Aeronautical Instruments & Tools
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RAF Pilots Knee Board Note Pad and Navigators Protractor Grid Square
A remarkably basic but essential piece of kit issued mainly to single seat pilots. These kneeboards note pads were developed in the early days of aviation and used during WWI for use by the Royal Flying Corps and continued in RAF service up until the present day, where the note pad becomes an integral part of the fast jet aircrew flying suit. This example, whilst not dated is of the WWII pattern. The front of the board has a note pad marked RAFForm 433; interestingly it is stamped 2/52 so despite its wartime origins it appears this example was still in use with the RAF in the 1950s. The pad is clamped in position by a wood strip held in place by a pair of butterfly nuts, as shown in our attached pictures.
The reverse of the board, which is made from varnished plywood, carries two permanently mounted leather straps, large enough for attachment to either thigh or arm. One has a small section missing, as shown, but otherwise they remain soft and supple. These are secured by a pair of quick release Bennett's buckles, marked accordingly and of the same pattern used on RAF 'B' and early 'C' flying helmets. Although not marked the Air Ministry nomenclature for this item is Stores Ref No 6F/171, with the prefix code 6F covering'Personal Equipment Aircraft'.
Included with this lot is a Navigators Protractor Grid Square marked 'Airtour. This would appear to be a civilian origin as it is marked 'Airtour Flight Group'. These simple devices were an essential tool of navigators, both civilian and military, before the introduction of electronic aids such as GPS. The knee board measures 10" x 6" (25 cm x 15 cm) and the protractor 5" x 5" (13 cm x 13 cm)