When historians look back to the Second World War they will have available a wealth of material in books, films and DVDs. Unlike previous wars, they will not need to speculate on what it might have felt like to participate in this epic conflict that began with horses and biplanes but ended with the first use of nuclear weapons.
NAME: Flying Start, a Fighter Pilot’s War Years
CLASSIFICATION: Book reviews
AUTHOR: Hugh Dundas
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: Soft back
SUBJECT: WWII, aerial combat, fighters, pilots, Battle of Britain, European Theatre, North African Theatre, Spitfire, Gauntlet, Dunkirk, Hurricane,
DESCRIPTION: When historians look back to the Second World War they will have available a wealth of material in books, films and DVDs. Unlike previous wars, they will not need to speculate on what it might have felt like to participate in this epic conflict that began with horses and biplanes but ended with the first use of nuclear weapons. It was to be the first war to extensively use electronic intelligence, electronic computers, radar, sonar, jet aircraft, true submarines, total warfare. As a result, few had any idea what the experience would be. The author has provided a candid account of his experiences. Although he became the youngest Group Captain, much of his experience was typical of the young men who served as fighter pilots. At twenty he was not the youngest fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, because some of his contemporaries had joined the RAF from school, but he was in the main group of very young men who were to learn rapidly in combat or die. He became one of the leading Spitfire pilots and flew in both the European Theatre and the North African Theatre. He has been able to recreate his remarkable experiences on paper in a way that holds the reader’s attention and vividly paints the pictures. When read on its own, this book takes the reader into another world that is constructed completely, conveying the way of life that existed around and within the battles. When read with other accounts by pilots who flew the same battles, it provides a unique perspective that gives a strong impression of life in a cramped cockpit with a powerful engine and fuel tank in front, where the pilot was part of what is the most beautiful aircraft ever built and a machine which was ahead of common technology. Having been there at the start of the Battle of Britain and flown through it, the author is part of a very small band of pilots and all the more remarkable for continuing on in combat through the North African and Italian campaigns. The book contains an interesting black and white plate section and some letters to family, written during 1940. This is an important book for historians and enthusiasts, but it is also an important social history of a period that is rapidly passing into history as those who were there and survived now approach the end of life.