RFC Book


The Royal Flying Corps In Colour Photographs
by Raymond L. Rimler

This new title will include over one hundred genuine colour photographs of the men and machines of the Royal Flying Corps, in action on the Western Front in early 1918.

A previously unknown collection of glass plate images was recently discovered, during the cataloging of the British archives of the
photographic company Eastman Kodak. According to documents that were found with these photographs, Kodak had been working during the First World War on a pioneering chemical process, to capture colour images on the conventional glass plate negatives of the time.

The War Department in Whitehall where interested in the potential of this process, for better aerial reconnaissance of the German trenches and forward positions. Accordingly, Stanley West, a civilian employee of Eastman Kodak, was seconded to No.16 Squadron, RFC, in France in early 1918. There, he flew as an observer on several missions over the front and took a series of colour photographs of the trench system in the area. West also took many pictures of the R.E.8 aircraft he flew in, the fighters that escorted him, and of visiting RFC aircraft from other units. The War Department was disappointed with the results of the trial and abandoned its support, leaving the development of colour photography to languish for another decade.

Although faded by age, these remarkable images have now been computer enhanced, to present a stunning new glimpse into the world of 1918.

One unusual sequence of photographs deserves particular mention. During a reconnaissance mission over enemy lines, West’s aircraft was suddenly attacked by an all-red Fokker Triplane. The lumbering R.E.8 aircraft was no match for the German fighter, but amazingly the German’s guns jammed and he was unable to complete the kill. The German pilot then flew alongside the British crew and saluted them, before diving away. West recorded the attack and flyby with his camera. Only a few weeks later, the Red Baron met his death.

This title will be a major publishing event for 1997, and an essential reference source for all World War One aviation enthusiasts and historians. Captions are written by the well known aviation historian Ray Rimler.

Publication date is 1st April 1997. Price £19.95. For more information talk to April at Foolsday Publications on Tel 0192-010497.