A new exhibition at the RAF Museum in Hendon celebrates the role the Flying Services – the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service – played in World War One, the centenary of which is being marked up and down the country this year.

The Flying Services played a very significant part in the conflict. For the first time the fighting extended into the air above the battlefield, and this space became vital for reconnaissance of the enemy’s positions and intentions. At sea, aeroplanes and airships were able to see far over the horizon visible from a warship, as well as spotting submarine raids along Great Britain’s coasts. Both sides tried to stop each other taking advantage of this overview, and hence aerial fighting developed.

Biggles and Chums – First World War watercolours and works on paper by Captain WE Johns and his contemporaries is an exhibition that will feature works on paper that have never been exhibited before, all of them produced during or immediately after World War One.

There will be a number of works by Captain William Earl Johns, the creator of Biggles, the ace pilot and adventurer he wrote about in nearly 100 books. Johns, however, was not actually a captain; his actual final RAF rank was Flying Officer.

Aeroplanes, heroic actions, the new operational procedures of air warfare and portraits of the young men who flew will all be on display alongside a collection of medals, clothing, badges, Zeppelin fragments and other exhibits.

  • Biggles and Chums is at the RAF Museum, Grahame Park Way, Hendon, May 26 to January 4, 2015. Details: 020 8205 2266, rafmuseum.org.uk