In 2018 the RAF is one hundred years old. In his new book, destined to be a classic, Patrick Bishop examines the high point of its existence – the Second World War, when the Air Force saved the nation from defeat then led the advance to victory. A SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
Air Force Blue
Author: Patrick Bishop
In a return to sweeping social history of wartime, Patrick Bishop - author of bestselling Fighter Boys and Bomber Boys - explores the lives and wartime experience of thousands of men and women who served in all units of the airforce. To mark the centenary of the RAF in 2018.
Air Force Blue
Author: Patrick Bishop
Publisher: William Collins
In 2018 the RAF is one hundred years old. In his new book, destined to be a classic, Patrick Bishop examines the high point of its existence - the Second World War, when the Air Force saved the nation from defeat then led the advance to victory. Air warfare was a terrible novelty of the modern age, requiring a new military outlook. From the beginning, the RAF's identity set it apart from the traditional services. It was innovative, flexible and comparatively meritocratic, advancing the quasi-revolutionary idea that competence was more important than background. The Air Force went into the war with inadequate machines, training and tactics, and the early phase was littered with setbacks and debacles. Then, in the summer of 1940, in full view of the population, Fighter Command won one of the decisive battles of the struggle. Thereafter the RAF was gilded with an aura of success that never tarnished, going on to make a vital contribution to Allied victory in all theatres. Drawing from diaries, letters, memoirs, and interviews, Air Force Blue captures the nature of combat in the skies over the corrugated wastes of the Atlantic, the sands of the Western Desert and the jungles of Burma. It also brings to life the intensely lived dramas, romances, friendships and fun that were as important a part of the experience as the fighting. Air Force Blue portrays the spirit of the RAF - its heart and soul - during its finest hours. It is essential reading for the millions in Britain and the Commonwealth whose loved ones served, and for anyone who wants to understand the Second World War.
With the outbreak of World War II, British RAF officials sought to train aircrews outside of England, safe from enemy attack and poor weather. In the USA, six civilian flight schools dedicated themselves to instructing RAF pilots. Tom Killebrew explores the history of the Terrell Aviation School.
A Question of Honor
Author: Lynne Olson, Stanley Cloud
A Question of Honor is the gripping, little-known story of the refugee Polish pilots who joined the RAF and played an essential role in saving Britain from the Nazis, only to be betrayed by the Allies after the war. After Poland fell to the Nazis, thousands of Polish pilots, soldiers, and sailors escaped to England. Devoted to liberating their homeland, some would form the RAF’s 303 squadron, known as the Kosciuszko Squadron, after the elite unit in which many had flown back home. Their thrilling exploits and fearless flying made them celebrities in Britain, where they were “adopted” by socialites and seduced by countless women, even as they yearned for news from home. During the Battle of Britain, they downed more German aircraft than any other squadron, but in a stunning twist at the war’s end, the Allies rewarded their valor by abandoning Poland to Joseph Stalin. This moving, fascinating book uncovers a crucial forgotten chapter in World War II–and Polish–history. From the Trade Paperback edition.
A great historian’s masterful account of the origins of air power in the RAF. The birth of the Royal Air Force during World War I marked a pivotal moment in modern military and political history. With Europe’s western front frozen in a bloody stalemate of trench warfare, both sides sought some means of directly attacking enemy resources and morale. The new technologies of air power were used at first for reconnaissance of enemy positions for artillery strikes. By 1917 German bombers had begun raids on British cities, including an attack on London that killed hundreds, with eighteen schoolchildren among the casualties. Public outrage in Britain sparked a call for air defense and spurred political support for an independent air ministry. Prime Minister David Lloyd George and his minister of munitions, Winston Churchill, led the debates over how to shape Britain’s air power during the war. The immediate path to an independent RAF is a fascinating story of political, bureaucratic, and personal rivalries. By the end of World War I, the RAF was launching effective bombing campaigns on industrial and military targets in western Germany. It survived postwar retrenchment thanks largely to Churchill, who as colonial secretary gave the RAF special responsibility for enforcing imperial control in the Middle East, especially in the new League of Nations mandates of Palestine, Transjordan, and Iraq. The RAF helped to shape the way air power developed not just in Britain but notably in Germany and the United States. The massive bombing campaigns of World War II against civilian and industrial targets in major cities are rooted in this history. This compact book shows a master historian at work. In command of the archival sources, at home in all dimensions of the story, Richard Overy crafts an engrossing narrative of this turning point in our history.
The Right of the Line
Author: John Terraine
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Traditionally, ‘the right of the line’ is the vanguard, the place of honour and greatest danger in battle. In this history of the Royal Air Force during the European War of 1939-45, John Terraine shows how the RAF, which in 1939 was small and inadequate for the task it was called upon to perform had, by the end of the war, taken up its proper position. He describes the build-up to war, the early tests in France and at Dunkirk, the Battle of Britain, the Battle of the Atlantic, the RAF in North Africa and the Mediterranean, the strategic air offensive over Germany and eventual victory in Europe. ‘His best book yet’ The Times ‘John Terraine is a fine historian … but he also believes that history should be exciting and readable’ The Listener
The Royal Air Force
Author: Michael Napier
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
The world's first independent air force, the Royal Air Force celebrates its centenary in 2018. In the 100 years since the end of World War I, the service has been involved in almost continuous operations around the globe, giving the RAF the longest and most wide-ranging history of any air force in the world. But over the years this history has also become entangled with myths. The Royal Air Force: A Centenary of Operations will set the record straight, dispelling these as it uncovers – in both words and photographs – the true exploits and accomplishments of RAF personnel over the last 100 years. From its formation as an independent service in the dying days of World War I, its desperate fight against the Axis air forces in World War II, to its commitments during both the Cold War and modern times, this is the complete story of how the RAF has defended Britain for a century.
Author: William R. Dunn
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
At the age of twelve, American William R. Dunn decided to become a fighter pilot. In 1939 he joined the Canadian Army and was soon transferred to the Royal Air Force. He was the first pilot in the famous Eagle Squadron of American volunteers to shoot down an enemy aircraft and later became the first American ace of the war. After joining the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943, he saw action in the Normandy invasion and in Patton's sweep across France. Twenty years later he fought again in Vietnam. Dunn keenly conveys the fighter pilot's experience of war -- the tension of combat, the harsh grip of fear, the love of aircraft, the elation of victory, the boisterous comradeship and competition of the pilot brotherhood. Fighter Pilot is both a gripping story and a unique historical document.
Dramatic story of World War II in the air How the U.S. built an air force of 2.3 million men after starting with 45,000 and defeated the world's best air force Vivid accounts of aerial combat Winner, 2011 San Diego Book Awards for Military & Politics In order to defeat Germany in World War II, the Allies needed to destroy the Third Reich's industry and invade its territory, but before they could effectively do either, they had to defeat the Luftwaffe, whose state-of-the-art aircraft and experienced pilots protected German industry and would batter any attempted invasion. This difficult task fell largely to the U.S., which, at the outset, lacked the necessary men, materiel, and training. Over the ensuing years, thanks to visionary leadership and diligent effort, the U.S. Army Air Force developed strategies and tactics and assembled a well-trained force that convincingly defeated the Luftwaffe.
Out of the Blue
Author: Ian William Cowie, Dim Jones, Christopher John Long
Two Roads to War
Author: Robin Higham
Publisher: Naval Institute Press
Two Roads to 1940 is a comparative study of the French and British air arms, from 1918 to 10 May 1940. Higham seeks the answer to the question “Why was the Armée de l’Air defeated in June 1940 whereas the Royal Air Force won the Battle Over Britain in September?” To reach a conclusion, the structure, the men and matériel, the government, and the economic infrastructure were analyzed. The story reveals that the French, dominated by the Armée de l’Terre, was hypnotized by “1918”; in contrast, the independent RAF evolved in the interwar years into a sophisticated, scientifically based force, which got the Air Defence of Great Britain (1924-1936) ready, was supported by government practices and consistency, as well as the necessary technical support for Fighter Command (1936-). Thus in 1940 the RAF could meet the Luftwaffe challenge. But the RAF also suffered from three major errors; no Air Officer Commander-in-Chief to control all the air commands, the almost fatal miscalculations of the power of Bomber Command, and the Army Ordnance’s refusal to develop the .50-caliber machine-gun instead of the .303. Serious historians and buffs should find the story salutary, as well as a detailed explanation of why air forces fail
Author: Geoffrey Wellum
Publisher: Penguin UK
Two months before the outbreak of the Second World War, eighteen-year-old Geoffrey Wellum becomes a fighter pilot with the RAF . . . Desperate to get in the air, he makes it through basic training to become the youngest Spitfire pilot in the prestigious 92 Squadron. Thrust into combat almost immediately, Wellum finds himself flying several sorties a day, caught up in terrifying dogfights with German Me 109s. Over the coming months he and his fellow pilots play a crucial role in the Battle of Britain. But of the friends that take to the air alongside Wellum many never return.
RAF Wings Over Florida
Author: Willard Largent
Publisher: Purdue University Press
"In their own words, British pilots tell of their Florida experiences. Many of them still in their late teens, away from home the first time, pale and thin from years of rationing, these young men encountered immense challenges and overwhelming generosity during their training in Florida. Now retired, these former pilots still smell the scent of orange blossoms when they glance through the log books they kept while flying their Stearmans and Harvards over Florida citrus groves. They fondly remember the times when they buzzed over the homes of their Florida "families" to let them know to expect them for Sunday dinner. More than fifty years later, their stories still resonate with universal emotions: fear of failure, love of country, camaraderie, romantic love, and the pain of tragic deaths. Their stories also remind the American reader of a unique time in our history, when, poised on the brink of war, the United States reached out to help a country in distress."--BOOK JACKET.
The Forgotten Few
Author: Adam Zamoyski
Publisher: Pen & Sword
'The Forgotten Few', written by Adam Zamoyski, provides a complete history of the Polish Air Force from the German invasion of Poland to the end of World War II.