Mark the birth of the Royal Flying Corps | The Royal Mint

06 Jul 2017

The Royal Mint is to continue its First World War ‘Outbreak to Armistice’ collection with the 2017 Aviation £2 coin, marking the contribution of aviators during the conflict.

At the time of the outbreak of the First World War, few people believed that aircraft would play a major role. Hot-air balloons had been used for observation and reconnaissance for almost 100 years and it was thought planes would serve a similar purpose.

The Royal Flying Corps, the aviation branch of the British Army, began its life as an ‘eye in the air’, reporting on the positioning of enemy forces and providing a tactical advantage. It grew from a force of a few hundred aeroplanes in 1914 into a huge, independent air arm of thousands of combat and support aircraft. In 1918 the Royal Flying Corps became the Royal Air Force we know today and has defended the skies ever since.

Anne Jessopp, The Royal Mint’s Director of Consumer Coin said: "The Aviation £2 coin design recalls the brave and skilled work of the reconnaissance photography crews of the newly formed Royal Air Corps during the First World War. They played an important role in creating reliable maps and intelligence in unfamiliar and constantly changing landscapes.” 

Precious metal commemorative editions of the Aviation £2 coin in Gold Proof, Silver Proof and Silver Proof Piedfort are available to purchase online at

The design and its designer

The coin was designed by Henry Gray of agency, tangerine design. The grandfather of tangerine director DanFlashman, flew reconnaissance over the trenches.

“In this design we see two airmen, a pilot and his observer of the Royal Flying Corps, in a Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8. They are performing a reconnaissance flight over an area of the Battle of Arras in April, 1917. The land below the plane is shown as a map; this helps to strengthen the narrative of this particular moment in history.”

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