Airways

Africa (Continued)


            Along with the route to Cape Town, Imperial had been flying airmail flights from Khartoum to the west coast of Africa for a few years.  Gradually, as larger aircraft became available from the merger, along with the purchase of new aircraft, a passenger service was added.  Following is the passenger service to West Africa just prior to WWII, the war halting the additional expansion that had been planned.  The route was a great benefit for the Allies in the ferrying of aircraft, supplies and equipment from the US to Europe via Natal in South America, Ascension Island, and Takoradi, Ghana and saw much use during the war.  One DC-3, ferried over this route from the Douglas, Oklahoma plant by the RAF circa 1943, ZS-BXF “Klapperkop” was just written off a few months ago.  It was operated by the SAA Historic Association and ran out of fuel and crash-landed, all escaped unscathed, but the “Old Girl” had too much damage to repair.


            **A last minute item!  I have been reading the comments of several flyers and find some of the comments quite amusing.  Thought I might add a few things to clarify some points that might be confusing.  When Alan and I started to put this together we agreed that we would stay as close as possible to the routes of the thirties as would be possible with Flight Sim. The routes that we have used are from actual Time Tables or personal knowledge from former Imperial employees.  This created a problem of sorts in that a few airports are no longer in existence and their coordinates are unknown so we can’t replace them.


 We selected in these cases, the closest airport to the location in FS9 that was in existence at the time.  Alexandria comes to mind as one of these.  Floatplane bases are another where we used stories, experiences and the like for our selections.  In books, magazines, we found several diary accounts from actual Imperial Captains that flew the routes.   All navaids that you find, with the exception of the Seaports that Coleman has added, are by FS and from the present, and therefore the ILS, ADF GPS and VOR’s that you see are for present day locations, of course, you can use them if you so desire but we are not condoning them. 


To aid in flying, Coleman Green, who did the seaports, added a NDB at each and these are the closest to actual there are. The system that Bill Von Sennet mentions for the seaport locations and flight plans is what we are using, As to the GPS, Jens has a recommendation, which I follow, the GPS is the First Officer and Radio Operator/Navigator.  The Airways had wireless operators at each field that talked to crews when they were in range and the Copilot was able to get a fair bearing on the station. Using the GPS (as the radio operator) giving you the bearing, is allowable, as we do not have the capability of adding the wireless radio. 


I am sorry but that is the best we can come up with.  Each of us, Allan, Chris, Norm and myself have flown these routes and experienced very minimal if any problems.  I will have flown all of them before I write the route. Hope this is an aid to your enjoyment and thanks,


            The following is the route for Khartoum – Takoradi with a few comments by the Captains after flying a check ride of the schedule.


            “The passengers, mostly British, had to have mid morning and afternoon tea’s and lunches, which they did not get served on plastic trays, plates and utensils on the flight due to the turbulence, the dope and petrol fumes and subsequent lack of a kitchen on board preventing this, and only light Refreshments were served (Gin & Tonics and Beer).  Also, passengers were not allowed to remain on board during refueling operations.


Arrival of these Aircraft at these lonely outposts was a gala occasion in those days and these services were provided at the airports or nearby hotels, hence the long stopovers, which I noted on the London-Cape Town 1932 Timetable. Today’s 747-400’s fly Heathrow to Cape Town in 11 hrs 15 min non-stop, vs. the 11 days in 1932, however, the camaraderie is missing. The old journeys on Imperial Airways were an Adventure. Of the dozen or so passengers onboard, many got to sit at the Captains table at mealtimes, many friendships were made which existed for decades afterwards and the odd Romance or two also blossomed”.


Print West African Schedule and happy flying


Bill Odell




Imperial Airways

West African Route 1933.


Aircraft for the route were initially the HP 42, at times the AW 15 and later DH-86. Use another aircraft from that era if you don’t have the above.

There is a newer version of the AW 15 at Flight Sim and

We have used the original names from that era and put the present day ones in parenthesis



Your Captain Speaking: Today we will be flying at an altitude of 6,500ft and a speed of 115mph across the Sahara Desert to El Obeid, El Fasher and El Geneina in the Darfur Region, where we stopover for the night.

ICAO  Airports          Depart                                    Remarks                                             

HSSS Khartoum


dep. Mon, Wed


HSOB El Obeid




HSFS El Fasher




HSGN El Geneina

Arr afternoon, Night Stopover





Your Captain Speaking: Today we climb to 6,500ft and enter French Equatorial Africa where we stop at Atti for fuel and then onwards to Fort Lamy. From there, we cross into Nigeria, stop at Maiduguri and finally Kano, where we stopover for the night.

ICAO  Airports          Depart                                    Remarks                                

HSGN El Geneina


dep Tue, Thu






FTTJ Fort Lamy




DNMA Maiduguri





Arr Evening. Night Stopover.




In the early days, this sector was a mail run only. Passenger services were introduced in the mid thirties and the DH-86 was used. Our route to Lagos crosses many rivers, including the Niger. From Lagos, we follow the coastline along the Gulf of Guinea to Accra and Takoradi in Ghana.

ICAO  Airports          Depart                                    Remarks



Dep Wed, Fri


DN0D Kaduna


Refuel point


DNMM Lagos




DGAA Accra




DGTK Takoradi

Arrive late afternoon. Termination of flight.



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