Royal Air Force - Vintage Airfix


Royal Air Force books

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

Contents:
- RAF On the Offensive - By Greg Baughen..
- RAF Strike Command 1968 - 2007 - By Kev Darling..
- RAF Tanker Navigator - By Peter Bodle FRAeS, Tony Golds..
- RAF Top Gun - By Nick Thomas..
- Royal Observer Corps - By An Official History..
- Sepecat Jaguar - By Martin Bowman..
- Sir Alan Cobham - By Colin Cruddas..
- Spitfire! - By Dilip Sarkar MBE..
- Stay the Distance - By Peter Jacobs..
- Sunderland Over Far-Eastern Seas - By Group Captain Derek Empson..
- Surviving the Japanese Onslaught - By William Tate..
- Swift to Battle: 72 Fighter Squadron RAF in Action - Volume 2 - By Tom Docherty..
- Swift to Battle: 72 Fighter Squadron RAF in Action - Volume 3 - By Tom Docherty..
- Sydney Camm: Hurricane and Harrier Designer - By John Sweetman..
- Target Leipzig - By Alan Cooper..

 


 

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RAF On the Offensive

By Greg Baughen

RAF On the OffensiveDescription:

Long before the start of the Second World War it had been believed that strategic bombing would be the deciding factor in any future conflict. Then Hitler launched the Blitzkrieg upon France and the Low Countries in 1940, and the much-vaunted French Army and the British Expeditionary Force were swept away in just six weeks.

This new form of warfare shook the Air Ministry, but the expected invasion never came and the Battle of Britain was fought in the air. It seemed that air forces operating independently could determine the course of the war. An Army scarcely seemed necessary for the defence of the UK and no British army could ever be powerful enough to mount an invasion of Europe on its own. Bombing Germany into defeat seemed Britain's only option. In North Africa, however, Commonwealth armies and air forces were demonstrating that they too could use blitzkrieg tactics to crush opponents. Britain was also no longer alone; Greece and then the Soviet Union joined the fight.

RAF on the Offensive describes how British air power developed after the Battle of Britain. Attitudes were beginning to change – the fighter, rather than the bomber, was re-emerging as the principal means of gaining air superiority. As 1941 drew to a close, the strategic air offensive appeared to be achieving little and conventional land warfare seemed poised to replace it as the way to defeat the enemy. Which direction, then, would the war take?

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RAF Strike Command 1968 - 2007

By Kev Darling

RAF Strike Command 1968 - 2007Description:

In 1968 a decision was made to combine the RAF Commands that had become famous in World War Two. Thus Fighter,Bomber, Coastal, Air Support and Signals Commands were combined into the single Strike Command. This amalgamation was to see service throughout the remaining years of the Cold War and action in the Falklands and the Middle East in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Granby.

This book looks at the origins of the World War Two Commands and their outline histories until 1968. The organisational change caused re-equipment, base changes and increasing economic constraints – an all-too familiar story. The Royal Navy was now responsible for the UK’s nuclear deterrent in the form of their Polaris submarines, so the RAF’s V-Bomber Force were now relegated to tanker operations, with the exception of the lone Vulcan that was sent to the Falklands conflict. 

The Commands fleet of fast jets became more adaptable, with single types able to assume the roles of fighter, bomber,reconnaissance and maritime attack. The aircraft also become multi-national in their design and manufacture as Britain’s post-war lead in aircraft design had been frittered away by years of thoughtless government and our aircraft manufacturing devolved into a single company. Apart from the brilliant Harrier which the US continues to develop and build, other aircraft flown by the Command were from European syndicates, the Tornado and Jaguar being examples. The US supplied the transports in the form of the faithful Hercules and Europe most of the helicopter fleet.

This book looks at the operations that took place during Strike Commands existence, the aircraft they flew and the men who flew them. It is a tribute to the fast-dwindling strike power of the Royal Air Force.

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RAF Tanker Navigator

By Peter Bodle FRAeS, Tony Golds

RAF Tanker NavigatorDescription:

This book gives a rare insight into the life inside the tanker squadrons of the Royal Air Force, viewed through the eyes of Tony Golds, one of the RAF tanker fleet's longest serving Navigator/Plotters. During his service career which spanned four decades, he flew in dozens of aeroplanes, for literally thousands of hours and covered something in excess of two million miles. Initially the prime role of the first tankers (Valiants) was to service the legendary English Electric Lightning interceptor fighters patrolling the North Sea. During his career, Tony served in every continent of the world, including a healthy series of tours at Ascension just after the Falklands War. He was in one of the tanker crews chosen to assist in devising the procedures needed to get both the Vulcans in the Black Buck operation down to the Falklands, and subsequently the Hercules C130 freighters to form the Ascension / Falklands air bridge, so vital for the support of the Falkland Islands, once the shooting war was over.

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RAF Top Gun

By Nick Thomas

RAF Top GunDescription:

Edward 'Teddy' Mortlock Donaldson was one of three aviator brothers to win the DSO during World War II. He joined his brother in the RAF and was granted a sort-service commission. He quickly became both a stunt pilot and a crack-shot, winning the RAF's Gunnery Trophy One and leading the RAF's aerobatic display team. When war was declared Donaldson was commanding No 151(F) Squadron flying Hurricanes and in their first engagement destroyed six enemy aircraft, shooting down many more in the following months. For his leadership of the squadron during the battle and his personal tally of eleven, plus ten probable destructions he was awarded the DSO. He then spent three years as a gunnery instructor in the USA where he taught American Gun Instructors and helped set up new gunnery schools. On his return to England he converted onto jet aircraft and commanded a Meteor squadron. This lead to him being selected to command the Air Speed Flight, established in 1946 to break the world record. 'Teddy' eventually snatched the title, setting a new speed record and breaking the 1000 kmph barrier. He retired as an Air Commodore and became the Air Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph. He died in 1992.

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Royal Observer Corps

By An Official History

Royal Observer CorpsDescription:

The key roles played by the Royal Observer Corps in the Second World War have, all too often, been overshadowed by more glamourous arms of the defence forces. The teams in the Sector Stations, plotting the battles raging above, and the Spitfires and Hurricanes swooping upon the formations of enemy fighters and bombers, present easily-imagined and dramatic scenes. Yet between the radar stations, detecting the German aircraft approaching over the Channel, and the Sector Controls were the little sand-bagged posts of the Observer Corps that provided over-land tracking of the enemy formations.

The Royal Observer Corps (the ‘Royal’ prefix being approved in 1941) proved a vital link in the communication chain in the defence of the UK, particularly in the Battle of Britain, as it provided the only means of tracking enemy aircraft once they had crossed the coastline. The highly-skilled Observers were also able to identify and count the enemy aircraft, turning blips on a screen into actual types and numbers of German machines.

Even after the threat from the Luftwaffe receded after the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, the ROC again came to the fore when the V1s opened a new reign of terror in 1944. Because these small, fast weapons were so hard to detect the RAF’s fighter controllers moved into the ROC’s operations rooms so that they could respond to the V-1 threat more rapidly.

In this official history of the ROC written shortly after the war, the corps’ operations throughout the conflict are set out in great detail. This includes a section on the last flight of Rudolf Hess, as well as one detailing the work of those who were selected for employment as Seaborne Observers on ships during the D-Day landings, where their specialist identification skills were used to prevent the all-too prevalent instances of ‘friendly fire’.

This history provides an account of the ROC which is just as important in understanding the operations of the corps as the Observers were in the defence of the United Kingdom during the Second War.

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Sepecat Jaguar

By Martin Bowman

Sepecat JaguarDescription:

This versatile, rugged aircraft was a joint Anglo/French project and first flew in September 1968, becoming operational with both the RAF and Arme del'Air in 1972/3. The Jaguar's multi-role design made it easy to adapt for the ground-attack, reconnaissance, interceptor and maritime strike roles. It has a top speed of Mach 0 .9 and a combat radius of 875 miles and is powered by two Rolls-Royce/Turbomca Adour reheated turbojets. A total of 325 single-seat and 75 two-seat trainer aircraft were produced for the RAF and French air forces and a few Jaguars were still in RAF service in the early part of the 21st Century pending replacement by the Eurofighter Typhoon. Many of the Jaguar pilot's first hand accounts recall their involvement in war and peace. The aircraft was used extensively by both the RAF and French air forces in the Gulf War in 1991 and in eastern European conflicts where the aircraft distinguished itself as reliable and potent. Jaguar Internationals have been exported to Ecuador, Nigeria and Oman and also India, which continues indigenous production. Jaguars continue to serve with the Indian Air Force and the Royal Air Force of Oman.

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Sir Alan Cobham

By Colin Cruddas

Sir Alan CobhamDescription:

Flying in the years between the two world wars was the preserve of the powerful and the wealthy, or so it was until Sir Alan Cobham’s ‘Flying Circus’ began to tour Britain.

A former pilot with the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War, Alan Cobham continued to fly, establishing air routes to the Empire countries. He also involved himself in aerial photography and survey work, undertook charter flights and pioneered the ‘Air to Air’ refuelling technique still in use today.

Yet it was his National Aviation Day displays for which Sir Alan Cobham’s name is best remembered. Affectionally known as ‘Cobham’s Flying Circus’, his team of up to fourteen aircraft toured the United Kingdom, visiting hundreds of municipal locations, allowing ‘ordinary’ people to have their first taste of flying. So extensively did Cobham travel with his displays, and so popular did they become, that after war broke out in 1939, some 75 per cent of Britain’s young men volunteering for aircrew duties claimed that their first experience of flying had been with ‘the Circus’.

Sir Alan’s name still lives on in the aviation world. The creation of Flight Refuelling Limited in 1934 eventually led to the formation of what is today a major international aerospace and defence organisation – Cobham PLC.

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Spitfire!

By Dilip Sarkar MBE

Spitfire!Description:

As a child, Dilip Sarkar was fascinated by the haunting image of an anonymous RAF Spitfire pilot. Taken minutes after landing from a Battle of Britain combat, this was Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC, the commander of 19 Squadron, based at Fowlmere – and author of the stirring first-hand account Spitfire! The Experiences of a Fighter Pilot, published under the pseudonym B.J. Ellan. Deeply moving was the discovery that in 1942 Brian was reported missing after a futile nuisance raid over the Dutch coast.

During the mid-1980s, Dilip began researching the life and times of both Brian Lane and 19 Squadron, forging close friendships with many of the unit’s surviving Battle of Britain pilots and support staff. This enabled identification of the wartime censor’s blanks regarding people and places in Brian’s book, and the publication in 1990 of Dilip’s first ever book, Spitfire Squadron: 19 Squadron at War 1939-41.

Nearly thirty years later, sadly all of the survivors are now deceased, but Dilip’s close relationship has provided a huge archive of correspondence and interviews in addition to a unique photographic collection. Furthermore, the author, a retired police detective, has thoroughly investigated the life – and death – of Squadron Leader Lane.

This completely new book, Spitfire!, covers everything we would ever need to know about such a unit during the critical pre and early war period: the social, political, aviation and military history all in one volume – emphasising the human experience involved and the stories of casualties. With an immense photographic collection – many published here for the first time – this book is destined to become a classic.

So, strap yourself in, turn gun button to ‘fire’, and join 19 Squadron’s Spitfire pilots during our Darkest and Finest Hours … the ultimate ‘Band of Brothers’?

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Stay the Distance

By Peter Jacobs

Stay the DistanceDescription:

Sir Michael Beetham enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the Royal Air Force. He joined the RAF as a pilot in 1941 and was awarded the DFC whilst serving with Bomber Command during 1943/44. Remaining in the post-war RAF, a number of flying and staff appointments followed. Notably he drafted the first specification for the ill-fated TSR 2 and later joined the V-Force as commanding officer of 214 Sqn at Marham. 

Beetham then served at the heart of Bomber Command's affairs when the V-Force was at the forefront of the Nation's defences. The most critical moment came with the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. In 1964 he was given command of Khormaksar in Aden, the RAF's biggest overseas station. His arrival coincided with the start of a terrorist campaign against British forces in Aden.

More senior appointments followed, notably as Commander 2nd Tactical Air Force and Commander-in-Chief RAF Germany, but the big prize came in 1977 when Beetham was appointed Chief of the Air Staff. In 1982 came the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands; as acting Chief of the Defence Staff, he was involved in the decision to send the Task Force to battle. After victory in the Falklands, Sir Michael Beetham handed over as CAS and was appointed Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

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Sunderland Over Far-Eastern Seas

By Group Captain Derek Empson

Sunderland Over Far-Eastern SeasDescription:

This is the first book to give a detailed, first-hand account of post-World War II RAF Short Sunderland operations in the Far East. The author was a navigator with 88 Squadron and later 205 Squadron, flying operations during the Korean War, the Malayan Emergency and many other operations. He was based at Seletar in Singapore, Kaitak in Hong Kong, Iwakuni near Hiroshima and various other operational bases throughout his two and a half year tour.

The Sunderland flying boat was a unique aircraft in that each crew was allotted an aircraft which became their floating and airborne home. The author describes the Sunderland's performance and flying boat operating techniques, including taking-off from and landing on the open sea. It includes a tour of the aircraft's interior and the equipment used by the ten-man crew, all well illustrated by photographs. The task of long distance navigation in the Far East during the early 1950s relied on the conventional methods of astro navigation and dead reckoning, a difficult task when crossing hundreds of miles of open ocean and encountering monsoon and tropical storm conditions.

Amongst the noteworthy events included is a return flight from Singapore to Hong Kong across 1,400 miles of ocean with a VIP passenger, his first operational flight as a 21 year old Pilot Officer navigator. He then undertakes an operation involving a return trip to Scotland which took three months. On moving to Kaitak the Sunderlands provided air cover for search and rescue operations, taking off and landing amongst the port's many small and erratically steered shipping craft. He flew sixty-one missions in support of the United Nations forces fighting in and around Korea, enduring the threat of Chinese fighters over the Yellow Sea. In one operation an engine fire caused the crew to ditch in the Tsushima Strait with serious structural failure and they were rescued by the USS De Haven, a US destroyer.

This is a worthy record of some of the legendary Short Sunderland's final roles in the RAF.

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Surviving the Japanese Onslaught

By William Tate

Surviving the Japanese OnslaughtDescription:

These are the first-hand memoirs of the late William Albert Tate (W.O, RAF Bomber Command) framed within the factual history of his service career in the Royal Air Force between the years 1938 and 1946, penned by his son. This gripping narrative relays William's first-hand recollections of his time spent as a Japanese Prisoner of War, when he was incarcerated for two years in Rangoon Gaol, after bailing out of his Wellington over Burma. Tales of the harsh brutalities inflicted by his captors and the unsanitary conditions in which he and his fellow captives were held offer a real sense of the everyday realities experienced by Japanese Prisoners of War at this time. Jungle diseases, enforced starvation, sadistic torture tactics and the ever present threat of aerial bombardment all beset these prisoners. William and his son meditate on the legacies of enduring such trials as these in an engaging account of survival against the odds.

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Swift to Battle: 72 Fighter Squadron RAF in Action - Volume 2

By Tom Docherty

Swift to Battle: 72 Fighter Squadron RAF in Action - Volume 2Description:

This second of three volumes traces the history of 72 Fighter Squadron, one of the premier squadrons in the Royal Air Force. The aircraft flown, operational personnel and missions flown are fully described with first-hand accounts from pilots and both air and ground crew.

Having been operational in the European theatre during the early years of World War Two, the squadron moved to North Africa in support of the Tunisian campaign and were re-equipped with the updated Spitfire IX in 1942. They then assisted the Allied 8th Army as it advanced through Italy and France, being based in Malta and Sicily prior to the invasions. When the Germans surrendered they were sent to Austria. It was here that the Squadron disbanded in December 1946.

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Swift to Battle: 72 Fighter Squadron RAF in Action - Volume 3

By Tom Docherty

Swift to Battle: 72 Fighter Squadron RAF in Action - Volume 3Description:

This third of three volumes traces the history of 72 Fighter Squadron, one of the premier squadrons in the Royal Air Force. The aircraft flown, operational personnel and missions flown are fully described with first-hand accounts from pilots and both air and ground crew. Having seen active service in the war years this volume covers the period 1947 to 1961 when the squadron was disbanded. During this period the squadron moved into the jet age at first flying de Havilland Vampires and then the Gloster Meteor F8s in 1952 and finally the Gloster Javalin in 1959 until the squadron was disbanded at Leconfield in June 1961.

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Sydney Camm: Hurricane and Harrier Designer

By John Sweetman

Sydney Camm: Hurricane and Harrier DesignerDescription:

‘This Man Saved Britain’ ran a headline in the News Chronicle on 18 February 1941, in a reference to the role of Sydney Camm, designer of the Hawker Hurricane, during the Battle of Britain. Similarly, the Minister of Economic Warfare, Lord Selborne, advised Winston Churchill that to Camm ‘England owed a great deal’.

Twenty-five years later, following his death in 1966, obituaries in the Sunday Express and Sunday Times, among other tributes, referred to ‘Hurricane Designer’ or ‘Hurricane Maker’, implying that this machine represented the pinnacle of Camm’s professional achievement. Sir Thomas Sopwith, the respected aircraft designer and Hawker aircraft company founder, believed that Camm deserved much wider recognition, being ‘undoubtedly the greatest designer of fighter aircraft the world has ever known.’

Born in 1893, the eldest of twelve children, Camm was raised in a small, terraced house. Despite lacking the advantages of a financially-secure upbringing and formal technical education after leaving school at 14, Camm would go on to become one of the most important people in the story of Britain’s aviation history.

Sydney Camm’s work on the Hurricane was far from the only pinnacle in his remarkable career in aircraft design and engineering – a career that stretched from the biplanes of the 1920s to the jet fighters of the Cold War. Indeed, over fifty years after his death, the revolutionary Hawker Siddeley Harrier in which Camm played such a prominent figure, following ‘a stellar performance in the Falkland Island crisis’, still remains in service with the American armed forces.

It is perhaps unsurprising therefore, as the author reveals in this detailed biography, that Camm would be knighted in his own country, receive formal honours in France and the United States, and be inducted into the International Hall of Fame in San Diego.

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Target Leipzig

By Alan Cooper

Target LeipzigDescription:

Seventy-nine heavy bombers failed to return from the catastrophic raid on the industrial city of Leipzig on the night of 19/29 February 1944. Some 420 aircrew were killed and a further 131 became prisoners of war. It was at that time by far the RAF's most costly raid of World War II. The town was attacked in an attempt to destroy the Messerschmitt factory which was building the famous and deadly Bf 109 fighter. The bomber stream flew into what appeared to be a trap. It seemed that the Luftwaffe and anti-aircraft guns were aware of the intended target and waiting to pounce as soon as the bombers crossed the coast. They were subjected to constant attack by night fighters and intense flak until those aircraft that remained clawed their way home and secured relative safety over the North Sea.

This book analyses what went wrong. Espionage played a part, two bombers collided shortly after take off, as did others as they wove their way through enemy searchlights and manoeuvred violently to escape Luftwaffe night fighters. At the outset poor navigational and meteorological briefings had hindered the bombers attempts to locate the target and confusion reigned. The author explains the concept of this third raid on Leipzig and describes the two previous ones in October and December 1943, both of which had been deemed successes. He looks at the third raid from every angle, including the defending forces and describes the daylight raid that followed on the 20th by the USAAF. The book includes appendices listing all RAF aircraft and crew on the raid, route maps and includes many photographs.

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