RAF Form 414 Volume 8

RAF Form 414 Volume 8

It’s starting to look its age, it’s frayed at the edges, wrinkled and has bits that might fall off. No, not me, my first venerable old Royal Air Force logbook. So before it comes apart completely, I think it might be time to punish you again with a few more stories from its pages.



The Westinghouse AWG 11/12 radar.



43 Sqn F4 Phantom FG1 on QRA.


Engaging a USAF EC130.


Engaging a USAF EC130.


My treasured Blue Peter badge.


The Boy Pilot, John, Ballex and Budgie… heroes of the Blue Peter Special!


The AEW Avro Shackleton.



Another Bear.


The F5 Aggressors in their distinctive Soviet camouflage.


You can’t meander around a Leander! An RN Frigate.


Hunting Jags over the wilds of Scotland.


The RAF Piddle Pack!


An RAF goon suit (aircrew Immersion Suit).


Images under Creative Commons Licence with thanks to Daderot National Electronics Museum, the Royal Air Force, UK Crown, Mike Freer of Touchdown Aviation, USAF and the US Gov.



Many of my aviation heroes are complicated people of nuance and contradiction but not this man. As I reflect on his life, so recently ended, I remind myself of his uncompromising, direct manner but also of his enormous courage and skill that brought Charles Edward Yeager to the world’s attention.

Yeager grew up helping his father out on gas drilling rigs.


Yeager joined the Air Force as a Private and became a mechanic but he soon made his way into pilot training.


He was initially given a P39 Aeracobra to fly.


He was sent to Europe to flight, flying the P51 Mustang.


He named his own aircraft Glamorous Glen.


He qualified as an Ace in one day and then shot down a jet powered Me262.


After the war Yeager qualified as a Test Pilot.


Even as a very junior Test Pilot, Yeager was offered the chance to pilot the Bell X1.


Yeager finally took the X!, now named Glamorous Glennis, over Mach 1 becoming the first to break the sound barrier.


Yeager completed a long and successful career in the USAF.


Chuck Yeager passed away in 2020.


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to SMU Central University, USAF National Museum and the USAF.

Bravo November

Bravo November

The RAF Chinook helicopter has proved to be a versatile and determined workhorse for the British Armed services but none more so than the airframe Bravo November. This remarkable machine was the sole surviving Chinook of the Falklands war and it continued to operate in many operations in the Middle East. Even more remarkable was the bravery of it’s pilots, four of whom received the Distinguished Flying Cross.


A US Army CH47A.


An RAF Chinook.


Argentinian forces invade Stanley.


British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.


Government House at Port Stanley.


HMS Invincible leads the task force out of British Waters.


The Atlantic Conveyor embarking aircraft.


The Argentinian submarine Santa Fe, previously USS Catfish.


An RAF Vulcan.


The sinking of the Belgrano.


The sinking of HMS Sheffield.


The sinking of HMS Antelope.


An Argentinian Super Etendard.


The Atlantic Conveyor ablaze.


Bravo November… the last Chinook.


Commandos marching across the inhospitable terrain of the Falklands… into battle.


A 105mm howitzer.


An upgraded BN during operations in the Middle East.


BN also served in the Afghan conflict.


Bravo November continues to serve to this very day.



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the Royal Air Force, SPC Glen Anderson, the Argentine Navy, the Imperial War Museum, USN, Jefediahspringfield, Martin Sgut, Martin Otero, Royal Marines and the Ministry of Defence,




The Average Pilot

The Average Pilot

When examining pilot deaths in WWI it was discovered that 90% were put down to pilot errors whereas only 2% were due to enemy action! Things didn’t improve in WW2 either. A lowly 23 year old analyst challenged the assumption that cockpits should be designed to fit the Average Pilot. This is the story of Human Factors in Aviation.


An RAF pilot’s annual assessment of ability.


Quételet, the man who invented averages.


The University of Ghent.


It was the study of Astronomy that gave rise to the first calculations of averages.


The study of the average Scottish Soldier.


Very few deaths during the First World War were due to enemy action.


The Second World War also saw an unacceptable number of deaths due to accidents.


The USAF conducted a large study into the size of their men to discover the dimensions of the average pilot.


Lt Gilbert Daniels discovered that not one USAF pilot matched the average!


The study of ergonomics let to better cockpit design.


Human factors also covers the limitation of the human body when flying.


Modern glass cockpits prevent many pitfalls from previous designs but bring their own problems.


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the US Congress, Frederik de Wit, the Deseronto Archives, the USN, the Australian War Museum, Henry Vandyke Carter and Airbus.




You Couldn’t Give These Away Either!

You Couldn’t Give These Away Either!

Having recently talked about of couple of embarrassingly awful US World War 2 aircraft it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t mention some from my side of the Atlantic that were knocked together in the jolly old British Isles! Sadly, there are way too many to cover so I’ll just take a deep breath and mention a few!


Adverts for Boulton and Paul garden sunrooms.


The Wonderful Airfix Defiant model.


The ungainly Rhino parachute that the Defiant gunners wore.


The Sopwith Camel that Boulton Paul built under licence.


Boulton Paul had become well known as a turret manufacturer.


The ungainly Rhino parachute that the Defiant gunners had to cope with.


Boulton Paul Defiants lined up on the ground.


Taken out of front line operations the Defiant found a place as a target tug aircraft.


The large and slow Fairey Battle.


The Battle’s bomb aimer’s position.


Bombing up a Battle.


How many apprentices does it take to push a Fairey Battle?


The Fairey Swordfish.


The aircraft due to replace the Swordfish, the Fairey Albacore.


An Albacore departs from HMS Victorious.


The damaged and sunk capital ships of the Italian Navy after the Battle of Taranto.


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Boulton & Paul Ltd, Airfix, the RAF, Air Historic Branch RAF, RN, and The Australian War Memorial Collection,