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Book Review
RAF Fighter Command Pilot
RAF Fighter Command Pilot – The Western Front 1939-42
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]

The importance of the Royal Air Force’s Fighter Command in the early days of World War II is unquestionable, but the role of the ‘few’, as described by Churchill, during the Battle of Britain has been the subject of much mythologizing both at the time and in the years since.**

This title puts the men of Fighter Command into their historical context; describing the recruitment, training and experiences of the fighter pilots that fought the battles of France and Britain. These men were not the fearless, arrogant public school boys of popular legend, rather nervous but brave human beings from all walks of life. Their stories are told through their own writing to build up a comprehensive account of Fighter Command in the early years of the war, from the skies of Kent through the fields of northern France to the snows of Norway.**

**Quoted from the back cover of the book.

Osprey Publications Ltd has released RAF Fighter Command Pilot – The Western Front 1939-42 as Number 164 in their Warrior series. It is a paperback book with 64 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs, color photographs, color illustrations, an informational chart and detailed captions. It has a 2012 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-84908-779-7. As the titles states the book examines and discusses the RAF Fighter Command Pilot on the Western Front from 1939 to 1942.

- RAF Fighter Command in the Inter-War Period
- Recruitment and Training
- Equipment: Flying Clothing and Uniform
- Aircraft of Fighter Command
- On Campaign: Conditions in Theatre
- Belief and Belonging
- Experience of Battle: Tactics of Air Combat
- Museums and Surviving Aircraft
- Bibliography
- Index

The text in the book is well written and extremely detailed. Author Mark Barber covers the RAF Fighter Command Pilots very well and goes into great detail of their actions from 1939 through to 1942. Barber starts with the recruitment and training of the RAF pilots and continues on with their clothing, the various aircraft that were selected and used, campaigns and tactics used and developed and ends informing the reader of museums and of surviving RAF aircraft. Anyone interested in the RAF Fighter Command, RAF pilots, their clothing, aircraft and experiences as well as The Battle for Britain, World War Two aviation and World War II history find this book very informative and interesting. I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors as I read through the text. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.

There are a total of 47 black and white photographs and 3 color photographs featured in this volume. As the title of the book suggests the majority of the photographs are of the RAF Fighter Command, its aircraft, various pilots and ground crew personnel. One of my favorite pictures is of a ground crew loading the machine guns on a Hawker Hurricane. Other pictures that I found to be interesting and of use are those of Trainee pilots and instructors standing next to a De Havilland Tiger Moth trainer, the cockpit of a Hawker Hurricane, a Gladiator Mk II sitting inside a blast shelter, a left and right close-up view of a Browning .303in machine gun and my two other favorite photographs, a RAF pilot looking at the emblem on the fuselage of a downed German Bf 109 and a German Bf 109 flying very close to a British barrage balloon. The majority of the photographs are nice clear, centered and focused images, however there are some appear to be a little on the dark side. I have seen several military photographs that have this look to them so maybe that is just typical. With that said the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and do not take anything away from the book. The photographs will be of interest to the aviation and military aviation enthusiast as well as the military historian.

Some of the aircraft shown and discussed are the:
- Bristol Bulldog
- Hawker Hurricane
- Miles Magister
- De Havilland Tiger Moth
- North American Harvard
- BlenHeim 1F
- Spitfire Mk 1
- Gloster Gladiator
- Bolton Paul Defiant
- Messerschmitt Bf 109
- Junkers Ju 88

Some of the RAF Fighter Command pilots and personnel shown and discussed are:
- Hugh Dowding
- Robert Stanford Tuck
- Whitney Straight
- Adolph Malan
- Douglas Bader
- Marshall Trafford Leigh-Mallory

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.

There are 6 color illustrations featured in this volume. The illustrations are by illustrator Graham Turner and they are all very well done. The scale aircraft figure modeler will find value in the two figure color plates as they provide a visual reference to the uniforms, equipment and rank insignia that were used.

The color illustrations are of the following:
- Flight Lieutenant, 1939
- Sergeant, 1941
- Gloster Gladiator in Action, Norway, May 1940
- Hawker Hurricane Is, NO> 46 Squadron, Flight Deck, HMS Glorious, June 1940
- Dispersal, A fighter Squadron of NO. 11 Group, September 1940
- Dogfight Over South-East England, September 1940
Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.

There are no maps provided in this volume.

There is 1 informational chart provided in this volume. The chart provides information on the diversity of backgrounds employed by Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain.
- Nationalities of Pilots and aircrew
- Number taking part in the battle
- Number killed

As with the text, the captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations well. They provide information such as the aircraft shown, aircraft markings, pilots and key individuals and other such valuable information. I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors I read through the captions. As I stated before, grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the captions for yourself.

This is a very nice reference and history book that contains many useful photographs and illustrations as well as detailed captions. It details the RAF Fighter Command, its pilots and aircraft very well and will benefit the military aviation enthusiast, historian and scale modeler. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.

Battle Of Britain, Len Deighton, Coward, McMann & Geoghegan Publishers

The Battle Of Britain, Leonard Mosley and the editors of Time-Life Books, Time-Life Books

Great Weapons Of World War II, John Kirk
Robert Young Introduction by Bernard E. Trainor Walker And Company

Take a look inside of the book on the Osprey Publishing website.

Osprey Publishing has RAF Fighter Command Pilot – The Western Front 1939-42 available as a PDF eBook and as an ePub eBook as well. Take a look inside of the book on the Amazon website.

Highs: Professionally written text and captions Interesting and useful photographs and artwork
Lows: Some of the photographs are a little dark (no fault of the author)
Verdict: An excellent reference book that contains many useful photographs and illustrations as well as information detailed captions.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-84908-779-7
  Suggested Retail: US $18.95
  PUBLISHED: Dec 21, 2012
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

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Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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