James Bigglesworth, nicknamed "Biggles", is a fictional pilot and adventurer, the title character and main hero of the Biggles series of youth-oriented adventure books written by W. E. Johns (1893–1968).
Biggles first appears as a teenaged "scout" (fighter) pilot in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) during World War I. He has joined the RFC in 1916 at the age of 17, having conveniently "lost" his birth certificate. Biggles represents a particularly "British" hero, combining professionalism with a gentlemanly air. Under the stress of combat he develops from a slightly hysterical youth prone to practical jokes to a calm, confident, competent leader. He is occasionally given "special" (secret) missions by the shadowy figure of Colonel (initially Major) Raymond (Wing Commander/Air Commodore in later books, reflecting the creation of the Royal Air Force with its own ranks), who is already involved with the intelligence side of operations. Biggles is accompanied by his cousin Algernon ('Algy') Lacey and his mechanic Flight Sergeant Smyth, who are to accompany Biggles on his adventures after the war; added to the team in 1935 is the teenager Ginger Hebblethwaite.
Algernon Montgomery Lacey or "Algy” is a cousin of Biggles, who is posted to Biggles' flight in 266 Squadron by the influence of his aunt. Despite initial misgivings, the two soon become very close friends and eventually Algy adopts the role of Biggles' second in command. In the books set in the 1930s, Algy, Ginger and Smyth become Biggles' regular companions.
W.E. Johns was a First World War pilot, although his own career did not parallel that of Biggles particularly closely. The author's initial war service was with the infantry, fighting at Gallipoli and on the Macedonian front. He was commissioned, seconded into the RFC in September 1917 and posted back to England for flight training, serving in England as a flying instructor until August 1918 when he transferred to the Western Front. On 16 September 1918 his De Havilland DH4 was shot down on a bombing raid. His observer, Lieutenant Amey, was killed (in two of the stories in Biggles Learns to Fly observers flying with Biggles are killed or badly wounded) but Johns survived to be taken prisoner of war. Johns remained with the RAF until 1927, although his final rank was Flying Officer (equivalent to Lieutenant in the RFC) rather than the "Captain" of his pen name.
Scale 1:30 / 60mm
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