Join the R.A.A.F Back Them Up!


Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

Fly Now: The National Air and Space Museum Poster Collection

Throughout their history, posters have been a significant means of mass communication, often with striking visual effect. Wendy Wick Reaves, the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery Curator of Prints and Drawings, comments that "sometimes a pictorial poster is a decorative masterpiece-something I can't walk by without a jolt of aesthetic pleasure. Another might strike me as extremely clever advertising … But collectively, these 'pictures of persuasion,' as we might call them, offer a wealth of art, history, design, and popular culture for us to understand. The poster is a familiar part of our world, and we intuitively understand its role as propaganda, promotion, announcement, or advertisement."

Reaves' observations are especially relevant for the impressive array of aviation posters in the National Air and Space Museum's 1300+ artifact collection. Quite possibly the largest publicly-held collection of its kind in the United States, the National Air and Space Museum's posters focus primarily on advertising for aviation-related products and activities. Among other areas, the collection includes 19th-century ballooning exhibition posters, early 20th-century airplane exhibition and meet posters, and twentieth-century airline advertisements.

The posters in the collection represent printing technologies that include original lithography, silkscreen, photolithography, and computer-generated imagery. The collection is significant both for its aesthetic value and because it is a unique representation of the cultural, commercial and military history of aviation. The collection represents an intense interest in flight, both public and private, during a significant period of its technological and social development.

Collection Item Long Description:

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum


Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum



Royal Australian Air Force

Credit Line

Donated by Mrs. Mary E. "Mother" Tusch


Poster, Military Aviation


2-D - Unframed (H x W): 76.2 x 50.8cm (30 x 20 in.)

Country of Origin

  • United Kingdom
  • Australia



Physical Description

  • Image of the bombing (by Bristol Blenheims) in daylight of the power station at Knapsack, Germany by the Royal Air Force.
  • Full Text: Join the R.A.A.F., men from 18 to 50, Back them up!, the WAAAF, young women from 18 to 40 or the Air Training Corps, Youths from 16 to 18.


ART-Posters, Original Art Quality

Inventory Number


Related Topics