& Bullets

Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.


With reviews of books that cover these topics


The RAF in Camera – 1970s

Keith Wilson


Pen & Sword, 2018

The third in the series of illustrated histories of our Air Force, all by renowned aerial cameraman Keith Wilson. It shares the strengths and weaknesses of its predecessors. Almost all photographs are from the RAF’s archives, via its Air Historical  Branch. They are therefore of uniformly high quality and usually well reproduced.  Given the era covered, I would expect this probably to be the best selling of the volumes, since the potential readership of those who served in the Seventies is larger than that of earlier decades.


The series has one over-riding flaw – it concentrates on the equipment and not on the men. It is the people that make any armed force, and the RAF is no exception. The book would have had considerably more depth and colour were it to have included more pictures of the RAF’s main characters of the period.


The text is written in dry ‘service’ language – “commence” appears far too often, for example. And there is too much direct overlap between the captions and accompanying text. The captions seem aimed at the spotter market – lots of information about the ultimate fate of each particular airframe, etc. I would have preferred more text on the strategic evolution of the RAF and its components through the period.


But a great volume to dip into for some nostalgia.