Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Swiss Post Office honors the Swiss Air Force

Yes, the Country of Switzerland has an Air Force. This is also a Swiss Navy and a Swiss Army.  I've see all of them in action during my trips to this central European country famous for its historic neutrality and home to many of the world's international organizations. Two stamp were issued on March 3,2014 commemorating 100 years of the Swiss Air Force. The 1.00 Swiss Franc stamp shows an F/A-18 Hornet jet fighter while the 1.40 Swiss Franc stamp shows a F-5 Tiger jet. The stamps will also be available in 10 stamp mini sheets.

The following article is by Laurent Savary of the Swiss Federal  Department of Defense.

Although balloons sporting the Swiss na­tional colours took to the skies in the early part of the 20th century, the first Swiss air squadron was not assembled until the start of World War One. However, its commander, cavalry instructor Theodore Real, had scarcely any resources at his disposal, and had to mobilize private air­craft owners, most of them from western Switzerland, who brought their own me­chanics with them. Three foreign aircraft were also requisitioned. From August 1914, the squadron was stationed in the balloon hangar on the "Beundenfeld" in Berne. However, the site was ill-suited to training the pilots, so, at the end of 1914, the squadron had to relocate to Diiben-dorf near Zurich. The pilots were seldom deployed during the war.It wasn't until the interwar period that the air force gained in importance, and, in addition to Diibendorf, other military airbases were established in Thun, Laus­anne and Payerne. The first fleet of air­craft ordered by official quarters were Hafeli DH-3s.    

In 1936, in the face of the increasingly critical international situation, the Swiss government decided to form an anti-air­craft defence. The airmen displayed tre­mendous resistance in defending neu­trality in Swiss air space until, in June 1940, three of them lost their lives above the Jura mountains. General Guisan then imposed a ban on Swiss interventions with fighter planes, which remained in force until October 1943. As part of the "reduit" strategy, the air squadron thendrew back to the Swiss mountains, where numerous runways were built. It did not resume active service until 1944, by which time thousands of fighter bombers were stationed throughout Europe. The air squadron's task was to intercept air­craft in Swiss air space and force them to land. It was a risky undertaking, as be­came all too apparent in 1944 when a Swiss aircraft was shot down by a US plane. Moreover, despite these interven­tions, bombs were dropped on a number of Swiss towns and cities, including Schaffhausen.  

During the Cold War, Switzerland pro­cured Vampire jet planes. Radar early warning and navigation systems rapidly evolved into a core element of the air force. In 1952, three Killer UH-12B helicopters were purchased for air transport. These legendary behemoths were based at mountain airbases such as Meiringen, Turtmann and Raron.     

 In the 1950s an attempt was also made to develop Switzerland's own fighter jets, but these ambitions had to be laid to rest after the failure of the P-16 and N-20 pro­jects. Instead, British Hunter aircraft were purchased. The acquisition of fighter air­craft always triggers fierce debate, as demonstrated by the popular initiative which, in 1993, sought to prevent the ac­quisition of the F/A-18 and the dispute surrounding the procurement of the Mi­rage fighter jet in the early 1960s, which massively exceeded the available budget. In the end, just over half the planned number of aircraft were ordered. Fearingthe spread of communism to the West, on the orders of the federal government, the terrestrial anti-aircraft defence purchased the "Bloodhound" guided missile system, which could be deployed swiftly and combat airborne targets at great heights. Sections of motorway have also been used as emergency runways since the early 1970s.   

Despite international tensions, in 1964, on the occasion of the National Exhibition and the 50th anniversary of the Swiss Air Force, the Patrouille Suisse was founded which, until 1978, operated exclusively in Switzerland. Eleven years later, another formation was created, the PC-7 TEAM. The fall of the Berlin Wall also entailed strategic adjustments for the Swiss Air Force. Deployments became more diverse and were extended to air policing and border surveillance tasks. The F/A-18 is indaily use as the "air police" and provides airborne support for the security forces at special events such as the G8 summit or the WEF. In April 1999, the Air Force deployed Super Pumas for the first time, to provide humanitarian aid in Albania. Similar missions have since been flown in Indonesia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

The stamps were printed by the 4 color offset process. The stamps have a size of 33 X 22 mm and were designed by Fredy Trumpi of Binz, Switzerland. Besides the stamps and mini sheets of 10 First Day Covers and Maximun Cards will also be available.

My thanks to Swiss Post and the Swiss Defense Department for the above info

To purchase these Stamps Click here

Mazimum  Card set

FDC with both Stamps

For more information on the Swiss Air Force Click here

Swiss Air Force Video1

Swiss Air Force Video 2

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Finnish Stamps to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Moomins

The 100th anniversary of Moomins and the Finnish artist and writer behind it

The Souvenir Sheet


On Friday January 31, Finland’s Itella Posti Oy released a miniature sheet consisting of two stamps and a beautiful gift set to mark the 100th anniversary of the Finnish artist and writer Tove Jansson (1914–2001) .

Tove Jansson, world-famous for the “Moomins” Comic Strip and several childrens’s books, was a versatile artist who completed many paintings, works of graphic arts and public works of art during her career. In addition to the Moomin books, she received recognition for her short stories and novels. Tove Jansson was a prolific artist whose career started in the 1930s and continued long into the 1990s.

The sheet of two 1st class stamps features views of the archipelago where Tove Jansson spent a lot of her time as a child and after that. Of the Moomin characters, Sniff appears in the stamps as a silhouette standing in Jansson’s hand. The sheet also features the Tove 100 anniversary logo. The stamps were designed by graphic designer Klaus Welp.

An experimental artist and a writer with an eye for details

As an artist, Jansson mastered many techniques and held exhibitions that took her art into new and sometimes experimental directions. In addition to paintings, her works include a lot of works of graphic arts and public works of art from murals to mosaics. Throughout her life, open-mindedness and the pursuit of freedom were among Tove Jansson’s strengths.

Tove Jansson also became known as a writer who put her mind to writing with the utmost meticulousness. Her short stories and novels are known for minimalistic narration and careful composition.

The Moomins remain popular from generation to generation

The first time Jansson drew the Moomintroll character it was for Garm, a liberal and satirical magazine that sniped at the world of global leaders during the Second World War. The Moomins and the Great Flood, published in 1945, was the first in a series of books that became the most visible and best-known part of Tove Jansson’s career. The third Moomin book, Finn Family Moomintroll, was published in 1948 and increased Jansson’s fame outside Finland and Sweden.

In the 1950s, Tove Jansson started to draw and write a Moomin comic strip for the most widely read evening newspaper in the world, Evening News, which was published in London. Soon the comic strip was read in more than 20 countries.

The popularity of the Moomins has continued from generation to generation. The Moomin books have been translated into more than 30 languages and the Moomins have become familiar figures on television, in films, on theatre stages and in opera, too.

The Moomins have also been a popular theme for stamps. From 1992 to 2013, Itella Posti Oy has published ten stamp series with a total of 45 different Moomin-themed stamps.

Designing the stamps was an honor

Graphic designer Klaus Welp, the designer of Tove Jansson’s anniversary stamps and gift set, considered the task an honor. “My first thought was that Tove Jansson is too great a figure for a postage stamp. The second was that the stamp should show the Tove Jansson behind the Moomins, her desire to be remembered as an artist and writer. My third feeling was a shudder over being given the chance to design a stamp in honor of my own and my family’s favorite artist.”


Technical data of the Tove Jansson 100 years miniature sheet

Value: 2 × 1st class

Number issued: 200,000 miniature sheets            

Designer: Klaus Welp

Sheet size: 115 x 75 mm

Stamp size: 50 x 21 mm

Paper: self-adhesive stamp paper

Perforation: die cut

Printer: Joh. Enschedé Stamps, the Netherlands

Printing method: web offset, 3/1

First day cover and cachet: Klaus Welp

Gift set: Klaus Welp

The Gift Pack


 My thanks to the Finnish Post Office for the above Details

To view the Moomins Theme song watch the Video


For a List of Moomins Books click here