Saturday, February 28, 2015

Australia 2014
Centenary of Military Aviation and Submarines

ISSUE DATE: 3 March 2015
FDI WITHDRAWAL DATE: 3 September 2014
STAMP DESIGN: Jamie and Leanne Tufrey
PAPER: Tullis Russell / B100 (Self-Adhesive)
STAMP SIZE: 37.5mm x 26mm
PERFORATIONS: 13.86 x 14.6
SHEET LAYOUT: Module of 50
NATIONAL POSTMARK: Point Cook, Vic 3030


HMAS AE2 (originally known as AE2) was an E-class submarine of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). One of two submarines ordered for the fledgling navy, AE2 was built by Vickers Armstrong in England and was commissioned into the RAN in 1914. Together with her sister submarine, HMAS AE1, the boat then sailed to Australia in what was, at the time, the longest voyage ever undertaken by a submarine.

The E-class was an enlarged version of the preceding D-class submarine to accommodate an additional pair of broadside torpedo tubes. AE2 was 181 feet (55.2 m) long overall, had a beam of 22 feet 6 inches (6.9 m) and a draught of 12 feet 6 inches (3.8 m). She displaced 750 long tons (760 t) on the surface and 810 long tons (820 t) submerged. The E-class boats had a designed diving depth of 100 feet (30.5 m), but the addition of watertight bulkheads, strengthened the hull and increased the actual diving depth to 200 feet (61.0 m). The crew consisted of 34 officers and enlisted men.

The boat had two propellers, each of which was driven by an eight-cylinder 800-brake-horsepower (600 kW) diesel engine as well as a 420-brake-horsepower (313 kW) electric motor. This arrangement gave the E-class submarines a maximum speed of 15 knots (28 km/h / 17 mph) while surfaced and 10 knots (19 km/h / 12 mph) submerged. They carried approximately 40 long tons (41 t) of fuel that gave them a range of 3,000 nautical miles (5,600 km / 3,500 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h / 12 mph) while on the surface and 65 nmi (120 km / 75 mi) at 5 knots (9.3 km/h / 5.8 mph) while submerged.

AE2 had four 18-inch torpedo tubes, one each in the bow and stern, plus two on the broadside, one firing to port and the other to starboard. The boat carried one spare torpedo for each tube. No guns were fitted.

:: Dardanelles Campaign

The aim of the Dardanelles Campaign was to knock Germany's ally, the Ottoman Empire, out of the war and open up supply lines to the Russian Empire via the Black Sea. Attempts to open the Dardanelles through naval power were unsuccessful, three Allied battleships were sunk, and another three crippled, during a surface attack, although the British submarine HMS B11 was able to enter the strait and sink the modernised ironclad Mesudiye, two failed attempts to traverse the waterway and enter the Sea of Marmara resulted in the loss of HMS E15 and the French submarine Saphir to mines and strong currents. Plans were made to capture the Turkish defences by a land attack, with landings at Cape Helles and Anzac Cove. Despite the failures of E15 and Saphir, Stoker planned his own attempt, which was approved by the Allied fleet's commander, Vice Admiral John de Robeck.

AE2's first attempt was made early on 24 April, but the boat only made it 6 nautical miles (11 km / 6.9 mi) into the strait before the forward hydroplane coupling failed, making the submarine impossible to control underwater and forced Stoker to retreat. At 02:30 on the following day, Stoker made a second attempt. The submarine was spotted by shore artillery and fired on from about 04:30, Stoker ordered the boat to dive to avoid the shells and to traverse the first minefield. AE2 spent the next hour picking her way through the mines' mooring cables: defensive wires that had been welded to the submarine in Malta prevented the mooring cables from catching. By 06:00, AE2 reached Chanak, and proceeded to torpedo the Ottoman gunboat Peyk I Sevket while simultaneously taking evasive actions to avoid an enemy destroyer. The submarine ran aground beneath a Turkish fort, but the fort's guns could not be lowered enough to fire, and AE2 was able to free herself within four minutes. Shortly after, the submarine's periscope was sighted by a Turkish battleship firing over the peninsula at the Allied landing sites; this prompted the ship to stop firing and withdraw. AE2 advanced toward the Sea of Marmara, and at 08:30, Stoker decided to rest the boat on the ocean bottom and wait until nightfall before continuing.

At around 21:00, AE2 surfaced to recharge her batteries, and Stoker radioed his success back to the fleet, the first Allied vessel to transit the Dardanelles. Stoker had orders to "generally run amok", and with no enemies in sight, he ordered the boat to enter the Sea of Marmara. Although the landing at Cape Helles was going well at the time Stoker reported in, the landing at Anzac Cove was not as successful, and the commander of the Australian and New Zealand Army CorpsLieutenant-General Sir William Birdwood was pushing for reembarkation of his troops. Some sources identify AE2 as one of the factors leading to Birdwood's decision to commit to the attack, although the Australian War Memorial claims there "is no real evidence" to support this.

The submarine made appearances across the Sea of Marmara over the following five days to give the impression of multiple boats, and several attacks against Turkish ships were made, although all failed because of increasing mechanical problems. News of the submarine's successes was spread to the soldiers ashore to improve morale. On 29 April, AE2 met E14, one of several submarines that had entered the Dardanelles following the Australian boat's successful attempt. The submarines arranged a rendezvous for the next morning.  When AE2 reached the rendezvous point on 30 April, smoke from the torpedo boat Sultanhisar was sighted, so the submarine dove and moved to investigate. At 10:30, about a mile from the torpedo boat, AE2 inexplicably rose and broke the surface. While diving to evade, the boat passed below her safe diving depth; frantic attempts to correct this caused the submarine's stern to break the surface. Sultanhisar immediately fired on the submarine, puncturing the pressure hull in three places near the engine spaces. Stoker ordered the boat's company to evacuate, and scuttled AE2 at 10:45'. All personnel survived the attack and were captured by Sultanhisar, although four died from illness while in captivity. AE2's achievements showed others that the task was possible, and within months Turkish shipping and lines of communication were badly disrupted, with supplies and reinforcements for the Turkish defence of Gallipoli forced to take underdeveloped overland routes. AE2 was the only RAN vessel to be lost as a result of enemy action during World War I, and along with sister boat AE1, the total of the RAN's operational losses in the war.

:: CFS-3

On the morning of 1 March 1914, Lieutenant Eric Harrison, an aviator instructor, took Bristol Military Biplane number CFS-3 into the air at the newly acquired Army flying field at Point Cook, Victoria. This was then the home of the Central Flying School (CFS). That historic flight is now recognised as the starting point of all military flying in Australia.

How did we get to that point? And what happened next?
In January 1911, the Australian Military Board first considered aviation, with a cable sent to the War Office in Britain for advice. In June of 1911, the High Commissioner was authorized to select two aviators and five flying machines. Two men were chosen - Henry Petre and Eric Harrison. Five aircraft - two BE2a biplanes, two Deperdussin monoplanes and one Bristol Boxkite – were selected and they cost 3,528 Pounds Stirling.

The aircraft were temporarily stored at the Victoria Barracks in Melbourne before transfer to Point Cook in February 1914. But most of the fabric was mildewed and the engines rusted due to faulty packing. With good work by the mechanics at Point Cook, the aircraft were made airworthy, and military flying in Australia was off the ground.

Sometime later, a second Bristol Military Boxkite CFS-8, was built at Point Cook, and became the first military aircraft made in Australia, flying for the first time on 10 August 1915.

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