This intriguing aeronautical chart depicts Central Iraq, with Baghdad in the lower left centre, and extend north past Kirkuk and south past Karbala and Hillah; it also reaches into Iran showing the region around Kermanshah. It is predicated upon the most recent information supplied by the Royal Air Force (as of December 1944) and was printed in London by the War Office early in 1945, in dying days of World War II.
While Iraq was not major theatre in World War II, it was of great importance, being the keystone of British Imperial geo-strategic imperatives, connecting the Mediterranean with the Persian Gulf and India. While Iraq technically gained its independence for Britain in 1932, it continued to host British military bases and was, in essence, a British client state.
In May 1941, a group of Iraqi Army officers called the ‘Golden Square’, allied to the Nazis, mounted a coup, and briefly overthrew the British-backed government in Baghdad. In what was known as the Anglo–Iraqi War (May 2-31, 1941), the British military defeated the rebels and restored their favoured government; however, the country remained uncomfortably unstable for the Allies’ liking.
The present aeronautical chart follows a novel design, employing purple tints to denote elevation, making the relief much clearer for pilots. The map shows all major landward details, such as rivers, mountain ranges, swamps, wadis, lakes, cities and towns, etc. In the legend, in the lower centre, labelled as ‘Reference for Information as Supplied by the H.Q. R.A.F. M.E. (I) Dec. 1944’, the map locates and names all proven airfields and landing strips; unconfirmed airfields and landing strips; all abandoned airfields and landing strips; as well seaplane stations and alighting areas. Additionally, the map delineates lines of magnetic variation for establishing flight vectors.
The present map is of the 5th edition, produced early in 1945, while the first edition, which assumed a more rudimentary form, was published in 1928. While a separately issued chart in and of itself, it was designed to connect seamlessly with charts of adjacent sectors.
All such aeronautical charts were issued in small print runs for use in the cockpits, so have low survival rates. We cannot locate an example of the present edition in institutional holdings, although we note examples of other issues.
References: Cf. (re: 1928 edition:) OCLC: 786883931.