Posters of Interesting Times


Today’s Posters are a set of Chinese aviation instructional posters, an to western eyes, a very different mix of style, content and approach to anything we’ve seen here before. This one below of ‘Active Air Defences’, with the Smithsonian’s source detail here. Is it meant as a ‘how to behave?’, or ‘how you are being defended?’, or a ‘this is how it works? It’s not clear.


Although they seem to be within one or two sets in the Smithsonian’s collection, unfortunately the descriptive accompanying text seems to be very general and mostly a description of what you can already see. Actual context, details or cultural background is unfortunately entirely absent. Anyway, below again, what I think may be incorrectly translated, ‘Passive Air Defences’ here, against…


…this one, underneath, listed as ‘Brutal Air Attack’ here. (Red-yellow-red roundels are actually the current Spanish type, I don’t think ever used in the Chinese context, but given how much complexity there was in China’s aviation forces, I may well be wrong!) The choice of national markings lower left seems to be major air nations of the time, though Nazi Germany seems to have the wrong swastika.


More peacefully, what would seem like a normal school wall poster showing civil aircraft ‘Air Transportation’ (not sure the Wright Flyer fits the idea) here. In these posters the aircraft are all real, though mostly rare or absent from Chinese skies.


The ‘Child’s Science Poster’ also seems to have a somewhat random selection of aircraft, here.


Probably the only time the Armstrong Whitworth AW.15 Atalanta has been used as ‘flying controls’ model! Top is the Dornier Do.X and middle the Douglas Dolphin, so a flying boat, amphibian and a landplane, from Germany, America and Britain respectively, so very diverse. Fascinating, and insights on these most welcome.

James Kightly, Vintage Aero Writer.

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