90th Anniversary of the RAF
The Falkland Islands Post Office is releasing a new Definitive series of stamps celebrating Air Transportation, which has played such an important role in the development of the Islands economy and defense. Four of the stamps depict aircraft operated by the Royal Air Force and to commemorate its 90th Anniversary these four stamps are being released in a special miniature sheet. Each postage stamp design differing from the definitive issue as it carries an official RAF 90th Anniversary logo.
History of the RAF
The Royal Air Force came into existence on 1 April 1918 by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. The RAF is the world's oldest air force of any significant size, which is independent of any army or naval control. During World War I air power proved to be a strong defensive force and the newly formed RAF became a respected and formidable force.
Throughout the inter-war years the RAF had to prove that there was still a need for an independent air force especially during peacetime. In order to keep themselves in the public eye and avoid being disbanded and its duties returned to the Army and Navy the RAF began trying aviation record attempts.
Second World War
Following the outbreak of the Second World War the RAF underwent a rapid expansion involving recruitment from British Commonwealth countries, the secondment of many whole squadrons, and tens of thousands of individual personnel, from Commonwealth Air Forces. Added to these groups and other British Commonwealth personnel were men from other countries, including many who had fled from German-occupied European countries.
Over the years there have been great technological advances in warfare allowing the RAF to play a significant role in defending the United Kingdom and other countries and there is no doubt that the RAF played a major role in the events of 1982 and subsequent defense of the Islands.
The 90th Anniversary was commemorated by the RAF in an impressive fly-past of Red Arrows and Typhoons, which started south of London City Airport, passing the 02, Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge and Tate Modern before flying over the London Eye and this latest tribute from the Falkland Islands is sure to prove a small but very welcome addition to the overall celebration.
To the uninitiated, the markings on RAF aircraft are often imaged as being very similar, but as will be seen from the stamp designs, the opposite is the case and each of these aircraft is shown in typical but quite opposing markings. To coincide with the 90th Anniversary of the RAF, the Government has also approved the release of a single commemorative coin depicting a Vulcan, Typhoon and Walrus.
Lockheed C-130 Hercules
The 10p stamp depicts a Lockheed C-130 Hercules. With the capacity to carry 92 passengers or 350,000 lbs of cargo, the Hercules was a major workhorse carrying troops and material from Ascension Island to the Falklands and for a period of time also operated a limited service for passengers to the Falkland Islands.
Although designed as a short range tactical aircraft, the problem of flying the long distances involved was solved by the installation firstly of internal fuel tanks from Andover aircraft and then an in-flight refueling system which allowed for the transfer of fuel from Victor aircraft to the Hercules. This same concept was famously utilized in the refueling of the Vulcan aircraft.
The Hercules, which was first introduced into the RAF Fleet in 1967, is still serving in one form or another and has proven to be a valuable part of the UK defense force.
The 65p stamp depicts a Lockheed L-1011-385-3 Tristar C2. Originally passenger aircraft in service with British Airways and Pan Am, nine Tristars were purchased by the RAF in the early 1980s. The ex British Airways versions were adapted to be used for either passenger or cargo transportation as well as inflight refueling duties whilst the ex Pan Am versions were left mainly intact and have the ability to carry up to 266 passengers. Both types are able to operate in a medical evacuation role and can take full stretchers if required for casualties.
The Tristar was used on a regular basis to transport passengers from Brize Norton to Mount Pleasant Airport, although this role has now been sub-contracted to charter companies operating Boeing 747 and DC10 aircraft.
Avro Vulcan B2
The 90p stamp depicts an Avro Vulcan B2. Had it not been for the Falklands war in 1982 the Vulcan would have flown for its entire service life without ever dropping a bomb in anger. Although the primary weapon for the Vulcan was nuclear, it could carry up to 21 x 1000 lb bombs and 30 years after its maiden flight the Vulcan was able to successfully complete what was to become the longest successful combat flight in history (until the 151 Gulf War).
Although the last Vulcan Squadron was disbanded in 1984, the Vulcan continued to appear in air shows until the last flight in 1993 but due to ongoing public interest and assistance from the National Lottery, the Vulcan has been reborn. The XH558 finally made it back into the sky in October 2007 on a first test flight. Funds are still needed to progress the restoration of the Vulcan to full airworthiness but the intention is clearly there.
The 200p stamp depicts a Panavia Tornado F.3. The Tornado was the child of a joint venture between Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom and two main versions exist today, namely the GR4 which is a long range strike attack aircraft and the F3 which is an Air Defense Variant. Four F3s are currently in operation in the Falkland Islands as 1435 Flight.
Civilian passengers arriving at Mount Pleasant Airport often note the appearance of the F3, acting in a precautionary role as the aircraft comes into land. Having served with the RAF since 1986, the Tornado is due to be replaced by the newly developed Eurofighter Typhoon.
Postage stamps in detail
Issue: Falkland Islands, 1 August 2008
Designer: Ross Watton
Print: lithography by BDT International
Perforation: 14 per 2cms
Stamp size: 28.45 x 42.58mm
Souvenir sheet size: 101 x 75mm
More information Postage Stamps
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Postage stamps of Falkland Islands
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