On 5 November 1938 Vickers Wellesleys L2638 (Sqn Ldr R Kellet), L2639 (Flt Lt H A V Hogan) and L2680 (Flt Lt A N Combe) of the RAF‘s Long Range Fight took off from Ismailia, Egypt and set off for Australia. Take-off weight was 18,400lb and the operating height of 10,000 feet was reached in 45 minutes. After 12 hours flying the winds became adverse and over the Bay of Bengal the weather deteriorated. Flying conditions became still worse over the South China Sea with cloud, heavy rain and lightning. It became evident on reaching the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) that L2639 might not have enough fuel to reach Darwin, the planned destination. By mutual agreement between the commanders of the three aircraft (they were fitted with short-range radio as well as two-way wireless equipment), Flt Lt Hogan landed at Kupang, Timor, continuing his flight after refuelling.
Sqn Ldr Kellet and Flt Lt Combe crossed the Timor Sea and, after 48 hours in the air, landed at Darwin – a world distance record of 7,162 miles.
The photograph shows Flt Lt R G (George) Musson’s, cigarette case, engraved with the route of the record breaking distance flight. He was the 2nd pilot in Flt Lt Hogan’s Wellesley.
THE CIGARETTE CASE ENGRAVED WITH THE ROUTE OF THE RAF’S WORLD DISTANCE RECORD IS NOW ON DISPLAY IN THE MUSEUM’S MIDDLE HALL.