Two Typhoon FGR4 29(R) Squadron RAF Coningsby RAF100 Colours On Tail DNI

New research from the Forces Network has found that despite celebrations taking place across the UK, only 25% of Brits are currently aware that the Royal Air Force turns 100 this year.

More than 50% of Brits, meanwhile, say they are not familiar with its history (51%).

The research, launched today, has been conducted to mark the start of a series of 10 short films; 'The top 10 RAF warplanes of the past 100 years' at

These short films have been created in partnership with historian David Keen and the RAF Museum to help educate the British public on the history of the RAF and to support its own high-profile campaign to engage the British public in celebrating its centenary this year.

Knowledge of famous warplanes used by the RAF over the last century was also low, with only 43% of Brits able to identify the Lightning as a WW2 plane.

41%, meanwhile, did not know that the Hurricane was used in the Battle of Britain.

Hurricanes Battle Of Britain RAF 11 Group Royal Air Force Black And White October 1940
Squadron (No 85) of Hurricanes led by Squadron Leader Peter Townsend, flying in formation on October 5, 1940

Familiarity with the names of individual warplanes was particularly low for Brits, with less than 50% correctly citing the Lightning as a plane named after a force of nature (43%) and just over a third (36%) able to identify the Camel as a famous plane named after an animal.*

Under-25s also showed a significant lack of knowledge of the RAF.

40% of them didn't know that the Battle of Britain was won by the Air Force in WWII, and 57% of people in this age group had never even seen a warplane.

20th Anniversary Battle of Britain 1960 Hawker Hurricane Supermarine Spitfire Gloster Meteor Hawker Hunter Gloster Javelin English Electric Lightning DNI
A unique line-up of RAF fighters pictured for the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 1960

But when it comes to views on whether schools should do more to educate children about the RAF and its history - and encourage them to consider a future career in the Air Force - encouragingly, 56% thought schools should teach more.

88%, meanwhile, thought schools don't offer children enough encouragement to join the Royal Air Force.

Other findings from the research include:

  • More than half (53%) of people have never been to an air show to see a warplane
  • Half (and 25% aged 18-25) didn't know that Barnes Wallis invented the 'bouncing bomb'
  • More than half (53%) did not know that the Lancaster bomber carried out the 'Dambusters' raid of WWII
Bouncing Bomb No 617 Squadron Royal Air Force Black And White Sea Credit Imperial War Museum
© IWM (IWM FLM 2363)

Simon Bucks, CEO of SSVC, says:

"Although the Royal Air Force and its partners have done a great job creating many marvellous events to mark 100 years of the RAF throughout 2018, our research shows that there is more to be done to ensure widespread recognition of the RAF's illustrious history and the vital role it still plays today in Britain's defence."

"That's why we’re launching this campaign on to make people more aware of the RAF and its history and calling on everyone to recognise the fantastic work of the RAF and our armed forces.

"With celebrations of the RAF 100 set to continue, including the parade and fly past Buckingham Palace on July 10, we are confident that public awareness of the work of the Royal Air Force will improve during the year ahead.”

Forces Network has also launched a new DVD, '100 Years of the RAF' to help the British public learn more about the history of the Royal Air Force.

You can find out more about the UK's Top RAF 10 warplanes at

SOURCE: This study was conducted by OnePoll and polled UK adults.

Participants were recruited online and were paid to participate.

*These were taken from a list of four options

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