The main collection covers the history of British aviation. The earliest photographs show military ballooning in the 19th Century. It continues with the early pioneers to the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service in World War One. They merged to form the Royal Air Force and the collection shows its work in Europe, India and the Middle East in the inter-war years. The RAF expanded greatly in the Second World War but since then has gradually reduced in size. The number of photographs we have of different periods reflect the size of the RAF which means we have fewer photographs of recent years.
The main collection has been compiled from material given to the Museum or allowed to copy. We are constantly looking for new material from all periods to add to the collection and fill gaps in the history of the Royal Air Force.
Some of the photograph collection is available online using the Navigator database. A proportion of these listings have scanned images attached.
You can view and buy prints of some of the Museum's best-loved photographs at the online photograph store.