Royal Air Force - Vintage Airfix


Royal Air Force books

All these titles are available to purchase from Pen and Sword.

Contents:
- Camel Combat Ace - By Barry M. Marsden..
- Cockpit Commander - A Navigator's Life - By Wing Commander Bruce Gibson..
- Combat Over the Mediterranean - By Chris Goss..
- Duxford and the Big Wings 1940-45 - By Martin Bowman..
- Empty Sky - By Colin Higgs, Bruce Vigar..
- Fighter Command’s Air War 1941 - By Norman Franks..
- Fighter Pilots of the RAF 1939-1945 - By Chaz Bowyer..
- Flight Craft 11: English Electric Lightning - By Martin Derry, Neil Robinson..
- Flight Craft 13: The Gloster Meteor in British Service - By Martin Derry, Neil Robinson..
- Flight Craft 9: Avro Shackleton - By Martin Derry, Neil Robinson..
- Flying the Buccaneer - By Peter Caygill..
- Flying, Fighting and Reflection - By Peter Jacobs, Foreword by Sir Michael Graydon GCB CBE..
- Forty-Seven Years Aloft: From Cold War Fighters and Flying the PM to Commercial Jets - By Brian Burdett..
- Horizons - The History of the Air Cadets - By HR 'Ray' Kidd OBE, Edited by Denise Parker-Housby..
- Hunters over Arabia - By Ray Deacon..

 


 

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Camel Combat Ace

By Barry M. Marsden

Camel Combat AceDescription:

This book follows the First World War career of Captain (later wing commander) Edwin Swale, CBE DFC and bar, who served with 210 Squadron RAF, piloting Sopwith Camel scouts between March and October 1918. During this timeframe, he destroyed seventeen enemy aircraft, the majority being the formidable Fokker DV11. He undertook a series of perilous operations, including patrols, bombing and strafing missions and bomber escorts. 

After the cessation of hostilities, he continued his flying career by piloting gliders over his native Derbyshire. He rejoined the RAF during the Second World War and ended the conflict as an intelligence officer in charge of Ultra operations with the 2nd TAF. His son Duncan also served in the RAF during the Second World War, flying low-level intruder operations in de Havilland Mosquitoes and earning a DFC and a US DFC. Swale also gave noted service to his native Chesterfield as a councillor, alderman, mayor and JP.

This is his story, told in full and thrilling detail.

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Cockpit Commander - A Navigator's Life

By Wing Commander Bruce Gibson

Cockpit Commander - A Navigator's LifeDescription:

Previously self-published by the author, this book charts the course of a dramatic career as a Wing Commander. Living through one of the most dynamic periods in military and Aviation development history, Bruce Gibson saw events play out from his elevated aerial position. His fascinating story will appeal to a wide audience, focussing as it does not only upon Aviation concerns. From life as a mischievous child living in the East End of London, to realising his true direction and joining the RAF Air Volunteer Reserves in 1937, and then the Royal Air Force, and beyond into Aviation ventures in a Civilian capacity. His amusing observations and anecdotes provide the most colourful insight into life during the monochromatic blackout years of World War II, and beyond.

Many historical records and operational logs are available on the market to those looking for cold facts and statistical analyses of events; this account features the human tales, the anecdotes and spirit of camaraderie which characterised Gibson's experiences.

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Combat Over the Mediterranean

By Chris Goss

Combat Over the MediterraneanDescription:

Drawing on an extremely rare collection of photographs taken by the camera guns of Bristol Beaufighters deployed on ground-attack and anti-shipping operations, this book will form a rare indeed unique view of what it was like to fly dangerous strike missions against German and Italian forces over North Africa and the Mediterranean between 1942 and 1945.

Despite being reformed in the UK in November 1940 as Coastal Commands first Beaufighter squadron, 252 Squadron, which also operated Bristol Blenheims until April 1941, was destined to spend most of its service in North Africa and the Mediterranean before being disbanded in Greece in December 1946.

One of the squadrons commanding officers, Wing Commander DOB Butler, DFC, had the foresight to keep perfect examples of the many thousands of gun camera stills taken by the Beaufighter pilots under his command. As a result, he has preserved a remarkable history of the air and sea war in the Mediterranean from October 1942 to May 1945. These dramatic stills show attacks against German and Italian aircraft, Axis warships and merchantmen, harbours and other targets on what are now popular holiday destinations such as Rhodes, Naxos and Kos and across the Greek Islands, the Aegean and Ionian Seas.

This book will be based around these remarkable and spectacular photographs and will include full details of key missions and the crews who participated, with information drawn from Squadron records and combat reports.

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Duxford and the Big Wings 1940-45

By Martin Bowman

Duxford and the Big Wings 1940-45Description:

A pulsating account of the young RAF and American fighter boys who flew Spitfires, Hurricanes, Thunderbolts and Mustangs during 1940-45. It is unique in that the story is told using first person accounts from RAF, German and American 'Eagles' who fought in the skies over England in the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940 and the great air offensives over occupied-Europe from 1942 onwards. The first five and a half chapters cover the Battle of Britain period when the RAF squadrons fought dog fights with the Luftwaffe and then fought them in gathering strength using the 'Big Wings to meet the bomber fleets attacking London. The second part of the book covers the Eagle squadron period, which was expanded with America's entry into the war. The action moves to the USAAF 'Big Wings' of Thunderbolts and Mustang fighters that flew escort missions and duelled with the Luftwaffe over the continent during the massive bomber raids on German targets in France, the Low Countries and the Reich itself. A whole host of incredible first hand accounts by British, Polish, Czech, German and American fighter pilots permeate the action and describe the aerial battles as only they can. This unique book also includes many accounts and photos that have not previously been seen before while the rich mix of combat accounts from all sides are brought together for the first time in one volume.

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Empty Sky

By Colin Higgs, Bruce Vigar

Empty SkyDescription:

One moment the sky would be full of aircraft wheeling and positioning for the best shot at the enemy; a sky full of danger and menace. The next instant there would just be a clear blue empty sky with the sun shining down on a calm and beautiful landscape. Such was the phenomenon experienced by pilots who fought in the key battles of France and Britain in the Summer of 1940.

These air battles were certainly the most important ever fought in defence of the country and have deserved the millions of words that have been written about them. However, as the number of surviving veterans dwindles to single figures, interviews with some of ‘The Few’ who actually fought the battle are of increasing importance and rarity.

This book tells the story of nineteen men and women who were there. Through a series of filmed interviews their stories were preserved, allowing them to tell the part they played in the nation’s defence in their own words. It is the transcriptions of these interviews that form the basis of this unique collection of accounts.

The nineteen stories are riveting and insightful, yet full of modesty and humour. The veterans talk about not being very good or just being followers of the aces – but underneath it all is a great pride that day after day they flew sortie after sortie against an enemy who had never been beaten until that moment. They talk of aerial battles perhaps three or four times each day; of the aircraft that carried them into battle without faltering; of the social life in their precious moments of quiet and peace; but most of all they talk about comradeship, friends and colleagues. Some friendships lasted barely a few days while others continued for decades.

Three of the interviewees epitomise the men from fifteen other countries who joined the RAF to fight. Others represent the thousands of ground crew, WAAFs, ATA, drivers, plotters, radar operators, airfield defenders, controllers, aircraft builders, cooks and associated personnel without whom the Royal Air Force would have been unable to maintain the fight against Germany.

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Fighter Command’s Air War 1941

By Norman Franks

Fighter Command’s Air War 1941Description:

Following the Battle of Britain, the RAF started taking the air war to the Germans. A small number of bombers, escorted by large numbers of fighters tried to force the Luftwaffe into battle. Much air combat ensued with RAF light bombers escorted by scores of fighters, but it was not until Germany invaded Russia in June 1941 that operations were stepped up in an effort to take pressure of Stalin’s Russian Front. Two major German fighter groups, JG26 and JG2, were, however, more than able to contain the RAF’s operations, generally only intercepting when conditions were in their favour. As the author describes, over-claiming combat victories by pilots of both sides is amazing, and several of the top aces had inflated scores. Fighter Command, however, lost massively even though they believed they were inflicting equal, if not better, losses on the Luftwaffe. This battle of attrition was virtually a reverse of the 1940 Battles over England, and pilots who had to bale out over France, were lost completely. 

The book covers the 100+ Circus operations and their accompanying fighter Sweeps in detail, whilst also mentioning lesser operations where the RAF were concerned. The tactics employed by both sides are examined and show how each fighter force quickly adapted to changing conditions tempered by experiences gained in air combat.

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Fighter Pilots of the RAF 1939-1945

By Chaz Bowyer

Fighter Pilots of the RAF 1939-1945Description:

The author has selected some twenty RAF fighter pilots of the Second World War, not only to give overdue recognition to their prowess and courage, but also to exemplify the wide diversity of the individual characters of those men whose war was fought from the cockpit of an RAF fighter. A few were familiar names but most received little or no public acclaim, being part of the silent majority which provided the real spine of the RAFÕs fighter effort throughout the conflict.

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Flight Craft 11: English Electric Lightning

By Martin Derry, Neil Robinson

Flight Craft 11: English Electric LightningDescription:

Developed to intercept increasingly capable Soviet bombers such as the Tupolev Tu-16, Tu-22 and Tu-95, the English Electric/BAC Lightning had a phenomenal rate of climb, a high ceiling, and a top speed of over 1,300mph at 36,000ft, and is a favourite of both aviation enthusiasts and aircraft modellers alike.

This homage to the only all-British Mach 2 interceptor fighter, follows previous Flight Craft book formats, in that it is split in to three main sections. 

The first section offers a concise design and development history covering the six main single-seat fighter and two twin-seat trainer Marks; from its first RAF operational squadron deployments in 1960 through to its frontline retirement in 1988, and coverage of the only other two air forces to operate the type, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. 

This is followed by a 16-page full colour illustration section featuring detailed profiles and 2-views of the colour schemes and markings carried by the type in RAF, Royal Saudi and Kuwait Air Force service.

The final section lists most of the plastic model kits, accessories and decal sheets produced of the EE/BAC Lightning in all the major scales, with photos of finished models made by some of the UK's best modellers. 

As with all the other books in the Flight Craft series, whilst published primarily with the scale aircraft modeller in mind, it is hoped that those readers who might perhaps describe themselves as 'occasional' modellers, or even simply aviation enthusiasts, may also find that this colourful and informative work offers something to provoke their interests too.

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Flight Craft 13: The Gloster Meteor in British Service

By Martin Derry, Neil Robinson

Flight Craft 13: The Gloster Meteor in British ServiceDescription:

The Gloster F.9/40 was Britain’s first jet fighter and as the Meteor F.I became the first jet-powered aircraft of any description to enter service with the Allies in World War II. Several early Meteors were despatched to Europe in the hope that 1945 might witness the first ever jet-on-jet combats between it and the much-vaunted German jets – a contest which, in the event, was never to occur.

Post-war, and the Meteor quickly became the backbone of the UK’s day fighter defences, progressing through successive Marks as it did so, until finally being replaced on the front line by later types during the mid-1950s. With their ever-adaptable airframe, two-seat Meteors became Britain’s primary night fighter too, serving for several years until replaced by the Gloster Javelin from the late 1950s onwards.

With its operational career over, the Meteor’s adaptability and ruggedness was put to sterling use as an advanced trainer, the most obvious example of which was the T.7. As late as 1982, a handful of stalwarts were still soldiering on.

Although space precludes a comprehensive history of such a prolific aircraft, it is hoped that both aviation enthusiasts and aircraft modellers may find some interesting examples in these pages, and sufficient inspiration to help them choose which colour scheme to finish their latest Meteor model in.

This latest addition to the FlightCraft range follows our well-established format in that it is split into three primary sections. The first covers the Meteor using numerous photographs, informative captions and tables. The second is a 16-page full-colour illustration section featuring detailed profiles and 2-views of many of the colour schemes and markings carried by British Meteors. The final section lists as many injection-moulded plastic model kits of the Meteor, in all the major scales, that the authors could obtain, plus a gallery of models made by some of the UK’s best modellers.

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Flight Craft 9: Avro Shackleton

By Martin Derry, Neil Robinson

Flight Craft 9: Avro ShackletonDescription:

Initially projected as a maritime reconnaissance version of the Lincoln bomber, itself a development of the famous wartime Lancaster which saw post-war service in a General/Maritime Reconnaissance role, (see Flight Craft No 4), the Avro Shackleton, (named after the polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton) was a completely new design, powered by four Rolls Royce Griffon 57 engines driving six blade contra-rotating propellers.

Split into three main sections, this latest Flight Craft title, perfectly timed to coincide with the release of the first examples of the eagerly awaited new tool 1/72 scale Airfix kit, offers a concise history of the Shackleton's development and operational career from the prototype and initial entry in to RAF service in 1951, and its use with the South African Air Force, the only other operator of the type. 

Section 1 chronicles its design, ongoing improvements and development through the three main Marks, in both the Maritime Reconnaissance and Airborne Early Warning roles, until its retirement after four decades of RAF service in 1991, which includes scores of contemporary photographs with detailed captions, many of which have never been seen in print before.

This is followed by a 16-page colour illustration section featuring profiles and 2-views of the colour schemes and markings carried by the type in RAF and SAAF service. The final section lists all the plastic model kits, accessories and decal sheets produced of the Shackleton in all scales. 

As with the other books in the Flight Craft series, whilst published primarily with the scale aircraft modeller in mind, it is hoped that those readers who might perhaps describe themselves as 'occasional' modellers may also find that this colourful and informative work offers something to provoke their interests too.

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Flying the Buccaneer

By Peter Caygill

Flying the BuccaneerDescription:

Originally conceived as a carrier-born maritime attack aircraft, the Blackburn design included many original features such as Boundary Layer Control, a system which blew hot air over the flying surfaces to increase lift when landing. The rotating bomb bay was also new and enabled easier maintenance, accessibility and reduced drag. The first model, the S Mk 1, entered operational service with the Fleet Air Arm in 1961. S Mk 2 became operational in 1964, powered by Rolls-Royce Spey engines that gave considerably more thrust. The aircraft were armed with rocket pods, up to 1,000 lb free-fall bombs, Martel air-to-ship missiles or the nuclear Red Beard system. During the financial upheavals of the mid 1960s, the government decided to retire the RN carrier fleet, thus eliminating a fixed-wing aircraft requirement. Simultaneously, the TSR2 development programme was abandoned and left the RAF without a new attack aircraft. Enter the S Mk2B, a land-based Buccaneer, with increased range and payload, which joined the RAF in 1969, and by the early 1970s the ex-Fleet Air Arm aircraft were also carrying RAF markings.

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Flying, Fighting and Reflection

By Peter Jacobs, Foreword by Sir Michael Graydon GCB CBE

Flying, Fighting and ReflectionDescription:

This is the thrilling account of the Battle of Britain ace fighter pilot, Tom “Ginger” Neil. Neil was one of an elite band, nicknamed “The Few” by Winston Churchill, he flew Hurricanes during 141 combat missions in that battle and went on to command the first Spitfire XII squadron during 1942/43 as the RAF went on the offensive in north-west Europe.

In this, the only full account of Neil's life to be published in collaboration with his family, we learn how he became a poster boy for the war effort and how he credits his “sixth sense” for keeping him alive during the Second World War.

There was, however, one terrifyingly close brush with death, when in 1940 he had a mid-air collision with another Hurricane. With the rear section of his aircraft gone, the plane was out of control and hurtling to the ground, yet somehow he managed to bail out and miraculously survived with only a minor leg injury.

As well as RAF service during the Siege of Malta, Wing Commander Neil, who passed away in July 2018, mere days before his 98th birthday, also served with the Americans during the D-Day landings.

During his career, Neil was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses for the destruction of at least fourteen enemy aircraft, and was a successful test pilot after the war before commanding a jet fighter-reconnaissance squadron in Egypt's troubled Canal Zone during the 1950s for which he was awarded the Air Force Cross.

With contributions from the man himself, this book also looks at his life after the RAF and his career as a successful author. For military buffs and novices alike, it is a must-read account of a true war hero.

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Forty-Seven Years Aloft: From Cold War Fighters and Flying the PM to Commercial Jets

By Brian Burdett

Forty-Seven Years Aloft: From Cold War Fighters and Flying the PM to Commercial JetsDescription:

London-born Brian Burdett had only one career objective – to be a pilot. By the time he touched down on his last flight, Brian had flown more than twenty-five different types of aircraft both for the RAF and a variety of famous commercial airlines.

It all began for Brian, as it has for so many, with the Air Cadets, flying Tiger Moths. He obtained his civil license, and six months later he was accepted into the RAF. The year was 1954.

With the RAF he graduated from Piston Provost trainers, to the de Havilland Vampire and eventually the Hawker Hunter. It was to fly Hunters that Brian was posted to 257 (Burma) Squadron at Wattisham in Suffolk, where the jets were frequently scrambled to intercept Soviet intruders in the dark days of the Cold War.

His RAF career developed further with a transfer to Transport Command where Brian could fly the planes he loved the best – the big jets. After training on Handley Page Hastings, Brian was given the chance to fly the famous de Havilland Comet. With 216 Squadron, flying high above the ceiling for commercial aircraft, Brian flew the long-distance routes between the RAF bases around the world, through the Middle East, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and down to South Africa and Australasia. This included taking personnel to Woomera and Christmas Island nuclear testing sites.

After a period as a trainer at Cranwell, Brian became the youngest four-jet captain in the world. He then flew VIPs around Europe in the RAF’s VC10s, his passengers included the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, among other dignitaries. Brian eventually turned to the commercial world, flying Falcons, VC 10s, Tristars and every type of Boeing 747, for a variety of airlines.

His adventures are legion. From a double engine failure on take-off and still managing to land safely, to losing control in cloud and levelling off feet from the ground, to a mid-air near miss with an American aircraft that no-one knew was there, to spotting a strange object that remains unidentified to this day.

Brian’s last flight was into Los Angeles in an Airbus 340, in December 2000. He had 22,500 hours in his log book, after forty-seven years aloft.

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Horizons - The History of the Air Cadets

By HR 'Ray' Kidd OBE, Edited by Denise Parker-Housby

Horizons - The History of the Air CadetsDescription:

Although the first air cadet unit was raised in Bournmouth in 1928, the first squadrons to be formed in a privately funded national organisation were part of the Air Defence Cadet Corps in 1938. Thousands of youngsters joined and were able to learn about aircraft, aerodynamics, navigation, mechanics and other subjects not taught in schools. The organization was to become known as The Air Training Corps (ATC) and as war loomed it was considered a useful RAF recruitment tool to attract potential airmen and ground crew. 

Throughout the war ATC cadets supported the home defences by fire watching, as messengers and as observers, working alongside the Home Guard, the fire services and other vital organisations. During the second half of the 1900s the corps continued to thrive. Girls were now included and retired RAF officers and other ranks continued to take an active part in each squadron. There are now over 900 squadrons within the UK, providing the same skills to modern youth and teaching them the importance of personal responsibility and teamwork via annual camps at RAF stations, adventure training and flight experience. 

This book looks at all aspects of the Air Cadet's history and tradition, including the RAF sections of the Combined Cadet Force attached to public and grammar schools. It concludes with an analysis of what subjects and courses are currently available with many past and present illustrations.

As seen in The York Press and The Scarborough News.

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Hunters over Arabia

By Ray Deacon

Hunters over ArabiaDescription:

Based on official records held at the National Archives and other published sources, ‘Hunters over Arabia’ presents an in-depth account of the operations performed by the Hawker Hunter squadrons policing the desert wastelands and high mountain ranges of the Middle East. Copiously illustrated with colour and black and white photographs, a high percentage of operations performed by this versatile British ground attack and reconnaissance fighter are described in detail.

Using a chronological format, the narrative focuses on the period during which the Hunter served in the Middle East, from 1960 to 1971. Further chapters are dedicated to the three Hunter variants most closely associated with the Middle East, the FGA.9, FR.10 and T.7, together with their respective allocation dates. A short background to Aden, its historical links to Britain, and RAF airfields administered by Middle East Command complete this factual account.

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