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 BOOKS & REFERENCE MATERIALS 

When I first started collecting, the only real form of reference materials I had at my disposal were books. I was lucky to start collecting when a number of excellent reference books were already available; many collectors before my time started with nothing! Although extensive as the internet is, there are not many websites with complete and accurate reference guides and thus I cannot stress the importance of keeping a good library. 

Flying Clothing The Story of its Development

 Flying Clothing: The Story of Its Development 

Louise Greer & Anthony Harold - 1979

One of the first books on flying clothing I ever owned, and first published in 1979 (so a generation before I was even born), this book still holds its own today and is a great introduction into the history of flying clothing. The book covers the period right from the inception of flight and goes further beyond the two World Wars. 

It is very well written, and whilst it may lack the specific focus of other books that proceeded it, it has some excellent period photos. 

Available here.

Jim Weld Flying Headgear of the World

 Flying Headgear of the World 1934-1945 

Jim Weld - 1980

Another early book on flying clothing I owned, this time focused on headgear. 

I remember making copious notes on my own copy of this booking, ticking off items as I was able to procure them. Although published in black and white, there is some fantastic kit on show (although some rare items have been replaced by diagrams). There were a number of errors in this book, not least the fact that Mark II Goggles were erroneously gifted the 22C reference number of a pair of Mark VIIIs (prompting various copies of the former to grace the market with incorrect codes), but it still a great book to own.

Available here.

Flight Equipment of the RAF 1920-1945

 Flight Equipment of the RAF 1920-1945 

Kevin King & Dave Humphrey - 1990

Another fantastic reference book and again, whilst printed in black and white, there are some great photos of flying kit (a lot taken from the fabled Kent Sales auctions).

This book is worth purchasing alone for the extensive Stores Clothing reference numbers 22C list, included in the back pages, starting from 22C/1 (Belts, Life Saving, Self Inflating, Type A) through to 22C/1070 (Backpack for Overall, Flying, Lightweight) more commonly known as the Beadon Suit. 

A hard book to come by.

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 Osprey - Men-At-Arms Series: Royal Air Force 1939-45

Andrew Cormack - 1990

A very handy, concise book to have to hand, Andrew Cormack draws on extensive records available at RAF Hendon to put together this excellent publication covering the development of uniforms, clothing and equipment of the RAF in WW2.

There are some lovely coloured drawings in the centre of the book by Ron Volstad. 

Available here.

 THE MICK PRODGER 'TRILOGY': 

Without a shadow of a doubt, the best reference books one can own on the subject of RAF Flying Clothing and Equipment are the three written by my good friend, Mick Prodger:

  • Vintage Flying Helmets: Aviation Headgear Before The Jet Age 

  • Luftwaffe vs RAF: Flying Clothing of the Air War 1939-45

  • Luftwaffe vs RAF: Flying Equipment of the Air War 1939-45.

I am not biased when it comes to these books; they are undoubtedly the finest books written on the subject. The publications are gloriously detailed, with exquisite photography complemented by rare period photos. The copies I own are now rather dog eared and tired, but that is the hallmark of a great book: one that you simply cannot put down. These three are as interesting as they are informative.

The books can be purchased through Mick at his
website.


 

Mick Prodger Book Collection
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 Vintage Flying Helmets: Aviation Headgear Before The Jet Age  

Mick Prodger - 1995

The bible when it comes to flying headgear. No finer reference book has been written (and I doubt any ever will be).

This books covers a vast period in the evolution of Flying Headgear, from the early inception of flight right up until the end of WW2. I would recommend this for collectors of all nations and eras, and for myself whose main focus is on early and pre-war RAF flying clothing and equipment this is a very indulgent book.


Lavish photography and a fantastic reference of original photos, all extensively researched.

Luftwaffe vs RAF: Flying Clothing of the Air War 1939-45 

 Luftwaffe vs RAF: Flying Clothing of the Air War 1939-45 

Mick Prodger - 1997

The first in a two-part series of books written by Mick Prodger, this would be my go-to book for any avid RAF collector looking to purchase just one reference book on flying clothing to start out with.

The book has a very interesting spin on the evolution of flying clothing by two opposing nations during WW2: the British RAF and the German Luftwaffe. It is fascinating to note similarities and vast technological disparities between both forces, whilst observing how the demands of war catalysed the progression of flying clothing towards the modern standards we know today.


Flying Clothing covers the headgear Mick detailed in his previous book, but goes one step further to encompass flying suits, boots, gloves and other forms of clothing.

Luftwaffe vs RAF: Flying Equipment of the Air War 1939-45 

 Luftwaffe vs RAF: Flying Equipment of the Air War 1939-45 

Mick Prodger - 1998

The final publication in Mick Prodger's fantastic two-part series, Flying Equipment expands on what Mick had already laid out in Flying Clothing, this time going into detail about items of flying equipment from life-saving garments to parachutes and escape items. 

Perhaps slightly more specialist than Mick's previous books, this is nonetheless an indispensable book for the keen collector.

 OTHER REFERENCE BOOKS: 

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 Their Finest Hour - A Collector's Guide to the Battle of Britain 

David Farnsworth - 2010

Issued as a free, 15 page supplement with The Armourer magazine marking the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain in September 2010, this is a gem of an article put together by my friend and esteemed collector and dealer, David Farnsworth. 

There are some fantastic photos in this booklet, and not to mention it is packed full of clear and accurate details, all the result of years spent handling copious examples of flying gear.

Sadly I do not know of anywhere this has been reproduced. 

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 The RAF Battle of Britain Fighter Pilot's Kitbag 

Mark Hillier - 2018

A lovely book for a Battle of Britain collector like myself, Mark Hillier has put together a very concise publication, tightly packed with fantastic photos and extensive research (with help from the likes of esteemed collectors such as Simon Lannoy, Mick Prodger and David Farnsworth). 

There are original, period photos in this book that I had never seen before making it a great resource to purchase. If the Battle of Britain is your main interest, I highly recommend picking this up. 

Available here.

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