Aircraft records

One of our aircraft record cards.
One of our aircraft record cards.
One of our aircraft record cards.
One of our aircraft record cards.

The Museum holds a range of documents that can be used to help trace the history of specific RAF aircraft. They can be consulted in the Reading Room and prints from our microfilm can be provided for a small fee. Small numbers of cards can be copied for postal enquirers, but please note that demand for this service is high and it may be necessary to limit the number of records copied.

Aircraft Movement Cards

Air Ministry Form 78 was used to record the allocation of an aircraft to units, and the dates on which damage was sustained and repaired. The surviving cards date from about 1930, and are held by the Ministry of Defence Air Historical Branch, but the RAF Museum holds copies on microfilm.

Whilst most of the cards are quite informative, those for aircraft sent to the Middle and Far East theatres during the Second World War are not: the majority of these simply record the aircraft's arrival at its destination and make no mention of its subsequent fate. It is thought that similar records were kept by overseas commands, but these appear not to have survived.

The movement cards usually do not include aircraft operated by the Royal Navy.

Delivery Records

Two series of records are held on microfilm. One is a ledger arranged by aircraft serial number, covering the range K1000 to RZ431, and the other a series of cards for aircraft delivered during the Second World War, arranged by aircraft name. The information recorded varies slightly but includes the date that each aircraft was taken on RAF charge and, in some cases, the unit to which it was delivered.

Research and Development Aircraft

Aircraft used by the research and development establishments were loaned to the Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP) and its successors. A card was kept by the MAP for each aircraft, recording details of the loan and in some cases the projects for which the aircraft was used. The Museum has microfilm copies of these cards.

The Royal Aircraft Establishment's flight logs, which record virtually every flight made at Farnborough between 1914 and 1954, are at the National Archives in class AVIA 1.

Accident Record Cards

Air Ministry Form 1180 was designed to record details of aircraft accidents so that the causes could be analysed and the resulting data used in accident prevention. The original cards - mainly dating from 1929 onwards, although a few have survived from 1919 - are held by the Air Historical Branch, and the RAF Museum has microfilm copies.

To trace a specific accident it is essential to know the date and the aircraft type - there are no indexes for location, unit or crew names.

Bomber Command Losses

Bomber Command created a card for each aircraft that failed to return from an operational flight, and these were then used to try to identify ways in which losses could be reduced. The data recorded on the cards normally includes the names of the crew, their fate, the route taken and bomb load. In some cases information from survivors has also been added.

There are no equivalent records for other Commands.

Aircraft logs

The Museum has a small number of aircraft servicing records (RAF Form 700) mostly relating to aircraft in its collection. The information recorded includes servicing carried out and flight times, but there are few details of individual flights. There is no other source of such records - RAF practice is to destroy such records shortly after the aircraft is struck off charge.

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 Bernard Rice

Bernard Rice

First World War Pilot
3 Pilots 1 War