British Civil Aviation in 1938

20 January
Under the direction of Sir Alan Cobham, Imperial Airways carries out the first flight refuelling test of a Short C-Class flying-boat, using an Armstrong Whitworth AW23 bomber/transport aircraft as the tanker.

6 February
The Short-Mayo composite aircraft acheives the first in-flight separation of its two components. The Mercury upper component is detached from the Maia lower component in an attempt to solve the problems of range and long distance flight.

15-26 March
A de Havilland DH88 Comet (G-ACSS) takes off from Gravesend in Kent to fly to New Zealand and back. The aircraft is flown by Arthur Clouston and Victor Ricketts, who establish a new record of 10 days 21 hours.

21 April
The British government announces the expansion of its ‘shadow’ factory scheme, where companies outside the aircraft industry, such as car manufacturers, were used to build aircraft for the Royal Air Force in an effort to increase the rate of production

23 July
Formation of the Civil Air Guard is announced.

15-28 September
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, flies twice to Germany to mediate with Adolph Hitler over the growing German-Czechoslovakia crisis.

29 September
The Munich Conference finally reaches agreement with the ‘gift’ of the Czech Sudetenland to Germany. Chamberlain flies home to declare “peace in our time”.

Also this year…
The Bristol Aeroplane Company starts production of the Bristol Perseus radial engine. Designed by Roy Fedden, it is the world’s first sleeve-valve aero engine.