Aviation In Ww2 - Vintage Airfix


Aviation in WWII books

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Contents:
- A Fighter Command Station at War - By Mark Hillier..
- A Salute to One of 'The Few' - By Simon St John Beer ..
- A Spitfire Girl - By Melody Foreman..
- A Spy in the Sky - By Kenneth B Johnson..
- A Tale of Ten Spitfires - By Andrew Critchell..
- A Trenchard Brat at War - By Stuart Burbridge, Thomas Lancashire..
- Aces of the Luftwaffe - By Peter Jacobs..
- Aces of the Reich - By Mike Spick..
- Aces, Airmen and The Biggin Hill Wing - By Jon Tan, Foreword by Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum DFC..
- Air Battle for Arnhem - By Alan Cooper..
- Air Battle for Burma - By Bryn Evans..
- Air Gunner - By Alan Cooper..
- Air War D-Day: Assaults from the Sky - By Martin Bowman..
- Air War D-Day: Bloody Beaches - By Martin Bowman..
- Air War D-Day: Gold Juno Sword - By Martin Bowman..

 


 

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A Fighter Command Station at War

By Mark Hillier

A Fighter Command Station at WarDescription:

Situated close to the South Coast, on flat land to the north of Chichester in West Sussex, lies Goodwood Aerodrome. This pleasant rural airfield was once home to squadrons of Hurricanes, Spitfires and later Typhoons. RAF Westhampnett was at the forefront of the Battle of Britain as a satellite to the Sector (or controlling) Station of RAF Tangmere, part of 11 Group, which bore the brunt of the struggle for Britain's survival in 1940.

It became the base of Wing Commander Douglas Bader until he was shot down over France, as Fighter Command took the war to the enemy with operational sweeps over Occupied Europe. Those operations included the infamous Channel Dash which saw the escape of the German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and the Dieppe raid of 1942 which involved the largest aerial battle of the war up to that date. Westhampnett's squadrons also supported the D-Day landings and the subsequent Battle of Normandy.

Packed with the largest collection of photographs of this airfield ever compiled, this illustrated publication provides a detailed history of the fighting as seen through the eyes of many of the pilots and ground crew. RAF Westhampnett brings to life those exciting but dangerous days of the Second World War through the words and photographs of those who were there.

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A Salute to One of 'The Few'

By Simon St John Beer

A Salute to One of 'The Few'Description:

In a quiet churchyard in Amersham is the grave of an airman who lost his life fighting in the skies over southern England in October 1940. The author happened to come across this grave in 1998 and after some initial 
enquiries discovered that nobody in the town was aware that 'One of the Few' Battle of Britain pilots lay at rest in their parish. He determined to discover more about the short life of this hero and undertook several years 
of research to piece together this biography.

Peter joined the RAF in November 1937 on a four-year short service commission at the age of twenty. In July 1938 he was posted to No. 87 Squadron being equipped with the then new Hawker Hurricane fighter. After war had been declared the Squadron was posted to Boos in France in support of the British Expeditionary Force, becoming operational on 10 September 1939. In March 1940 he was transferred to 501 Squadron in Tangmere and then again in April to 74 Squadron as an operational pilot at Hornchurch, equipped with Spitfires. It was from here that he fought his part in the Battle of Britain. For those who may have forgotten 'The Few', this stirring and yet sad story tells of the all-too-short life of one of the 544 young men who gave everything to defend Great Britain from Nazi aggression.

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A Spitfire Girl

By Melody Foreman

A Spitfire GirlDescription:

We visualise dashing and daring young men as the epitome of the pilots of the Second World War, yet amongst that elite corps was one person who flew no less than 400 Spitfires and seventy-six different types of aircraft and that person was Mary Wilkins.

Her story is one of the most remarkable and endearing of the war, as this young woman, serving as a ferry pilot with the Air Transport Auxiliary, transported aircraft for the RAF, including fast fighter planes and huge four-engine bombers. On one occasion Mary delivered a Wellington bomber to an airfield, and as she climbed out of the aircraft the RAF ground crew ran over to her and demanded to know where the pilot was! Mary said simply: I am the pilot! Unconvinced the men searched the aircraft before they realised a young woman had indeed flown the bomber all by herself.

After the war she accepted a secondment to the RAF, being chosen as one of the first pilots, and one of only three women, to take the controls of the new Meteor fast jet. By 1950 the farmer's daughter from Oxfordshire with a natural instinct to fly became Europe's first female air commandant.

In this authorised biography the woman who says she kept in the background during her ATA years and left all the glamour of publicity to her colleagues, finally reveals all about her action-packed career which spans almost a century of aviation, and her love for the skies which, even in her nineties, never falters.

She says: I am passionate for anything fast and furious. I always have been since the age of three and I always knew I would fly. The day I stepped into a Spitfire was a complete joy and it was the most natural thing in the world for me.

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A Spy in the Sky

By Kenneth B Johnson

A Spy in the SkyDescription:

Many stories abound of the daring exploits of the RAF’s young fighter pilots defying the might of Hitler’s Luftwaffe, and of the dogged courage of the men of Bomber Command flying night after night over Germany in the face of flak and Focke-Wulfs, yet little has been written about the pilots who provided the key evidence that guided the RAF planners – the aerial photographers.

Ken Johnson joined No.1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit as an eighteen-year-old and soon found himself at the controls of a Spitfire high above enemy territory. The PRU aircraft were stripped of all non-essential equipment to increase their performance, because speed and height was their only protection as the aircraft’s guns were among those items that were removed.

In this light-hearted reminiscence, Ken Johnson relives his training and transfer to an operational unit, but not the one he had expected. He had asked if he could fly Spitfires. He was granted that request, only to find himself joining a rare band of flyers who took to the skies alone, and who flew in broad daylight to photograph enemy installations with no radios and no armament. Unlike the fighter pilots who sought out enemy aircraft, the pilots of the PRU endeavoured to avoid all contact; returning safely with their vital photographs was their sole objective.

As well as flying in northern Europe, Ken Johnson was sent to North Africa, where his squadron became part of the United States Army Air Force North West African Photographic Wing (NAPRW). In this role, he flew across southern Europe, photographing targets in France and Italy.

The Spy in the Sky fills a much-needed gap in the history of the RAF and, uniquely, the USAAF during the latter stages of the Second World War.

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A Tale of Ten Spitfires

By Andrew Critchell

A Tale of Ten SpitfiresDescription:

The Fw190’s supremacy over the Spitfire V is a classic legend from the Second World War, heralding one of the darkest times for Fighter Command and the RAF. A Tale of Ten Spitfires brings this legend to life by examining the individual combat histories of ten Spitfire VCs, the first of which is the Shuttleworth Collection’s well known Spitfire AR501, followed by the next nine on the production line, AR502 to AR510.

This link to a ‘living’ airframe, which has recently flown again after an epic 13 year restoration, will appeal to both enthusiasts of AR501 and anyone with a wider in interest in this classic British icon.

Through first hand accounts, combat reports, unit diaries and more, the book provides a unique looking glass into the period, told via the experiences of the Spitfire pilots themselves, tracing their fates and those of the ten machines that they flew.

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A Trenchard Brat at War

By Stuart Burbridge, Thomas Lancashire

A Trenchard Brat at WarDescription:

This is the story of Thomas Lancashire who joined the RAF in 1936 and became one of the famous 'Trenchard Brats' at RAF Halton to be educated and learn the trade of fitter. He was first posted to 7 Squadron in 1939, at that time flying Whitley bombers but decided to advance himself to become a flight engineer on the new Stirling heavy bomber. He was posted to 15 Squadron at Wyton and completed a full tour that included the famous Lübeck raid, the Thousand Bomber assault on Cologne and the follow up on Essen during which he was almost shot down over Antwerp. In July 1942 he was rested and became an instructor until being posted to 97 Squadron flying Lancasters. On his ninth raid of this tour, 11 August 1943, the aircraft was attacked by a night fighter over Belgium but he successfully baled out and was eventually picked up by the Resistance and handed to an escape line.

Eventually the group of evaders was betrayed by a German agent and placed in captivity, ending up in Stalag Luft IV at Mühlberg. During this time he escaped but was eventually recaptured and he was forced to share the growing despair and hardships in late 1944, enduring overcrowding, hunger and cold, until the Russian Army liberated the camp and he was airlifted back to the UK.

His post-war career took him to Canada where he was employed on the Avro Arrow project until it was abandoned and he was forced to seek work in the USA. He worked with Boeing until his retirement .

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Aces of the Luftwaffe

By Peter Jacobs

Aces of the LuftwaffeDescription:

The air battles of the Second World War were fought ferociously and with extraordinary skill and courage on both fronts. The fighter pilots of the Luftwaffe, the jagdflieger, in fact outscored their Allied counterparts by some margin and were some of the highest scoring fighter pilots of all time. More than a hundred recorded a century of aerial successes with two going on to surpass a quite astonishing 300 victories. 

In the end, the vast effort required by the Luftwaffe to maintain the air war on so many fronts proved too much and few jagdflieger survived the last days of the Reich but their courage and ability was beyond question, and the names of some will live on in the annals of air warfare with their extraordinary achievements never to be surpassed. 

In 'Luftwaffe Fighter Aces', Peter Jacobs examines the many campaigns fought by the Luftwaffe from its fledgling days during the Spanish Civil War to its last days defending the Reich, and includes the exploits of Erich Hartmann, the highest scoring fighter pilot of all time, Hans-Joachim Marseille, the Star of Africa, Werner Mölders, the first recipient of the Diamonds, and Adolf Galland, perhaps the most famous of all.

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Aces of the Reich

By Mike Spick

Aces of the ReichDescription:

In 1939, the Luftwaffe was arguably the world's best-equipped and best-trained air force. Its fighters were second to none, and their pilots had a tactical system superior to any other in the world. In campaigns over Poland, Norway, the Low Countries and France, they carried all before them. Only in the summer of 1940 did they fail by a narrow margin in achieving air superiority over England. In the West, with a mere holding force, they maintained an enviable kill-loss ratio against the RAF, while elsewhere they swept through the Balkans, then decimated the numerically formidable Soviet Air Force. Their top scorers set marks in air combat that have never been surpassed.

Yet within three years – despite the introduction of the jet Me 262, the world's most advanced fighter – the Luftwaffe fighter arm had been totally defeated. How did this happen? Air-warfare historian Mike Spick explores this question in depth in this incisive and compelling study of World War II's most fearsome air force.

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Aces, Airmen and The Biggin Hill Wing

By Jon Tan, Foreword by Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wellum DFC

Aces, Airmen and The Biggin Hill WingDescription:

During the Second World War, RAF Biggin Hill was one of Fighter Command's premier stations. Throughout the Battle of Britain and beyond, it became a hotbed of talent and expertise, home to many of the Command's most notable and successful squadrons. Both on the ground and in the air, Biggin Hill had a formidable reputation and its prowess was very much built on a partnership between air and ground personnel, including squadron members, specialist engineers, armourers and other ground-crew. This fascinating new book from Jon Tan offers a rich account of the years 1941-1942, an incredibly varied and eventful period in Biggin's story.

The author's late grandfather, David Raymond Davies, was assigned to a specialist armourers' team at Biggin Hill and his grandson's narrative serves as a tribute to a particularly fascinating RAF career. Told from Davies' first hand viewpoint and taking a ground-crew member's perspective, no other history has been published that examines day-to-day operations at Biggin Hill in this way.

Drawing on many sources, including original interviews with veterans, the narrative foregrounds Davies' story, using it as the backbone for Tan's broader historical record of the operations of Biggin's Spitfire squadrons. It thus establishes a collective memoir, taking in accounts by such notable pilots as Don Kingaby, Jamie Rankin, Brian Kingcome, Walter 'Johnnie' Johnston, Dickie Milne and Raymond Duke-Woolley, all of whom had close associations with Davies in his capacity as a specialist armourer. Reading the manuscript, Squadron Leader 'Johnnie' Johnston told the author "I read it often; it sits here on the table next to me. It's the closest to how I remember it".

Far from being a dry account of daily operations, this narrative seeks to engage the reader emotionally. Bringing together a considerable amount of evidence and oral history, it tells the story of one twenty-one year old and his comrades, thrown into the howling gale of the Second World War and the intensity of the conflict as experienced by front-line RAF personnel.

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Air Battle for Arnhem

By Alan Cooper

Air Battle for ArnhemDescription:

Over sixty years ago a battle took place that, if it had succeeded, could have shortened the Second World war by six months. The operation to take the bridges at Arnhem was given the code name 'Operation Market Garden', Market being the air side of the operation and Garden the subsequent ground operation. The main problem was communications between the ground forces and the re-supply aircraft of the Royal Air Force.

Its their efforts and the courage on evident display at Arnhem that the book is based upon. Over a period of seven days troops of the 1st Airborne were taken by the RAF in towed gliders and then in subsequent days showed courage of the highest order to make sure that the ground troops were supplied with ammunition and food to sustain them in their efforts to take the bridges at Arnhem. Their efforts were costly, 309 aircrew and 79 Air Dispatchers were killed and 107 aircraft, which included the men and aircraft who supported the main re-supply armada.

One of the re-supply aircraft, flown by F/Lt David Lord DFC, was shot down. Lord was later awarded the Victoria Cross. His courage and dedication are exemplary of the efforts of the men of Transport Command to make sure the men on the ground were re-supplied. The men of the Air Dispatchers, or AD's as they were known, must always be remembered when regarding Arnhem. Their efforts to make sure the supplies were released from the aircraft, and on to the besieged men on the ground, was a vital factor in getting vital supplies to the troops successfully.

This is their story, vividly told, and serves a commemorative purpose, memorialising both the events and, most importantly, the men who participated.

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Air Battle for Burma

By Bryn Evans

Air Battle for BurmaDescription:

After a long series of crushing defeats by the apparently unstoppable Japanese air and ground forces, the eventual fightback and victory in Burma was achieved as a result of the exercise of unprecedented combined services cooperation and operations. Crucial to this was the Allies’ supremacy in the air coupled with their ground/air support strategy.

Using veterans’ first-hand accounts, Air Battle For Burma reveals the decisive nature of Allied air power in inflicting the first major defeat on the Japanese Army in the Second World War. Newly equipped Spitfire fighter squadrons made the crucial difference at the turning point battles of the Admin Box, Imphal and Kohima in 1944. Air superiority allowed Allied air forces to deploy and supply Allied ground troops on the front line and raids deep into enemy territory with relative impunity; revolutionary tactics never before attempted on such a scale.

By covering both the strategic and tactical angles, through these previously unpublished personal accounts, this fine book is a fitting and overdue tribute to Allied air forces’ contribution to victory in Burma.

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Air Gunner

By Alan Cooper

Air GunnerDescription:

There have been several books published about the wartime experiences of individual air gunners but there is no general history of Air Gunners, their equipment, training or service in the various RAF Commands in which they served. This book explains in great detail how and why the trade of air gunner was developed at the outset of World War II. Chapters include the history of the guns and turrets, the famous gunners, outstanding bravery during major raids, flying with Coastal Command, Bomber Command and overseas operations. It also includes the history of Air Gunners who became prisoners of war, outstanding bravery awards and American air gunners such as Clark Gable, John Huston and Charlton Heston. It includes many first-hand accounts of wartime combat as seen from the gun turret in the heat of battle. Air Gunners, 'tail-end Charleys' in particular, have always been popular wartime heroes as they flew in their isolated positions protecting their aircraft from enemy fighter attack in the skies over war torn Europe.

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Air War D-Day: Assaults from the Sky

By Martin Bowman

Air War D-Day: Assaults from the SkyDescription:

This is the second volume of a comprehensive five part work on D-Day that includes a multitude of personal military accounts from both Allied and German Aviation personnel 'who were there'. Overlord began with an assault by more than 23,000 airborne troops, 15,500 of them American, behind enemy lines to soften up the German troops and to secure key objectives. 6,600 paratroopers of the US 101st 'Screaming Eagles' Division in 633 C-47s and 83 gliders and 6,396 paratroopers of the US 82nd 'All American' Division in 1,101 C-47s and 427 gliders were dropped over the neck of the Cotentin peninsula.

By the end of the operation, the list of casualties was extensive. But 101st Airborne Division linked up with the US 4th Infantry Division beach landings at Pouppeville, the most southerly exit off 'Utah' Beach and the 82nd secured the area north of Ste-Mère-Église after fierce fighting and drove the enemy north, considerably delaying the German 243rd Infantry Division from contacting the Allied beach assault force. This important episode within the wider history of D-Day is enlivened in classic Bowman fashion, featuring both extensive historical notes as well as deeply personal accounts of endurance and individual gallantry.

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Air War D-Day: Bloody Beaches

By Martin Bowman

Air War D-Day: Bloody BeachesDescription:

This fourth volume of a comprehensive five part work on D-Day covers every aspect of aerial operations on and behind the beaches at 'Omaha' and 'Utah' beaches on 6 June 1944. It might be imagined that the passing years would blunt the outlines of the experience but the D-Day veterans do not forget. Their accounts convey the chaos, terror and hysteria as the first salvos of German fire clanged off the landing craft, in language that is all the more powerful for its terseness and simplicity.

The landings at 'Omaha' which were vital to connect the US troops at 'Utah' Beach with the British and Canadian beaches to the east were an unmitigated disaster with an estimated 3,000 killed, wounded and missing. The highest number of casualties of all the beaches, they were the greatest American losses in one battle since the Battle of Antietam Creek in the American Civil War in September 1862.

The situation on the beach was chaotic as troops were pinned down by enemy fire and had to take cover behind mined beach defenses. As things progressed, it was an accumulation of individual acts of self-sacrifice and gallantry which opened up an exit and a seaborne bombardment by the task force saw tenuous footholds finally gained by early afternoon. In stark contrast to Omaha, an almost textbook landing was made at Utah; the air bombardment was effective and a strong current actually landed the 4th Infantry Division 2,000 yards south of their intended target where the beach was less heavily defended. 

This account analyses each aspect of the aerial operation, noting how events on the ground and in the sea impacted upon pilots endeavors in the skies. Evocative images supplement the text effectively to create a real sense of what it was like for the pilots of D-Day, the individuals who made such a contribution to the Allied war effort in the Second World War.

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Air War D-Day: Gold Juno Sword

By Martin Bowman

Air War D-Day: Gold Juno SwordDescription:

This is the final volume of a comprehensive five part work, including a multitude of personal accounts of every aspect of the aerial operations on 'Gold' 'Juno and 'Sword' beaches during D-Day. It relays the sense of relief experienced as Allied troops gained a foothold on the continent of Europe after D-Day, both by the men caught up in the proceedings and the jubilant civilians on the home front.

By the end of June 875,000 men had landed in Normandy; 16 divisions each for the American and British armies. Although the Allies were well established on the coast and possessed all the Cotentin Peninsular, the Americans had still not taken St Lô, nor the British and Canadians the town of Caen, originally a target for D-Day. German resistance, particularly around Caen was ferocious, but the end result would be similar to the Tunisian campaign. More and more well-trained German troops were thrown into the battle, so that when the Allies did break out of Normandy, the defenders lost heavily and lacked the men to stop the Allied forces from almost reaching the borders of Germany.

In continuing style, Bowman pays respect to the men who fought in the skies above France on D-Day. This episode of Aviation history has never before been the focus of such detailed analysis; the five volumes of this series act as a memorial to the individuals who played their own individual parts in the wider proceedings. Far from being a mere operational record, this is the story of the men behind the headlines, the reality behind the iconic images of parachute drops and glider formations.

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