From flying members of the royal family and past prime ministers around the world, to having the chief of defence staff singing him Happy Birthday, ex RAF serviceman, Paul Passmore has some incredibly interesting stories to tell about his time in the RAF.
We were lucky enough to catch up with him as the RAF’s poignant centenary year draws to a close.
If you’re interested…
This year marks the centenary of the Royal Air Force, arguably the most important military anniversary to be celebrated in British history. In fact, there are numerous official events and ceremonies planned up and down the country to mark the occasion – including a service at Westminster Abbey with an RAF parade and flypast!
It has been a glorious 100 years, full of extreme courage, bravery and self-sacrifice by the men and women who served and continue to serve.
And, to mark this historic occasion, a brand new Official RAF Centenary Five Pound Proof Coin has just been issued on behalf of the Bailiwick of Jersey. In my opinion, it is one of the most striking military coins ever issued and is the perfect tribute to ensure the remarkable feats of technology and courage of our RAF are never forgotten.
So what’s the story behind the design?
For such an important anniversary, we knew the design had to be particularly special and we felt there was no better person for the job than ex-Royal Mint designer, Mike Guilfoyle.
Mike has 30 years of experience designing coins that have circulated around the world and has produced some of the most stunning British Isles coins ever minted. We were lucky enough to see the design process through with him.
From the start it was clear we wanted to include the most renowned planes from the RAF’s history and Mike came up with multiple options for us.
However, it was the idea to show the incredible changes in technology over the last 100 years that really captured our imagination. The coin features three of the most important aircraft from the last century; the Sopwith Camel, the Supermarine Spitfire and the Lockheed Lightning II which brings us right up to the present day and looks towards the future of our RAF.
Highly detailed design – intricate striking
Through careful research and communicating closely with the MOD, Mike has been able to render each plane in exquisite detail.
But this high level of detail and care didn’t just stop at design level. You can clearly see it’s been replicated right through to the striking of Mike’s design on the coins – what really took me aback is that none of the detail has been lost – that’s because the use of Modern Minting techniques used to produce the coins has resulted in one of the most intricately struck coins I’ve ever seen.
What makes it even better is that each plane has been enhanced with 24-Carat Gold Ink to really show off the detail and make it stand out against the Proof background.
The most iconic aircraft of the RAF
Here’s a bit more about why these three special planes have been chosen to feature on the coin:
The Sopwith Camel
The Sopwith Camel has become one of the most iconic fighter aircraft of the First World War.
In fact, J. M. Bruce tells us that “The total number of enemy aircraft shot down by Camels was 1,294, a greater number than were defeated by any other single type of aeroplane of the 1914-18 war”
With that astonishing achievement this aircraft continued to serve until 1923 – an incredible lifespan for a plane in this era. 
Considering that the Sopwith Camel was serving from the very beginning of the RAF’s official formation and it was such an important part of the First World War, its place in RAF history is well-secured and was a clear choice to be featured on this stunning coin.
The Supermarine Spitfire
The Spitfire has to be one of the most famous British fighter aircraft in history and it has become the most iconic aircraft of the Second World War.
In fact, this aircraft has become synonymous with one battle in particular; the Battle of Britain. Alongside the Hawker Hurricane, this aircraft helped to defeat the German air attacks during the Battle of Britain and was seen as such a superior aircraft for it’s time that The RAF Museum states “at the height of the Battle of Britain…a German ace…in a moment of anger and frustration, turned to his Commander in Chief and demanded a squadron of Spitfires!” 
With that in mind, and considering the Spitfire still astonishes the crowds at air shows today, featuring this plane was another unanimous decision.
The Lockheed Lightning II
Now, this multi-role supersonic stealth aircraft is an incredible example of just how far technology has come and is definitely a plane which will play a key part in the RAF’s future.
In fact, 2018 sees the 617Squadron, becoming the first RAF Squadron equipped with the Lightning II aircraft, of which the UK has so far taken delivery of 9. 
To me, these three incredible aircraft represent an ever-evolving RAF that is consistently at the forefront of technology, making this coin a fitting tribute to the courageous work of the RAF, the men and women who have served over the last 100 years and those who will continue to serve in the future.
If you are interested…
You can be one of a limited number of collectors to own the Official RAF Centenary Five Pound Proof Coin.
The three iconic aircraft have been highlighted in 24-carat gold ink and this stunning coin has been struck to the highest Proof standard you can find on a collectable coin.