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 interwar years, the RAF had to prove that there was still a need for an independent air force. However, following the outbreak of the Second World War the RAF underwent a rapid expansion. The Falkland Islands were proud to help in 1940 with the Legislative Assembly voting £50,000 from Colony Funds for the purchase of 10 Spitfires with funds for a further Spitfire being raised by individual islanders. A message of thanks was received 25 July 1940 from Lord Beaverbrook, the Minister of Aircraft Production. “Will you please convey to the Legislative Council and people of the Falkland Islands the profound sense of gratitude and immense encouragement their gift brings to me. It is more than a contribution, it is an act of sacrifice and faith in an hour of crisis for our race in every continent and ocean. With the money we are enabled to add ten formidable aircraft to our squadrons. You help us to protect the safety of our homes and to ensure the future of your islands in peace and freedom”
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 defence of the Islands.
31p Nimrod MR2
The Hawker Siddeley Nimrod was a maritime patrol aircraft designed in response to the RAFs need to replace its fleet of ageing Avro Shackletons. It served from the early 1970s until 2010.
In 1982 Nimrods were first deployed to Wideawake airfield on Ascension Island where they flew local patrols and then escorted the British Task Force as it sailed south towards the Falklands. They were also used to provide search and rescue as well as communications relay support for the Operation Black Buck bombing raids by Avro Vulcans.
The addition of air-to-air refuelling probes allowed operations to be carried out in the vicinity of the Falklands. Nimrods flew 111 missions from Ascension in support of British operations during the Falklands War.
76p F-4 Phantom
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom was one of the RAF’s principal combat aircraft from 1969 to the early 1990s. The UK was the first export customer for the Phantom which served in both the Fleet Air Arm and RAF in several roles including air defence, close air support, low-level strike and tactical reconnaissance.
Although assembled in the United States, the UK's Phantoms were built separately and contained a significant amount of British technology.
In May 1982, three Phantoms from 29 Squadron were forward deployed to RAF Wideawake on Ascension Island to provide air cover for the RAF's operations during the Falklands War. In August 1982, following the end of the conflict and the reconstruction of the runway a number of the aircraft were detached to RAF Stanley to provide air defence for the Falkland Islands until October 1988.
£1.22 Harrier GR.3
Considered one of the country’s greatest technological achievements, the British-built Harrier jets were the first in the world to be able to take off and land vertically.
Introduced by the RAF in 1969, they were famed for their ability to hover above the ground, a distinctive feature which enabled them to fly in and out of areas close to a battlefield that conventional aircraft could not reach. In the 1970s the Sea Harrier was developed from the Harrier for use by the Royal Navy on Invincible-class aircraft carriers.
In 1982, with the Falklands being some 4,000 miles from a friendly airbase, there was doubt as to how useful the RAF could be. Very soon however questions began to be asked about whether the RAF’s Harrier force could operate aboard the Royal Navy’s carriers.
In the event, both the Sea Harrier and 10 RAF Harrier GR.3’s fought in the 1982 Falklands Conflict, in which the aircraft proved to be crucial and versatile. As the RAF Harrier GR.3 were not designed for naval service, the 10 aircraft had to be rapidly modified prior to the departure of the task force. Special sealants against corrosion were applied and a new deck-based inertial guidance aid was devised to allow the RAF Harrier to land on a carrier as easily as the Sea Harrier. Transponders to guide aircraft back to the carriers during night-time operations were also installed, along with flares and chaff dispensers.
As a number of Harrier Jump Jets made their final flight in 2010 the Air Vice-Marshal Greg Bagwell said: ‘The Harrier is a true icon and stands testament to the innovation and excellence of British design and engineering and the skill and courage of our airmen. It has had a truly distinguished service with the RAF and the Royal Navy, from the South Atlantic to the skies over Afghanistan. It takes its place in history as one of aviation’s greats.’
£1.92 – Typhoon
The Typhoon was designed by a European consortium to be the world's most advanced multirole combat aircraft. It is a single seat, twin-engine fighter capable of operating against targets that are beyond visual range or in close combat. With a cruising speed of Mach 1.5 and a maximum speed of Mach 2.5, the aircraft has a range of 1800 miles. It can be armed with a variety of missiles, bombs, targeting and electronic countermeasures pods.
It entered front line service with the RAF in July 2005, has been combat proven with them over Libya and Afghanistan and in September 2009, the Typhoon replaced the Tornado F3 as the air defence aircraft over the Falkland Islands.
Designer: Robin Carter
Printer: Cartor Security Printing
Process: Stochastic lithography
Stamp Size: 28 x 42mm
Sheet Format: 10
Perforation: 13 ¼ x 13 ½ per 2cms
Release Date: 2 July 2018