RAF in Camera, 100 Years on Display

...from Pen & Sword

Title: RAF in Camera, 100 Years on Display
Author: Keith Wilson
Publisher: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-1-52675-218-5

A large new addition to the RAF in Camera series, this time celebrating 100 years of the service, a large, 752-page hardcover book. It is the fourth volume in a series covering the history of the RAF over its' first 100 years, and this one focuses on the face of the service in public, with displays and parades, not the combat history.
The story is spread over 10 chapters, plus 1 appendix. There is plenty of background at the outset, covering the foundation of the RAF in 1918 and its' early history. Then it goes on, after WW1, into the inter-war period, when Empire Days and other displays enabled the public to see their aircraft for themselves, at a time that many would not have seen an aircraft up close. The number of aircraft seen on display at Hendon is still impressive. Then there are the various attempts at speed, height and distance records over the years along with the variety of direct connections with members of the Royal family over time. Flying the Flag is a chapter which looks as a variety of goodwill visits to an assortment of countries around the world, squadron exchanges and involvement in the various Tiger Meets over the years. In a chapter titled simply 'In the Air' there are stories of the many display teams that the RAF have formed over the years, prior to the Red Arrows as they are today. Meteors, Vampires, Sabres, Hunters, Lightnings and even the Sikorsky Hoverfly equipped 'Pink Elephants' team. In contrast, on the ground deals with the many parades where the RAF have taken centre stage. Getting well into the book now, you come to the assortment of Formations and Flypasts they have provided over so many years, including events such as the end of WW2, the Queen's Silver and Golden jubilees, the 50th and 75th anniversary's of the RAF itself and also the many Anniversary & Presentation aircraft that have been eye catchers at the various events. The final elements of the book cover the fantastic RAF100 flypast over Buckingham Palace in 2018, involving 103 aircraft, all of which had to be perfectly coordinated to appear in the right place at the right time despite travelling at a wide variety of speeds. That leaves one detailed Appendix, which takes a look at the work involved in repainting a Tornado in a special anniversary colour scheme.
The text has lots of interesting material, but the show stopper for so many of us will be the incredible collection of fantastic photographs that fill the book, some covering double page spreads. It's worth saying the the bulk of the photos in the book are provided from the work of RAF photographers, as that is a particular trade in the service. I hesitate to pick out any specific pictures because they are all good, but I don't think you can fail to be drawn to the photos of the RAF100 flypast over Buckingham Palace in 2018, when the crowds filling the mall and in front of the palace are quite staggering. Even more so from my personal point of view in knowing that both my youngest daughter is somewhere in that crowd, while my eldest daughter's husband is also there, on duty at the front of the palace. Not a cheap book, but it is really a fantastic piece for any aircraft enthusiast.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.

Robin