• Royal Flying Corps •
• The National Archives •
The data presented here has been sourced primarily from the World War One records held by The National Archives at Kew ('TNA'). A brief explanation of the principal file categories used in the compilation of this site appears below.
Detailed research guides are available on the TNA website.
All images on this site other than maps and aircraft drawings are copyright the National Archives and are reproduced with permission.
Data on this site has been published under the terms of the Open Government licence.
The TNA data is organised by collection (often a government department), series, item and piece.
An example would be the reference AIR 1/822/204/5/25, which represents a single file of documents.
Generally several files are kept together in a single box, in this case several files all with the prefix AIR 1/822/.
The data files on this site contain a reference number in the 'Source' field. These references refer to the box numbers for brevity, not the complete file reference, which is required if you want to order the original document. To find the full order reference enter the box number in the National Archives Discovery search screen. Select any of the results with the same prefix to order the relevant box.
For example if the reference is shown as 'AIR 1/865', entering this in the TNA search field will result in a number of matches. Selecting the first one, 'AIR 1/865/204/5/513' will allow you to view and order the file.
You will need a readers ticket to view original files at the TNA - see their website for details. However, some documents are available for viewing online. If visiting Kew, you can pre-order documents before your visit.
These are the principal collections referred to on this site:
The AIR 1 series comprises files accumulated by the Air Historical Branch ('AHB') of the Royal Air Force, primarily in order to compile the official history of WW1: 'The War in the Air' by Sir Walter Raleigh and H A Jones, a seven volume set, of which Volume 1 is available at no cost from Project Gutenburg.
The AHB produced a card index, bound photocopies of which are available upon request at the TNA.
When the files were transferred to the TNA a number of files were generally stored together in a single box. The AHB index reference was converted to a TNA reference by prefixing a series reference ('AIR 1') and box number.
The AHB reference appears in the TNA Catalogue in the 'Former Ref' field (although not consistently referenced: sometimes as 'A.H.B Ref' or 'A.H.B.Reference', with other variations).
For example AHB Reference 204/5/25 'Miscellaneous reports of aeroplane casualties - 1916 July' is stored in a box with 13 other files under TNA catalogue reference AIR 1/822/204/5/25.
If you order this reference you will receive a box containing all 14 files.
Unfortunately not all the AHB files appear to have been transferred to the TNA. The TNA are currently digitizing the AHB card index in order to identify the missing files.
The AIR 2 series contains records of the Air Ministry.
The AIR 20 series contains records of the AHB.
AIR 24 to 29
These series contain RAF Operations Record Books ('ORB') for RAF Commands, Groups, Wings, Squadrons, Stations and Miscellaneous units respectively. A few of these include short references to World War 1 but little detail.
Many of the ORB's for Squadrons (AIR 27) can be viewed online for a small fee through the Documents online service.
AVIA 1 and 2
The AVIA series contain records of the Ministry of Aircraft Production and Air Ministry, mainly relating to civil aviation matters.
The AVIA 14 series contains original drawings of aircraft, principally those designed by the Royal Aircraft factory such as the BE2 and SE5.
The MUN 4 series contains records of the Ministry of Munitions and Disposal and Liquidation Commission.
The MUN 5 series contains files relating to the Ministry of Munitions.
• Other Archives •
The Australian War Memorial holds documents relating to the Australian Flying Corps and other forces, many of which have been digitised and are available online. The AWM is particularly useful for researching the campaign in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
The Royal Air Force Museum Museum holds some original documents relating to World War One, including pilot log books.
The British Library holds original documents relating to the India Office (in the 'IOR'collection), which controlled forces in the Middle East.
The Imperial War Museum has a large collection of objects, documents, films, photographs and interviews relating to the First World War.
The Leeds University Liddle Collection includes the personal papers of over 4,000 people who lived through the First World War, as well as books and posters.
The Library and Archives Canada contain details of Canadian Forces in WW1.
The Service Historique de la Defense holds French military documents from the First World War.