View Full Version : 3.50 ORBs

15th February 2012, 18:49


3.50 for download of sections of AIR 27 ORBs

Got to be good value for a month range of records

Just tried a couple. not bad but you need to watch the date range. varies from a few pages to several pages.


15th February 2012, 19:42
I've put this on another forum as well, why would the NA treat these Digital Microfilms differently to the Digital Microfilm set for AIR 78, or is this all about yield management.

15th February 2012, 20:00
Hi Alan,

Just my feelings not based on any official reason form the TNA but:

The AIR 78 are very large and take a considerable time to down load. If they were available in this form on a TNA intranet most of the activity on the comms lines would be sending these to requesting terminals.

To split up AIR27 into month pieces would allow faster access with less comms activity between server and terminals. There is a precedent as this is what was done with AIR 50.

However this would suggest that AIR 27 microfilm would eventually be phased out with digital taking the demand.

Just like microfilm AIR 27 taking over from paper in the past.


15th February 2012, 20:07
Thank you for sharing this information Ross. At long last I have been able to fill in many hitherto unknown details of 76 Sqn ops during the years 1916 to 1941 - 25 years/30 pages for just 3.50!

Thanks again

With all good wishes


15th February 2012, 20:41
I think it's a bit of a cheek selling what appears to be, the 540's separatley from the 541's. I noticed that the months are duplicated in pairs, and on closer inspection it does appear from the numbers of pages in each pair, that they have possibly split each month into two sections. So it really means that you pay 7.00 for a month in reality.

15th February 2012, 21:05
My needs for AIR 27 access polarises into two cases.

1. Peroid based research.
Here I am interested in the squadron as a whole and will look for both 540 and 541 over several months. Difficult to pin down to a specific aim rather getting a feeling for scale and intensity of operations.

2. Event based research.
This is normally for a relative or to eliminate a casualty from a list. I know the date just need to see what the ORB says about it.

In terms of use I consider I will check for a specfic event via the online download at 3.50/7.00 for event based research but will order the whole reel for general period based research.

I suspect that the family type researcher will start as event based but then quickly rack up more than the 20.00 reel cost in looking at possibly 6 months of previous operations for an individual.


Mikkel Plannthin
15th February 2012, 21:07
Excellent. I have bought many full records for the sake of a few months.


15th February 2012, 21:37
Hello Ross,

I have also purchased the ORBs for 76 Sqn Jul-Sep 1942 which reveal the daily squadron conversion flight movements in narrative form.

Please could you advise me how I can get the forms which give the aircraft and crew details and postings in and out. Clearly I'm overlooking something on the NA site but just cant figure it out. Thank you.


15th February 2012, 22:12
Now you are confusing me Norman.

The narrative description Form 540 is where I would expect to find details of postings in or out.

The event description Form 541 is th e daily work list which gives the individual flight details along with crew.

If you have downloaded one file for the month then you will have one but not the other. What you will not have is both types of record missing.

Go back to the TNA header page

Scroll down to What the records look like andlook at the two type of files for No.101 Sqn.

Just above it is a note on the use of "Y" and how to search.


big tyke
15th February 2012, 22:37
On Ross' advice I have just purchased the ORB's for 428 Sqn RCAF from the AIR 27 files. I cannot wait to receive them. I started my research as a family member was with the squadron from mid Aug to mid sept 1943, roughly 6 weeks before he was killed. I have got those weeks in paper form but as with everything things snowball and I have decided to do a bit more indepth research into all the crews that appear in the ORB's. These are in 3 files 1849/50 & 51.
1849 & 1850 cover 30 months which comes to 105. but if I had gone down the 3.50 route would I have had to purchase these twice? meaning form 540 & 541. This could be a very expensive way to research a squadron although it would be preferable if you need to spread the cost over a longer time. A bit like buying your car insurance monthly.
As well as this I also ordered 1851 which is the appendices for 1943-1945. Covering roughly 2 years worth. this may have come to a princely sum of over 200 but I got the whole lot for 65 inc p+p. It is worth its while if your research is not going to go overboard to buy by the month but for me buying the lot was the better choice.

Although I prefared the system where you could ask for a specific date range, which is what I did for the paper copies. It seems to me that the TNA have realised that not everyone can get to them to carry out their own searches.

So thanks again Ross for the heads up.


15th February 2012, 23:14
Thanks Ross,

Sorry for the confusion Ross, I have double checked and see I have got the posting in and out dates after all.

I realise I have down loaded the Form 540 and need the relevant Form 541 for flight details. Thank you for putting me straight and once again thanks for the original lead.


16th February 2012, 00:28
Can someone confirm something for me, are these digitisations of the microfilms or re-photographing the originals (which are in the NA store, they never got rid of them after filming), what is the reproduction quality like (I know what the films are like, variable is the only way of putting it).

16th February 2012, 02:04
Hello Alclark,

I dont know the origin but have downloaded two files and the reproduction is very clear and readable. Best printed in B&W


16th February 2012, 08:54

If you scroll down the page that Ross gave the link to there's a section called "What do the Records Look Like" and there is a link to samples of the Form 540 and 541 for 101 Squadron for December 1943.


16th February 2012, 16:04
Hit and Miss, but a winner for Pre or very early WW2 research methinks

For instance for 47 Sqn

47 Sqn Summary of Events 1927 Mar 01 - 1939 Sept -->> 166 Pages
47 Sqn Appendices 1927 Mar 01 - 1945 Jan 31 -->> 239 Pages

all for only 7.00 - You would probably pay more in petrol and parking for Kew!

and 45 Sqn

45 Sqn Summary of Events 1929 Aug 01 - 1939 Dec 31 -->103 Pages
45 Sqn Appendices 1934 Nov 01 - 1945 Jan 31 --> 241 Pages

all for 7.00


46 Sqn Summary of Events 1936 Sept 01 - 1939 Sept 30 -> 21 Pages

for 3.50

But as Ross has said very hit and miss about details in ORBS before WW2

16th February 2012, 16:39
I've done one small search for 228 Squadron and it gives me monthly results, Jan 1944, Feb 1944, Mar 1944. Is this one really monthly scans of the records or is it a glitch in the index? Would it turn out to be one big file or just those individual months? Will I have to buy one!

Might I suggest we note what we have bought and downloaded and maybe swap and share!! Save the old band width and all that cough

16th February 2012, 16:39
And i've just got 434 pages for 37sqdn Appendices 1938 to 45 3.50, lubbly jubbly as Del boy would say!!

21st February 2012, 18:03
Someone reminded me about my suggestion of us noting what we have bought and swap ORB's or sections?

Any takers?

And are they monthly extracts as per my initial question?

21st February 2012, 18:48
I have 45 and 47 Summary of Events and Appendices pre war (ends sept 1939) if anyone wants to a copy . I can stick them in the cloud and am happy to take any others in return

Can't remember but total around 300 pages

Pm me if interested

21st February 2012, 23:45

Is 45, 47 meaning the squadrons or is it the quantity? I guess it's squadrons but want to be sure, thank you.


22nd February 2012, 08:26
Yes 47 and 45 Sqns

AIR 27/466
AIR 27/462
AIR 27/455
AIR 27/458

23rd February 2012, 18:09
Good value depends on the point of reference. I have been researching the young men of my village who died in WW1 and downloaded the War diary of the Herefordshire Regiment in Gallipoli 1915/16 and received the 'Brigades' War diary online 800 pages and all for 3.50. I suspect they have now caught on to a 'money spinner' but having used the new service for information I could not get previously it is very good and it goes in a good cause.

2nd March 2012, 10:09
If anyone might be tempted in getting 115sqdn Appendices AIR27/899 and 900. Just thought i'd let you know that i have just dowloaded them, and they a more or less useless. They consist of bombing photo's throughout, BUT!! the overwhelming majority show only the photoflash against a black background, and with no ground details showing whatsoever. The 115sqdn Appendices AIR27/896, are all combat reports.

2nd March 2012, 12:32
I have 172 Squadron for month of October 1944, both the 540 and 541 files. If anyone wants them.

Chris Pointon
2nd March 2012, 13:26
I have 98 Sqdn and 180 Sqdn for January 1944 - both ORB and appendices if anyone wants them.

2nd March 2012, 14:10
I have Appendices for 297 and 644 Squadrons for Jun/July 1944. They consist entirely of crew reports from parachuting/glider operations.


As this appears to be a 'living' thread could I suggest you make this a Sticky as it would make the item easy to access/add to rather than to have to wade through old messages to find it.


2nd March 2012, 15:57
Agreed Brian,

Moved to a more appropriate forum as well.


2nd March 2012, 17:22
I have 50-60 ORB's (not all complete) for Spitfire and Hurricane units and I am willing to exchange them with other ORB's for the same kind of units.

PM me for a list and with a list of yours .

John Engelsted

7th March 2012, 21:13
Just downloaded 166 Sqn RAF 540s and 541s for Jan, Feb and Mar 1945. Happy to do look ups!


8th March 2012, 00:17

Would anyone have 190 Squadron ORB for August/September 1944. I Have 5AOS/5BGS & 11AGS and will extract dates as required.



Luc Vervoort
10th March 2012, 15:35

If you need info regarding 570 Squadron during September 1944, just ask ...

Best regards


10th March 2012, 20:47
Hi Luc,

Many thanks, but 190 Squadron in September 1944 is my main interest.

Kind regards,


13th March 2012, 02:13
Thanks for the heads up.. Just spent some on the following documents

AIR27/261 20 SQN appendices 1942-1944 803Pgs! 3.50GBP
AIR27/258 20 sqn ORB 1930-1938 228Pgs 3.50
AIR27/258 20 sqn ORB 1939- Oct 1942 127Pgs 3.50

Got similar stuff for No.28 Squadron as well..

23rd March 2012, 17:38
202 Sqn Dec 1944 available from me now!

2nd April 2012, 11:14
Should anyone have Netheravon station ORBs , please could you tell me who the Station Commander was 1944-1945? Many thanks.

19th June 2012, 15:54
The Final list that i got

5 Sqn RAF - AIR27/64 - ORB For the year 1938 - 31 Pages
20 Sqn RAF - AIR27/ 258 - ORB 1930-1938 - 228 Pages
....................AIR27/ 258 - ORB 1939-Oct1942 127 Pages
....................AIR27/261 - Appendices 1942-1944 803 Pages
28 Sqn RAF...AIR27/332- ORB 1920 to Jan 1943 459 Pages (Had got it part of Microform on CD route)
....................AIR27/336 - Appendices Sept 1939-Dec 1941 159 Pages
....................AIR27/337 - Appendices Jan 1942-Dec 1945 252 Pages
31 Sqn RAF - AIR27/351 - ORB Sept 39 to Dec 42 (Reconstructed ORB from 1945) -109 Pages
353 Sqn RAF - AIR27/1749 - ORB June 1942 to Feb 1943 - 141 Pages

Let me know if any are needed.

I was quite keen to get 20 Sqn ORB from Nov 1942 onwards to March 1943, but they are only available on a Monthly file basis - and pretty expensive to get them and the appendices together!

24th December 2012, 13:34
I got some of the AIR 27 ORBs for the former RNAS squadrons and RAF Coastal Command squadrons of the interwar years. However, as pointed out by most of you already, they can vary from a few pages to a few hundred pages (e.g. 205 Squadron is an 86.9 MB monster).

If anyone wants the following let me know:
201 Squadron (AIR 27/1176 + AIR 27/1177)
203 Squadron (AIR 27/1197)
205 Squadron (AIR 27/1217)
206 Squadron (AIR 27/1221)
207 Squadron (AIR 27/1233)
208 Squadron (AIR 27/1239)
216 Squadron (AIR 27/1332)
217 Squadron (AIR 27/1338)
219 Squadron (AIR 27/1362)
224 Squadron (AIR 27/1383)
240 Squadron (AIR 27/1458)
269 Squadron (AIR 27/1565 + AIR 27/1568)

I dearly wish they'd revisit these and re-scan the typed pages, as their conversion to searchable-text would greatly help researchers. At present it's quite tedious to trawl through pages-as-images when looking for a particular reference.

27th January 2013, 16:13
the NA catalog added a very nice "preview" feature that helps you decide whether its worth ordering or not.. The preview is a little bit distorted but they allow sufficient text to be shown.

1st June 2013, 07:04
Good day

When I click on a ORB download link on TNA website, I get something similar to this: 247 pages for a total of 0 KB. I seem to remember back a few months ago that this was an issue and it had been fixed. I am reluctant to purchase the download as I may get exactly that: 0 kb. Is this still happening to others as well? Am wandering if my version of Explorer here at work is too old. Thanks


1st June 2013, 09:08
I have just downloaded 3 orders of ORB appendices without any problem. What file are you trying to download, i'll try it and see if it displays the same info that you got.

2nd June 2013, 05:29
Hi Allan

Trying to get:

431 RCAF
540 RAF
82 RAF
104 RAF

I have quite a few more to get but these are the ones I started with.


2nd June 2013, 16:10
Not sure what you're trying to download, (247 pages) as the ORB's are divided into monthly segments for purchase.
I have the whole of 540sqdn ORB and that alone, has only 229 pages altogether.

3rd June 2013, 07:23
Thanks Allan. When I go to my basket, it states the 540 ORB is 0 Kb and available for downloading. I will try from my computer at home as this one at work has an old version of Explorer and that may be the issue. I have quite a few to download so want to make sure the downloads are good before spending the money.


3rd June 2013, 09:47

The ORB for No.540 Sqn during the period Oct 1942 to May 1945 is available in two versions.

1. AIR 27/2007

This is the full uncut digital version of the microfilm original. This is not available for download but can be requested as an estimate. The current cost for this is 10, plus disc cost, plus selected post and packing eg <15

2. AIR 27/2007/X where X is a number between 1 and 64

This is the digital version that is supplied for download at <3.50. Each subfile X relates to a month only and also is either Form 540 or Form 541 but not both. So to get the complete record for a month you will need to buy two download files for approx 7.00, the complete ORB would cost 64 times 3.50 or 224.

Option 2 is really only viable where you are in a hurry and cannot wait 14 days for postage or you only have a month or two to check from the whole ORB.

So what are you looking at downloading?

AIR 27/2007 - as you cannot do this with this service


AIR 272007/X - in which case say the full file reference so AlanW can assist you.


3rd June 2013, 17:44
The date I am interested in is April 13th 1944. I am writing on J23033 P/O Charles Cyril Drew who was killed in an accident on that date. I have his service record but was looking to see if the O.R.B. would have any further information.



3rd June 2013, 18:27
Not much about it in the ORB. Simply states,
F/O C.C. Drew, and Sgt J.I. Shaer, set course to obtain photographs in the Munich area. A/C radioed, "returning to base" at 10.35, but crashed at Abingdon at 11.10, killing the crew.
Mosquito MK lX, LR416. Take off time 09.50, crashed 11.10.

3rd June 2013, 20:01
Hi Alan

Thanks very much for the info. Indeed it states the same as in his service file. All the best


8th June 2013, 20:06
Good day all

My search has now turned to No.82 Squadron RAF. I am writing on J5086 P/O Henry Hodsmyth Pibus who was lost missing on 21 October 1941. I have a copy of his service file but being thorough as I can be, I want to look in the ORB to see if there are any further details, like bomb load, target etc... I ran the search on TNA website for 1941 and just want to make sure I order the correct pages. I have a choice between Appendices, Summary of events, Record of events. Should I download all of them or which one would have the most information? Thanks


9th June 2013, 08:27
The cost of each file is about the same as an alcoholic drink.

Is two drinks really too much to risk to find out content for something that seems this important to you?

Examples of both summary and events files are FREE to order in the general header description for the AIR 27 download.


See the section headed what the records look like.


9th June 2013, 13:36
Blenheim 6146, "O", seen to be shot down into the sea by enemy fighter, whilst attacking shipping off the Dutch coast between Ymuiden and Schweningen. No bomb loads given.
P/O Barber.
P/O Pibus.
Sgt Paine.

As stated by Ross, if you look at the examples, you will see that, the 540's give a "diary" type of description of day to day events, and the 541's give details of everything to do with operations carried out. Appendices vary with each squadron, as to what material they hold.

9th June 2013, 15:43
OK that answers my question then 541s it is. Thanks


22nd November 2013, 01:25
I've just like an idiot bought the 212 Sqn Summary of events ORB for End of 1942 to March 1943, and didn't contain the info I wanted, so if anyone wants copies of these just let me know, I can send them on. Credit card going back in the wallet!

27th February 2014, 16:15
I have 400+ ORB's (AIR 27 ref's) for Spitfire and Hurricane units and I am willing to exchange them with other ORB's for the same kind of units.

PM me for a list and with a list of yours .

John Engelsted

Hans Nauta
14th March 2014, 13:59
Hi John,

Please have a look at your PM box!


11th April 2015, 02:42
Wonderful source of information. I have transcribed 98 Squadron RAF ORBs into Excel format; a heck of a lot of work, but makes the records easily searchable. I can quickly answer questions on 98 Sqn from Association members and other researchers.

25th August 2015, 14:10
if anyone has 103 Squadron ORB for October 1941, I'd love a gander at it.

Thanks folks.

26th August 2015, 06:02
Dennis, what information is it you would like to know from it.

26th August 2015, 10:27
Thanks Alan, I was supplied with the ORB by a secret beneficiary!! It was the data on the aircraft T2506 that was abandoned in Ireland.

6th April 2016, 05:52
Have folks seen this thread? http://ww2talk.com/forums/topic/37124-raf-squadron-orbs-digitised-by-tna/page-2

Afternoon to allCan I just confirm that of you are linked into TNA Discovery Catalogue using their Wifi and at TNA then the ORBs can be downloaded for free?

If so it might just save me a few pounds on my next few visits!


That's correct Andy. I often download files directly to my phone rather than bringing a laptop. However, it is a slow process especially for ORB's that are often split into 2 downloads per month which might then be split again into multiple PDFs if quite large.
I also sometimes come across an issue when the download will just not work no matter how many attempts are made. So all in all a bit hit and miss and long winded but saves a lot of money if you have the patience.