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The RAF's Armourers (Hardback)

Safely Making Aircraft Dangerous Since the First World War

Aviation > Royal Air Force Photographic Books

By Phil Appleby, Tony Lamsdale
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 296
Illustrations: 100 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399010337
Published: 20th September 2023

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It is said that one of the earliest trades in the world is that of the Armourer. Historically, it is a profession dated slightly after prostitution, but well before banking! Since the birth of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912 through to the modern Royal Air Force, the role of the Armourer has been pivotal. Not for nothing did the founder of the RAF, Lord Trenchard, once declare: ‘The Armourer – without him there is no need for an air force.’

In the years since the need for RAF Armourers was first recognised, it has been a role that has evolved with the times. What has remained constant, however, is the fact that it is still a fascinating and potentially dangerous trade with many different branches and specialisms. In this book the authors, one of whom, Tony Lamsdale, is himself a former RAF Armourer, reveal the previously untold story of how the trade has adapted to the most modern of military machines, the aircraft.

The authors look at the shared history of the Armourer and the RAF through the eyes of those who served. These veterans’ stories span decades, and their first-hand accounts and insights into conflict and peace-time operations demonstrate the qualities and characteristics that make Armourers unique.

The book starts with a brief history of the Armourer, then before capturing the adventures and exploits of RAF Armourers from the Second World War and on into the Cold War. The dangerous duties of the Armourers on deployment in such places as the Falklands, Iran, Iraq or Afghanistan are all explored. There is also the question of having to learn of bomb dumps, the use of small arms and the unique world of the Armourer with its own peculiar language and the camaraderie of the crew room.

With each chapter brought to life through personal anecdotes and shared experiences, this book provides an insight into an utterly essential role which has remained largely hidden – until now.

"With each chapter brought to life through personal anecdotes and shared experiences, this book provides an insight into an utterly essential role which has remained largely hidden - until now."

Ordnance Society Newsletter - No.144, January 2024

I found the book a most enjoyable read and as an ex-armourer a very pleasant trip down memory lane. The book is well researched with enough technical detail to explain to the reader the equipment or aircraft being described without overdoing the complexity. As a result a non-military person would gain an understanding of what being an armourer entails and find the book an interesting insight into the role and culture of the unique strand of military life that armourers inhabit. The book encapsulates over eighty years of RAF history and is a credit to the authors.

Phil James

Was looking forward to this book release for months and it did not disappoint. I served for 11 years and this brought back so many happy memories of that time as a plumber. Thorough research with obvious pride, respect and affinity for the best trade in the RAF! A fantastic read that i couldn't put down. Chapeau sirs!

Mark Grierson

About Phil Appleby

PHIL APPLEBY, a former UK National Scrabble Champion, worked as a technical writer and editor for almost 30 years. His journalistic experience includes working as a theatre correspondent for a regional newspaper, and he has experience of editing newsletters and specialist magazines. Phil’s father served in the RAF during the Second World War.


About Tony Lamsdale

TONY LAMSDALE joined the RAF in 1987 and served as an Armourer for twelve years. He served mainly in the UK but went to the first Gulf War in 1990 and spent several years supporting peace keeping operations in the Balkans. Tony is a member of the Royal Air Forces Association 1366 (Armourers) Branch and is still very much at the heart of the Armourers community.

Perfect Partner

From the Cold War to the War on Terror The Personal Story of an RAF Armourer and Engineer from Nuclear Weapons to Bomb Disposal (Hardback)

Michael Haygarth left home a few weeks before his seventeenth birthday to join the Royal Air Force as a Weapons Technician. At the time, everything seemed very normal and routine, but his thirty-eight-year career turned out to be anything but. From training with other nations all over the world; fast roping out of helicopters with US Army Rangers; being driven around Basra in the back of a beaten-up taxi wearing civilian clothes with a 9mm pistol stuck in his waistband; to convoying at speed around Baghdad with the United States Army looking for unexploded bombs. All of these events were extraordinary…

By Sqn Ldr Mick Haygarth

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