RAF IN CAMERA – 1960s – Review by Mark Barnes for War History Online

I loved Keith Wilson’s look at the RAF during the 1950s, but this volume, if anything, is even better. If I am 100% honest with myself that cannot be true, but for a child growing up in the ‘60s raised on a diet of Airfix kits and enticing aeroplane magazines this one really hits the spot, soaking me in nostalgia.

Once again we get a year on year look at the Royal Air Force through outstanding photography. The book’s emphasis is on the aircraft and I would be wrong to complain, so I shan’t. The vast majority of images are in colour but the mono stuff is all good to see.

The net result is a really pleasing package and I feel a bit sorry for Mr Wilson that I have found more to say about the single subject book of Michael Leek rather than his.  I could give you a types list, but what is the point?

We all have our favourites and they are all here. I can look at Vulcans and Lightnings all day and will always have a soft spot for the Blackburn Beverley. Nuff said.  If my review of the 1950s volume did enough to entice you into a bookshop, physical or ether-based; then this look at the following decade is definitely one for you. Bring on the 1970s!

Reviewed by Mark Barnes for War History Online


The ‘Swinging Sixties’ was a remarkable decade. For the Royal Air Force it was a most interesting period in their history, representing a period of base closures, contraction and a significant change in equipment – especially in the level of technology operated.

In 1960, all three of the V-bombers – Valiant, Vulcan and Victor – were in service. The English Electric Lightning established a firm place in British aviation history by being the first single-seat fighter designed to exceed the speed of sound in level flight. Within Transport Command, the Britannia C.1 was operating alongside the Comet C.2, providing an excellent strategic transport capability. The Comet C.4 would enter service in 1962, the VC-10 C.1 in July 1966 and the Belfast C.1 by the end of 1966.

During the decade, the RAF celebrated its 50th Anniversary, having been formed on 1 April 1918. They also came to be embroiled in a number of conflicts, while still playing their part (alongside the British Army and the Royal Navy) in policing a number of territories and theaters including Malaya, Indonesia, Cyprus, Kenya, Rhodesia, Aden, Libya, Bermuda and Anguilla in the West Indies.

Here, Keith Wilson takes us on a richly illustrated journey through the decade, with each chapter focusing on a specific year and relaying all the fascinating events and highlights that characterized it. This is a colourful and insightful history, told with narrative flair and a clear passion for the subject matter at hand.

By Keith Wilson
Pen & Sword Aviation
ISBN: 978 1 47383 776 8

Mark Barnes

Mark Barnes is a longstanding friend of WHO, providing features, photography and reviews. He has contributed to The Times of London and other publications. He is the author of The Liberation of Europe (pub 2016) and If War Should Come due later in 2020.