View Full Version : Air78

28th March 2011, 22:47
Hi all,

Apologies if this has been covered before but I did check and I could not find the answer.

Can somebody explain how the AIR78 file at the NA works please?

I would like to search for service numbers of a few Airman serving prior to and during the early part of WW2 so can I go to Kew, order the microfilm and look up these guys names and their service numbers will be there?

I hope this is the case however I will kick myself for not knowing this if you can.


29th March 2011, 07:15
Hi Simon,

AIR78 is described in TNA help sheets as

Browse the Catalogue for RAF airmenairman - a person ranking lower than an officer's service records for men with service numbers from 1 to 329,000 from the First World War in AIR 79. If the airman went on to see service in the Second World War his service record will still be with the RAF. If you do not know his number, use the name indexes in AIR 78.


Service records after 1922Records of RAF airmenairman - a person ranking lower than an officer discharged after 1922 are still with the RAF. Look on the Veterans UK website to find out how to obtain service records.

So if discharged after 1922 or brought back for service 1939-45 then no record in AIR78


21st March 2018, 21:30
Jagan has kindly added a list of hyperlinks to the AIR78 index on NA Discovery database



24th March 2018, 21:46
Dennis, Thanks for sharing the work on the site for others.

Your effort had made it easier to quantify the amount of data in AIR78

PDF Files

Average Images in each PDF

Total Images

Slips per page

~~Total Names

And with the 824,600 image files - assuming it takes 15 seconds per image to download in some automated manner - It will take us 144 days to download everything!

Each image is around 400 KB - so all the images will take up around 314 GB of diskspace.

if NA PRO provides all the files on disk some kind of OCR project can be undertaken to put it in a searchable database.

26th March 2018, 10:17
6.5 millions odd names? Per Ross's great posts here


The strength war time was about a million at any given date.

I think the scan and image quality would make an OCR effort futile? Bit like the Canada Gazette. Maybe with a high quality OCR commercial tool, not justa desk top thing.

27th March 2018, 05:25
Agreed! - I stumbled onto Ross's post soon after and realized it was a gross overestimate. Though the AIR seems to spawn more years than just WW2? Still 6 mill is too much!

Some files must have fewer pages in them.

27th March 2018, 14:04
Imagine the chaps who did the microfilming!

laying down 8 peices of paper at a time, maybe 6 million of them. How many times did they sneeze........

I don;t think the numbers are two high, there are 2356 files for sure
if we thought that the RAF in 60 od years used only 2 million personnel, then the average pages would be

total Number of files names per file pages per file
6000000 2356 2546.689304 318.336163
5000000 2356 2122.241087 265.2801358
4000000 2356 1697.792869 212.2241087
3000000 2356 1273.344652 159.1680815
2000000 2356 848.8964346 106.1120543
1000000 2356 424.4482173 53.05602716

So maybe 5 million personnel, the page numbers do vay on a sample of probably only 10 I looked at today