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Stock No. 5038a

Price = n/a


WWI RFC/RAF Air Safety Poster 'Low Flying- Avoid Barrages' - Click for the bigger picture

WWI RFC/RAF Air Safety Poster 'Low Flying- Avoid Barrages'

On offer is a very scarce original WWI instructional lithograph poster issued by the Royal Air Force Technical Diagram Department on 21st October 1918. The RAF was created on April 1, 1918 and was formed by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) so this dates from the very conception of the Royal Air Force and the first example we have owned in 20 years trading. These Royal Flying Corps/RAF training posters were used to teach novice pilots during the First World War basic skills to help maximise their chances of surviving longer than the average. In 1916, the war entered its most deadly phase and reduced an RFC pilot's average life to just 18 hours in the air, having completed just 15 hours solo before being posted operationally. The RFC became known as 'The Suicide Club' with new pilots lasting, with average luck, just 11 days from arrival on the front and by early 1917, the Royal Flying Corp was losing 12 aircraft and 20 crew every day.

With this background it was essential for novice aircrew to minimise risks and in this case the image is clear that flying low over a battlefield barrage was not to be recommended and better by far to take a more indirect route home, even if this meant longer flying over enemy held territory. The dangers faced were not exaggerated as years ago we were offered a display mounted small calibre shell that has been grabbed by an Observer in flight at the top of its trajectory -or so the display plaque said! The drawing is finely detailed and whilst painted by an unknown artist he clearly had battlefield experience. The aircraft depicted flying low over the barrage in the centre of the print seems to be an SE5A with his wingman, again flying low and in potential danger is off to starboard.

The fine and emotive image remains crisp and clear and it has not been pinned to a notice board and seeing its late issue date may have avoided seeing service that might explain it exceptional condition despite its 102 years of age. It measures 31.50" x 19.75" (77 cm x 50 cm) and would look fantastic framed and glazed. This came in with a partner earlier issue air safety poster 'The Last Loop' that we are also listing today. Whilst on offer individually they would make great complementary pair and to encourage a double purchase we will offer a 10% discount on list price for a single sale. These posters turn up so infrequently they are hard to price but we did spot one in the series sold at auction in the US in April this year and with commission the new owner paid $1,000 or £ 800.00 The same auctioneer, LA-based Nate D Sanders had a set of 10 posters for sale and these were estimated at a hammer price of £6,000 or $7,500. Ours represents a rather better investment!

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