The birth of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1918 was the first time there had been a separate and independent air force established in any country.
It soon became among the most dominant air forces globally.
The 1930’s saw public interest in aircraft increase dramatically and following World War Two (WWII), the demand for the number of aircraft to be built grew quickly in a very short space of time.
Throughout its life, the RAF has monitored the advances in aircraft for military use, and today displays some of the greatest developments in aircraft technology.
For nearly a decade we’ve worked in partnership with the RAF. In that time, we’ve preserved and celebrated over 100 years of history on official commemorative releases.
Let me tell you about 4 aircraft monumental during their existence.
The Sopwith F1 Camel
This Biplane fighter had only one seat and was given the nickname Camel after one squadron commented on its hump like appearance. A comment that would influence its official name.
Carelessness would get you killed in this aircraft.
Pilots had to be skilled to fly it, attentive and observant.
The Camel thrived in daylight but also succeeded at night.
The aircrafts actual nickname?
The King of the Air Fighters.
The Avro Lancaster
The Lancaster proved vital towards the end of WWII for Bomber Command. The aircraft helped Britain successfully undermine Nazi Germany from the air.
Lancaster crews risked their lives every time they took to the air in these bombers.
They showed tremendous bravery.
On average they carried out 21 missions before they were lost.
The Eurofighter Typhoon
A vision of the future.
This is how the RAF describe this 21st century Eurofighter Typhoon.
Did you know this aircraft can travel two times faster than the speed of sound? It uses cutting edge technology and has many advanced features.
The UK, Germany, and Italy all worked collaboratively on this aircraft, as they have done also with the tornado project for over several decades.
The Spitfire is by far the most famous British fighter aircraft in history. It was designed by Reginald J Mitchell for the Second World War and there are many reasons why pilots fell in love with it.
It was a symbol of freedom.
The early Mark II could reach speeds of up to 360 mph.
The Spitfires sleek lines and elliptical shaped wings make it perhaps the most graceful fighter ever created.
Did you know that Mitchell’s first attempt to answer the British Air Ministry’s call for an all-metal land-based fighter aircraft was rejected?
It had a cooling system issue.
So, his team tried again.
And boy, did they triumph.
The new design had retractable landing gear, an enclosed cockpit and of course, the thin wing shape.
After the first flight of the prototype in 1936 only a few changes were made and by early June, the Air Ministry had ordered 310 Spitfires. By the outbreak of the Second World War, 306 Spitfires were in service with the RAF, along with 71 waiting and 2,000 in the pipeline.
If you’re interested…
The aircraft I have spoken about are intricately illustrated on our collection of commemoratives celebrating the History of the RAF.
The first one in the collection I hear you ask.
Well of course it must be the Spitfire.
Bill Dady, the renowned aviation artist, has designed this one.
A poppy coin, to mark the centenary of the Royal British Legion, will be used at this year’s FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Leicester City.
Watching the @EmiratesFACup final between @ChelseaFC and @LCFC? ⚽ Keep your eyes peeled for the coin toss featuring a limited edition 50 pence piece created by our partners @WestminsterGB to mark our centenary. #RBL100 #EmiratesFACup pic.twitter.com/h9UZeRhgwQ— Royal British Legion (@PoppyLegion) May 15, 2021
On May 15, the day of the Final itself, the RBL celebrates its 100th anniversary and, more importantly, 100 years of support to those who have served with Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.
It all began in May 1921, in the aftermath of the First World War, when four national organisations of ex-Servicemen came together to give a unified voice to those facing the bleak reality of Britain after that deadly conflict.
In the years since, the RBL has adapted and enhanced its services and continues to support today’s serving and ex-serving personnel.
On behalf of the RBL, The Westminster Collection has produced a beautiful full-colour RBL Centenary 50p coin, which bears the image of Her Majesty the Queen on one side, and the two-petal poppy on the other.
Charles Byrne, Director General of the RBL, said: “We are grateful to the FA, as this bespoke commemorative coin from the RBL will be used for the coin toss at this year’s Emirates FA Cup final between Chelsea and Leicester City, to recognise both our support and the service of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces over the past century.”
You can watch the FA Cup Final between Leicester City FC and Chelsea FC live on BBC One on Saturday 15th May. Kick off is at 5:15pm with the coin toss shortly before.
If you’re interested…
Last month, I had a fantastic opportunity to get up close and personal to one of the world’s most famous aircraft – the Spitfire!
The iconic Supermarine Spitfire was critical in defeating Luftwaffe air attacks during the Battle of Britain in 1940, and so to mark the 80th anniversary this year, I knew we had to arrange something unique to produce a truly special collectable coin worthy of the historic anniversary.
So on the 23rd July I drove up to the historic Duxford Aerodrome to have 1,000 brand new Proof £5 coins flown in an original WWII Spitfire.
Now the purpose of my visit was to have 1,000 Official Battle of Britain £5 coins flown in an original WWII Spitfire, but I was also able to talk to RAF Flight Lieutenant Antony ‘Parky’ Parkinson in great detail about his time in the RAF and as an ex-Red Arrow ahead of the Battle of Britain anniversary. You can see Parky discussing his career and the Spitfire in the video below…
Before Parky took the ‘NH341’ Spitfire to the air, I helped him secure the 1,000 Battle of Britain Spitfire £5 coins into the wing bays which would have once held the fighter plane’s armaments while defending Britain in the skies 80 years ago. The space in the wing bays is extremely limited, hence the limited number of coins that were able to be taken to the sky.
Standing within a few feet as the famous Rolls Royce engine fired up, I watched in awe as the elegant, agile aircraft taxied along the runaway and gracefully took to the skies.
Although many 80th anniversary plans up and down the country have had to be cancelled, I am delighted to be able to give a limited number of collectors the opportunity to become the proud owner of the BRAND NEW Official Proof £5 coin that has been flown in an original WWII Spitfire plane. But that’s not all, as I was also able to arrange for them to be personally hand-signed by Parky.
The brand new Spitfire £5 coin is a fantastic commemoration of the famous plane and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain with such a fitting tribute.
So I’m sure you can appreciate what a genuinely rare collectable these will instantly become and demand is expected to exceed availability. If you wish to secure one for your collection, you need to act quickly by clicking here.
Thank you to Flight Lieutenant Antony Parkinson MBE and the rest of the team at Aerolegends for helping to take the Spitfire £5 coins to the sky and for giving me the opportunity to see this famous warbird in the flesh.
If you’re interested, you’ll need to be quick as over 50% have already been reserved. You can secure the Official Battle of Britain Proof £5 coin now for JUST £35 by clicking here >>
And remember, not only will your official Battle of Britain £5 Proof coin have been flown in an original WWII Spitfire, it is also one of just 1,000 coins that have been personally signed by Lieutenant Antony Parkinson ‘Parky’, MBE.