1938 “British Aircraft” (S128-1)
Strathmore Tobacco Co. Ltd., 25-airplane cards, UK

Set Overview

Series Title: British Aircraft
Cartophilic Reference Number: S128-1
Issued by: Strathmore Tobacco Co. Ltd.
Issued with: Strathmore Cigarettes
Country: United Kingdom
Number of Cards: 25
Card Numbering: 1 - 25 on card backs
Type of Card: Tobacco insert
Card Dimensions: 76 × 50 mm
Circa: 1938
Checklist: Checklist

This “British Aircraft” 25-airplane card tobacco insert set was issued in 1938 by the Strathmore Tobacco Co. Ltd., as airplane-card inserts into their Strathmore Cigarettes packs. The 25-airplane photo cards for mainly military aircraft, except for a few civil aircraft. The semi-gloss photos are presented in a brown tone, without a picture frame box. The tops of the card fronts identify the manufacturer … “Strathmore Cigarettes”, while the bottom of the card fronts identify the subject aircraft. Both captions are presented in an ample margin surrounding the photo. The card fronts are a mix of both landscape and portrait formats, with 22 of the cards being presented in a landscape format. The backs of the cards are all presented in a portrait format.

The card backs are presented in a boxed format, with the set title, card number, card title, descriptive text, and the Strathmore Tobacco Co. Ltd. logo all presented in a vertical stack.

This 1938 set of airplane cards shows how ill-prepared the British were before the “Phony War” started in 1939. The only two fighter aircraft shown in this set that could compete with the Luftwaffe were the Harker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire of which both aircraft were in their infancy. The Bristol Blenheim was the only light bomber that was used by the British throughout the entire war. Most of the other fighters, mainly the biplanes, were quickly retired as the Hurricanes and the Spitfires came online. As with the fighters, the outdated bombers were quickly replaced with new types such as the Manchester and Lancaster medium and heavy bombers.

All in all, the card set is an interesting pre-World War II "historical snapshot" into the capabilities of the Royal Air Force before the official start of World War II when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939.

The “British Aircraft” cards measure 76 × 50 mm, and bear the World Tobacco Issues Index reference number of S128-1.

The following reference card shows the fronts and backs of a typical 1938 “British Aircraft” (S128-1) card. Click on the card images to reveal full-size computer enhanced 600-dpi images of the card.

Set Image-Guide

The following 1938 “British Aircraft” (S128-1) 25-card set by Strathmore Tobacco Co. Ltd., United Kingdom, Image-Guide shows computer enhanced images of the fronts and backs of the 25 cards in the S128-1 set. Behind each thumbnail image is a 600-dpi computer enhanced card image that you may access. In addition, directly beneath the Image Guide, in tabular form, are links to the original scans used for this article.


Set Checklist

We have provided two versions of the checklist for this set: (1) An 8½ × 11 inch PDF version, and (2) the web version shown below. Click on the PDF graphic below to access on print-out the PDF checklist version.

xCard Title
1Airspeed Oxford Advanced Trainer
2Armstrong Whitworth Ensign
3Armstrong Whitworth Whitley Bomber
4Avro Anson Coastal Reconnaissance Monoplane
5Avro 621 Tutor
6Bristol Blenheim High Performance Bomber
7Bristol Bombay Bomber-Transport
8De Havilland Albatross Inter-Continental Air Liner
9Fairey Battle Two-Seater Day Bomber
10Fairey Swordfish Torpedo-Spotter Reconnaissance Biplane
11Gloster Gladiator Single-Seat Multi-Gun Fighter
12Gloucester F.5/34 Single-Seat Multi-Gun Fighter
13Handley Page Harrow Twin-Engined Bomber
14Handley Page Hampden Bomber-Fighter
15Hawker Demon Two-Seater Fighter
16Hawker Fury Interceptor
17Hawker Hector Two-Seat Army Co-Operation Bi-Plane
18Hawker Hurricane Single-Seat Fighter
19Mayo Composite Aircraft
20Percival Q.6 Passenger Machine
21Short Singapore III Open-Sea Reconnaissance Flying-Boat
22Supermarine Spitfire Single-Seat Fighter
23Vickers Wellesley Long-Range Bomber
24Vickers Wellington Long-Range Twin-Engined Bomber
25Westland Lysander Army Co-Operation Two-Seater


John Shupek — John is retired Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineer that lives in Southern California. John's 36 year aerospace career/adventure started in the mid-1960s when he worked for Pratt & Whitney at their “FRDC” … Florida Research and Development Center, West Palm Beach, Florida. John was part of the P&W jet engine design team for the CIA/USAF's Lockheed A-12/SR-71A “Oxcart/Blackbird” engines (J58/JT11D-20). He also worked on the RL-10 rocket engine and the JTF-17A which was P&W's entry into the United States' SST competition between Boeing and Lockheed. Several years later, John moved back to California and worked at the AiResearch Mfg. Company at LAX and Torrance. He originally worked on the thermal design of the HRE (Hypersonic Ramjet Engine) which was a supersonic combustion Mach 7 ramjet engine that was to be tested on the North American X-15. John did about three more years of jet engine design work before he disappeared for 13 years into the classified DOE “GCEP” (Gas Centrifuge Enrichment Plant) Atomic Energy program for the enrichment of U235. After the GCEP program was canceled by the DOE in 1985, John was hired by Northrop Aircraft to do the thermal design for Northrop's entry into the ATF (Advanced Tactical Fighter) competition, the Northrop YF-23A “Black Widow II” stealth supercruise fighter. He also worked on the Northrop Grumman B-2A “Spirit” stealth bomber. After several years on a classified stealth missile program, John worked the remainder of his Aerospace career as one of Northrop Grumman's Program Directors on the United States Navy's F/A-18E/F “Super Hornet” jet fighter program.

During John's career at Northrop Grumman he served for five years as Northrop's “Vintage Aircraft Club” Commissioner and the Curator and Webmaster for the Western Museum of Flight in Hawthorne, California. Several years later, John was the volunteer webmaster (for about 3 years) for the Yanks Air Museum, Chino, California. He also served as President and webmaster for two different NPO's after his retirement. The Whittier Historical Society & Museum and Whittier Meals on Wheels.

John's love of aviation history and aviation photography lead to the establishment of this website in 1998. The site has continued to expand and will always grow and will never be completed. It's sort of analogous to a snowball rolling down a hill without any trees to stop it. In approximately 2002, John remembered that he had collected Topps “Wings” (ACC# R707-4) airplane trading cards while in High School. Somehow the cards had disappeared over the years. So at this point, he started to re-collect airplane trading cards via eBay and become an airplane card “Image Collector” rather than a “Card Collector” per se. After John scans an airplane card for the website, he has no further use for it and he puts it back into circulation via eBay. John's mission statement for the is basically to restore and preserve high-quality card images/artwork associated with the various airplane card sets from the early 1900s to the present. These cards are wonderful historical “snapshots” into aviation history showing which aviation events and aircraft were important at that point in time. For the website, basically if it is a trading card collection that features things that fly, but doesn't have feathers, it is eligible for consideration on the website. John always welcomes inputs and high resolution scans (600-dpi) that can be used on this website. John can be reached via the “Contact Us” navigation button on the left.


  1. Shupek, John A. “British Aircraft” (S128-1) Strathmore Tobacco Co. Ltd., The Skytamer Archive (600-dpi Image Scans). Skytamer Images, Whittier, CA, 2017. Digital Image Database.

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