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Austrian Empire

Airmail Issues - 1918

The postcard above depicts an Austrian Empire aircraft used for military mail courier flights from Vienna to Kiev, which began around March 20, 1918. German and Austrian headquarters on the Eastern Front were located in Kiev.

The card pictures a Hansa-Brandenburg C.I, which was a 2-seat, armed, single-engine reconnaissance biplane designed by Ernst Heinkel, who worked at that time for the parent company in Germany. The C.I served in the Imperial and Royal Aviation Troops in visual and photographic reconnaissance, artillery observation, and light bombing duties from the early spring of 1916 until the end of World War I in October 1918.

The three stamps, shown above, were the first airmail postage stamp issues of the Austrian Empire. The stamps were issued on March 30, 1918 for the military mail courier route between Vienna, Krakow, Lvov, and Kiev, which began on March 31, 1918. The German and Austrian army headquarters on the Eastern Front were located in Kiev.

This military mail showed that regular airmail deliveries were feasible, even during wartime. Many philatelists consider this regular mail delivery, with airplanes, to be the actual beginning of airmail postal history.

The Austrian empire utilized three of the high value denominations of the 1916 Arms definitive postage stamp series, with the stamps being printed in changed colors. The three stamps were overprinted "FLUGPOST" and the two lower values had additional surcharges.

The stamps, were printed on dark bluish gray paper. The design dimensions on these issues was 25 mm x 30 mm. The 1.50 Kr. on 2 Kr. and the 4 Kr. denominations were perforated 12 1/2. The 2.50 Kr. on 3 Kr. comes perforated 12 1/2, 11 1/2, and 12 1/2 x 11 1/2, with the perforated 11 1/2 variety being the rarest.

The three stamps exist imperforate, and as proofs, both with and without the overprints / surcharges.

Beginning June 24, 1918, the three airmail stamps were printed on white paper, as shown above. The design dimensions on the white paper varieties was 26 mm x 29 mm, and all the stamps were perforated 12 1/2.

A 7 Kr. on 10 Kr. in red brown was printed, but the stamp was never issued. The stamp is printed on dark bluish-gray paper, and it exists both perforated 12 1/2 and imperforate. The perforated 12 1/2 stamp is pictured above.

This unissued stamp also exists as a proof, without the overprint and surcharge, both perforated 12 and imperforate.

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