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Royal Flying Corps Kitbag (Hardback)

Aircrew Uniforms and Equipment from the War Over the Western Front in WWI

WWI Frontline Books Colour Books Frontline: WWI WWI Photographic Books

By Mark Hillier
Frontline Books
Pages: 268
Illustrations: 200
ISBN: 9781526752994
Published: 5th March 2020


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The Royal Flying Corps was formed by Royal Warrant on 13 April 1912, and came into being a month later when the Air Battalion was absorbed into the Military Wing of the new Corps in May. In the days following the outbreak of war in 1914, the programme for mobilization of the RFC was, in the main, successfully carried out. The first aircraft set out across the Channel on the morning of 13 August, taking off from Dover at 06.25 hours.

The first pilot to land in France was Lieutenant H.D. Harvey-Kelly of No.2 Squadron. In due course, all four of the initial RFC squadrons deployed to the Western Front were ready for operations. They represented, noted the Official Historian of the RFC, the ‘first organized national [air] force to fly to a war overseas’.

As the Great War raged, the developments in military aviation were profound, not only in terms of aerial warfare but, as this book reveals, the uniforms and equipment the aircrew used. All the objects that a Royal Flying Corps pilot or airman was issued with for sorties over the Western Front during the First World War are explored in this book in high-definition colour photographs, detailing everything from the differing flying clothing, to headgear, personal weapons, gloves, goggles and early life preservers. Each item is fully described, and its purpose and use explained.

Fly with the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2s and Sopwith Camels over the trenches and see what the RFC aircrew wore as they took on their German foe in what were the formative years of military aviation.

A fascinating new addition to the unique ‘Kitbag’ series from Frontline books. Although this book contains a great many images, mostly in full colour, there is also plenty of informative text and many images are published for the first time. – Very Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here


This is almost another in the 100 objects series, this time looking at what Royal Flying Corps officers were required to carry in their kitbags. Fascinating!

Books Monthly

After carefully reading this book I can say that it is of exceptional quality. It is well worth the investment and the author has spent numerous hours
researching and reviewing the contents. In short, if you desire to know what the fledgling RFC aviators took into battle with them in World War 1 then you must get a copy of this book.

Dr Stuart C Blank

This book strips down the airman and looks at everything, from the uniform, to goggles, to badges, to log books to weapons and so much more. This is an excellent and well written book with a lot of very good detail. I would say these books are like a bible on it’s particular subject, if it’s not in there it’s not worth knowing about. I would very much recommend this book and those who are fans of this particular era will thoroughly enjoy the book.

UK Historian

It is sad to have to accept that there are no veterans left alive who can remember or comment on subjects like this any more, and that makes this an ever more valuable book to remember them, and what they accomplished. It is a super resource for figure modellers, along with aviation historians and I suspect for modern pilots who are interested in that history. It is also an ideal reference for militaria collectors and re-enactors, plus I suspect, for families who may still own some relics of uniforms/badges/documentation from grandfathers/great grandfathers and who would like to know a bit more about them. Excellent.

Read the full review here

Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

This book provides as much as one could wish to know about the RFC and its pilots. By offering detailed insights into the kit they wore, much of it experimental and emerging to deal with ever changing situations, the reader gets a comprehensive view of the problems, the solutions and the people. As expected in such circumstances many of the solutions, particularly to protect from cold at altitude were the result of individuals getting things done rather than the RFC providing solutions. The profile of many individual pilots allowed them to finance better equipment until the RFC caught up and formally adopted some of the ideas. The book is a superb reference book and is graced with excellent images that add real value. Recommended.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy
 Mark Hillier

About Mark Hillier

Mark Hillier is a chartered surveyor who has a deep knowledge of the history of the RAF, with a particular focus on the Second World War. He is also a qualified pilot, having flown for more than twenty-two years. Mark currently flies a Stearman biplane from Goodwood Aerodrome, the former RAF Westhampnett. He has previously written or co-authored five successful books on aviation, including the biography of Wing Commander Thomas Murray DSO, DFC and Bar, contributed numerous magazine articles and is a regular public speaker on aviation matters.

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