RAF Historical Society

The logo of the Royal Air Force Historical SocietyAlthough the Royal Air Force dates from 1918, it was almost seventy years before a society devoted to examining the history of the Service emerged. That is not to say that the RAF's history was being neglected. Ever since it was opened in 1972, the RAF Museum has exhibited a splendid collection of preserved airframes and artefacts as well as maintaining an ever-expanding archive. The official record is ably chronicled by the staff of the Air Historical Branch (AHB) and their efforts are amplified by painstakingly detailed research into practically every aspect of the RAF's composition, operations and equipment published by a variety of enthusiasts' organisations, not to mention the constant flow of books dedicated to particular aeroplane types, the histories of specific units, the careers of individuals and so on.

Nevertheless, while there was clearly no shortage of information, there was no public institution that was specifically dedicated to studying the history of the Service or which provided a forum at which it could be discussed. The Royal Air Force Historical Society was established in 1986 to fill this gap. It has charitable status and, although it is entirely self-financing, it has, from the outset, had the blessing of the Air Force Board.

The society aims to mount three annual events, two seminars, usually hosted by the RAF Museum at Hendon (although other venues are used occasionally), and an AGM held in London. Each seminar explores a specific theme and takes the form of papers read by interested parties, ranging from academic historians to veterans recalling their personal experiences. It is some indication of the calibre of speakers that the society can attract that participants have included serving and former Chiefs of the Air Staff, Lord Healey, Sir Michael Quinlan, Dr Alfred Price, Air Cdre Henry Probert (a former Head of the AHB) and Prof Peter Hennessy.


Proceedings of the Society

The proceedings of each seminar, and the guest speaker's paper read at each AGM, are all eventually published in the society's Journal and it has been decided to make these more widely available as a research tool by publishing back issues on the web. The following journals are available in Adobe Reader Format:
Journal 1 - RV Jones on the Intelligence War and the RAF (254kb)
Journal 2 - John Terraine on WWII (337kb)
Journal 3 - Seminar - Suez 1956 (1.1mb)
Journal 4 - Cecil James on the 1957 White Paper & Prof Horst (327kb)
Journal 5 - Seminar - Clandestine Ops in NW Europe (317kb)
Journal 6 - Dennis Richards on the WWII Bomber Offensive (550kb)
Journal 7 - Seminar - Origins of UK Nuclear Deterrent 1945-6 (368kb)
Journal 8 - Dr Philip Towle on Air Control & Vincent Orange (318kb)
Journal 9 - Joint US & UK Seminar (554kb)
Journal 10 - Seminar - Photo-Recce in WWII (507kb)
Journal 11 - Sir Frank Cooper on Air Force Policy in the 1950s & 1960s (4.5mb)
Journal 12 - John Terraine on WWI (258kb)
Journal 13 - Seminar - Confrontation with Indonesia (3.1kb)
Journal 14 - Sir Michael Howard on Ethics, Deterrence and Strategic Bombing (701kb)
Journal 15 - Seminar - RAF Regiment (1.8mb)
Journal 16 - Seminar - Air Leadership in War (9.4mb)
Journal 16A - Defending Northern Skies (33.9mb)
Journal 17 - Dr Noble Frankland on writing official history (3.1mb)
Journal 17A - Air Navigation in the RAF (17.8mb)
Journal 17B - TSR2 with Hindsight (22.6mb)
Journal 18 - Seminar - South Arabia and Withdrawal from Aden (10.6mb)
Journal 19 - Seminar - Logistics (12.4mb)
Journal 20 - Seminar - Training in Peace for War (2.7mb)
Journal 21 - Seminar - Malaya, Korea & Kuwait 1961 (11mb)
Journal 22 - Seminar - Air Transport (32.4mb)
Journal 22A - RAF in Germany (17.6mb)
Journal 23 - Seminar - Cold War Intelligence Gathering (33.8mb)
Journal 24 - Sir Michael Quinlan on RAF Policy 1962-65 (14.7mb)
Journal 25 - Seminar - Helicopters in the RAF (18.4mb)
Journal 26 - Seminar the RAF and Nuclear Weapons 1960-98 (18.4mb)
Journal 27 - Henry Probert on Harris plus misc papers (3.1mb)
Journal 27A - Seminar - Birth of Tornado (8.7mb)
Journal 28 - Seminar - Electronic Warfare (17mb)
Journal 29 - Dr Alfred Price on Battle of Britain Day (5mb)
Journal 29A - Reserve & Auxiliary Forces (25.3mb)
Journal 30 - Seminar - The Falklands Campaign (5.5mb)
Journal 31 - Lord Healey - Recollections of a Secretary of State for Defence (9.1mb)
Journal 32 - Joint US & UK seminar (5.4mb)
Journal 33 - Seminar - Maritime Operations (12.7mb)
Journal 34 - Peter Hennessey on The Secret State plus misc (8.7mb)
Journal 35 - Seminar - Supply (14.7mb)
Journal 35A - Seminar - the RAF Harrier Story (25.6mb)
Journal 36 - Misc - Pre-War Squadron Markings - Polish Apprentices at Halton (56.9mb)
Journal 37 - Seminar - Flight Safety and Accident Investigation (28.2mb)
Journal 38 - Seminar - The RAF in the Mediterranean Region (64.4mb)
Journal 39 - Early Turbojet Development - Servicing Commandos (16.5mb)
Journal 40 - Seminar - Air-Sea Rescue (65.9mb)
Journal 41 - Reprints of Selected Papers (0.6mb)
Journal 42 - Misc Papers inc Thor Cuba 1962 - Arnhem Aircrew (31.2mb)
Journal 49 - RAF - International Dimension (49mb)
Journal 50 - Battle of Britain (32.7mb)
Journal 50A - Battle of Britain (78.4mb)
Journal 51 - Support of air operations (38.5mb)
Journal 52 - Trafford leigh Mallory (17.2mb)
Journal 53 - Early jet era (46.5mb)
Journal 54 - Army cooperation (32.7mb)
Journal 55 - Bomber command (16.9mb)

Bracknell Papers

The following papers are sponsored jointly by the Royal Air Force Historical Society and the Royal Air Force Staff College, Bracknell.
Bracknell Paper 1 - Battle of Britain (14.4mb)
Bracknell Paper 2 - Battle of the Atlantic (5.8mb)
Bracknell Paper 3 - Land-Air Warfare (9.1mb)
Bracknell Paper 4 - The Bomber Offensive (27.9mb)
Bracknell Paper 5 - OVERLORD (34mb)
Bracknell Paper 6 - Far East Air War (42.2mb)
Bracknell Paper 7 - Air Intelligence (57.7mb)