Reviewed Books - Vintage Airfix


Reviewed Books

Contents:
- Lockheed F-104 Starfighter - By Martin Bowman
- M2/M3 - By Robert Jackson
- M29 Weasel Tracked Cargo Carrier & Variants - By David Doyle
- M36/M36B-1 Tank Destroyer - By David Doyle
- M65 Atomic Cannon - By David Doyle
- M7 Priest - By David Doyle
- MESSERSCHMITT Bf 109 - By Chris Goss
- Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert - By Andy Singleton
- Panther Tanks: Germany Army and Waffen-SS - By Dennis Oliver
- Race Across the Atlantic - By Colin Higgs, Bruce Vigar
- ShipCraft 25: German Destroyers - By Robert Brown
- Spitfire! - By Dilip Sarkar MBE
- Stug III and Stug IV - By Dennis Oliver
- Sydney Camm: Hurricane and Harrier Designer - By John Sweetman
- T-54/55 - By Robert Jackson
- Take These Men - By Cyril Joly
- Tank Destroyer - By Dennis Oliver
- The Berlin Airlift - By John Grehan
- The English Electric Lightning - By Martin Bowman
- The First Helicopter Boys - By David Taylor

 


 

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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.

Vintage Airfix Review:

To my shame, although I’ve made a few F-104 Starfighter models over the years, I’ve never taken the time to really look into the history of this aircraft. Now I have, and what a history.

Martin Bowman has created a complete Starfighter reference book full of quotes and colour images that will tantalise any modeller. It’s well written and well laid out with in-depth detail. It’s also extremely fascinating.

 

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M2/M3

By Robert Jackson

M2/M3Description:

Among the most successful armoured vehicles produced by American industry – known as the Arsenal of Democracy – during the Second World War were the M2 and M3 half-tracks. They served on every battlefront and were as recognizable as other famous American wartime vehicles like the Sherman and the Jeep, and around 40,000 were produced between 1941 and 1945. They were easy to assemble, operate and maintain, and their versatility allowed them to fulfil a variety of purposes. This volume in Pen & Sword’s LandCraft series traces the design, development and manufacturing history of the M2/M3 and describes its operational role within the Allied armies.

A selection of archive photographs showing the M2/M3 in action gives a graphic impression of how adaptable these vehicles were and records the range of equipment they could carry. The book is an excellent source for the modeller, providing details of available kits, together with specially commissioned colour profiles demonstrating how the M2/M3 used by different units and armies appeared.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Hot on the heals of The Jeep is this, the second in the LandCraft series. It has everything you would expect, the informative development and design section, camouflage and markings and of course, the showcases. There is one showcase in particular of a 1/16 scale which is jaw dropping.

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M29 Weasel Tracked Cargo Carrier & Variants

By David Doyle

M29 Weasel Tracked Cargo Carrier & VariantsDescription:

Conceived as part of a Top Secret project to disrupt Nazi Germany's atomic bomb program, the hastily developed Studebaker Weasel went on to one of, if not THE most successful of the wartime all-terrain vehicles. Designed with light weight to facilitate both air-dropping and efficient, high-speed operation in the snow, the vehicles were soon found to have excellent performance in the mud. Always amphibious, the later models, the M29C, were equipped with flotation tanks on each end and dual rudders in the rear for even more efficient operation in the water. Weasels were used on numerous fronts during WWII, were once again deployed in Korea, by the French in Vietnam, and numerous outposts during the Cold War. These pages provide an overview of the development, and a detailed look at the deployment and the machines themselves, of these iconic, all-terrain vehicles.

Vintage Airfix Review:

A perfect reference book for an AFV modeler. As part of the Images of War series it has the expected images of the M29 and its variants in action. It also has some close-up, colour images of 2 particular variants showing invaluable detail at various angles.

The historical information on the development of the Weasel is fascinating but unfortunately a little repetitive.

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M36/M36B-1 Tank Destroyer

By David Doyle

M36/M36B-1 Tank DestroyerDescription:

Going into WWII, the prevailing strategy of the US command was that takns were not to be used to engage enemy tanks in combat. Rather, tanks were to be the armored spearhead to breach enemy positions. Enemy tanks were to be dealt with by specialized weapons, aptly named tank destroyers.

While the 3-inch weapon of the M10 was superior to that found on earlier US tank destroyers, it was still found to be inadequate against the ever-increasing weight of German armor. An even larger gun, the 90mm M3, was placed in a new, bigger open-topped turret on 100 new hulls purpose built for this, and by remanufacturing M10A1s, primarily from US-based training units. As the supply of these chassis was depleted, additional vehicles were created by converting Diesel-powered M10s, resulting in the M36B2. The M36B1 was built from the ground-up as a tank destroyer, using a hull based on that of the M4A3 but featuring a standard M36 turret. Examination of rare surviving vehicles indicate that the M36B1 hulls were manufactured expressly for this purpose, and were not merely M4A3 hulls that were converted.

While US antitank doctrine changed, rendering all the tank destroyers obsolete post-WWII, many of these vehicles were supplied to other nations, and in fact some survived as combat vehicles into the 21st century.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Another informative ‘Images of War’ book full of close up images of a beautifully restored example and striking images from WWII. Many of the WWII images would make great reference for a diorama. Although the WWII images are in black and white the close-up images are in colour.

As with all the books in this series, it’s well written and produced. I can’t recommend this series enough.

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M65 Atomic Cannon

By David Doyle

M65 Atomic CannonDescription:

Through historic photos, this volume traces the development, production and deployment of this iconic piece of military equipment from the drawing boards to the Cold War battlefields of Europe.

In 1949, the US Army wanted an artillery gun that could fire a nuclear warhead in the event that guided missiles and long-range bombers proved insufficient in delivering atomic weapons. The result was the M65, 280mm Atomic Cannon. On May 25, 1953, at 0830 hours, an M65 of A Battery, 867th Field Artillery Battalion, let loose with the only nuclear round the type would ever fire.

Six battalions of the M65 would eventually be deployed, most in Europe with one battalion sent to the Korean Peninsula. Though never used in combat, they served as a significant tactical nuclear deterrent in the early stages of the Cold War.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Yet another beautiful Images of War series book and a perfect accompaniment for Dragon Models M65 Atomic Annie Gun kit. As the series title suggests, this book is overflowing with images and with some great ideas for dioramas.

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M7 Priest

By David Doyle

M7 PriestDescription:

The M7 Howitzer Motor Carriage, dubbed the Priest, was the most successful and widely used example of American self-propelled artillery during WWII. Examples continued to be used by the U.S. Army during the Korean war, and beyond, even serving Allied countries into the 1970s. Coined the Priest due to its pulpit-like structure for the gun commander, this armored fighting vehicle would see action in North Africa, Italy, and the D-Day landings in Normandy and all the way to Germany.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This book is nicely laid out in a chronological order with an explanation of each image. Reading this book, you will gain a whole new appreciation for the M7 and its development.

As the M7 Priest is currently not very well covered by model manufacturers, this book will be a great aid the scratch build modeller wishing to build an early variant.

This is a superb reference book for armoured vehicle enthusiasts and historians. And a worthy addition to the Images of War series.

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MESSERSCHMITT Bf 109

By Chris Goss

MESSERSCHMITT Bf 109Description:

The most iconic German aircraft of the Second World War, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the Luftwaffe’s principal fighter from 1939 until 1942 when the superior Focke-Wulf Fw 190 came into greater prominence. The Bf 109 served in every theatre of the war, though in this book the author examines the Tip and Run era, D-Day and the Eastern Front.

In the later years of the war, the Bf 109 fought with some success in the defence of Germany against Allied bombers. The Bf 109 was the most produced fighter aircraft in history and more aerial kills were made with this fighter than any other aircraft. Indeed, A total of 105 Bf 109 pilots were each credited with the destruction of 100 or more enemy aircraft; thirteen of these men scored more than 200 kills, while two scored more than 300. The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring fighter aces of the war: Erich Hartmann, the top-scoring fighter pilot of all time claiming 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories, and Günther Rall, who claimed 275 victories. All of them flew with JG 52, a unit which exclusively flew the Bf 109 and was credited with over 10,000 victories, chiefly on the Eastern Front.

The Bf 109 was also supplied to several of Germany's allies, including Finland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovakia.

In this selection of unrivalled images collected over many years, the operations of this famous aircraft in the latter part of the Second World War are portrayed and brought to life.

Vintage Airfix Review:

The 109 was an awesome aircraft and has a unique place in aviation warfare history. This beautiful book will be a great addition to any enthusiast, historian or modeller. The images are inspirational to the modeller and the in-depth history is fascinating. A great publication.

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Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert

By Andy Singleton

Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the DesertDescription:

Andy Singleton has been modelling and painting most of his life and has been a professional commission figure painter for some years now. Here he shares his experience and tips of the trade with those collecting figures for the North African campaigns in WWII. The four main sections of the book cover British, Italian, German and US troops, as well as tips on assembly and painting camouflage uniforms. Each section is divided into three levels of complexity, ‘conscript’, ‘regular’ and ‘elite’, allowing the reader to build up an array of techniques as they gain confidence and experience. The emphasis is on achievable results and practical advice that is applicable to painting units or whole armies for wargaming purposes in a reasonable time frame, not on spectacular individual display pieces. Most of the figures featured in the numerous illustrations are sized either 28mm or 20mm but the techniques described are easily adaptable to smaller sizes and both plastic and metal figures are covered. Andy’s clear, step-by-step guidance takes the reader through the process from the initial preparation and assembly of the figure, to finishing and basing.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This is one for all figure modellers not just the wargamer. It’s nicely organised into 3 levels of details which can be used as a guide for any scale.

I would have liked to see a few close-up images for reference of the smaller detail. But that is the only down side to this very informative and easy to follow book.

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Panther Tanks: Germany Army and Waffen-SS

By Dennis Oliver

Panther Tanks: Germany Army and Waffen-SSDescription:

In late 1944 and 1945 the Panther tank played an important role in Germany’s desperate efforts to stem the Allied advance on the Western Front. The Panther, perhaps the best armoured vehicle produced by Germany during the Second World War, was a key element in the Wehrmacht’s defensive tactics, in rearguard actions and counter-attacks, and it took a prominent part in the last German offensive of the war, in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge.

So it is an ideal subject for Dennis Oliver’s latest volume in the TankCraft series. He uses archive photos and extensively researched colour illustrations to examine the Panther tanks and units of the German army and Waffen-SS panzer battalions that struggled to resist the Allied onslaught.

A key section of his book displays available model kits and aftermarket products, complemented by a gallery of beautifully constructed and painted models in various scales. Technical details as well as modifications introduced during production and in the field are also examined providing everything the modeller needs to recreate an accurate representation of these historic tanks.

Vintage Airfix Review:

The Panther Tank has long been a favourite of scale modelers and, with this book in hand, you'll be wanting to build more.

The book has everything we've come to expect from the Tank Craft series, historical facts, camouflage reference, model showcases, and of course, well written and illustrated. All the great kits are covered here including the Airfix 1/76 scale kit (it had to really). Some of the larger scale kit in the showcase are superb.

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Race Across the Atlantic

By Colin Higgs, Bruce Vigar

Race Across the AtlanticDescription:

It was Tuesday, 15 June 1919 and for the residents of Clifden on Ireland’s west coast this was not to be a normal day. Just before 08.40 hours, descending out of the gloom, came a large, twin-engine aeroplane lining up for final approach. One or two on-lookers recognised the danger straight away for this was an area of soft bog, but their attempts to alert the pilot were in vain.

The aircraft began to sink and, with a squelch, came to a sudden stop, the tail rearing up in the air. Dazed and with fuel filling the cockpit the two-man crew scrambled out, grabbing what they could. After a flight lasting 16 hours and 28 minutes, Captain John Alcock and Lieutenant Arthur Whitten-Brown had won the race to be the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic.

It was a rough ending for a race that began in April 1913 when Lord Rothermere, aviation philanthropist and owner of the Daily Mail, offered a prize of £10,000, roughly equivalent to $1,000,000 in today’s money, to ‘the aviator who shall first cross the Atlantic in an aeroplane in flight from any point in the United States of America, Canada or Newfoundland to any point in Great Britain or Ireland in 72 continuous hours’.

Illustrated by many unique photographs this book tells the story of the race, delayed for almost six years by the First World War. Many aircraft would be entered but few would even get off the ground. The teams faced great difficulties in preparing for the challenge of crossing one of the most hostile stretches of ocean on Earth.

The authors not only reveal tales of failures and technical difficulties, but of the intense frustration of waiting for the perfect weather-window. And even when finally airborne, Alcock and Brown’s flight almost ended in disaster on several occasions as weather conditions almost conspired to cast them down into the grey, cold waters of the Atlantic and almost certain death.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Reading this book is like reading a film script and right from the first page, you’ll be hooked. It starts with a run down of all the contenders and their fate. Then, due to the gripping writing, you’re there, with all the ups and downs of the events before the historic flight. Once you’re through all that, you’re in the cockpit with Alcock and Brown and every dump and dive of the flight across the Atlantic.

This book is highly recommended to take you on a trip, in your mind, across the Atlantic. It’s an exciting trip from the early days of aviation and a great feat that shouldn’t be forgotten. The final pages of this book prove that it hasn’t been.

 

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ShipCraft 25: German Destroyers

By Robert Brown

ShipCraft 25: German DestroyersDescription:

The ‘ShipCraft’ series provides in-depth information about building and modifying model kits of famous warship types. Lavishly illustrated, each book takes the modeller through a brief history of the subject class, highlighting differences between sister-ships and changes in their appearance over their careers. This includes paint schemes and camouflage, featuring colour profiles and highly detailed line drawings and scale plans. The modelling section reviews the strengths and weaknesses of available kits, lists commercial accessory sets for super-detailing of the ships, and provides hints on modifying and improving the basic kit. This is followed by an extensive photographic gallery of selected high-quality models in a variety of scales, and the book concludes with a section on research references – books, monographs, large-scale plans and relevant websites.

This volume covers the large and powerful German destroyers of the Second World War era. Always popular as modelling subjects, interest in them has been further increased recently by the release of a number of very fine large scale kits.

With its unparalleled level of visual information – paint schemes, models, line drawings and photographs – this book is simply the best reference for any modelmaker setting out to build one of these unusual ships.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This is the 25th in the ShipCraft series, and the first to grace my bookshelf. As it’s along the same lines as the other ‘Craft’ series (FlightCraft, LandCraft and TankCraft) I knew what to expect. There’ll be colour schemes, showcases, model reviews and informative design history… It doesn’t disappoint.

Although German Destroyers aren’t a popular subject for model manufactures, there are still some superb kits available. Pretty much all of them are reviewed in this book. The showcased dioramas are inspirational and extremely well built.

On a whole, German Destroyers is a well edited, beautifully presented book that’s calling out to all warship modellers to be added to their reference library.

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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’?

Vintage Airfix Review:

A highly readable and detailed history of the RAF in WWII and in particular Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC, 19 Squadron and Duxford. The book is full of quotes from the time all interweaved with the authors brilliant commentary and detail. Dilip’s research which, for this book, was triggered from seeing a picture of 3 Spitfire pilots (on the book cover) when he was a child, is simply outstanding.

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Stug III and Stug IV

By Dennis Oliver

Stug III and Stug IVDescription:

In the last years of the Second World War the Sturmgeschütz III (StuG III) and Sturmgeschütz IV (StuG IV) played a vital role as assault guns during the German army’s struggle to block the Allied advance on the Western Front. As the Wehrmacht’s tank forces declined, these armoured vehicles were thrown into every defensive operation. They are not as well known as the Tigers and Panthers, but German resistance would have been much weaker without them. They were also among the most frequently encountered German armoured vehicles on the battlefields, which is why they are such a fascinating subject for Dennis Oliver in this volume in the TankCraft series.

He uses archive photos and extensively researched colour illustrations to examine the StuG III and StuG IV deployed by the German army and the Waffen-SS during these doomed campaigns. A key section of his book displays available model kits and aftermarket products, complemented by a gallery of beautifully constructed and painted models in various scales. Technical details as well as modifications introduced during production and in the field are also examined providing everything the modeller needs to recreate an accurate representation of these historic armoured vehicles.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Another great issue of the Tank Craft series. The Stug has always been a great kit and all the best ones are mentioned in this must have reference book.

 

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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.

Vintage Airfix Review:

A well-researched and informative bio however, and this is purely a personal observation and does not distract from the overall content of this otherwise good biography of a giant of aviation history.

But… there are parts of this book that seem to be almost rushed and are more akin to a list of events. I found myself waiting for a quote or further information on what happened in between the ‘he said this on this date then this happened on this date’ unfortunately it did not come.

I have very mixed feelings on this book but would still recommend it, but as a further reading if you’re studying Sydney Camm or Hawker

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T-54/55

By Robert Jackson

T-54/55Description:

During the Cold War, the T-54/55 series of tanks represented the most serious threat to Nato land forces in Europe. Available in huge quantities, it formed the core of the Warsaw Pact armoured warfare doctrine, which envisaged massed tank attacks against the weakest point in Nato’s front-line defences.

Yet the T-54/55 could be stopped by smaller numbers of tanks which had the benefit of better technology and training, as was demonstrated during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 when Israeli tanks dealt out appalling punishment to T-55s of the Syrian army. Despite these limitations, the T-54/55 was one of the most successful tanks ever produced, and this volume in the TankCraft series by Robert Jackson is the ideal introduction to it.

As well as tracing the history of the T-54/55, his book is 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:

Charting the main variants of the Russian T54 and T55 tanks, of which I was shocked to find out how many where built, this book is a great source of information for the AFV modeller.

The historical sections are in a chronological order, the main variants are explained and the example builds are of a very high standard.

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Take These Men

By Cyril Joly

Take These MenDescription:

Few accounts of the tank battles in the Western Desert during the Second World War have provided so vivid an evocation as Cyril Joly’s classic account Take These Men. In such inhospitable conditions, this was armoured warfare of a particularly difficult and dangerous kind.

From 1940 to 1943 battles raged back and forth as one side or the other gained the upper hand, only to lose it again. Often the obsolescent British armour was outnumbered by the Italians or outgunned by Rommel’s Afrika Korps, and frequently it suffered from the ineptitudes of higher command.

Cyril Joly’s first-hand narrative of these campaigns, highly praised when it was originally published in 1955, tells the story through the eyes of a young officer in the 7th Armoured Division, the famous Desert Rats. It describes in accurate, graphic detail the experience of tank warfare over seventy years ago, recalling the fortitude of the tank crews and their courage in the face of sometimes overwhelming odds.

Vintage Airfix Review:

A surprising account of desert warfare by a young officer. Although largely a work of fiction, It is a gripping read and highly recommended bringing events of the time to life in it own way.

Nicely broken into 6 parts marking events from 1940 to 1943. It’s a touching, and in places amusing account of tank warfare in a rough environment.

I must add however, the physical layout of the book is a little distracting with a huge border around the body of the text. You do get used to it over time plus, I don’t need to move my big thumbs out of the way!

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Tank Destroyer

By Dennis Oliver

Tank DestroyerDescription:

In this heavily illustrated volume in the TankCraft series Dennis Oliver focuses on the Achilles – the British variant of the American M10 – which was one of the most important Allied tank destroyers of the Second World War. It played a key role in the armoured battles fought on the Western Front, in particular in France, the Low Countries, Germany and Italy.

Built on an adapted Sherman chassis, with sloped armour, an open-topped turret and powerful 17-pounder gun, it was designed to counter the threat posed by the formidable panzers deployed by the German army towards the end of the conflict, in particular the Panther and Tiger tanks.

The book covers the design and operational history of the Achilles in close detail, using rare archive photographs and meticulously researched colour illustrations, as well as a detailed, authoritative text.

A key section displays available model kits and aftermarket products, complemented by a gallery of beautifully constructed and painted models in various scales. Technical details as well as modifications introduced during production and in the field are also examined providing everything the modeller needs to recreate an accurate representation of these historic armoured fighting vehicles.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Beautifully written and wonderfully illustrated, this has some very useful colour schemes and inspiration showcases for modellers.

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The Berlin Airlift

By John Grehan

The Berlin AirliftDescription:

The fate of the free world hung in the balance. Stalin’s Soviet Union sought to drive the Western democracies from Germany to continue the communist advance across Europe. The first step in Stalin’s scheme was to bring Berlin under Soviet control. Berlin was situated deep inside the Soviet-occupied region of the country, but the German capital had been divided into two halves, one of which was occupied by the Soviet Union, the other, in separate sectors, by Britain, France and the USA. Stalin decided to make the Allied hold on West Berlin untenable by shutting down all the overland routes used to keep the city supplied.

The choice faced by the Allies was a stark one – let Berlin fall, or risk war with the Soviets by breaking the Soviet stranglehold. In a remarkably visionary move, the Allies decided that they could keep Berlin supplied by flying over the Soviet blockade, thus avoiding armed conflict with the USSR.

On 26 June 1948, the Berlin Airlift began. Throughout the following thirteen months, more than 266,600 flights were undertaken by the men and aircraft from the US, France, Britain and across the Commonwealth, which delivered in excess of 2,223,000 tons of food, fuel and supplies in the greatest airlift in history.

The air-bridge eventually became so effective that more supplies were delivered to Berlin than had previously been shipped overland and Stalin saw that his bid to seize control of the German capital could never succeed. At one minute after midnight on 12 May 1949, the Soviet blockade was lifted, and the Soviet advance into Western Europe was brought to a shuddering halt.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Another superb title in the brilliant Images of Aviation series. Stuffed with great images of the time and perfectly detailed information, superbly illustrating one of the first major international crises of the Cold War. 

As an aviation enthusiast, this book fulfils my needs. There are images of most of my favourite aircraft and great stories to go along with them.

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The English Electric Lightning

By Martin Bowman

The English Electric LightningDescription:

The early 1950s were a boom time for British aviation. The lessons of six years of war had been learned and much of the research into jet engines, radar and aerodynamics had begun to reach fruition. In Britain, jet engine technology led the world, while wartime developments into swept wing design in Germany and their transonic research programme were used to give western design teams a quantum leap in aircraft technology.

The English Electric Lightning emerged at this time. This supersonic fighter aircraft of the Cold War era is perhaps best remembered for its amazing take-off performance, its exceptional rate of climb and its immense speed. Here, Martin Bowman takes us on a photographic journey, illustrating the various landmarks of the Lightning's impressive operational history.

Vintage Airfix Review:

When I first saw this book, it sparked a memory of the first time I heard the sound of the Lightning and, it would appear, it isn’t just me. In the first few pages, the unique sound of the Lightning is mentioned.

This book, from the Images of War series, has all that you would expect. Great images and details of variants and missions.

From a modeller’s perspective, I would love to have seen some colour images in here. But as an aircraft enthusiast it’s a great addition to my library and memory.

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The First Helicopter Boys

By David Taylor

The First Helicopter BoysDescription:

The Indonesian Confrontation that raged from 1963 to 1966 stemmed from Indonesia’s opposition to the creation of Malaysia. Fighting in the challenging jungle terrain of Borneo and in the countryside straddling the Malaysia/Indonesia border, where there were few roads, posed significant logistical challenges to both sides. That the conflict was ultimately a victory for the Commonwealth forces was in due in no small part to the fact that they enjoyed the advantage of vastly superior helicopter resources and better trained crews – many of which were provided by British units.

During the Confrontation, many of these vital helicopter assets were flown by pilots and crews who had gained their knowledge and experience first-hand during the Malayan Emergency, one of the Cold War’s first flash-points which had begun in 1948.

Without doubt, the Malayan Emergency marked the formative years of the RAF’s and Royal Navy’s helicopter operations – the very early days in fact, when equipment and knowledge were much more basic. It was a time when operational procedures were still under development, even though the helicopters were already being flown on front line service.

Told in the main through their own words, by the RAF and Royal Navy air and ground crews involved, this is the story of how these ‘guinea pigs’ undertook many of Britain’s first rotary wing combat operations and, therefore, cemented their rightful place in the history of the helicopter.

Vintage Airfix Review:

A fascinating insight into the early days of helicopter development and its use in the challenging terrain of Malaysia/Indonesia. Through the words of personnel from the time and David’s superb writing, you get a real sense of the issues the early machines had, and the resourcefulness used in a Jungle situation.

I’m not sure some of the ways these machines were maintained in the Jungle would be allowed today. As an example, changing a wheel while the pilot maintains a steady hover!

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