ImpostersThere are plenty of reproductions available which will sometimes be sold by dealers / sellers as the real thing - but they were originally offered in good faith. Here are blatant attempts at deception and one 'refurbished' pair of goggles that dealers are still offering as originals.
Oh how pleased I was with myself as a newbie RAF collector to have found a pair of MkII goggles for under $100. I bought them from a well known aviation dealer in America who assured me they were genuine. These are a great example of the lengths someone will go to deceive you. The biggest give-away is the stores reference number which appears on the tin and the strap (22C/826) actually officially designated to MKVII goggles. The goggles themselves are the standard motor transport variety with a replacement strap and added stamps. (Speaking of motor transport goggles - it never ceases to amaze me how sellers on Ebay can still palm these off as MkII goggles - even if they haven't been tampered with!)
The labels on the tin have been 'distressed' and have very authentic looking foxing and other staining with the odd rip and piece of sellotape. I would love to know how many of these were made - and the amount of effort that went into making them. As that American dealer stated - 'these are one of our favourites!'
Easco Life Jacket Light
Not only are these still being sold as RAF Mae West lamps, but a few years ago someone released a load of them with a faked Air Ministry stamp and date (see box).
The patent on these lights was filed in 1940 and published in 1941. They were made available to the public and were issued to the Royal Navy (and therefore Fleet Air Arm) but not used by the RAF.
In unissued condition. Too good to be true?
These are refurbished goggles put together by Steve Silburn. Perfect for reenactors but all too often sold by dealers as originals. The frames are original; resprayed with new lenses, eye pads and leather nose piece. The big give away is the strap. These are late/post war training goggle straps. The originals had 2 adjusting clasps as opposed to the single one seen in the pic.
RAF Station Flags
Buyer beware. There appear to be more and more ensign flags on Ebay (and other sites) being sold as WW2 'Station' or 'Squadron' flags. The majority are in fact modern (or post war) civilian bought flags with newly applied date stamps (see pic) eg 1939 or 1940 and the usual fake AM stamps with something like 'Oxford, England' or 'Sheffield, England'. Some are also stressed / damaged. Hopefully this short guide to the larger RAF ensign flags will allow you to have more information to hand before you part with your cash.
First thing to remember is that the ensign is not copyrighted and anyone can manufacture flags bearing the RAF ensign and all sizes are readily available to the public (and have been for a long time, whether cotton stitched panels, printed, flagpole-ready with rope etc). Secondly, although serving personnel may refer to a 'station' flag, the RAF has no specific designation for one. According to AP1086, Book 15, Section 4B (Flags and Visual Signalling Equipment), the larger ensign is listed under 4 categories: ATC, Ocean Weather Ships, RAF and ROC. Under the RAF section, the sizes listed are:
4 ft x 2 ft
6 ft x 3 ft
8 ft x 4 ft (used exclusively for recruiting purposes and RAF units based on USAF airfields)
12 ft x 7 1/2 ft
These flags will be used on parade gounds, on or in offices and buildings, for special events - and at the airfield / station gate and other positions. How can you tell if the flag you're being offered is a 'station' flag? Simple answer is you can't - unless the flag has provenance inluding photographic evidence. There is some good news. Does the size correspond to one of the sizes above? Does the flag have a 4B stores reference number? Then at least you know it is an RAF issued flag and not a civilian one.
Update: Also seeing RCAF and RFC flags with fake stamps - more reason to do your research first before buying!