Reviewed Books - Vintage Airfix


Reviewed Books

Contents:
- Aero-Neurosis - By Mark C Wilkins
- An Eagle's Odyssey - By By Johannes Kaufmann, Foreword by Richard Overy, Translated by John Weal
- British Aircraft of the Second World War - By John Frayn Turner
- British Steam Military Connections - By Keith Langston
- Chieftain - By Robert Jackson
- Crime on the Canals - By Anthony Poulton-Smith
- D-Day Dakotas - By Martin Bowman
- Early Railways - By Peter Chatham, Stephen Weston
- Fighters Under Construction in World War Two - By Graham Simons
- Flight Craft 16: The Hawker Hunter in British Service - By Martin Derry, Neil Robinson
- Flight Craft 18: British Military Test and Evaluation Aircraft - By Neil Robinson
- Flight Craft 7: V-Bombers - Valiant, Vulcan & Victor - By Martin Bowman, Dave Windle
- FOCKE-WULF Fw 190 - By Chris Goss
- FOCKE-WULF Fw 200 The Luftwaffe's Long Range Maritime Bomber - By Chris Goss
- Forty-Seven Years Aloft: From Cold War Fighters and Flying the PM to Commercial Jets - By Brian Burdett
- FV430 Series - By Robert Griffin
- German Battleship Helgoland - By Aidan Dodson
- Hunters over Arabia - By Ray Deacon
- Knights of the Battle of Britain - By Chris Goss
- Large Scale Warship Models - By Dr Kerry Jang

 


 

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Aero-Neurosis

By Mark C Wilkins

Aero-NeurosisDescription:

The young men who flew and fought during the First World War had no idea what was awaiting them. The rise of science and nationalism during the late 19th and early 20th centuries came to a head in 1914. The ‘technology shock’ that coalesced at the Western Front was not envisaged by anyone in a position of leadership. These men did the best they could and gave their full measure but each suffered from their experiences, some better than others. Each knew it was a defining moment in their lives never to be repeated. And many felt that the dynamic context of aerial combat was something that, after the war, they still longed for, despite the attendant horrors.

The medical and psychiatric profession evolved symbiotically with the war. Like the patients they were charged with treating, doctors were unprepared for what awaited them. Doctors argued over best practice for treatment. Of course, the military wanted these men to return to duty as quickly as possible; with mounting casualties, each country needed every man. Aviation psychiatry arose as a new subset of the field, attempting to treat psychological symptoms previously unseen in combatants. The unique conditions of combat flying produced a whole new type of neurosis.

Terms such as Aero-neurosis were coined to provide the necessary label yet, like shell shock, they were inadequate when it came to describing the full and complete shock to the psyche.

We are fortunate that many of these fliers chose to write. They kept diaries and letters about their experiences after the war and they are, of course, an invaluable record. But perhaps more importantly, they were also a means for many of them to heal.

Mark C. Wilkins finds the psychology undergirding historical events fascinating and of chief interest to him as an historian. He has included expert medical testimony and excerpts where relevant in a fascinating book that explores the legacies of aerial combat, illustrating the ways in which pilots had to amalgamate their suffering and experiences into their post-war lives. Their attempts to do so can perhaps be seen as an extension of their heroism.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This is a book that makes you think about what it was like before we recognised the affects of what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. Imagine, going to war, with new mechanical devices that were untested. You would be the one testing them while trying not to be killed by the machine or by the enemy, who was doing the same thing.

I’ve always loved early planes and the development of early flight. But after reading this book, the human element has become painfully clear. The narratives in this book are well written and compiled together into a fascinating and troubling look into the would of those early English, French, and German aviators.

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An Eagle's Odyssey

By By Johannes Kaufmann, Foreword by Richard Overy, Translated by John Weal

An Eagle's OdysseyDescription:

‘I realised that this brief but abortive sortie was to be the final mission of my Luftwaffe flying career.’

Johannes Kaufmann’s career was an exciting one. He may have been an ordinary Luftwaffe pilot, but he served during an extraordinary time, with distinction. Serving for a decade through both peacetime and wartime, his memoir sheds light on the immense pressures of the job.

In this never-before-seen translation of a rare account of life in the Luftwaffe, Kaufmann takes the reader through his time in service, from his involvement in the annexation of the Rhineland, the attack on Poland, fighting against American heavy bombers in the Defence of the Reich campaign. He also covers his role in the battles of Arnhem, the Ardennes, and the D-Day landings, detailing the intricacies of military tactics, flying fighter planes and the challenges of war.

His graphic descriptions of being hopelessly lost in thick cloud above the Alps, and of following a line of telegraph poles half-buried in deep snow while searching for a place to land on the Stalingrad front are proof that the enemy was not the only danger he had to face during his long flying career.

Kaufmann saw out the war from the early beginnings of German expansion right through to surrender to the British in 1945. An Eagle’s Odyssey is a compelling and enlightening read, Kaufmann’s account offers a rarely heard perspective on one of the core experiences of the Second World War.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Not many memoirs get my full attention, I tend to get bored with them. But this… WOW… It’s a griping read, a true page-turner. A highly recommended read for anyone, not just the aviation or WWII enthusiast.

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British Aircraft of the Second World War

By John Frayn Turner

British Aircraft of the Second World WarDescription:

This unique book, now republished, was the first of its kind to be published on British aircraft of the Second World War. Aviation enthusiasts and aero-modellers can see British aircraft as they really were, through magnificently reproduced colour photographs. Each of the forty-nine types of aircraft is accompanied by a brief 'biography' together with tables of the most important marks and their specifications, engine, span, length, height, weight, crew number, maximum speed, service ceiling, normal range and armament. There is also a section on British aircraft in action, which includes accounts of outstanding exploits by the pilots of different types. John Frayn Turner, the well-known aviation author, has chosen the pictures and provided the text.

Vintage Airfix Review:

An absolute must for any aeronautic enthusiast or WWII historian. The amount of detail on a huge amount of aircraft of the era is outstanding and the way it's presented makes it the perfect base for further research on a specific aircraft.

All the images, both black and white and colour are of a superb quality. The section on British aircraft in action, including accounts of pilots exploits, is fascinating.

This is the kind of book that, as a boy, I would take with me everywhere and bore my parents with. I loved it.

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British Steam Military Connections

By Keith Langston

British Steam Military ConnectionsDescription:

In Great Britain there existed a practice of naming steam railway locomotives. The names chosen covered many and varied subjects, however a large number of those represented direct links with military personnel, regiments, squadrons, naval vessels, aircraft, battles and associated historic events. Memorably the Southern Railway (SR) created a Battle of Britain class of Light Pacific locomotives, which were named in recognition of Battle of Britain squadrons, airfields, aircraft and personnel. The Great Western Railway (GWR) re-named some of its express passenger Castle Class engines after Second World War aircraft. Names were displayed in varying styles on both sides of the locomotives, additionally some nameplates were adorned with ornate crests and badges. Long after the demise of mainline steam, rescued nameplates are still much sort after collectors' items, which when offered for sale command high prices. This generously illustrated publication highlights the relevant steam locomotives at work and explains the origins of the military names.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This is a must for any railway modeller. Packed with great images and superbly written.

 

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Chieftain

By Robert Jackson

ChieftainDescription:

The British Chieftain – designed in the late 1950s as the replacement for the Centurion – was perhaps the best main battle tank in service with Nato during the 1960s and 1970s. Its 120mm rifled main gun and advanced armour made it one of the most formidable tanks of its time, and Robert Jackson’s book is an authoritative introduction to it.

Although it was intended to fight Soviet armour on the plains of northern Germany, it was in the heat and sand of the Middle East that the Chieftain fought its major battles during the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s, and it proved to be very effective during the Gulf War of 1991. Variants of the Chieftain were exported to Iran, Oman, India, Kenya and Nigeria, and its chassis was adapted to fulfil a variety of tasks, including armoured recovery and bridge-laying

As well as tracing the history of the Chieftain, Robert Jackson's work provides an excellent source of reference for the modeller, providing details of available kits and photographs of award-winning models, together with artworks showing the colour schemes applied to these tanks. Each section of the book is supported by a wealth of archive photographs.

Vintage Airfix Review:

So much history and detail in so little pages… Military modellers will love this book. If you’ve built a Chieftain kit before, you’ll love the extra knowledge you’re gain and will want to build another. If you haven’t built a Chieftain kit before, you’ll have ideas, examples and the information you’re need to build a superb model of a superb machine.

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Crime on the Canals

By Anthony Poulton-Smith

Crime on the CanalsDescription:

Throughout our islands' history we find tales of thieves, smugglers, thugs and murderers. Books have been written retelling tales of bandits, footpads, highwaymen, et al, attacking the lone traveller, the horseman, the coachman, shipping line, locomotive engineer, lorry or van driver and even pilot. Yet for almost two centuries the majority of goods travelled on Britain's famed canal network. This also attracted felons of all kinds and yet many of these tales had been ignored, until now.

Within these pages all manner of crimes are covered. From murders to muggings, parental problems to pilfering, arson, assault, smugglers, counterfeiters and even road rage (albeit canal-style). But it is not all morbidity and misery, humour also plays a significant part in these tales. Why would a hungry man steal the inedible? Follow the policeman on foot chasing down a thief on board the narrowboat. Discover what really lies beneath the waters of the canal. Learn about canal etiquette, the hardships, the kindness and the cruelty.

From an author whose fascination with etymology has produced many books on origins of place names, leading to an interest in the historical modes of travel across our islands, this book is the latest to follow old routes and those found along them.

Vintage Airfix Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this book, especially as some of the crimes occurred on parts of the canal system that I know. It really brought history to live for me.

The book is well written and organised chronologically. It has accounts from witnesses and trials and where applicable, the sentences given.

If you have even the slightest interest in reading accounts of true crimes you will love this little book and I’m sure there will be a crime in here that happened near you.

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D-Day Dakotas

By Martin Bowman

D-Day DakotasDescription:

On 18 December 1935 when the first flight of the Douglas DC-3 took place, few could have imagined that it would become one of the world’s most celebrated aircraft of all time, not just as a commercial airliner but also as the C-47 military transport. When production ceased in the summer of 1945, a total of 10,926 had been built.

This wonderfully versatile aircraft played a significant part in airborne operations around the world; but perhaps its most notable employment occurred during the June 1944 Normandy campaign. This important episode within the wider history of ‘D-Day' is enlivened here in classic fashion by Martin Bowman, in a narrative that features both extensive historical notes as well as deeply personal accounts of endurance and individual gallantry.

This amplified account of events as they unfolded in the skies above France on D-Day (5/6 and 6/7 June, 1944) reveals the invaluable contribution these workhorses of World War II made to the overall success in Normandy. It follows the author’s comprehensive five part work published by Pen & Sword (Air War D-Day) that included a multitude of personal military accounts from both Allied and German personnel who took part in Operation ‘Overlord’ and the Normandy campaign.

Vintage Airfix Review:

The Airfix Dakota kits, in its various incarnations, has always been a favourite. This beautiful aircraft has been a workhorse for many years and there are still some in civil service now and there’s always a Dakota at most air shows.

In WWII it really came into its own and Martin Bowman has superbly documented it’s role, in fantastic detail.

This book is highly recommended, and I would suggest getting this book and an Airfix kit together. Reading this book will bring a new dimension to your creativity and appreciation of one of the best aircrafts to ever be built.

 

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Early Railways

By Peter Chatham, Stephen Weston

Early RailwaysDescription:

Early Railways, A Guide for the Modeller will encourage and support the modelling of the earliest period of railway history, from the very beginnings of steam traction at the start of the nineteenth century, up to about 1880; a period which for British modellers has scarcely been covered in book form. Over these few decades the railways evolved from something which at the start was markedly different, into a scene that any present-day railwayman would recognise.

It is a time with much to commend it from a modellers point of view. The trains were much shorter and therefore easier to fit into the limited space most of us have available as, correspondingly, were the station layouts, especially at the beginning of the period. Modelled at 7mm to the foot scale a modern steam express would need at least 12 or 13 feet in length and a minimum curve radius of 6 feet, whereas an 1840 express of a loco and a dozen carriages might be no more than about 6 feet long and, behind the scenes at least, able to take curves of no more than 2 or 3 feet radius, as well as being able to instantly catch the eye of the viewer.

Vintage Airfix Review:

The historical detail in this book is fascinating and the detailed diagrams of the early engines and rolling stock will be very useful to a modeller of this era. The book is aimed at the '0' gauge modeller. I would suggest that this book is more aimed at the experienced modeller and, if you're a master scratch builder, it would be a must have reference.

On the whole a really great historical reference book of long forgotten trains with stunning examples of dioramas from top modellers.

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Fighters Under Construction in World War Two

By Graham Simons

Fighters Under Construction in World War TwoDescription:

A wide variety of military fighter aircraft were developed and utilized during the course of the Second World War. Development was dictated by the imperatives of war, and the Second World War saw fighter combat on a larger scale than any other conflict to date. This book profiles some of the most important fighter aircraft employed during the conflict, such as the iconic Spitfire, Hurricane, Typhoon, Bristol Beaufighter and De Havilland Mosquito, charting the developmental course of each craft in turn. The book works to illustrate the skill and initiative of the engineers who designed and created such aircraft, as well as the pilots who went on to fly them. This is a vivid account of the development and exploits of some of the most important fighter aircraft employed during one of the most pivotal periods of military and aviation history.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This book is a must for the World War 2 enthusiast. From the first chapter, which reveals the innovation used and in-depth information on the Spitfire production. To the DH Hornet, a long-range fighter destined for the war against Japan, but 'was too late to see war service'.

It has some fantastic, previously unseen pictures from the construction off the British fighters, engines and weaponry and details the struggles of constructing, the now, iconic machines when man power and resources where limited.

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Flight Craft 16: The Hawker Hunter in British Service

By Martin Derry, Neil Robinson

Flight Craft 16: The Hawker Hunter in British ServiceDescription:

The Hawker Hunter is one of Britain’s classic post-war jet aircraft. Initially introduced in 1954 as a swept-wing, transonic, single-seat day interceptor, it rapidly succeeded the first-generation jet fighters in RAF service such as the Gloster Meteor (see Flight Craft 13) and the de Havilland Venom. Powered by the then newly developed Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet, the Hunter’s performance transformed the RAF’s day fighter squadrons from the mid-1950s until the advent of the English Electric Lightning from the early 1960s (see Flight Craft 11).

Even then, as successively improved variants of the type were produced with increasingly more capable engines and expanded fuel capacity, the Hunter successfully transitioned into a strike/ground attack fighter-bomber and fighter reconnaissance platform. Two-seat variants were developed for training and other secondary roles with the RAF and the Royal Navy and a few remained in use until 2001, albeit with specialised MoD Test and Evaluation units – well over forty years after the type’s initial introduction. Hunters were also famously used by two RAF display teams, the ‘Black Arrows’, who looped a record-breaking twenty-two Hunters in formation, and later the ‘Blue Diamonds’ as well as the Royal Navy’s ‘Blue Herons’.

The Hunter saw combat service with the RAF in a range of conflicts including the Suez Crisis as well as various emergencies in the Middle East and Far East. The Hunter was also widely exported, serving with many foreign air forces, in which it also saw active service, which unfortunately lies outside the scope of this particular publication. Almost 2,000 Hunters were manufactured by Hawker Siddeley Aviation, as well as being produced under licence overseas and will remain one of the UK’s most iconic aircraft designs of all time.

Vintage Airfix Review:

For any enthusiast and/or modeller of the Hawker Hunter this book will be like catnip, you’ll find yourself drooling over every page. For it is ‘every’ page that has outstanding images of this classic post war aircraft.

As you would expect for a book in the Flight Craft series, there are some kit reviews and colour schemes and markings. There’s also a detailed section of the cockpit which will aid you in your kits cockpit detail.

A beautifully written book arranged in chronological order with a lot of helpful detail for the modeller.

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Flight Craft 18: British Military Test and Evaluation Aircraft

By Neil Robinson

Flight Craft 18: British Military Test and Evaluation AircraftDescription:

It could be argued that the heyday of British military aircraft flight testing began in the 1940s, and continued throughout the three decades that followed, during the so-called Cold War period, and as such, the authors have purposely chosen the first 30 years, The Golden Years, 1945 to 1975, from the end of World War Two until the mid-1970s, as this was arguably the most exciting period with many wonderful and new types rubbing shoulders with wartime and immediate post-war designs that were utilised for development purposes, making for an eclectic mix of shapes and colour schemes.

Alongside the technical aspects of military testing and development, are the many and varied colour schemes and markings carried by the aircraft themselves – not only by the brand-new experimental designs, but by existing production machines, suitably modified, to greater or lesser degrees, to develop the technical advances in systems and weaponry.

Scores of different aircraft types are covered in British Military Test & Evaluation Aircraft The Golden Years 1945 - 1975, with over 65 rarely seen contemporary photographs from private collections, and, differing slightly from previous Flight Craft book formats, over 50 pages of specially commissioned full colour profiles and plan views, visually chronicling the diverse range of colour schemes and markings applied to these fascinating aeroplanes.

Compiled by Neil Robinson and Martin Derry, who have authored several other Flight Craft books, with informative background text by well known aviation historian Malcolm V Lowe and superbly executed illustrations by Mark Rolfe. As with other books in the Flight Craft series, although published with aircraft modellers in mind, it is hoped that most aviation enthusiasts will find something of interest here too.

Vintage Airfix Review:

There are many modellers who like to take a production aircraft kit and modify it to a variant of that aircraft. For those modellers, this book really must be in your library.

It has many interesting, one-off, aircraft from 1945 to 1975, an era when aircraft development was at its height and, in same examples, its wackiest.

The colour illustrations of test aircraft alterations and livery are beautifully aimed at the modeller to help to get that perfect model. This along with the description and photos of what, where and why these aircraft were developed will add to your knowledge and understanding of the golden years of aircraft development.

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Flight Craft 7: V-Bombers - Valiant, Vulcan & Victor

By Martin Bowman, Dave Windle

Flight Craft 7: V-Bombers - Valiant, Vulcan & VictorDescription:

Britain's desire to stay at the leading edge in the design and development of modern jet powered aircraft was born in the later stages of the Second World War. The Royal Air Force sent requests to the leading aircraft manufactures for a variety of specifications, amongst which was one for a long-range heavy bomber. Three designs were accepted and eventually went into production – these became the V-Bomber Force.

The Vickers Valiant, Vulcan and Victor saw prolific and varied service during the course of their careers. This book contains fabulous colour profiles (created by Dave Windle) of all three types in different operational modes, configurations and colour schemes. Martin Bowman has written detailed descriptions and photographs to create the perfect enthusiasts reference. This enhanced and revised edition (the book was initially published in 2009) comes complete with model-making content as well as a host of brand new design features, making for a lively new addition to our esteemed Flight Craft series.

Vintage Airfix Review:

There are some great images, in this book, of these famous aircraft that can be used to aid and inspire all modellers. I particularly like the pictures of the Victor as a fuel tanker, refuelling a Lightning which will make for an easy but impressive diorama.

This book is an informative overview of the V-Bomber Force aircraft that will benefit all aircraft modellers research of these ground breaking aircraft of the Cold War.

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FOCKE-WULF Fw 190

By Chris Goss

FOCKE-WULF Fw 190Description:

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was widely regarded as the Luftwaffe’s finest fighter. It first saw service in France in August 1941, immediately proving itself at least the equal of the then latest Spitfire variant, the Mk.V.

There were a number of characteristics which contributed to the Fw 190’s success. The first of these was that it had been designed from the outset to be a weapons platform, rather than an aircraft to which weapons were added, as was the case with previous fighters. This meant that it could carry a wide range of armament in the form of various combinations of bomb racks, cannon pods and, later, unguided rockets.

It was also built to withstand heavy punishment, with the extensive use of electrically-powered equipment instead of the hydraulic systems which, used by most aircraft manufacturers of the time, were more susceptible to failure if damaged by gunfire. The relatively small diameters of electrical wires were much less likely to be hit by gunfire than larger hydraulic pipes.

Another element in the Fw 190’s construction which added to its durability was its wide-tracked, inwards-retracting landing gear, as opposed to the much narrower, outwards-retracting landing gear of the Messerschmitt Bf 109. This gave the Fw 190 much greater stability on the ground which resulted in far fewer ground accidents than experienced by the Bf 109.

The Fw 190’s BMW 801 D-2 radial engine also produced 1,677 horse power, giving the early Focke-Wulf 190 A-8 a top speed of more than 400 miles per hour – which was considerably faster than the early variant Spitfires.

It was the Spitfires with which the Fw 190 pilots frequently had to contend when in combat over the English Channel, and particularly during the Allied raid on Dieppe in August 1942, when more than 100 Focke-Wulfs (from Jagdgeschwaders JG 2 and JG 26) engaged Spitfires and Hawker Typhoons, claiming sixty-one Allied aircraft ‘kills’ against just twenty-five losses of their own.

The Fw 190’s weapons capability also saw it used as a fighter-bomber. The Fw 190 A-3/U3 Jabo was used with considerable effect against Allied shipping in the Channel and against the south-eastern coasts of England in 1942 in tip-and-runs raids. These fast, low-level attacks proved very difficult for the defending RAF squadrons to counter and only one Fw 190 was lost on these operations.

In this illuminating study of the early service of the Fw 190, Chris Goss has assembled a unique collection of photographs illustrating the wide use of this highly versatile aircraft.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Yet another superb addition to the Air War Archive series. Good, clear images ideal for the modeller and great historical and evolutionary detail.

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FOCKE-WULF Fw 200 The Luftwaffe's Long Range Maritime Bomber

By Chris Goss

FOCKE-WULF Fw 200 The Luftwaffe's Long Range Maritime BomberDescription:

Originally built as an airliner that could carry passengers across the Atlantic for Deutsche Lufthansa, the Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor developed into the Luftwaffe’s principal long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft. It was used in the North Sea and in the Atlantic, searching for Allied convoys and warships, passing on information to waiting U-boats.

The Fw 200 was also capable of carrying a bomb load of up to 2,000kg, and it was claimed that Condors sank more than 300,000 tons of Allied shipping. By September 1940, one unit, KG 40 based at Bordeaux-Mèrignac in Occupied France, had sunk over 90,000 tons of Allied shipping. For the next three years the C-series Condors were described by Winston Churchill as ‘the scourge of the Atlantic’, eventually being overcome by the introduction of long-range Coastal Command aircraft, escort carriers and the deployment of Catapult-Armed Merchantman vessels. 

The Fw 200 also used as a troop transport, capable of carrying thirty fully-armed soldiers. one Fw 200 was even converted into a luxury, two-cabin airliner for use as Hitler’s personal aeroplane.

In this selection of unrivalled images collected over many years, and now part of Frontline's new War in the Air series, the operations of this famous aircraft are portrayed and brought to life through the first-hand accounts of the pilots who flew them and those that fought against them.

Vintage Airfix Review:

With more images than pages you’ll find this archive invaluable for the preparation of a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 build.

For a Luftwaffe historian, or indeed any historian, the detailed research by the author makes this book a great addition to any library.

As with all the titles in the Air War Archive series it’s a joy to thumb through time and again.

I highly recommended series of books.

 

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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.

Vintage Airfix Review:

A journey through 47 years of aviation history through the memories a one pilot. From early flight training through RAF ‘antics’ in jet fighters, and civil aviation to retirement. This book covers Brian’s whole life with aircraft. It’s fascinating, confusing in parts, but thoroughly enjoyable.

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FV430 Series

By Robert Griffin

FV430 SeriesDescription:

During the Second World War the British infantry found itself lacking suitable transport to cope with the fast moving German Blitzkrieg tactics. Various stop-gap measures were introduced with mixed success but, with the pots-war nuclear biological and chemical threat, it was imperative that a robust solution was found.

The FV300 and FV400 Cambridge carriers paved the way for the introduction of the AFV430 series in the 1960s at the height of the Cold War. Initially a basic armoured personnel carrier, the series grew to cover a multitude of roles; command, recovery, mortar, Swingfire and remote mine clearing to name but a selection. Over 50 years later variants are still in service.

This classic Images of War book not only describes in words and images the AFV430 series but traces the development of infantry carriers for the British Army.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Another well written and informative addition to the Images of War series. The images of the variants are in colour and clear and will be of great use to the modeller. The detailed history of development adds to the appreciation of this armoured vehicle.

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German Battleship Helgoland

By Aidan Dodson

German Battleship HelgolandDescription:

Alongside its incomparable archive of British warship plans, the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich also holds a selection of drawings from foreign sources. Among the gems of this collection are a number of German warships dating from the First World War era. These are official plans, acquired by the Naval Inter-Allied Commission of Control as part of the peace treaty, and very similar in style, detail and draughtsmanship to Royal Navy ‘as fitted’ general arrangements, including the use of coloured line and washes.

The very best of these, in terms of the completeness of coverage and the visual impact of the drawings, relates to the battleship SMS Helgoland, launched in 1909. The name-ship of the second class of dreadnoughts designed by the Germans, she was a big advance over the earlier Westfalen class, having 12in guns that matched those of her British opponents. She served in the High Seas Fleet throughout the war, fought at Jutland, and was ceded to Britain as part of the peace terms – which is probably why the plans are at Greenwich – and was broken up in 1924.

This book is the latest in a series based entirely on original draughts which depict famous warships in an unprecedented degree of detail. Using the latest scanning technology to make digital copies of the highest quality, it reproduces complete sets in full colour, with many close-ups and enlargements that make every aspect clear and comprehensible. Extensive captions point the reader to important features to be found in the plans, and an introduction covers the background to the design. The result is a novel form of anatomy that will be a revelation to any warship enthusiast.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This book has tonnes of detailed information to go with the beautifully detailed original plans. Recommended reference material for all modellers with an eye for detail.

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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.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Fantastic colour and black and white images and beautifully written with great use of National Archive documentation. This book will thrill and inform all enthusiasts of the Hawker Hunter.

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Knights of the Battle of Britain

By Chris Goss

Knights of the Battle of BritainDescription:

The Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross), known simply as the Ritterkreuz (Knight’s Cross), was the highest German military award of the Second World War. Instituted on 1 September 1939, to coincide with the German invasion of Poland, it was awarded for leadership, valour or skill. As the war progressed, higher variants were instituted, namely the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords, and the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves Swords and Diamonds.

Similar in design, but larger, than the Eiserne Kreuz (Iron Cross), and worn around the neck as opposed to on the breast, the border and hanging loop on the Knight’s Cross were made of pure silver which was marked ‘800’. The award was made by a number of German manufacturers.

On 3 June 1940, the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuz mit Eichenlaub (Knights Cross with Oak Leaves) was instituted, by which time 124 Rittterkreuz had been awarded to all arms of the German military, of which forty-nine had been awarded to Luftwaffe personnel. The first recipient was Generalfeldmarschal Hermann Göring on 30 September 1939; the first Luftwaffe operational Luftwaffe aircrew member recipient, and the fifth overall, was Oberst Robert Fuchs, Kommodore of Kampfgeschwader 26. His award was made on 6 April 1940.

The first fighter pilot to receive the Ritterkreuz was Hauptmann Werner Mölders of III Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 53 (III./JG 53) on 29 May 1940. Only three Luftwaffe officers would receive the Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub in 1940, and all of them were fighter pilots – Mölders on 21 September 1940 (he was then Geschwader Kommodore of JG 51), Major Adolf Galland (Kommodore of JG 26) on 24 September 1940, and Hauptmann Helmut Wick (Kommandeur of I Gruppe/JG 2) on 6 October 1940.

Throughout the summer of 1940, many more Luftwaffe members, be they serving on fighter, bomber, dive bomber or reconnaissance units, would receive the Ritterkreuz. Some of these awards were made posthumously, whilst others would learn of their awards whilst a prisoner of war in Britain or, later, in Canada.

In this book, the renowned aviation historian Chris Goss provides biographical details of all operational members of the Luftwaffe who received the Ritterkreuz during 1940 or were awarded it as a result of their actions in what became known as the Battle of Britain.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This is one of those books that you have on the shelf. Safe in the knowledge that it’s there when you need it and that it’ll have the information you need on a specific Luftwaffe aircrew member between April and December 1940 that were awarded the Knights Cross.

Chris Goss has once again brought together a high level of detail from a specific time in air war history and collated it into a very useful and informative book.

I must have book for any Battle of Britain historian.

 

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Large Scale Warship Models

By Dr Kerry Jang

Large Scale Warship ModelsDescription:

The majority of warship modellers work in smaller scales, most often based on plastic or resin kits. Many of these harbour ambitions to tackle something larger and more demanding, but are daunted by the challenge. The aim of this book is to persuade them that it not as difficult as it may seem, that they already possess the basic skills required, and that they can acquire any necessary new knowledge as they proceed.

The discussion focuses on the journey from conventional plastic kits to questions of deciding on a subject; choosing a kit, semi-kit or build from scratch; what conventional kit building skills transfer – and how these conventional skills such as painting techniques and an eye for detail can be brought to large scale model building so that scale fidelity is not sacrificed but enhanced. Novel requirements like research, obtaining plans and sourcing material or fittings are all covered.

The second part describes building methods, including the latest techniques like casting fittings in resin, and applies to both static and radio-controlled working models. All the colour photos were taken specifically to illustrate the points made in each chapter, so the book demonstrates as well as describes. It concludes with a gallery of superb models intended to inspire the would-be large scale warship modeller to take the plunge.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Informative, helpful, well written and beautifully presented.

If you haven’t built a large-scale warship, either from a kit or scratch built, but would like to, then you need this book. It’ll give you the knowledge you’ll need to get started.

If you’re an intermediate or advanced builder, there is much in here that will aid you also.

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