Category Archives: Royal Air Force

Air Ministry Callipers

Whilst the most common War Department marked tools that turn up are spanners, for Air Ministry marked tools, measuring devices seem to be some of the easier items to find. A few weeks back I was lucky enough to find a pair of Air Ministry marked callipers in a tool box and for the princely sum of £2 they were mine:imageCallipers are mainly used for measuring the diameter of cylinders, although have other uses in light engineering work. This pair have a crown and AM marking on one of the legs, together with a maker’s name of Buck and Hickman Ltd:imageInterestingly they also bear a /|\ mark and an inspector’s code 60 on the reverse:imageUsing callipers correctly requires a little practice and a 1930s engineering manual gives this advice:

Measuring with Callipers

Callipers, either spring or firm joint types, are convenient tools for measuring a number of jobs which are not required to be extremely accurate. Firm joint callipers have two legs fastened together with a rivet or bolt of a special design. To give a smooth joint thin fibre-washers are interposed between the legs, and when purchasing callipers this point should be looked for.

The legs of inside callipers are curved outward at the extremities to facilitate measuring small holes, whilst outside calliper legs have a large curve inward to increase their capacity for large work.

Firm joint callipers are adjusted approximately by the hands and then set to the “feel” of the work by tapping them on a metal surface. It is common practice when opening callipers by this means to tap the top of the joint. It is better, if possible, to tap the inside of the legs, as repeated blows, though light, tend to burr the edges of the joint. Care should be taken when using callipers to hold them square across the job, or an incorrect reading will be obtained. The interference between the work and the instrument should be very slight as distortion of the legs occurs if force is used. The application of callipers for good results calls for a certain amount of practice.

The book also illustrates another use for this instrument:image

Air Ministry Ammeter

We have looked at various military electrical gauges over the years and tonight we have a small example of an RAF ammeter:imageThis gauge is different from previous examples we have covered due to its small size and four mounting holes in either corner of the square face. This suggests that this particular ammeter is taken from an aircraft rather than being for some ground based purpose.

The front face of the ammeter is marked with the AM and crown mark of the Air Ministry and a stores code of 5A/1663:imageI have tried looking up this code and come across several eBay auctions describing this as being a ‘rare early Spitfire instrument’. Unfortunately I cannot find any corroborating evidence for this description yet and sellers are notorious for trying to attach militaria to an interesting unit, person vehicle in a bid to boost sales. A list of Air Ministry stores codes however suggests that it is actually for ground lighting and miscellaneous equipment:

Air Ministry Equipment Codes:

4A = Workshop Equipment
4C = Airfield Equipment
4F = Air Compressors and Servicing Trolleys
4G = Aircraft Servicing and Ground handling Equipment
4K = General Ground Equipment (including Refuelling Equipment)
4N = Sparking Plug Testing and Servicing Equipment
4FZ = Air Compressor Spares

5A = Ground Lighting and Miscellaneous Equipment
5B = Aircraft Wiring Assemblies
5CW = Aircraft Electrical Switches, Switchboxes, Relays and Accessory Items
5CX = Aircraft Electrical Lamps, Indicators, Lampholders and Accessory Items
5CY = Aircraft Electrical Plugs, Sockets, Circuit Markers, Suppressors and Accumulator Cut-outs
5CZ = Aircraft Electrical Miscellaneous Stores
5D = Aircraft Armament Electrical Stores
5E = Cable and Wire Electrical Stores
5F = Insulating Materials Electrical Stores
5G = Special Ground Equipment
5H = Standard Wiring System
5J = Batteries Primary and Secondary
5K = Electrical A.G.S and Bonding Stores
5L = Electric Lamps
5P = Ground Charging, Transforming Equipment and Motors
5Q = Ammeters, Micro-ammeters, Milli-ammeters, Voltmeters and Milli-voltmeters
5S = Strip Wiring Components
5UA = Aircraft Engine and Air Driven Electrical Current Producing Equipment and Spares
5UB = Aircraft Electrically Driven Electrical Current Producing and Transforming Equipment and Spares
5UC = Aircraft Electrical Current Control Equipment and Spares
5UD = Aircraft Electrical Motors, Blowers and Spares
5UE = Aircraft Electrically Driven Pumps, Accessories and Spares
5V = Aircraft Electrical Domestic Equipment
5W = Aircraft Electrical Actuators, Accessories and Spares
5X = Component Parts of Wiring Assemblies

6A = Aircraft Engine and Flying Instruments, Accessories and Spares
6B = Aircraft Navigation Equipment, Accessories and Spares
6C = Instrument Test Equipment, Tools, Accessories and Unit Equipment Spares
6D = Aircraft Gaseous Apparatus and Ancillary Equipment
6E = Miscellaneous Instruments, Accessories and Unit Servicing Spares
6F = Aircraft Personnel Equipment
6H = Aircraft Automatic Pilots, Marks 4 and 8, Major Components, Servicing Spares and Tools
6J = Aircraft Automatic Pilots, Types A3 and A3A and A.L.1, Major Components, Servicing Spares and Tools
6S = Automatic Stabilisers, Major Components, Servicing Spares and Tools
6T = Aircraft Automatic Pilots, Marks 9, 10, 10A, 13, SEP 2, 14 and 17, Major Components, Servicing Spares and Tools
6W = Instrumemnt Ancillaries to Radio Equipment
6Z = Radio activity Detection Equipment and Accessories, Unit and Major Servicing Spares

9 = Bomb and Torpedo Sights
9A = Aircraft Towed Target Gear
9B = Armament Ground Instructional Equipment

10A = Miscellaneous Radio (Wireless) Equipment
10AB = Miscellaneous Radio (Radar) Equipment
10AC = Unassembled Items peculiar to Radio with Generic Headings similar to those in Sections 28 and 29
10AD = Items and Assemblies performing Circuit Functions (Nomenclature commencing Letters A-K)
10AD = Items and Assemblies performing Circuit Functions (Nomenclature commencing Letters L-Z)
10AF = Calculating, Indicating and Measuring Equipment
10AG = Tools and Tool Boxes peculiar to Radio
10AH = Telephone Head Equipment, Microphones and Receivers
10AJ = Mountings and their Component Parts
10AK = Dials, Handles, Knobs,Plates, Escutcheon, Pointers, Pressbuttons and Scales
10AL = Screens and Insulating Components and their Assemblies
10AM = Labels (Radio)
10AP = Boxes, Cases, Covers and Trays, other Cases, Transit
10AQ = Furniture, Tentage, textile Materials and Ventilator Equipment, peculiar to Radio
10AR = Machinery, Machine and Mechanical Parts other than those in Section 10AC
(Nomenclature commencing Letters A-K)
10AR = Machinery, Machine and Mechanical Parts other than those in Section 10AC
(Nomenclature commencing Letters L-Z)
10AT = Windows and Visors
10AU = Strip Metallic
10B = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Aerial and Mast Equipment and Insulators
10BB =Radio (Radar) Aerial and Mast Equipment and Insulators
10C = radio Chokes, Capacitors and Inductors (see also Joint-Service Catalogue)
10CV = Joint Service Common Valves
10D = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Equipment, Modulators, Panels, Receivers, Transmitters etc.
10DB = Radio (Radar) Equipment, panels, Power Units, Racks, Receivers and Transmitters
10E = Magnets and Radio Valves (Industrial Types)
10F = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Starters and Switch Gear
10FB = Radio (radar) starters and Switch Gear
10G = Ground Telephone and Telegraph Equipment
10GP = Ground Telephone and Telegraph Equipment – Post Office Pattern
10H = Radio Connectors, Discs Indicating, Fuses, Leads, Plugs and Sockets and Ancillary Parts, Holders and Terminals.
10HA = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Connectors, Cords Instrument and Leads
10J = Radio Remote Controls
10K = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Power Units and Transformers
10KB = Radio (Radar) Power Units and Transformers
10L = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Control Units
10LB = Radio (Radar) Control Units
10P = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Filter and Receiver Units
10PB =Radio (Radar) Filter and Receiver Units
10Q = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Indicating Units
10QB = Radio (Radar) Indicating Units
10R = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Transmitter Units
10RB =Radio (Radar) Transmitter Units
10S = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Test Equipment
10SB = Radio (Radar) Test Equipment
10T = Radio Monitors and Wavemeters
10U = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Amplifying Units, Loudspeakers and Sound Reproduction Equipment
10UB = Radio (Radar) Amplifying Units and Loudspeakers
10V = Radio (Wireless and Radar) Oscillator Units
10VB = Radio (Radar) Oscillator Units
10W = Radio Resistors and miscellaneous Spares
10X = Radio Crystal Units
10Y = Cases Transit (general Radio purposes)

11A = Aircraft Bomb Gear
11C = Rocket Projector Gear

12A= Bombs (Live)
12B= Bombs (Dummy)
12C= Ammunition
12E = Torpedoes
12F= Misc. Armament

13 = Drawing Instruments

14A = Cameras
14B = Photographic Processing Equipment, Enlargers and Accessories
14C = Projection, Assessing Apparatus and Epidiascopes
14H = Photographic Test Apparatus

15A = Man-carrying Parachutes
15C = Equipment-dropping and Sea-rescue Apparatus
15D = Air Sea Rescue and Equipment, and Supply-dropping Parachutes

22C = Flying Clothing & Equipment

25A = Propellors
25B = Aircraft Radiators
25D = Spinners for Fixed Pitch Propellers and Fairey Spares for Metal Propellers

27A = Aircraft Wheel Equipment
27B = Aircraft Air and Oil Filters, Fuel and Oil Coolers
27C = Survival Equipment
27D = Miscrellaneous Aircraft Cover Equipment
27F = Aircraft Pumps and fuelling Equipment (Airborne)
27G = Aircraft Brake System Equipment
27H = Miscellaneous Aircraft Equipment
27J = Aircraft Control Handles with Gun, Camera, R.P. and Brake Operating Mechanisms
27K = Teleflex Aircraft Remote Control Equipment
27KA = Exactor Aircraft Remote Control Equipment
27KB = Aircraft Controls – Roller Chains
27KD = Pressurised Cabin Equipment – Normalair
27M = Aircraft Hydraulic and Undercarriage Equipment – Lockheed
27N = Airborne Fire Fighting Equipment
27R = B.L.G. Oleo Leg Equipment
27S = Standard Ball and Roller Bearings other than M.T.
27T = Controllable Gills
27U = Airborne Heaters
27UA = Aircraft Cabin Cooling Equipment
27V = Aircraft Controls – Teddington
27VA = Aircraft Controls – Dunlop
27VC = Aircraft Controls – Palmers
27W = Aircraft Hydraulic and Undercarriage Equipment, Standard Design
27WW = Aircraft Windscreen Wiper Equipment
27Z = Turner Duplex Hand Pumps for Aircraft Hydraulic Systems
27ZA = Exactor Self Sealing Couplings

28D = Bolts A.G.S.
28E = Clips A.G.S.
28F = Couplings A.G.S.
28FP = Aircraft Fastner and Quick Release Pins
28G = Eyebolts A.G.S.
28H = Ferrules A.G.S.
28J = Filler Caps and Fuel Filters A.G.S.
28K = Fork Joints A.G.S.
28L = Locknuts, Lockwashers A.G.S.
28M = Nuts A.G.S.
28N = A.G.S. Miscellaneous A to O
28P = Pins A.G.S.
28Q = Rivets A.G.S.
28R = A.G.S. Miscellaneous P to R
28S = Screws A.G.S. Miscellaneous A to O
28T = Studs A.G.S.
28U = Trunnions and Turnbuckles A.G.S.
28V = Unions A.G.S.
28W = Washers A.G.S.
28X = Wire A.G.S.
28Y = A.G.S. Miscellaneous S to Z

29A = Bolts and Nuts, General Hardware
29B = Screws, General Hardware
29C = Eyelets, Roves, Screw Cups, Washers, General Hardware
29E = Pins, Woodruff Keys, General Hardware
29F = Rivets, General Hardware

40H = Gun Turret Cases and Airtight Containers

50A = Aircraft Gun Turrets
50CC = Boulton Paul Gun Turret and Gun Mounting Tools
50DD = Bristol Gun Turret Tools
50EE = Frazer Nash Gun Turret Tools
50H = Aircraft Gun Turret Maintenance Equipment
50J = Free Gun Mountings

52 = Recognition Models

54A = Plotting Equipment

71B = Plants (Mobile, Transportable and Static) and Plant Accessories

Sadly the face of my example is marred by a crude glue repair round the edges of the Perspex, this glue has dried and cracked and has clearly been in place for many years.

The rear of the ammeter has two brass contacts that allow the instrument to be wired into an electrical system for use:imageWhilst this instrument was never actually used in a spitfire or indeed any other aircraft, it was a lucky find for £2 in a large box of vintage plugs and so was a great little addition to the collection and the sort of little find I love having.

Air Defence Cadet Corps Lapel Badge

In the past we have looked at the lapel badges worn by the Air Training Corps during the Second World War. Before this organisation existed, it was preceded by the Air Defence Cadet Corps, which had been set up in 1938 by Air Commodore Chamiers. It was his aim to provide a pool of trained young men who had an interest in aviation that could be called upon by the RAF In time of war. The organisation caught the spirit of the time and rapidly expanded.

Each squadron’s aim was to prepare cadets for joining the RAF or the Fleet Air Arm. They tried to give the cadets as much Service and aviation background as possible as well as giving instruction in drill, discipline, how to wear the uniform and how to behave on RAF stations. The training the cadets received also meant development of personal physical fitness. PT, games and athletics, especially cross country running and long route marches, soon became standard squadron activities. Cadets were also encouraged to take part in activities such as shooting, camping and, of course, flying.

The organisation adopted a badge with a stylized bird with outstretched wings and a lapel badge was issued for wear by those out of uniform:imageThe rear of this badge had the typical half-moon fastener that allowed the badge to be secured in a button hole:imageThe work of the organisation was invaluable and in 1940 it was taken under the control of the government being renamed the Air Training Corps in which form it continues to the present day.

Derek Wilkins was one of those who started his wartime career with the ADC:

As a boy I was interested in aviation and so joined the Air Defence Cadet Corps (then the Air Training Corps) at the outbreak of war in 1939. As well as the normal military basic training we followed the aircrew syllabus of navigation, meteorology, signals, armament, aircraft recognition etc, giving us a head start over other pilot training aspirants.

All RAF aircrew were volunteers, so at the age of 17 I presented myself at RAF Uxbridge for stringent medical and aptitude tests. A year later I received my call-up papers and reported to the ACRC (Aircrew Reception Centre) at Lord’s Cricket Ground to be inducted and inoculated.

The Royal Flying Corps at X…X Postcard

The development of powered flight before the Great War was to change the world forever and the general public quickly gained an insatiable appetite for anything to do with aircraft. This was an obvious subject matter for postcard manufacturers and together with the public’s natural patriotism made the Royal Flying Corps and obvious choice to produce postcards about.

This week’s image dates from the very start of the First World War and is titled ‘The Royal Flying Corps at X….X’:CaptureIn the foreground can be seen a soldier keeping guard of the aircraft:Capture - Copy (2)Behind can be seen a pair of aircraft:Capture - Copy (3)These have been identified by a friend as being most likely BE2 aircraft. This was a single engined, two man crewed training aircraft introduced in 1912 and used throughout the First World War. It was initially used as a front-line reconnaissance aircraft and light bomber; modified as a single-seater it proved effective as a night fighter, destroying several German airships.

By late 1915, the B.E.2 was proving inadequate in defending itself against German fighters such as the then new Fokker Eindecker, leading to increased losses during the period known as the Fokker Scourge. Although by now obsolete, it had to remain in front-line service while suitable replacements were designed, tested and brought into service. Following its belated withdrawal from operations, the type served in various second line capacities, seeing use as a trainer and communications aircraft, as well as performing anti-submarine coastal patrol duties.

Behind these aircraft can be seen a large airship:Capture - CopyThe white ensign flying beneath shows this airship belongs to the RNAS rather than the RFC. Britain never used airships to the same extent as Germany and its Zepplins, however they saw sterling service patrolling the channel and on anti-submarine patrols.

Prisoner of War Postcard Home

Stammlager 344 is better known as Stalag Luft VIII-B and was a prisoner of war camp for non-commission air crew situated near Lamsdorf in Silesia. It had been operational in World War One and was reopened in 1939 initially housing Polish prisoners. It was to see 100,000 men pass through its gates during the Second World War and it was regarded as one of the better run camps. As other ranks, men were expected to work so many were sent off in small working parties called Arbeitskommandos, with up to 600 groups being absent from the camp at any one time. Like all prisoners of war, the men at Stammlager 344 were permitted to send postcards home to their loved ones to tell them they were safe and well and tonight we have an example that was sent from the camp to a Mrs H Slater in Hampshire:SKM_C30819041613070 - CopyThe details of the sender in the corner show which camp he was stationed in and his name, Edwin Edmunds:SKM_C30819041613070 - Copy - CopyWhilst the stamp in the top corner indicates that the card was sent through the German postal system in November 1944:SKM_C30819041613070 - Copy - Copy (2)The rear of the postcard has the prisoners message:SKM_C30819041613080 - CopyThis reads:

My dear Vi + Harold. I hope you are both well. I received a cig parcel this week. I expect it was from either you or mother. It came at a good time. I was right out of a smoke. Well dear I hope this will be my last winter here. It is very cold now. Must close. Keep smiling. Your loving brother Eddie.

It would indeed be Edwin’s last winter in captivity as the following May Germany would be defeated. Sadly before then the weather would become much colder and in January the prisoners would be marched west in bitterly cold weather on the so called ‘death marches’ to escape the invading soviets. Those that travelled far enough west were liberated by the Americans, those who didn’t were taken by the soviets and used as virtual hostages for several more months, only being liberated at the end of 1945 through the port of Odessa.4656773_orig


A voltmeter is an electrical device to measure the voltage of electricity in a circuit. Today voltmeters are usually digital, but half a century they were analogue devices that used a form of galvanometer. The galvanometer has a coil of fine wire suspended in a strong magnetic field. When an electric current is applied, the interaction of the magnetic field of the coil and of the stationary magnet creates a torque, tending to make the coil rotate. The torque is proportional to the current through the coil. The coil rotates, compressing a spring that opposes the rotation. The deflection of the coil is thus proportional to the current, which in turn is proportional to the applied voltage, which is indicated by a pointer on a scale.

Tonight we are looking at a military marked voltmeter from the late 1950s:imageThis large device was designed to be mounted on an electrical panel and has a series of screw holes around its rim to allow it to be attached. The dial itself is /|\ marked with a date of 1958:imageThe scale allows a voltage of between 0V and 20V to be measured in 1/2V increments. The rear of the voltmeter has a pair of brass contacts to allow the voltmeter to be wired into a circuit:imageAlso obvious is a large paper label attached to one of the contacts. This label dates to when the voltmeter was last tested to see if it worked. This is an RAF label, indicating that this voltmeter was from their stores, rather than the army:imageThe date on the rear indicates it was tested in September 1960:imageThe fact that this label survives on the voltmeter shows that it has never been used and is in fact what is often referred to as ‘new old stock’. Vintage military electrical gear is available to the collector very cheaply and seem to hold little interest to most militaria collectors- I on the other hand rather like these instruments as there is something very attractive and ‘retro’ about these old, chunky dials and switches that I find appealing…

Air Ministry Boot Brush

Boot brushes have appeared many times over the years of this blog and the army marked examples are very common, regularly examples dating back as far as the First World War turn up for under £1 each. Those stamped up for naval or Air Force use are much scarcer, but I have managed to pick up a pair of Admiralty marked examples over the last few years. Until recently however a wartime dated RAF example eluded me. It was therefore fantastic to find this example a few weeks back for just 50p:imageThe brush is typical of all boot brushes, with a wooden back and bristles glued in small clumps into holes drilled into one side:imageThe bristles are made of hair, like nearly all brushes manufactured before the widespread use of nylon, and this is stamped into the wood along one side of the brush:imageThat this is an RAF brush is clearly indicated by an AM and crown mark indicating the Air Ministry and the date of 1941:image‘Kent’ is the name of the manufacturer and indicates that this brush was produced by GB Kent & Sons Ltd. This firm is still trading today and their website gives some history:

G B Kent & Sons Ltd, manufacturers of brushes since the eighteenth century, is one of the oldest established companies in Great Britain.

Kent Brushes was founded in 1777 by William Kent in the reign of George III. We hold a pre-eminent place in the history of brush making, with an unbroken record of excellence in the quality of our production, which has been recognised by the granting of Royal Warrants for nine reigns.

The Kent family continued to run the company for six generations until 1932 when the last of the three Kent brothers passed away. Then Mr Eric L.H Cosby, owner of Cosby Brushes Ltd, entered into an association with G.B Kent & Sons. This started a new chapter in Kent’s long history, and since then, Kent Brushes has been under the creative and dynamic direction of the Cosby family.

The only other marks on the brush is an RAF type stores code marked in minuscule type into the same side as the AM mark:imageAirmen were issued a pair of boot brushes on enlistment, just like their counterparts in the other services and were then responsible for the upkeep of their own footwear, polish being bought out of their own pay at the NAAFI.