Reviewed Books - Vintage Airfix


Reviewed Books

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Reviews on this page:
- Panther Tanks: Germany Army and Waffen-SS - By Dennis Oliver
- Porsche Passion - By Lance Cole
- Race Across the Atlantic - By Colin Higgs, Bruce Vigar
- RAF On the Offensive - By Greg Baughen
- 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
- Tank Wrecks of the Western Front, 1940-1945 - By Anthony Tucker-Jones
- The Berlin Airlift - By John Grehan
- The Boy Airman - By Richard Petty
- The English Electric Lightning - By Martin Bowman
- The First Helicopter Boys - By David Taylor
- The Great Eastern Railway in South Essex - By Charles Phillips
- The Handley Page Victor - By Roger Brooks
- The History of Toy Soldiers - By Luigi Toiati
- The Jeep - By Lance Cole

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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Porsche Passion

By Lance Cole

Porsche PassionDescription:

In a book of Porsche photography and engaging conversation, Lance Cole journeys through a personal passion for Porsche –one that many supercar enthusiasts share.

Herein light falls on sculpted metal and paint – shiny and less shiny. Throwing off the conventions of Porsche purism, yet at the same time always respecting the origins of Porsche, and the status of the 911, this is a book that celebrates the engineering and the design language of Porsche amid its culture. From an “oily-rag” 356 to old 911s and new 911s, with a brief alighting upon other cars of the Porsche clan, this is an eclectic collection of enthusiasts “moments” captured across a British Porsche landscape.

Vintage Airfix Review:

As a lifelong lover of Porsche, I was really looking forward to spending some time with this book. Lance Cole has produced a great book and included his own pictures of some remarkable and beautiful machines.

Recommended reading for all Porsche fans.

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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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RAF On the Offensive

By Greg Baughen

RAF On the OffensiveDescription:

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

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

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

Vintage Airfix Review:

Information packed, a lot of which will be new to many readers. It gives an enlightening look at the RAF through a year of the war that saw many changes in aviation and aerial combat.

 

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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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Tank Wrecks of the Western Front, 1940-1945

By Anthony Tucker-Jones

Tank Wrecks of the Western Front, 1940-1945Description:

Early in the Second World War in Western Europe the German victors regularly photographed and posed with destroyed or abandoned Allied armour. During their invasion of France the Germans left 4,500 smashed French tanks in their wake, and these were a popular subject for their photographs. Then, when the tide of the war turned against them in 1944-5, their wrecked and burnt-out panzers were photographed by the victorious Allies during the key battles for Normandy and the Ardennes. These wartime photographers created an extraordinary record of the many thousands of tank wrecks that littered the battlefields, and Anthony Tucker-Jones has selected a fascinating visual guide to the fate of the numerous types of tank employed by the American, British, French and German armies throughout the conflict.

All the principal tanks are represented – Renaults, Matildas, Churchills, Shermans, Panzer IVs, Panthers and Tigers along with many others – so the book gives an insight into the rapid development of tank design during the war. It also shows how vulnerable these armoured vehicles were – and how lethal they could be for their crews – when they were hit by anti-tank guns and air attacks.

Tanks Wrecks of the Western Front will be absorbing reading and reference for anyone who is interested in the history of armoured warfare, and it will be a useful visual guide for modellers.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Another great title in the Images of War series. Showing rare images from WW2 of a selection of tank wrecks of the Western Front. It’s a great reference for diorama modellers and the information given on the development of the tank during the war years, is extremely helpful. Thank you Anthony for a fascinating addition to the series.

 

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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 Boy Airman

By Richard Petty

The Boy AirmanDescription:

The life of many combatants in The Great War was often short and brutish. But there were choices for some. Taking to the air was an attractive alternative to the slime, stench and gore of the trenches. The prospect of flying in the Royal Navy, the Senior Service, Nelson's Navy, must have been irresistible to any adventurous teenager – the best aeroplanes on the best ships with the best sailors that ever existed – or so he might have been led to believe. 

The Royal Naval Air Service was sorely tested, and not necessarily by the enemy. The casualties of the sea and its perils, and of accident and mechanical failure, were catastrophic. But this critical battle between young pilots in their infant flying machines and unpredictable events forged the pathway for our modern conceits of war – missiles, drones, giant aircraft carriers, weapons of space. 

A hundred years ago a young pilot took illicit photographs with his pocket camera and left a personal account of his life at sea with his 'kite'. This book tells his story illustrated by his long-lost 'snaps'.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This book is full of historical events and many wonderful photos, taken through the lens of one man’s pocket camera, Hugh Petty. Richard Petty has captured the thrills, tribulations, and courage that his father went through as a young Royal Naval Air Service pilot in the early days of aviation and warfare in WW1.

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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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The Great Eastern Railway in South Essex

By Charles Phillips

The Great Eastern Railway in South EssexDescription:

The Great Eastern Railway In South Essex: A Definitive History is the history of the Great Eastern’s lines from Shenfield to Southend, Wickford to Southminster and Woodham Ferrers to Maldon including their ancestor. It is the only comprehensive history of all three lines and was researched using both previously published and unpublished material. The history covers not only the history of the lines in question but also a sample of services from the opening of them to the present day, the motive power that was and is used on them and a topographical description of them. The book is intended to appeal to wide audience: in particular those with an interest in the local history of the area served by the lines, those interested in the history of Essex and railway enthusiasts interested in the railways of the eastern counties in general and the Great Eastern Railway in particular.

Vintage Airfix Review:

For anyone thinking off, or already have, models/dioramas of the Great Eastern lines in Essex. This book is right up your street. Full of interesting historical facts, useful images and a great read.

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The Handley Page Victor

By Roger Brooks

The Handley Page VictorDescription:

Some aircraft inspire passion, others nostalgia, but others, often the unsung heroes, are more of a connoisseur's choice. The Handley Page Victor easily falls into this last category.

In this follow-up to The Handley Page Victor: The History and Development of a Classic Jet, Volumes I and II, Roger Brooks extends his earlier historical narratives, this time offering an action-packed and riveting memoir of a career spanning forty years.

The book charts changes as they occurred in the aeronautical industry from the 1950's onwards and, as such, it should appeal to both individuals who were caught up in events at the time as well as students of the era. In addition to the aircraft itself, Roger worked extensively with tankers, refuelling the Victor as it took part in a variety of operations in the fraught Cold War era. He brings all aspects of his career to life across these pages, offering the kind of details that can only be gained by first-hand experience.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This book is a great read and a unique insight into a great aircraft with some personal stories from the time.

Some of the detailed information that Roger discloses can be a little to technical but for the enthusiast it is a book that you will not be able to put down.

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The History of Toy Soldiers

By Luigi Toiati

The History of Toy SoldiersDescription:

Humans have made and collected toy soldiers from time immemorial. They amuse and comfort us, awaken our curiosity, turn aggressiveness into creativity. In The History of Toy Soldiers,Luigi Toiati, himself an avid collector and manufacturer of toy soldiers, conveys and shares the pleasure of collecting and playing with them. Far from a dry encyclopaedia, it leads the reader through the fascinating evolution of the toy soldier from ancient times to the early twenty-first century. The author, as a sociologist with an interest in semiotics (the study of signs), offers truly original insights into why different types of toy soldiers were born in a given period and country, or why in a given size and material. The author's writing is packed with factual detail about the different types of toy (and model) soldiers and their manufacturers, but also with anecdotes, nostalgia, wit and his enduring passion for the subject. Hundreds of beautiful colour photographs, many depicting the author's own collection, complete this delightful book.

Vintage Airfix Review:

Wow, this book is so full of memories. If you read this book from the beginning, you’ll be taken on a ride through time from the earliest to the present-day toy soldiers. However, I found the best way to read this book is just open it and start reading… anywhere. It’s addictive, informative, fascinating and fun.

It also includes scale figures from Airfix, which is a bonus for an Airfix enthusiast.

The book is superbly produced to a very high standard and very well written. If you have any interest in this subject, you really need this book. I would even stick my neck out and say it’s the ONLY book you’ll need.

 

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The Jeep

By Lance Cole

The JeepDescription:

The Second World War Jeep was one of the most famous and influential military vehicles of all time, and over 600,000 were produced. It served with all the Allied forces during the war on every front and it has been the inspiration behind the design of light, versatile, rugged military and civilian vehicles ever since. In this, the first volume in Pen & Sword’s LandCraft series, Lance Cole traces the design, development and manufacturing history of the Jeep and describes its operational role within the Allied armies.

A selection of archive photographs showing the Jeep in service in European and Pacific campaigns gives a graphic impression of how adaptable the Jeep was and records the variety of equipment it could carry. The book is an excellent source for the modeller, providing details of available kits, together with specially commissioned colour profiles recording how the Jeeps used by different units and armies appeared.

Lance Cole's introduction to the Jeep is necessary reading and reference for enthusiasts and modellers.

Vintage Airfix Review:

This is the first in the new LandCraft series and what a great start it is. The Jeep is a very versatile vehicle which, in turn, makes it a great subject for modellers. This book has some superb 1/35 scale showcases. Along with this is everything you need to know about the development of this ground-breaking vehicle.

A must have reference book for modellers.

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