AV600 Series Covers
AV600 Series Covers so far produced
No 109 Squadron was first formed in 1918 as a bomber training unit and disbanded in 1919. In December 1940 the squadron was re-born from the Wireless Intelligence Development Unit (WIDU). Using Anson and Wellington aircraft it was engaged during the next two years in development of radio counter-measures and also new radar aids, notably the blind bombing system known as Oboe. In August 1942, No 109 moved to Wyton to become one of the original units of the Pathfinder Force. In December it converted to Oboe Mosquitoes and made history by flying the first Oboe sortie over enemy territory on a calibration raid against a power station at Lutterade in Holland. On the night of 31 December 1943, it made history again when it pioneered Oboe target marking for a following force of heavy bombers. One of No 109's most outstanding successes was on 5/6 March 1943, when its Mosquitoes led Bomber Command's devastating assault on Essen which laid waste more than 160 acres of that city and heralded the Battle of the Ruhr. Included among the squadron's many other wartime claims to fame is the claim that the last bombs to be dropped on Berlin were dropped by one of its Mosquitos at 2.14am on 21 April 1945.
This cover started back in 2003 having had a conversation about the RAF in the Western Desert with Neville Duke when comparing the amount of items to relating the various theatres of war during WWII. Always being inspired by Neville Duke, and also a childhood obsession with aircraft with shark’s teeth, I felt something should be done and Neville kindly signed the covers during 2005 and 'was very pleased to do so' which made the whole project worthwhile.
Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk GA-F has been selected to appear in the artwork for the reason Neville Duke flew. We have chosen to show it in the best desert fashion with dust flying everywhere - making a stunning bit of artwork. The artist is Ross Wardle, who was one of the Matchbox Kits artists before the company dropped out of kit market.
The cover bears BFPS 2847 postmark for the 65th Anniversary of the flight of the production Curtiss P-40 Warhawk 14 April 2005. The postmark shows a No 112 Squadron aircraft GA-F (also on the cover and an aircraft Duke flew)
During March 1944, changes in 8 (Pathfinder) Group saw the larger squadrons reduced to two flights, which resulted in the formation of two new squadrons, 582 and 635. At the same time 8 Group acquired three new stations, Upwood, Downham Market and Little Staughton, the latter being the home of the newly formed No 582 Squadron. The Squadron came into being on the 1 April 1944 equipped with Lancasters, being disbanded on the 10 September 1945 following the end of the war. In its short history the Squadron left its mark with its aircrew earning 4 DSOs, 69 DFCs with 20 bars, 29 DFMs, numerous foreign decorations and most notably the posthumous Victoria Cross awarded to Captain Edwin Swales DFC.
In August 1942 a elite unit was created for the purpose of marking targets more accurately by using highly trained crews and with the aid of radar navigation, this force was to become known as the Pathfinder Force and upon creation was made up from Nos 7, 35, 83 and 109 Squadrons. Gradually more squadrons joined the Pathfinder Force and it became one of the wars highly respected units, with incredibly accurate marking and often operating as Master Bombers.
No 7 Squadron was equipped with Stirling bombers which it later swapped for Lancasters and was based at RAF Oakington - it was also the first of the Stirling Squadrons.
We have selected Stirling 'MG-C' to appear in the artwork and it is shown being loaded with bombs in preparation for the evenings raid.
Appropriately the cover is cancelled with BFPS 2695 postmark for the 60th Anniversary of the formation of the Pathfinder Force - dated 15 August 2002.
No 74 Squadron lived up to their name of the 'Flying Tigers' and during the Battle of Britain were tasked with the Defence of London firstly based at RAF Hornchurch and then, the famous RAF Station - Biggin Hill. During this time the Squadron was led by the legendary South African ace 'Sailor' Malan.
We have selected to show a Spitfire Mk I 'ZP-C' to appear on the artwork flying over the Kent Countryside in 1940. The artist is Ross Wardle, who was one of the Matchbox Kits artists before the company dropped out of kit market.
The cover has been handsigned by:
Warrant Officer Ray Racy, who joined the RAF in August 1941 and served with No 154 Squadron before being posted to No 74 Squadron in March 1945. On the 5th April 1945 his Spitfire XVI ran off of fuel over Holland and was taken POW after a brief attempt to evade.
Flight Lieutenant R.H. Peter May who joined No 74 Squadron in January 1941 up until April when his aircraft crashed on landing at RAF Manston and suffered concussion and a broken leg. He was then appointed Aerodrome Control Pilot at Manston and recommended flying non-operationally in December 1941. In June 1942 he joined No 1 Squadron flying Hurricanes on fighter sweeps over France, before converting to a Night Fighter Squadron
Wing Commander John Connell Freeborn DFC* who joined 74 squadron in October 1938. He flew during the Battle of Britain and was awarded the DFC on 13th August 1940 and made a Flight Commander on 28th August. he was awarded the Bar to the DFC on 25th February 1941. He was Flight Commander of 602 Squadron in 1942 and in 1943 he was given command of 118 Squadron at Coltishall. He was released from the RAF in 1946 and returned to the RAFO until 1954.
The English Electric Lightning was a fighter far ahead of its time and the prototypes spent years in development resulting in a fighter aircraft capable of Mach 2 and with an unforgettable appearance. The prototype Lightning first flew in August 1954, with the first production prototypes flying in October 1959. No 74 Squadron was the first RAF Squadron to receive the Lightning F1 in 1960.
This cover shows a F3 Lightning of No 111 Squadron on the apron at RAF Wattisham, to reflect the RAF's crackdown on the bright colour schemes we have chosen the polished paintwork scheme with some typically drab British weather. The cover bears 1s Royal Air Force 1918-1968 stamp showing SE5 and three Lightnings in formation the background cancelled with 50th Anniversary of the English Electric Lightning cachet.
Cover is signed by:
Air Vice-Marshal George Black CB OBE AFC* FRAeS FIMgt
George Black was Commanding Officer of No 111 Squadron from 1963-66 flying Lightning F3s. He was a Lightning pilot with No 74 Squadron from 1961-62, he was Chief Flying Instructor 226 Lightning OCU 1967-69 and then Officer Commanding No 5 Squadron 1969-70.
Air Vice-Marshal Peter Collins CB AFC
Peter Collins was Commanding Officer of No 111 Squadron from 1970-1972 flying Lightning F3/F6s. Prior to that he was a Flight Commander with Nos 11 and 23 Squadrons on Lightnings as well as also flying the Lightning with the RAF Handling Squadron and the Air Fighting Development Squadron during the tactical trials.
Squadron Leader J L Howe,
Howe served with No 111 Squadron 1969-71 and No 5 Squadron 1967-69, then as a Flight Commander 1978-81.
Flight Lieutenant H Molland,
He served with No 111 Squadron 1963-66 & 1967-69. He ejected from lightning XP739 near RAF Wattisham on 29 September 1965. He was on the Lightning Conversion Unit in Saudi Arabia 1966-67 and BAC and Airwork Saudi Arabia 1970-1982 with the Lighting Mk 53/55
Air Commodore M J Bettell OBE
He served with No 111 Squadron 1965-67 and No 29 Squadron 1967-69 on Lightning F3s.
Wing Commander Martin Bee AFC & Squadron Leader Gerry Crumbie
Bee served as a Flight Commander with No 111 Squadron 1969-72 and also commanded No 56 Squadron 1972-74 and flew Lightnings with No 74 Squadron 1960-64. Crumbie No 74 Squadron Lightning pilot 1964-66, HQ 11 Group 1972-74 flying Lightnings of No 111 Squadron and QFI 226 Lightning OCU 1966-69.
No II (AC) Squadron is the oldest fixed wing squadron, although No 1 Squadron is older it started with Balloons and No 3 Squadron is just marginally younger, so to celebrate the Squadron's 95th Anniversary we were asked to produce a special commemorative cover to pay tribute to this remarkable achievement.
The Squadron had Tornado ZD748 specially repainted with black fin and 95th markings such as 'Shiney Two' and the squadron crest - this paint scheme won the award at the RIAT 2007 Air Show. Obviously, we have selected this aircraft for the artwork and it is shown in flight.
Cover was flown
in ZD848 by Wing Commander Andy Hine and Flight Lieutenant Leigh Borrow from RAF Marham and return.
The cover bears first class definitive stamp cancelled with BFPS 3013 postmark for the 95th Anniversary of No II (AC) Squadron dated 13 May 2007. 13 May 1912 being the date of the Squadron being formed.
Having been asked to produce a cover to mark the tenth anniversary of the formation of The Royal Squadron, which came about from the end of the Queen?s Flight and No 32 Squadron taking on the role. As this coincided with the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla, it seemed fitting to combine the two occasions.
We have selected the Squadron's British Aerospace BAe 146 of No 32 (The Royal) Squadron at RAF Northolt for the artwork, an aircraft which Prince Charles is qualified to fly
The cover has been flown in BAe146 ZE700 of No 32 (The Royal) Squadron carrying the Royal Party to Scotland after the Wedding.
The cover bears the 30p Royal Wedding - HRH The Prince of Wales and Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles stamp cancelled with BFPS 2840 postmark for the 10th Anniversary of No 32 (The Royal) Squadron and commemorating the Royal Wedding dated 8 April 2005
Hand signed by three RAF Northolt Station Commanders: Air Commodore A C Curry LVO OBE (1977-79), Group Captain R T Dixon OBE (1981-83) and Group Captain B E Nunn OBE BA (1987-89)
Hand signed by Air Commodore Sir Timothy Elworthy KCVO CBE, Captain of the Queen's Flight 1989-95 and Director of Royal Travel 1997-2001 it is also signed by Group Captain Andy Barrett RAF, who was Officer Commanding No 32 (The Royal) Squadron 1994-97
Hand signed by RAF Northolt Station Commanders: Air Commodore J J Witts DSO FRAeS (1997-99) who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order during the 1991 Gulf War, Group Captain P J Hoskins BA (1995-97), Group Captain J D Maas ADC RAF (2005-date)
Hand signed by RAF Northolt Station Commanders: Air Vice-Marshal M J Gardiner OBE BSc(Eng) FRAeS (1991-93) also Officer Commanding No 32 Squadron (1984-88), Group Captain J R D Morley MBE FRAeS (1993-95) also Officer Commanding No 32 Squadron (1989-92) and Group Captain O G Bunn CBE (1989-91)
Hand signed by Group Captain T Hewlett OBE, Director of Royal Travel and Wing Commander D Lee BSc RAF, Officer Commanding No 32 (The Royal) Squadron
Hand signed by the crew of the flight who flew the Royal Party from RAF Northolt to Dyce Airport, Aberdeen, carrying the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall following their wedding.
Hand signed by Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH, Prime Minister 1990-97, who would have flown aboard the BAe146 of No 32 (The Royal) Squadron whilst in office
No 56 Squadron also know as 'Firebirds' were famous for their Lightning display team, which during the mid-1960s was Fighter Command's official demonstration team, and their nine aircraft were often seen around the country performing at airshows and deafening the crowd! In 1961, the unit converted to Lightnings starting the F1A, followed by the F3 and F6.
We have selected to show English Electric Lightning F1A 'J' of No 56 Squadron having landed at RAF Wattisham with parachute deployed, naturally we have chosen the red fin paint scheme with Phoenix in view
The cover bears first class definitive stamp cancelled with BFPS 2991 postmark for the 50th Anniversary of Lightning P1B XA847 First Flight dated 4 April 2007.
Hand signed by Air Commodore Brian Farrer MBE
Brian Farrer was Officer Commanding No 56 Squadron from 1971-1972 flying Lightning F3/F6s. Prior to that he was a Instructor at 226 Lightning OCU and also Flight Commander with No 19 Squadron flying the Lightning F2
Hand signed by Group Captain David Seward AFC QCVSA
David Seward was Officer Commanding No 56 Squadron from 1961-1963 flying Lightning F1As. He later went on to become an Instructor at 226 Lightning OCU, firstly 1963-65 then again 1972-74
No 74 Squadron have always lived up to their name of the 'Flying Tigers' most famously they were in the thick of the Battle of Britain based at Hornchurch and Biggin Hill tasked with the Defence of London. Post war they switched to jets and were the first RAF Squadron to be equipped with the Lightning - one of the most advanced fighters of its time and capable of Mach 2+.
Based as Coltishall the first Lightning F1s arrived in 1960 and No 74 Squadron provided a four-ship routine for the 1960 Farnborough Airshow and almost became a national institution, such was the fantastic performance. Nine aircraft replaced the four-ship routine in 1961 and the following year the squadron became the official RAF display team, known as the 'Tigers'.
The Squadron moved north to Leuchars in February 1964, F3s equipping the squadron in the April. In 1967 after converting to the longer range F6 the Squadron moved to Tengah, Singapore as part of the Far East Air Force. As the only air defence squadron in the Far East, they were kept very busy with practice scrambles and exercises with other military units and detachments to Australia were common.
We have selected to show English Electric Lightning F3 XP705 'K' of No 74 Squadron circa 1964 to appear on the artwork flying with afterbunners 'on' as she blazes across the sky. The painting was especially commission from Ross Wardle, who was one of the Matchbox Kits artists before the company dropped out of kit market.
This cover has been handsigned by :
Air Vice-Marshal J.F.G. Howe CB CBE AFC, who was Commanding Officer of No 74 Squadron from 1960-1961 flying the very first squadron to be equipped with the Lightning F1s. He was later station commander of RAF Gutersloh the home of the Lightning F2s of Nos 19 and 92 Squadrons. He was a SAAF pilot during the Korean War joining the RAF in 1954.
Air Commodore D.E. Caldwell, who was Commanding Officer of No 74 Squadron from 1969-71 flying Lightning F6s based at RAF Tengah, Singapore and during his tour completed four flight refuelled sorties from Singapore to Australia. He had previously been Flight Commander of No 19 Squadron flying Lightning F2s at RAF Gutersloh from 1965-67
Air Commodore K.J. Goodwin CBE AFC, who was Commanding Officer of No 74 Squadron from 1966-1969 flying Lightning F6s. He was also attached to No 74 Squadron as part of the Aerobatic Team in 1961. He also took part in the pre-production tactical trials of the Lightning forerunner the P1B. In 1972 he was Station Commander of RAF Wattisham the home of the Lightning F3s of Nos 29 and 111 Squadrons.
Group Captain David Roome OBE FRAeS, who joined No 74 Squadron in March 1968 through to September 1971 on his first tour as a pilot and was with the squadron In Tengah, Singapore. While flying Lightnings he once managed to get a F6 up to 87,800 feet - with the help of a passing Victor tanker for some more fuel and the warmer atmosphere.
Cover depicts XM607 which was flown by John Reeve during Operation Black Buck and was part of 44 Squadron. The Avro Vulcan is shown on Ascension Island which was the base from which the RAF flew during the Falklands Conflict.
Cover is either cancelled with the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict 2007 or one of the Final flight postmarks to commemorate the final flights of Vulcan XH558 in 2015.