The defeat of the Imperial Expeditionary Force by Manchurian forces in 1842 during the so-called "Opium War" was to bolster the popularity of the Manchu ruling dynasty and strengthen their grip on territories across the Far East. Manchuria became the dominant power in the region, regularly thwarting attempts by both Russia and Nippon to increase their spheres of influence.
Through a mixture of trade domination and military success, Manchurian territory was to grow inland, with the tribal kingdoms of Mongolia and the weak city states of the Chin all gradually falling under Manchurian rule. This expansion to the foothills of the Himalayas was to see Manchurian interests collide once more with those of the Empire in the closing years of the century.
Imperial shipping in the skies above Nepal and Uttar Pradesh were to increasingly become the prey of Sky Pirates operating from camps across the high mountains. In an ironic echo of the English Privateers of the Caribbean in previous centuries, Manchurian authorities denied any knowledge of the activities of these raiders, although it was clear to all that the Pirates would be unable to operate without official sanction.
The Empire could not stand idly by whilst one of its key trade routes was interrupted in this way. Large airyards were built in Faizabad, and the Imperial fleet in the skies over the subcontinent was to eventually make up a full third of all Royal Aeronautic Corps vessels.
The Sky Pirate menace was broadly contained but proved impossible to eradicate completely and isolated attacks remained a constant irritation to colonial authorities.
Further photographic images of this Manchurian craft may be viewed here.