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RAF Field Service Pocket Book (1924)

RAF Field Service Pocket Book (1924)

Price £175.00 Sale


Air Publication 1081


H.M.S.O, London, 1924

An original R.A.F. Field Service Pocket Book, 'Air Publication 1081', published by H.M.S.O. for the Air Ministry in 1924. The book is signed on the front cover by 'E. W. E. Lane, Lieut. R.N.'

Commander Edgar William Edward Lane R.N. (1900-1964): had a long and distinguished career in the Royal Navy and the Fleet Air Arm. He joined the Royal Navy after the First World War and by 1921 was serving as a Midshipman. In 1923 he was an Acting Sub-Lieutenant at the Greenwich Naval College. In 1923 he had been promoted to Lieutenant and was serving aboard the Torpedo-Boat Destroyer HMS Wild Swan. In 1925 he joined the aviation course at the No. 1 FTS, Central Flying School, Netheravon. From there in late 1925 he was posted as a Fleet Air Arm pilot aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Furious. In 1928 Lieutenant Lane was serving with No. 420 Flight of the Fleet Air Arm. In 1929 Lane was attached to the RAF, before returning to the Navy in 1930. By 1931 Lane had been promoted to Lt-Commander, and in 1935 he was serving on HMS Valiant, a battleship equipped with catapult-launched aircraft. From 1938 Lane was attached to the Admiralty Department of the Director of Air Personnel. By 1939 he seems to have retired from the Navy, but was recalled to service during the war, and in 1941 was on the Staff of the Second Sea Lord. In early 1942 Lane was made second in command of the auxiliary aircraft carrier HMS Dasher during its refitting in the USA. Commissioned into RN service as HMS Dasher (D37) on 2 July 1942, she participated in Operation Torch, carrying Sea Hurricanes of 804 Naval Squadron. After doing some aircraft ferry operations in the Mediterranean, Dasher sailed to the Clyde in March 1943 and, having had her flight-deck lengthened by 42 ft (13 m), she embarked Fairey Swordfish aircraft. She escorted one convoy successfully, but shortly after leaving with the second, Dasher suffered engine trouble and turned back. Soon after getting back to the Clyde on 27 March 1943, she suffered a major internal explosion and sank. The cause was never fully established, but 379 out of 578 crew members were lost in the disaster, and the sinking was kept secret until the end of the war. It is said that the body of one of the crew was used in the celebrated Naval Intelligence deception 'Operation Mincemeat', which was later the subject of the film The Man Who Never Was (although the film put forward a completely different version of events). It is not clear when Lt-Commander Lane left HMS Dasher, but he must have been posted elsewhere before the sinking, as he was serving on the Naval staff in 1944 and at the Gosport Air Training Establishment, with the rank of Commander, in January 1945. (I will include copies of the details I have of Commander Lane's service career with the book).

The RAF Field Service Pocket Book was first published soon after the end of WW1, with several revised editions being published before WW2. It would have been issued to both R.A.F. and Fleet Air Arm pilots and aircrew. The  aircraft included in it and shown in the illustrations, like the Sopwith Snipe, D.H.9A, Vickers Vimy and Bristol Fighter, would have been familiar to any WW1 R.F.C. or R.A.F. pilot. The book includes a great deal of information that would have been very useful for both aircrew and gound crew of the Royal Air Force, with details of opertional equipment for various aircraft, and sections on everything from airfield anti-aircraft defences, to signals, engines, aerodromes, seaplanes, rigging, hangars, bombs and ammunition

There are also details of the various different types of aircraft flown by the RAF just after WW1: including The D.H.9.A., Bristol Fighter, Sopwith Snipe, Vickers Vimy, and the Short Seaplane. This manual is a fascinating insight into the aircraft and operations of the R.A.F soon after the end of the First World War, and is very well illustrated with excellent diagrams, folding charts, line drawings, and some excellent folding plates of RAF fighters, bombers and seaplanes'

The book comes with amendment sheets dated August 1929, and a very rare original warship and aircraft signals card from HMS Courageous handwritten by Lt Lane.


In good condition. The cover is in good condition, with general signs of wear and some marks. The binding and hinges are good and secure. The text and illustrations are in good condition. Signed on the front cover by 'E. W. E. Lane, Lieut. R.N.'

Published: 1924
Illustrated with line drawings, diagrams & folding plates
Blue cloth covered boards with black titling
Dimensions: 110mm x 170mm
Pages: 314