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Airmail is a mail transport service branded and sold on the basis of being airborne. The Universal Postal Union adopted comprehensive rules for airmail at its 1929 Postal Union Congress in London. Since the official language of the Universal Postal Union is French, airmail items world-wide are often marked Par avion, literally: "by airplane".The first scheduled airmail service was from Hendon to Windsor, which began on 9 September 1911 as part of the celebrations for the coronation of King George V. During the mid 20’s and early 30’s the air mail services were continually expanded till eventually reaching all corners of the British Empire. On 20 August 1934, inland airmail was introduced. This served major centres such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Cardiff, Belfast and Glasgow.A special fleet of Royal Mail vans was introduced in June 1930 to handle and advertise the new Royal Air Mail Service. Special letter boxes were provided in various locations around the UK. Both these boxes and the new vans were painted blue.The blue post boxes were placed in prominent positions in London, by 1936, there were 139 in London and 174 in the provinces. Leaflets and posters were used to promote the airmail service to the public.Eight Morris Minor vans were introduced for collection duties and two 105 cubic feet capacity vans for the conveyance of mails.
The Royal Air Mail Service
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A special additional van took the form of an advertising car. Its streamlined body, designed by Maurice Lambert, was mounted on a standard 15cwt chassis. This streamlined van would often be shown in publicity photographs. Due to the increasing use of the service, the fleet was expanded to 26 Morris Minor vans in 1935, with the three larger vans continuing to support the service and the advertising van simply used for publicity purposes.Dragon RapideIn late 1933, the Dragon Rapide was designed at the de Havilland Company and in the summer of 1934, the type entered service with UK-based airlines, Hillman’s Airways Ltd which took the first delivery of Dragon Rapide’s in July of that year. From 1 December 1934 Hillman’s Airways were given a contract to fly inland air mail between London, Liverpool, Glasgow and Belfast formerly operated by the Railway Air Services. Like the vans and the mail boxes Hillman’s Dragon Rapide’s were painted in the Royal Air Mail Service blue livery.The painting depicts the Air Mail streamline van alongside a Hillman’s Airways De Havilland Dragon Rapide DH.84. The painting has been created from this photograph taken in 1935 at Liverpool Aerodrome.