Royal Air Force - Vintage Airfix


Royal Air Force books

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

Contents:
- Lifeline in Helmand: RAF Front-Line Air Supply in Afghanistan - By Roger Annett..
- Lightning Up - By Alan White..
- Lockheed F-104 Starfighter - By Martin Bowman..
- No.7 Bomber Squadron RAF in World War II - By Tom Docherty..
- Nuremberg: The Blackest Night in RAF History - By Martin Bowman..
- On Spartan Wings - By John Carr..
- Phantom in the Cold War - By David Gledhill..
- RAF and the SOE - By John Grehan..
- RAF Fighter Pilots Over Burma - By Norman Franks..
- RAF Harrier Ground Attack - Falklands - By Squadron Leader Jerry Pook MBE DFC..
- RAF in Camera: 1950s - By Keith Wilson..
- RAF in Camera: 1960s - By Keith Wilson..
- RAF in Camera: 1970s - By Keith Wilson..
- RAF Liberator Over the Eastern Front - By Jim Auton MBE..
- RAF Little Rissington - By R Bagshaw, R Deacon, A Pollock, M Thomas..

 


 

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Lifeline in Helmand: RAF Front-Line Air Supply in Afghanistan

By Roger Annett

Lifeline in Helmand: RAF Front-Line Air Supply in AfghanistanDescription:

Lifeline in Helmand tells the story of the Royal Air Force tactical transport force operating in one of the most dangerous regions in the Afghanistan campaign – Helmand province. The Chinook helicopters of 1310 Flight fly heavy-lift and trooping missions to remote Forward Operating Bases and in direct support of Deliberate Ground Operations. They are complemented by the mass air-drop capability of the Hercules transports of 904 Expeditionary Air Wing, RAF. 

The book follows 'C' Flight of 27 Squadron from RAF Odiham as it prepares for another three-month deployment to Helmand manning 1310 Flight, under the command of NATO, within the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF. The narrative joins 'C' Flight on winter-flying training in the Scottish Highlands, before following them to the battleground on the Airbridge transports from RAF Brize Norton. It then tracks them through their operational tour. There are first-hand accounts from air and ground crews, client Royal Marine Commandos and in-theatre helicopter support units, as well as from Hercules pilots on detachment from RAF Lyneham, and men of 47 Air Despatch Squadron. There are detailed depictions of sorties in support of ground operations, and of life-saving casualty evacuation missions with teams of medics and nurses. 

The author describes the tortuous historical background to today's conflict, and eye-witnesses contribute their personal viewpoints on the campaign together with many dramatic photographs from the front line. The whole adds up to a fitting tribute to elite British units facing the horrors and deprivations of war in a far-off corner of a troubled land.

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Lightning Up

By Alan White

Lightning UpDescription:

Alan White served in the RAF from 1953 to 1987 - roughly the period of the Cold War. His introduction to flying came in his University Air Squadron. This seduced him into dropping out of University and joining the RAF. He initially had success during the piston-engine stages of his training but damage to a Vampire T11 and a bad start on the Hunter Weaponry Course set his confidence back until he recovered during service with his first Hunter Squadron. The infamous Duncan Sandys' cuts of 1957 caused the closure of his squadron and he found himself towing air-to-air gunnery targets, but luckily he was then moved to instruct on the Hunter Operational Conversion Unit where he developed his solo aerobatic display skills. He was then posted to take Hunters to Singapore and form a Squadron. He became involved with the SEATO response to assist the Thai government's request against communist insurgents from Laos and spent five months at Chiang Mai camping in a paddy field. After attending Staff College he was posted to Aden at a time of growing terrorist activity. He worked with the C-in-C, Admiral Sir Michael Le Fanu. Upon his return to the UK he trained to fly the supersonic Lightning fighter and eventually was promoted to lead a squadron. There followed a period of rapid promotion and he became Station Commander at RAF Leuchars. His later appointments as Air Commodore included Director of Operations (Air Defence), Senior Staff Officer HQ 11 Group, Air Commodore Plans at HQ Strike Command (where he assisted in the Falklands conflict) until he was promoted to his final rank and appointed Deputy Commander RAF Germany and then finally he became Commandant, RAF Staff College. His account is full of interesting flying detail and the internal workings of the RAF during those dangerous Cold War days.

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Lockheed F-104 Starfighter

By Martin Bowman

Lockheed F-104 StarfighterDescription:

The F-104 Starfighter is quite possibly one of the most photographed aircraft of all time. It is certainly one of the most iconic. Here, Martin Bowman offers up a well researched, comprehensive and thoroughly entertaining history of this impressive interceptor aircraft and fighter bomber.

First-hand insights gathered from pilots who have flown the Starfighter in a variety of international contexts make for a rich and diverse narrative, interspersed throughout with a good selection of black and white and colour illustrations that really bring the story to life.

Over the course of an eventful history, the Starfighter has been caught up in an extensive variety of conflicts across the world. This book not only acquaints us with the landmark milestones of a widely utilised aircraft type, it also illuminates our understanding of the dynamic history of aviation in the second half of the twentieth century.

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No.7 Bomber Squadron RAF in World War II

By Tom Docherty

No.7 Bomber Squadron RAF in World War IIDescription:

This is the story of one of the RAF's oldest and most distinguished heavy bomber squadrons in WW2, although an outline history of the unit since it was formed in WW1 and its post-war history are included. It was the first operational Stirling Squadron, the RAF's first four engine heavy bomber, and flew the first long-distance raids into the heart of Nazi Germany. This new aircraft was a break-through in terms of range and bomb load but it was also an aircraft that suffered from many teething problems. Long-distance navigation was also a black art before the introduction of radio navigation systems and the squadron suffered many fatalities in those early wartime years. Having gained expertise in their task the unit was the first to be equipped with the H2S navigational aid and eventually became one of the original elite Pathfinder squadrons. When the Lancaster came into service the Squadron re-equipped and joined 8 Group and had the dubious reputation of suffering the third greatest loss of aircraft in Bomber Command. It did however participate in more Lancaster raids than any other 8 Group squadron.

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Nuremberg: The Blackest Night in RAF History

By Martin Bowman

Nuremberg: The Blackest Night in RAF HistoryDescription:

This is a brand-new, updated history of the Nuremberg Raid, taking advantage of new stores of information that have come to light in recent years. In his usual, highly-praised style, Martin Bowman utilises first-hand snippets of pilot testimony to supplement his well-researched historical narrative, offering a richly evocative and authentic sense of events as they played out during the course of this iconic raid. Having access to extensive archives of images ensures that this is also a visually pleasing and comprehensive account of one of the most important episodes of Second World War history.

The night of the 30/31 March 1944 marked the culmination of the costly Battle of Berlin. It witnessed Bomber Command hampered to a devastating extent by both the defences of the enemy and the dangerous caprices of the weather. Many losses were recorded and the raid soon gained a dark reputation amongst bomber crews and the general public. Indeed, it came to be regarded thereafter as something of a turning point in the course of the entire conflict. Here, Martin Bowman explains all the various difficulties that beset the forces of Bomber Command on this, its blackest night.

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On Spartan Wings

By John Carr

On Spartan WingsDescription:

Rarely has an air force gone into combat as poorly prepared and outgunned as the Royal Hellenic Air Force had to when Mussolini’s Italy dragged Greece into war on 28 October 1940. Without warning, as Italian forces poured over the frontier from Albania, the RHAF’s paltry effective lineup of 128 battleworthy aircraft, most of them obsolete, were pitted against the 463 fielded by the Regia Aeronautica, whose pilots had honed their skills in the Spanish Civil War. On the Greek side, though, aces such as Marinos Mitralexis, with his audacious ramming of an Italian bomber on the fifth day of the war ensured that morale in the RHAF remained high.

Though the RAF pitched in with whatever help it could provide in machines and manpower, the aerial war was unequal from the first. By the end of 1940 the RHAF was seriously depleted, though individual pilots and crews continued to fight valiantly. The end came in April 1941 when Hitler sped to the rescue of the Duce. The Luftwaffe blasted out of the sky what remained of the RHAF and whatever RAF units remained to help out its last stand.

A single mira (squadron), with just 5 Avro Ansons escaped intact to Egypt, where British forces were bracing for Rommel’s onslaught. Out of this small squadron grew three full mirai, whose pilots, now equipped with modern aircraft, played a decisive part in the Allied victory at El Alamein. Until Greece was liberated in October 1944 the RHAF units in the Allied air forces ranged over targets in the Aegean Sea, Italy and Yugoslavia. The RHAF was little affected by a communist-inspired mutiny in the Greek forces in Egypt that briefly threatened to neutralize the Greek contribution. After the end of World War II the RHAF was called upon to confront the threat of an attempted communist takeover of Greece and played a major part in overcoming the rebellion and saving the country for the West. Meticulous research interwoven with first-hand accounts makes this a fitting tribute to the skill and heroism of the Greek airmen and a valuable account of a neglected aspect of WWII air warfare.

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Phantom in the Cold War

By David Gledhill

Phantom in the Cold WarDescription:

The McDonnell Douglas F4 Phantom was a true multi-role combat aircraft. Introduced into the RAF in 1968, it was employed in ground attack, air reconnaissance and air defence roles. Later, with the arrival of the Jaguar in the early 1970s, it changed over to air defence. In its heyday, it served as Britain’s principal Cold War fighter; there were seven UK-based squadrons plus the Operational Conversion Unit, two Germany-based squadrons and a further Squadron deployed to the Falkland Islands.

Phantom in the Cold War focuses predominantly on the aircraft’s role as an air defence fighter, exploring the ways in which it provided the British contribution to the Second Allied Tactical Air Force at RAF Wildenrath, the home of Nos. 19 and 92 Squadrons during the Cold War. As with his previous books, the author, who flew the Phantom operationally, recounts the thrills, challenges and consequences of operating this sometimes temperamental jet at extreme low-level over the West German countryside, preparing for a war which everyone hoped would never happen.

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RAF and the SOE

By John Grehan

RAF and the SOEDescription:

The Special Operations Executive developed a vast network of agents across Occupied Europe which played a vital role in developing and sustaining Resistance movements that persistently sought to subvert German control of their territories. The culmination of their efforts was seen when the Allied armies landed at Normandy in June 1944, with the SOE and the Resistance causing widespread destruction and disruption behind the German lines.

None of this would have been possible had it not been for the Royal Air Force. Not only the RAF supply the SOE, and the movements it led and co-ordinated, with the thousands of tons of arms and equipment needed to undertake this role, it also delivered and retrieved agents from under the very noses of the enemy.

Compiled at the end of the war by the Air Historical Branch of the RAF, this is an extremely detailed and comprehensive account of the RAF’s support for the SOE, and in it we learn of the enormous and complex arrangements undertaken by the Special Duties squadrons as well as showing how the material delivered by these aircraft was used in the field.

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RAF Fighter Pilots Over Burma

By Norman Franks

RAF Fighter Pilots Over BurmaDescription:

It is a recognized fact that, had the war gone badly for the Allies on the India/Burma front, and had the Japanese succeeded in invading the Indian Continent, the outcome of the war would have been entirely different. Yet despite this, the campaign on the Burma front is offered surprisingly scant coverage in the majority of photo-history books. This new book, from respected military historian and author Norman Franks, attempts to redress the balance, noting the importance of this particular aerial conflict within the wider context of the Second World War.

Franks takes as his focus the pilots, aircraft and landscapes that characterized the campaign. Photographs acquired during the course of an intensive research period are consolidated into a volume that is sure to make for a popular addition to the established Images of War series. Many unpublished photographs feature, each one offering a new insight into the conflict as it unfolded over Burmese skies. The archive offers a wealth of dynamic images of RAF Hurricanes and Spitfires in flight, with shots of both the aircraft and the pilots employed during this challenging conflict. 

To fly and fight in Burma, pilots really had to be at the top of their game. The Japanese enemy certainly weren't the only problem to contend with; weather, poor food, incredible heat and all its attendant maladies, jungle diseases, tigers, elephants, fevers... The Japanese were the real enemy but the British pilots had so much more to deal with. And they did it for years. In Britain, a pilot could look forward to a break from operations every six months or so on average. In Burma, pilots first employed in 1941 were still flying operations in 1944. 

The collection represents a determination on the author's part to record the part played by these resilient and skilled RAF fighter pilots, the contribution that they paid in supporting General Slim's 14th Army and the part they ultimately played in defeating the Japanese attempts to break through into India. These efforts, all paramount and imperative to success, are celebrated here in words and images in a volume sure to appeal to Spitfire and Hurricane enthusiasts, as well as the more general reader.

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RAF Harrier Ground Attack - Falklands

By Squadron Leader Jerry Pook MBE DFC

RAF Harrier Ground Attack - FalklandsDescription:

During the Falklands war Jerry Pook, a pilot in No. 1(F) Squadron RAF, flew air interdiction, armed recce, close-air-support and airfield attack as well as pure photo-recce missions. Most weapons were delivered from extreme low-level attacks because of the lack of navigation aids and in the absence of Smart weapons. The only way he could achieve results was to get low down and close-in to the targets and, if necessary, carry out re-attacks to destroy high-value targets. 

Apart from brief carrier trials carried out many years previously there had been no RAF Harriers deployed at sea. The RAF pilots were treated with ill-disguised contempt by their naval masters, their professional opinions ignored in spite of the fact that the RN knew next to nothing about ground-attack and recce operations. Very soon after starting operations from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes the squadron realised that they were considered as more or less expendable ordnance. 

The Harriers lacked the most basic self-protection aids and were up against 10,000 well-armed troops who put up an impressive weight of fire whenever attacked.

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RAF in Camera: 1950s

By Keith Wilson

RAF in Camera: 1950sDescription:

For aviation, the 1950s was a fascinating decade. For the Royal Air Force, it witnessed the transition from propeller to jet in the fields of fighter, bomber, trainer and transport aircraft. The 1950s saw the end of the Second World War veterans – Lancasters, Spitfires, Mosquitoes and Sunderlands. They were replaced by the first generation of jet aircraft including the Vampire, Hunter, Javelin and, at the end of the decade, the English Electric P.1 – later named the Lightning. 

This photographic record of the RAF during the period illustrates the full varied and wonderful array of equipment in use and also considers the important events of the decade including Korea, the Malayan Emergency, Kenya and the Suez Crisis. The decade also saw the beginning of the Cold War, which in turn led to significant developments in military aviation. For the RAF this included the V-bomber force of Valiant, Victor and Vulcan. Another development was that of the nuclear weapon and this volume includes images and information from Operation Grapple, the testing of Britain's first live thermonuclear weapon – seventy times more powerful than that dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 – which was dropped from Vickers Valiant XD818 at Christmas Island on 15 May 1957. Another Cold War item featured is the Thor Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile, three of which were located on their launches at twenty RAF bomber stations around the UK. 1953 saw the Coronation of HRH Queen Elizabeth II take place at Westminster Abbey on 2 June. Shortly afterwards, a Coronation Review of the Royal Air Force was organized at RAF Odiham, and many images of the never-to-be-repeated event are included here, as are details of all the 640 aircraft involved in the spectacular flypast that followed the royal inspection. Each chapter focuses on a specific year, relaying all the fascinating events and highlights. Lavishly illustrated from the archives of the Air Historical Branch, this is a colourful and insightful history, told with narrative flair and a clear passion for the subject matter.

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RAF in Camera: 1960s

By Keith Wilson

RAF in Camera: 1960sDescription:

The 'Swinging Sixties' was a remarkable decade. For the Royal Air Force it was a most interesting period in their history, representing a period of base closures, contraction and a significant change in equipment - especially in the level of technology operated. 

In 1960, all three of the V-bombers - Valiant, Vulcan and Victor - were in service. The English Electric Lightning established a firm place in British aviation history by being the first single-seat fighter designed to exceed the speed of sound in level flight. Within Transport Command, the Britannia C.1 was operating alongside the Comet C.2, providing an excellent strategic transport capability. The Comet C.4 would enter service in 1962, the VC-10 C.1 in July 1966 and the Belfast C.1 by the end of 1966. 

During the decade, the RAF celebrated its 50th Anniversary, having been formed on 1 April 1918. They also came to be embroiled in a number of conflicts, while still playing their part (alongside the British Army and the Royal Navy) in policing a number of territories and theaters including Malaya, Indonesia, Cyprus, Kenya, Rhodesia, Aden, Libya, Bermuda and Anguilla in the West Indies. 

Here, Keith Wilson takes us on a richly illustrated journey through the decade, with each chapter focusing on a specific year and relaying all the fascinating events and highlights that characterized it. This is a colourful and insightful history, told with narrative flair and a clear passion for the subject matter at hand.

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RAF in Camera: 1970s

By Keith Wilson

RAF in Camera: 1970sDescription:

The 1970s were an event-filled and action packed decade for the Royal Air Force. Many events are worthy of note and all are recorded here, in words and images. Keith Wilson takes up from where he left off with RAF In Camera 1960s in order to take us on a journey through a particularly significant decade.

The start of the 1970s saw the retirement of the Dakota from service, followed shortly after by the formation of the first Buccaneer NATO Squadron. In 1972, the landmark RAF Museum at Hendon was opened by HRH Queen Elizabeth. The midpoint of the decade was particularly notable due to the fact that it saw the ending of the Vietnam War and, in the dying hours of the conflict in March 1975, RAF Hercules were used to evacuate civilians from Cambodia. The Queen's Silver Jubilee Review at RAF Finningley occurred in 1977 and there are plenty of photographs of the event on display here. In 1978, the Sea King replaced the Whirlwind and the Wessex in the Air Sea Rescue role and, in 1979, the British Aerospace Hawk replaced the last Hawker Siddeley Gnats in RAF service when it became the mount of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows. All of these landmark events are referenced in this thorough, well-researched and image-packed publication.

Each chapter focuses on a specific year, relaying all of the highlights that characterized it. As with the two previous releases, this new addition to the In Camera series is sure to be regarded as something of a collector's edition and a real enthusiast's favourite.

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RAF Liberator Over the Eastern Front

By Jim Auton MBE

RAF Liberator Over the Eastern FrontDescription:

Jim Auton was posted to 178 Squadron who were operating ex-USAAF, war-weary Liberator heavy bombers. The squadron was based in Foggia in Italy, living under canvas without the barest of military or personal necessities. The duration of a tour at that time was 40 front-line operations over such dangerous targets as Ploesti and the Danube - few in the squadron felt they could survive since the casualty rate was so high. Then came his part in the desperate attempts to supply the besieged city of Warsaw when the Liberators were ordered to fly in at 500 feet, at their lowest speed and with flaps and undercarriage down, to drop desperately needed ammunition and supplies. All this through a hail of both German and Russian gunfire. On his 37th sortie Jim, aged twenty, was severely wounded when he was hit by Flak whilst in his bomb-aimer's position in the aircraft's nose.

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RAF Little Rissington

By R Bagshaw, R Deacon, A Pollock, M Thomas

RAF Little RissingtonDescription:

In the three decades between 1946 and 1976, the Central Flying School which was based at Little Rissington, produced over 6000 fledgling Qualified Flying Instructors and continually endeavoured to monitor and improve the wider Royal Air Force's standards of flying, based on its sound, proven instructional methods and a wealth of tradition extending back to Upavon in 1912. With the cessation of hostilities in 1945, the station's role took on a new dimension with the arrival of the Central Flying School (CFS) from RAF Upavon in the following year. The main function of CFS was to fulfil RAF requirements and assist some Commonwealth air force requirements for flying instructors. RAF Little Rissington became CFS's important focal base for the next thirty years. The book covers the 1946 to 1976 period and has been drawn from from the records at the National Archives, the RAF Museum, the Central Flying School Archive, and from published sources. Anecdotes and recollections from over 100 service and civilian personnel, ranging from Air Marshals to AC2s, who were once based at Little Rissington bring these unfolding years to life.

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