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Stock No. 5039

Price = n/a


WWI RFC/RAF Air Safety Poster 'The Last Loop - Click for the bigger picture

WWI RFC/RAF Air Safety Poster 'The Last Loop

On offer is a very scarce original WWI instructional lithograph poster issued by Air Technical Services on 6th April 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 just 5 days after the conception of the new service and together with its partner is 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. We found an identical example in the Imperial War Museum collection and have borrowed their description here : 'The image occupies the majority, held within a black border. The title and text are separate and located along the bottom edge, in black, partially held within a black border. Further text is integrated and positioned in the lower right, in black and all set against a white background. The image is a depiction of the aftermath of an aerial dogfight between two aircraft. A British scout loops the loop in triumph after downing a German fighter (an Albatross D. III that entered squadron service in December 1916, and was immediately acclaimed by German aircrews for its manoeuvrability and rate of climb), only to lose control due to a badly damaged rudder and tail plane'. This is supported by the integral text : 'This diagram is the property of H. M. Government and is intended for Official use only. WHILE DOWNING A HUN YOUR MACHINE MAY HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY DAMAGED WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE, UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES ANY UNNECESSARY 'STUNTING' IS TO BE AVOIDED. 'THE LAST LOOP. 'AIR TECHNICAL SERVICES 0. T5 1544 6.4.18'

The fine and emotive image remains very crisp and it has not been pinned to a notice board. The only issue is snag damage to the paper in the top right corner (shown in pic6). This is in the cloud area but framed and glazed would hardly notice. It has been repaired on the back with tape and condition is exactly as it came to us. Otherwise no issues at all and the artwork remains very clear with no fading, foxing or other damage. The print measures 31.50" x 19.75" (77 cm x 50 cm) and came in with a partner safety poster 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 of both 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 recently and these were estimated at a hammer price of £6,000 or $7,500. Ours represents a rather better investment and we have also priced to reflect the area of damage mentioned. We suspect we will be unlikely to find more of the same anytime soon so grab the opportunity whilst you can, as when they are gone they are gone!

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