STUNNING colour photos of WWII air battles are bringing to life the key role RAF heroes played in destroying the Nazis.
A new book from the Imperial War Museums (IWM) showcases original images of aircraft and aircrew from a number of Allied nations as they took to the skies.
PA:Press Association Picture shows Captain Edwin “Bill” Fisher of the 337th Fighter Squadron, 362nd Fighter Group at a landing ground in France in 1944
PA:Press Association Sub-lieutenant Harold Salisbury preparing for a sortie in a Supermarine Seafire Mk Ib NX942 ‘AC-E’ of 736 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Yeovilton in September 1943
War in the Air: The Second World War in Colour includes images of planes and the lives of people who flew them – from night bombing raids over Germany to protecting Britain, desert warfare, training and squadron celebrations.
Colour photography was extremely rare at the time, and the images – all of which are sourced from the IWM’s collections – have been carefully restored by the museums’ experts.
They are grouped into themes such as “fighter boys”, “Mediterranean air war” and “training and transport” to illustrate the range of British, Commonwealth and US air force operations in Europe and the Mediterranean.
Colour photography was a rarity during the Second World War; film was scarcely available and images were expensive to print.Ian Carter, curator
The new volume follows The Second World War in Colour, published by the IWM in 2017, which brought to life a range of aspects of the conflict with colour images from the archives.
Ian Carter, author of War in the Air and senior curator at IWM, said: “Colour photography was a rarity during the Second World War; film was scarcely available and images were expensive to print.
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“The subjects covered in this book are presented in a vivid clarity not typically associated with imagery of the war.
“Each photograph has been carefully optimised by IWM’s team of expert restorers to bring back colour accuracy and detail which over the years have faded from both paper and memory.”
Surviving photographs from the very small amount of material taken by official photographers during the Second World War were passed to IWM for preservation in 1949, where they form part of an archive of 11 million images of conflict from the First World War to the present day.
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PA:Press Association British pilots training with the Embry-Riddle Company at Carlstrom Field near Arcadia in Florida in 1941
PA:Press Association Airmen celebrate at Waddington to mark Lancaster R5868 (S-Sugar) reaching 100 missions while serving with 467 Squadron in May 1944
PA:Press Association This aircraft – Martin B-26 Marauders of the 441st Squadron, 320th Bombardment Group in 1945 – was nicknamed the ‘widow maker’ due to the early models’ high accident rate
PA:Press Association Kittyhawk llls of the Royal Air Force 112 Squadron ahead of take off in Tunisia in April 1943
PA:Press Association Three Avro Lancasters in flight. The plane was a British four-engine heavy bomber designed by British aircraft manufacturer Avro. It was introduced in February 1942 and used by the Royal Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force throughout the Second World War
PA:Press Association No.20 Service Flying Training School instructors and pupils at Cranbourne, Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia in 1943
PA:Press Association Willington GR Mk XIII JA412 ‘S’ of 221 Squadron flying over the Aegean Sea in March 1945
PA:Press Association Hurricane MK IIDs prepare for take-off from Gabes in Tunisia in April 1943. The MK IIDs were used in ground support from 1942