The Design and Development of the Hawker Hunter, The Creation of Britain’s Iconic Jet Fighter

B2037 This is an outstanding account of one of the greatest British jet aircraft. The author has proved very readable text, clearly based on very careful research and direct experience. The publisher has done a first rate job of producing a lavishly illustrated work with a high full colour image content and some rare photographs. Not only has the author produced a fine history of the Hawker Hunter, but he has included related information on contemporary aircraft and on the disappointing Swift jet fighter. reviews.firetrench.com adn.firetrench.com bgn.firetrench.com nthn.firetrench.com ftd.firetrench.com NAME: The Design and Development of the Hawker Hunter, The Creation of Britain's Iconic Jet Fighter CATEGORY: Book Reviews DATE: 280814 FILE: R2037 AUTHOR: Tony Butler PUBLISHER: The History Press BINDING: soft back PAGES: 166 PRICE: £20.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Day fighter, point interceptor, ground attack aircraft, second generation jet fighter, 1950s, export success, single seat interceptor, bomber killer, 30 mm canon, trans-sonic ISBN: 978-0-7524-6746-7 IMAGE: B2037.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/oonc7n9 LINKS: DESCRIPTION: This is an outstanding account of one of the greatest British jet aircraft. The author has provided very readable text, clearly based on very careful research and direct experience. The publisher has done a first rate job of producing a lavishly illustrated work with a high full colour image content and some rare photographs. Not only has the author produced a fine history of the Hawker Hunter, but he has included related information on contemporary aircraft and on the disappointing Swift jet fighter. Hawker was immortalized by the Hurricane. Equalling that design achievement could take some beating but the Hawker Hunter was the true jet Hurricane. It was fast, single-seat, single-engine, heavy gun armament, a joy to fly, a bit short-legged, a point defence interceptor, a capable ground attack aircraft, much like the Hurricane when it became the first monoplane RAF fighter. There were some differences. The Hurricane could not be described as beautiful or elegant. It was a workman-like, pugnacious fighter that took the RAF forward without introducing great design or manufacturing risk. For its time it was very fast, very heavily armed, an excellent gun platform and it out performed the Me 109 when it joined the first RAF squadrons. However, the Camm design team at Hawkers minimised the risk and produced an aircraft that could be produced in volume with very few new production tools. The Hurricane borrowed heavily from the biplane Fury and its naval equivalent the Nimrod. The three noticeable changes were the enclosed cockpit, retractable undercarriage and the single wing. The structure was still essentially fabric covered steel tube and former construction almost unchanged from WWI. The relatively thick wing enclosed the powerful 8 machine gun armament and provided plenty of space for ammunition. In these respects, the Hunter was closer to the Spitfire than the Hurricane and its early years suffered somewhat from novel design features, but produced a thoroughbred that pilots fell in love with and those on the ground watched in admiration and envy. In the closing stages of WWII, British aircraft designers were already working on revolutionary jet bomber and fighter designs, including the Mach 2 Lightning. These aircraft were light years away from the piston engine era. This inevitably meant that design was beyond the knowledge base. This led to the spectacular crash at Farnborough of the DH110 and the crashes of Comet airliners amongst a number of setbacks as designers mastered the new factors of high altitude, high speed flight with materials that pushed the design knowledge. However, British designers rose to the challenges and opportunities with an industry that could still provide several competing designs to meet RAF and FAA requirements. The first generation jet fighters had not included swept wings. Study of German jet technology, captured at the end of WWII, and research carried out at the same time in Britain, led to a call for the successors to the Venom and Meteor to feature swept wings. At the same time, Rolls Royce had produced the Avon, a worthy equal to the Merlin piston engine in contemporary jet engine design, maintaining the link between the Hunter and the Hurricanes and Spitfires. Specifications were produced for RAF and FAA procurement of day fighters and night fighters, with the Avon as a desired engine. This resulted in Supermarine putting forward the Swift and Hawker putting forward the Hunter for the day fighter requirement. The All Weather/Night Fighter requirement resulted in DeHavilland putting forward the DH110/Vixen and Gloucester putting forward the Javelin, all offered with the Avon as the powerplant. Where the Swift and Hunter were fairly close in general design and configuration, Gloucester offered a massive two crew, twin engine delta jet, whilst the DH110 was a much smaller swept wing, twin boom, twin engine jet, with the second man buried in the 'coal hole' alongside and below the pilot, with only a tiny rectangular side window to provide an external view, where the Javelin provided conventional tandem seating under a Perspex canopy. The DH110/Vixen was a much more advanced design than the Javelin and not intended to carry any guns, although the RAF demanded 30 mm canon and four guided missiles. The Farnborough crash effectively left the field clear for the heavy cumbersome Javelin but the FAA decided to take the Sea Vixen development of the DH110, receiving a more capable aircraft without guns, placing retractable rocket batteries on either side of the nose wheel bay, leaving the under wing pylons free to carry guided missiles, bombs, fuel drop tanks and unguided rockets. The Swift and Hunter designs both entered service alongside each other but the Swift proved disappointing and its smaller numbers were rapidly removed from service. The Hunter was a beautiful smooth design that looked as though it could fly fast and nimble. The first versions were very clean and the pilot enjoyed a good position with very good vision. The main weakness was the gun armament. Had the RAF been prepared to accept four 20 mm canon, most of the problems suffered by the Hunter would have been avoided. At that time many aircraft designs did continue with four 20 mm cannon and demonstrated satisfactory performance in combat against contemporary bombers and fighters. The RAF desire to up-gun was driven by belief that a 30 mm canon was necessary to kill large Russian nuclear bombers. DeHavilland, with the Vixen, considered batteries of unguided missiles and underwing guided missiles were a superior solution, the aircraft being radar guided towards large enemy bomber formations to fire the unguided missiles, becoming in effect a guided aerial shotgun. Some argue that the 30 mm Aden canon was a poor design in every respect, but the RAF was to persevere with the gun, requiring two to be mounted on the Mach 2 Lightning, together with two guided missiles. The basic gun module on the Hunter was neat and could be rapidly removed and replaced. Arguments about the Aden canon aside, there is no question about the damage its empty shell cases did to a Hunter in flight. The solution was found to be streamlined bulges aft of the cannon to hold containers for spent cases, It was a viable solution and the alternative of 20 mm canon might have produced the same risks and required the same solution, leaving only the advantage of more rounds being carried than the larger and heavier 30 mm shells. The Hunter was to carry underwing unguided missiles to provide an effective ground attack capability and the aircraft proved a successful export sale, continuing on for a very long life with some air forces and as a target aircraft operated by a commercial company on contract to the Royal Navy to train ship crews in aircraft defence. Fortunately a small number have survived to be flown as vintage warplanes and the number of these display aircraft may increase as vintage jets become increasingly popular at air shows. From any view, the Hunter was iconic and hugely successful in its intended operation, but it also provided a great legacy. The Black Arrows pioneered the operation of large formation jet-powered air display aircraft. The Hunter was a natural for displays and the Black Arrows rapidly built up an enthusiastic following in Britain and on visits to other countries. The Black Arrows were contemporary with other RAF and FAA display teams, including the Pelicans and the Sea Vixen-mounted FAA Fred's Five display teams. The Red Arrows followed the Hunter Black Arrow tradition and initially used the diminutive Folland Gnat trainer, before moving to the superlative BAE Hawk that is much in the mould of the Hunter. As the life of the Hunter continued, it was logical to consider developing it to match emerging trends and requirements. In its initial form it was operated much like a Spitfire. Scrambled by the Command and Control system, to be directed to visual contact with the enemy. From that point it was down to the pilot to mix it with the enemy and kill their aircraft using a gun armament. In ground attack, the Hunter followed its Hawker predecessors, the Typhoon and Tempest, strafing ground targets with its guns and unguided underwing rockets. It could be flown in difficult conditions but it was essentially a day fighter. In its later years it needed its own radar and guided missiles. The addition of fire control radar and missiles included a replacement pack for the gun pack. This new pack had two guided missiles mounted under it. Consideration was given to alternatively mounting a guided missile under each wing. Alternative wing and tail configurations were considered, but none of these developments were to go into series production. Larger aircraft with two engines, and a second crew member to operate the radar, were available and they could carry four guided missiles and unguided rockets and/or guns. The Hunter had run out of roles its basic point interceptor design could meet and the single seat interceptor had moved on, with the P1 Lightning able to achieve Mach 2. The author has faithfully reported the history of the outstanding Hawker Hunter with accuracy and affection. The standard of illustration is equally outstanding. Highly commended and a book not to miss.  

50 Water Adventures to do before you die

B2036

This is a book that is a challenge to review because it does several things very well. As the title suggests, it is an inspiring bucket list of marine adventures for thrill seekers. It is also a collection of amazing photographs and a description of activities that are not all in common knowledge. As a source of information and collection of thrilling marine activities from the exciting to the mind blowing, this is a book with no rival. The bottom line is – go out and buy a copy and then start to try the experiences.

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NAME: 50 Water Adventures to do before you die
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 280814
FILE: R2036
AUTHOR: Lia Ditton
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 224
PRICE: £16.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: water, diving, photography, sailing, swimming, canoeing, white water, oceans, wind surfing, kiteboarding, submarining, kiteboarding, paddle boarding
ISBN: 978-1-4729-0113-2
IMAGE: B2036.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/qy87svl
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: This is a book that is a challenge to review because it does several things very well. As the title suggests, it is an inspiring bucket list of marine adventures for thrill seekers. It is also a collection of amazing photographs and a description of activities that are not all in common knowledge. As a source of information and collection of thrilling marine activities from the exciting to the mind blowing, this is a book with no rival. The bottom line is – go out and buy a copy and then start to try the experiences.

In a life full of digital pressures, the amazing range of experiences open to all of us is under utilized. Time is the excuse as millions restrict themselves to smart phone and computer screens, experiencing life by remote control. There are many other excuses, such as the cost of trying something new and maybe extreme, and then suddenly there is old age and a reduced number of things that most people are able to engage in, but then age is frequently just another excuse.

This reviewer was involved in the support team for the solo sailor who attempted the first vertical circumnavigation by sea. The sailor was in middle age with relatively little blue water sailing experience and no solo sailing experience. He thought it one last chance to try something he had dreamt of from boyhood and it was a courageous decision. He succeeded in returning to the UK after a true circumnavigation from polar sea to polar sea and had the experience of a lifetime, demonstrating that great adventures can be undertaken later in life.

In the same way, veterans who skydive in their 90s for charity are rare but by no means unique. One recently was a Battle of Britain fighter pilot who had never needed to use his parachute, but was then up for the challenge more than 70 years later for a good cause. In the same way, autogiro pioneer Wing Commander Wallace, perhaps best known for flying one of his autogiros, “Little Nelly” in a James Bond movie, was still flying at 95 and, shortly before his death, was planning further record attempts.

This book valuably provides a list of marine experiences that can be undertaken by a wide range of people and ages. Some are physically more demanding and may not suit those we tend to write off as 'pensioners', but the most adventurous may find that age is not the real barrier. It also provides a reminder that we should make early attempts at a thrilling list of adventures. No one knows what the future will hold, so don't delay and do it today.

A great book that's inspiring and enjoyable – buy a copy and stretch yourself

The Airbus A380, A History

B2035

This is a book that will appeal stronger to aviation enthusiasts and provides a valuable, accurate and detailed history that has been beautifully illustrated throughout the book with some stunning photography. It is also a very valuable look at the strengths and weaknesses of European integration and the latent hostility between some European politicians and the US. This is therefore also a valuable political lesson that will appeal to a wider readership.

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NAME: The Airbus A380, A History
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 280814
FILE: R2035
AUTHOR: Graham M Simons
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 256
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Airliners, wide-body, European aerospace, multi-national, jet airliner, civil aircraft, passenger jet, distributed construction
ISBN: 978-1-78303-041-5
IMAGE: B2035.jpg
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DESCRIPTION: European attempts to build an aerospace company to destroy the US aerospace companies has met with varied success. The A380 was conceived as a giant aircraft at a time when this was common aerospace thinking, taking a large capacity wide-bodied aircraft to reduce the number of aircraft needed on a given route, to reduce operating costs.

The author has begun an informative review of the history of the A380 with a look at earlier giant aircraft with the Do-X giant seaplane mounting 12 engines to achieve the necessary power for flight. The British Empire flying boats and the American Boeing 314 flying boat provide balance and the H-4 Hercules demonstrates a limit in size for a piston engine flying boat and wooden construction. Pre-World War Two, large aircraft tended to be flying boats because there was a lack of existing airfields with the length to support very large aircraft and because designers felt more comfortable with the proven ability of the flying boat hull to be expanded without major unknown structural factors. World War Two saw rapid development of heavy bombers and the superlative British Avro Lancaster achieved a ten ton bomb load with the range to bomb Berlin. The US B-29 took the design of heavy bombers further forward and dropped the first nuclear weapons. The result was that post-war civil aircraft grew in size and several were adapted from heavy bomber designs. The author has followed this development with the Boeing StratoCruiser, derived from the B-29 with a double deck accommodation, and included the Saunders Roe P192 as a design concept that would have produced a jet-powered flying boat with five decks and 24 RR Conway jet engines. The P192 also demonstrates that designers and manufacturers were still thinking of the flying boat as a viable giant commercial aircraft.

Jet passenger aircraft were initially constrained by the development stage of jet engines. The Comet was not only the first commercial passenger jet, but it was an attractive and comfortable aircraft that flew with four embedded engines. Initially successful, a structural failure suspended operations for a protracted period and resulted from the learning curved required for fast, high-altitude aircraft. However, it was also a relatively small aircraft, as was the later Boeing 707 that introduced suspended engines that permitted adoption of new engines during its working life and the potential to scale the design up and down much more easily than an aircraft with engines embedded in the wing roots. The author has therefore taken his story on with the Boeing 747 that was originally intended as a double-deck fuselage and the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy military transport giant. This introduction is nicely written and delightfully illustrated, with the A380 story beginning on page 37.

To understand the A380, it is necessary to understand the Airbus company and its objectives, including the massive illegal subsidies paid to the company by the European Union in its attempt to humble the US aerospace industry. Airbus adopted the Boeing concept of scaling successful designs and, the contentious issue of subsidies aside, the company has developed a family of commercially successful designs that have sold well around the world.

In the late 1980s, the aircraft manufacturers began to think of building even larger passenger aircraft. The Super Jumbo was intended to dwarf the Boeing 747. The author has reviewed the Boeing, Douglas and Airbus concept designs. He has not overlooked the development of the parallel cargo aircraft development than has produced Guppy designs to enable Airbus, in particular, to share work around its plants in different European countries and fly large sections to a final assembly location.

From this point, the author has followed the history of the A380 in detail and it makes an absorbing account of what has become a significant commercial aircraft. With its introduction into each of the operating airlines.

This is a book that will appeal stronger to aviation enthusiasts and provides a valuable, accurate and detailed history that has been beautifully illustrated throughout the book with some stunning photography. It is also a very valuable look at the strengths and weaknesses of European integration and the latent hostility between some European politicians and the US. This is therefore also a valuable political lesson that will appeal to a wider readership.

Out in Front, A Polish Fighter Pilot’s Dramatic Air War

B2034

The publisher is developing a reputation for offering some uniquely insightful aviation histories and this account of his experiences by 'Lanny' Lanowski is well up to the standard. It would be a welcome new book for its portrayal of the young men who made they way from their homelands to continue the fight against Nazi Germany, but it touches upon several facets of the European air war.

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NAME: Out in Front, A Polish Fighter Pilot's Dramatic Air War
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 280814
FILE: R2034
AUTHOR: Witold 'Lanny' Lanowski
PUBLISHER: Fighting High Books
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 292
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: P-47, Republic Thunderbolt, fighter pilot, 'Jug', bomber escort, USAAF, Holton
ISBN: 978-0-99262-074-5
IMAGE: B2034.jpg
BUYNOW: fightinghighbooks@btinterent.com
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The publisher is developing a reputation for offering some uniquely insightful aviation histories and this account of his experiences by 'Lanny' Lanowski is well up to the standard. It would be a welcome new book for its portrayal of the young men who made they way from their homelands to continue the fight against Nazi Germany, but it touches upon several facets of the European air war.

There is a valuable photo plate section to support the gripping text. The author has a slightly unusual slant to his experiences. His experiences as a young Polish Air Force pilot are similar to most of his contemporaries. He describes his family and the torn fortunes of Poland, together with his progress to pilot. When the Germans invaded Poland, in the same manner that Russian Nazis are now attempting to annex the Ukraine, the fight was not going to be protracted. Poland may have had courageous pilots with skills to match any fighter pilot, but they lacked the command and control systems that were essential to fighting a successful air campaign. They also lacked the aircraft to compete with German fighters on equal terms. The result was that many Polish aircraft were destroyed on the ground and those that became airborne rarely had the time to gain height before a swam of German machines were down on them. German victory was swift and Polish soldiers and airmen had to evade capture and escape to the closest friendly nation. Many went first to France, before escaping the Germans for a second time to reach the British Isles.

Once in Britain, Polish pilots then had to persuade the RAF that they were worth employing and attempt to join a Polish squadron. Although they were already veterans of air combat, these pilots had much to learn, including a language that was alien to so many of them. Operationally, they had to adjust to fighters that were far in advance of the types most of them were familiar with, and they also had to learn to fight under radio direction from the most sophisticated command and control system with its radar detection units. The RAF was initially reluctant to clear the Polish and Czech squadrons for operations, but the desperate need for fighters and pilots during the Battle of Britain forced the RAF to bring these squadrons to Full Operational Capability. They performed so well that it is difficult now to see why there was any RAF reluctance.

The author reached an operational squadron and flew Spitfire Mk V fighters against the Germans having missed the Battle of Britain, he flew during a period when German aircraft were coming over in smaller numbers, usually at night and heading for home at the first sight of serious opposition. This limited his opportunity to shoot down German aircraft and he became frustrated. This was no reflection on his skill or courage. In fact, his qualities had been recognized and rewarded with a posting to the Fighter Leader's School.

Lanny dealt with this frustration by transferring to the USAAF which was eager to increase its fighter escort groups that flew deep into Germany protecting the US heavy bombers. This is the point of novelty because although he was not alone in joining the USAAF, it was not a common experience for Polish flyers. The 65th Fighter Wing was assigned to escort the 2nd Bomb Division B-24 Liberators and initially the Thunderbolt fighters did not have the range to go all the way to the target and back. Modifications were made and the Thunderbolt was able to provide protection for most target routes, but the real solution was the introduction of the P-51 Mustang.

Lanny tells his story with charm and clarity. It is a very involving tale and readers will be grateful that he took the time to record his unique experiences to paper. An excellent book

The Pegasus and Orne Bridges, Their Capture, Defence an Relief on D-Day

B2001

There are a handful of stirring military actions through history that stand out for the dogged bravery of those involved. During WWII there are two actions that stand out and they are both airborne forces actions. Arnhem may have been beset by difficulties, some avoidable, but the parachute and glider troops involved performed magnificently, and fought on long after anyone could reasonably expect, inspired by the earlier action in support of D-Day that is so ably recounted in this book. The author has provided enormous detail from thorough research and told the story from the planning. There are many single colour images through the body of the book and they add to the telling of a moving and extraordinary tale.

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NAME: The Pegasus and Orne Bridges, Their Capture, Defence an Relief on D-Day
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 200814
FILE: R20001
AUTHOR: Neil Barber
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 324
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, D-Day, Airborne Division, paratroops, gliders, vertical insertion, special forces, light infantry
ISBN: 1-47382-274-2
IMAGE: B2001.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/nw93bbh
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: There are a handful of stirring military actions through history that stand out for the dogged bravery of those involved. During WWII there are two actions that stand out and they are both airborne forces actions. Arnhem may have been beset by difficulties, some avoidable, but the parachute and glider troops involved performed magnificently, and fought on long after anyone could reasonably expect, inspired by the earlier action in support of D-Day that is so ably recounted in this book. The author has provided enormous detail from thorough research and told the story from the planning. There are many single colour images through the body of the book and they add to the telling of a moving and extraordinary tale.

The parachute made its appearance during WWI as an escape system that should have been available to every pilot but was issued first to observation balloon crew and then, reluctantly, to German fighter pilots. Allied pilots had to make do with a pistol to avoid the agony of diving towards the ground with flame leaping back at them from the engine and fuel tank. After WWI, soldiers soon thought of using parachutes as a means of delivering light infantry behind enemy lines to seize key points. The Russians built a significant airborne force but, in their case, the soldiers were often expected to jump from the aircraft's wings at very low level without a parachute, relying on banks of snow to ease the impact. The Germans also built a formidable airborne force, as part of the Luftwaffe, and they not only ensured every trooper jumping from an aircraft had a parachute, but they also built assault gliders, equipped with machine guns to suppress enemy fire during the landing phase. Initially their gliders were small troop carriers, but they were to go on to build giant gliders that could carry artillery and vehicles in addition to troops. They also began to build gliders with engines that could assist in take-off and, potentially, allowed gliders to self-recover after delivering troops and cargo. Eventually some German gliders were operated as powered planes, particularly in maintaining the air bridge to the Afrika Korps from airfields in Sicily and Italy.

British and US progress to building airborne forces was slow until the outbreak of WWII. British agents and soldiers were parachuted into Occupied Europe to support the various developing resistance groups and to attack specific high value targets. The development of an airborne force by the British was inspired by the brilliant German pinpoint attacks on Belgian forts in 1940, and further encouraged by the large scale German airborne assault on Crete, although the heavy losses suffered by the Germans reduced their own enthusiasm for airborne assault, with German paratroops being used largely as ground-based light infantry after their invasion of Crete.

British and US troops allocated to the D-Day operations enjoyed a number of advantages. The excellent DC3/C-47/Dakota twin engine transport was available in some numbers by early 1944. It was capable of dropping paratroops and of towing assault gliders. It could be landed on grass fields with relatively short strips, but it was more economical to use gliders and have the DC3 tugs available to return and air drop ammunition and other supplies once the airborne troops were on the ground. The DC3 was also reinforced by a selection of medium and heavy bombers that had been transferred from bombing operations to paratroops and as glider tugs. The result was that the Allies had a considerable and well-equipped airborne force available for D-Day, but they would be operating in numbers that had not been previously employed and operating in airspace heavy with all types of combat aircraft.

One of the factors that allowed the Allies to achieve rapid success in landing and breaking out from their Normandy beach heads was the attack in depth that depended on the airborne forces to provide that depth, together with bombers and ground attack aircraft. Any amphibious assault faces a very critical stage as troops and equipment are landed under the enemy guns at a time when they are least able to fire back. Once ashore, they have to advance through enemy shore defences and move inland. Until they break out from the beaches, they are especially vulnerable. Once they have broken out they can form traditional columns and battle lines as a land force. On D-Day a number of traditional and new technology and tactics were employed. Warships were used for heavy bombardment of enemy defences, batteries and strong points. Aircraft were also employed in considerable numbers to tactically bomb key enemy positions and supply routes. During the landings, some landing craft were equipped with rocket batteries and guns to sail in with the infantry and tank landing craft to provide local suppressive fire on enemy defences with the intention of keeping enemy heads down until the infantry and armour were ashore and better able to fend for themselves. In many respects this was a traditional approach to assaulting the enemy shore. Aircraft were a new development, but there also a number of new devices. Swimming tanks were used with some success, small difficult targets as they approached the shore and able to use their guns as soon as they began wading through shallow water. They were followed by swimming trucks (DUKW) that carried ammunition and supplies, and tank landing craft delivered special armour to sweep the beaches for mines and assault strong points with demolition guns and flame throwers.

This impressive selection of new and proven technology in considerable numbers gave D-Day a good start on the beaches, but there was a race between bringing adequate numbers of troops, guns and armour ashore against the German need to rush reinforcements to the battle zone and launch counter attacks before the invaders became established. This was where airborne forces really came to the rescue. Dropped and landed ahead of the beach landings, they were to join up with the French resistance fighters and wage guerilla war on the German supply lines, and to take and hold key positions until the beach landers had come ashore, broken through the coast defence chain and advanced inland to relieve the airborne forces, exploiting their possession of key communications points. This where the irony for any invading force lays. They need to prevent enemy reinforcements reaching the coast and this could have been achieved by bombardment of bridges and the use of special forces and guerillas to blow bridges, rail lines and tunnels. However, as the landing force broke out from the beach, they would need working bridges, roads and rail lines to allow them to rapidly advance inland and on towards the enemy's homeland.

Dropping paratroops and landing gliders sounds fairly easy, but there are many challenges. A number of these could not be addressed until the helicopter had developed into a viable troop carrier. Today, airborne forces can be delivered by helicopter, casualties can be flown out by helicopter and the forces that are already on the ground can be moved around by helicopter to position them for changing conditions and to move them forward as required. In 1944, airborne forces were less flexible. Landing parachutists was not too difficult, provided that the weather was kind. US paratroops dropping into Normandy were scattered by unfavourable wind. Glider troops were better able to deal with the weather, but they did need to land as close as possible to the target and seizing bridges meant water and marshland obstacles. Once on the ground, paratroop and glider passengers became infantry and could only move at the speed of a foot soldier, carrying only personal weapons in the main and having limited ammunition. If they landed away from the target, or needed to redeploy to meet enemy resistance, they were at a disadvantage against an enemy that had vehicles and armour. If they moved far from their intended positions, they could be denied resupply by air drops because of limited communications with headquarters and aircraft. In the main, any planned resupply would involve blind drops, hoping the aircraft were on target and the airborne troops were still in control of the drop zones.
The action to take and hold the Pegasus and Orne Bridges was a considerable success against all of these potential obstacles. It was carried out with professional dedication and bravery. Once in possession of the target bridges, the troops then had to hold out until relieved and relief inevitably arrived later than expected because the relief force had to fight off the beaches and through enemy territory to reach the bridges.

The author has told this story very effectively and done full justice the the heroic actions by the fledgling airborne forces. It is a moving story and the specialist knowledge of the author of the area and period is further elevated by the use of dramatic personal accounts that make this a memorable account of a thrilling and inspiring tale. Highly recommended.

Battleship Ramillies, The Final Salvo

B2000

This book starts and ends well with a pair of coloured side views of Ramillies in the fore and aft end papers. It is also graced with a foreword by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh who not only writes some very good forewords, but had Ramillies as his first ship at the beginning of a distinguished naval career. From that great start, the book benefits enormously from the Ramillies Association. The editors have collected together the material from these sources and produced an absorbing and enjoyable account of a capital ship that survived two great wars. The illustration is first rate through the body of the book which forms an appropriate tribute to the vessel and those who served on her.

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NAME: Battleship Ramillies, The Final Salvo
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 200814
FILE: R2000
AUTHOR: Edited by Ian Johnstone, with Mick French
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: har back
PAGES: 256
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, D-Day, battleships, capital ships, naval big guns, line of battle, Fleet actions, naval technology,Pacific, Japanese, HRH Duke of Edinburgh. WWI, Grand Fleet, Scapa Flow
ISBN: 1-78337-606-6
IMAGE: B2000.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/lbem5v2
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DESCRIPTION: This book starts and ends well with a pair of coloured side views of Ramillies in the fore and aft end papers. It is also graced with a foreword by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh who not only writes some very good forewords, but had Ramillies as his first ship at the beginning of a distinguished naval career. From that great start, the book benefits enormously from the Ramillies Association. The editors have collected together the material from these sources and produced an absorbing and enjoyable account of a capital ship that survived two great wars. The illustration is first rate through the body of the book which forms an appropriate tribute to the vessel and those who served on her.

The Royal Navy went into WWII with few new capital ships. Most were designed before the end of WWI, or like Ramillies been laid down and completed during that war, to join the Grand Fleet. She was a 15 inch gun battleship, completed before the threat of aircraft was fully understood. For WWII, her secondary armament had to be updated to provide a more realistic air defence. There were two reasons for so many large warships in the Royal Navy being WWI survivors. In 1918, Britain was exhausted by WWI, her Exchequer was empty, and politicians were keen to spend the imagined peace dividend. As a result, the Admiralty was reluctant to scrap obsolescent warships and replace them with new builds, because it was plain to see the politicians would welcome the scrapping of vessels and then be reluctant to provide funding for replacements. When the between wars naval treaties were negotiated, Britain needed to live within tight tonnage limits and that could only allow imaginative design of a small number of new vessels and the retention of warships that the Royal Navy would have liked to replace.

Some of the innovation was successful, the new carrier Ark Royal was a design triumph that kept within the very limited tonnage available for new builds. The battleships Nelson and Rodney introduced 16 inch guns in a very creative design where all three triple turrets were mounted ahead of the superstructure that became known as Queen Anne's Mansions as a very neat tower structure. In the event the only new built battleships at the beginning of WWII were the KGV Class including the ill-fated Prince of Wales. Effort was already directed to building aircraft carriers. The exception was HMS Vanguard, perhaps she would have been more appropriately named HMS Rearguard, built as an economy battleship against possible losses. She was a fine sea ship that proved much more capable in bad weather than the US Missouri Class during post-war exercises. However she was built to be as economical as possible and used main guns landed when Glorious and Courageous were converted to aircraft carriers.

The book feels as though it was written for former Ramillies crew and that makes it a very warm and personal account. It may be a matter of taste, but this reviewer is always happiest with this style because it provides a much better level of readable detail than many ship histories written by historians. Children and Grand Children of crew will find this particularly valuable because it talks in familiar language and provides the information that we are poor at passing to our families when it includes war experiences.

This really is a fitting tribute to ship and crew. The only warning is that those beyond the ship's family will find it an involving story and raise expectations that may not be met by other authors of naval history. They will also have their eyes opened to the rich and sometimes eccentric features of Royal Navy life, such as the Ramillies Captain who went into battle wearing his Maori grass skirt. It is an engaging look at Royal Navy life in peace and war in a ship that was a survivor.

Eight Army in Italy, 1943-1945, The Long Hard Slog

B1999

The author has examined the people, the equipment, the politics and the environment to provide a well-presented account that is balanced and comprehensive. There may be few new insights, but the campaign in Italy has been poorly covered in the past and this book is an objective tribute to the 8th Army in Italy.

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NAME: Eight Army in Italy, 1943-1945, The Long Hard Slog
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 200814
FILE: R1999
AUTHOR: Richard Doherty
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
PAGES: 259
PRICE: £14.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, D-Day, amphibious assault, beach landings, landing craft, landing ships, armour, training, artillery, North Africa, Sicily, Italy, 8th Army, Desert Rats
ISBN: 1-78337-606-6
IMAGE: B1999.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/l7wk6f5
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: Churchill's 'soft underbelly of Europe' may have sounded good as rhetoric but Churchill had few illusions that the invasion of Sicily and Italy would be easy. Primarily he wanted to take pressure off Russian demands for a second front. By going for Sicily and then Italy, the Allies could move some of their victorious armies from North Africa in short routes, without reducing or disrupting the preparations for the Normandy landings in mid 1944.

As with any campaign, there will be many conflicting views expressed as to why progress was not as some expected. Certainly the 'D-Day Dodgers on Holiday in Sunny Italy' found it anything but a holiday and the weather frequently far from sunny. In most respects, their battles were tougher than those in France and into Germany. It became a hard slog where German troops fought every inch of the way, often with more tenacity than their comrades in France and Germany were to display.

There has been some criticism of the US approach to beach landings, where they failed to exploit apparent early opportunities to get off the beaches and on towards the big prizes. They also became bogged down and close to being thrown back into the sea. A similar story emerges from the much larger Normandy landings. It certainly was no lack of courage, training or equipment. In some cases it was bad luck resulting from weaknesses in intelligence of the enemy positions and strength. Generally, senior US commanders were concerned that premature strikes inland would end up with a breakdown of the supply system and the defeat of the troops. By waiting to build up logistics, opportunities were lost and the British troops were raring to go. Of course, there were some fundamental differences between the two forces. The US had come late into the war and was both learning the trade and coming from an environment where lavish supplies were always available. For the British, the war seemed to have gone on for ever and they wanted a speedy conclusion, more importantly, they had become accustomed to having sparse supplies and fighting light.

The US troops landing in Tunisia had learn of battle the hard way and were still putting those lessons to good use. Both the US and British troops had just come from an essentially desert war with vast spaces, harsh conditions and an ideal environment for armoured divisions to form and advance more like a fleet of warships. Sicily and Italy were a very different environment with urban areas, cultivated land, and roads that owed little to the Roman pre-occupation with straight military roads. A landscape that varied included mountainous areas that were ideal for a rear guard to hold up progress and there were fewer opportunities to exploit the Allied air superiority as completely as had been possible in North Africa.

As the time neared for the Normandy landings, resources were switched from the Italian campaign. This was not only a matter of moving men and equipment, or of a lack of reinforcements to make up battle casualties, but the best commanders were cherry picked and allocated to the D-Day invasion force. Where D-Day was to concentrate on using US, Canadian and British troops, where a first language and heritage were shared, the Italian campaign was a cosmopolitan mix of soldiers from virtually every part of the British Empire, together with those who had fled occupied Europe to join their national Free Forces, the Jewish Brigade and Italian partisans who were joined by regular Italian forces on the ousting of Mussolini and the Italian surrender. Against them was a largely German force that included some of the elite units of the German Army and the Luftwaffe's paratroopers.

The author has examined the people, the equipment, the politics and the environment to provide a well-presented account that is balanced and comprehensive. There may be few new insights, but the campaign in Italy has been poorly covered in the past and this book is an objective tribute to the 8th Army in Italy.

Battles of a Gunner Officer, Tunisia, Scilily, Normandy and the Long Road to Germany

B1998 This is an excellent account from a fresh perspective that will be memorable for the reader. It is impressive that new views and insights are still emerging from a war that is now almost seventy years from its ending. In this case the material on which the book has been written appears to have been specifically produced by Major Petit for his family to read and we should be grateful that the current owner of the material has been prepared to present it for publication and then share the insights with the reader. reviews.firetrench.com adn.firetrench.com bgn.firetrench.com nthn.firetrench.com ftd.firetrench.com NAME: Battles of a Gunner Officer, Tunisia, Scilily, Normandy and the Long Road to Germany CATEGORY: Book Reviews DATE: 200814 FILE: R1998 AUTHOR: John Philip Jones PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: hard back PAGES: 198 PRICE: £25.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, D-Day, amphibious assault, beach landings, landing craft, landing ships, armour, training, artillery, North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, France, Germany ISBN: 1-78337-606-6 IMAGE: B1998.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/k5r3rrt LINKS: DESCRIPTION: The author has based his book on the experiences of Major Peter Petit. By assembling the notes made by Major Petit, the author has produced an interesting account of one of the areas of battle that tends to receive less attention. Artillery has been a factor in battles for 800 years and World War Two saw the use of mobile artillery as a key support for infantry and armour. The British 25 pounder was critical to success in many a battle during WWII. It operated close to, or in, the front line and it provided a flexible field weapon that could move and keep up with armour in the fast moving battles of North Africa and then into Europe. Major Petit was a Territorial officer who penned thoughts and events almost every day, providing immediate, vivid and lucid accounts whilst memory and feelings were fresh. The result is a fine and detailed account of his war through Tunisia, Sicily and Normandy with the sweep across north-west Europe to victory. The author/editor has presented the material in a sensitive and concise manner without losing any of the essential detail, and supported the text with a photo plate section that contains unique images from Major Petits personal collection. This is an excellent account from a fresh perspective that will be memorable for the reader. It is impressive that new views and insights are still emerging from a war that is now almost seventy years from its ending. In this case the material on which the book has been written appears to have been specifically produced by Major Petit for his family to read and we should be grateful that the current owner of the material has been prepared to present it for publication and then share the insights with the reader.

D-Day Assault, The Second World War Assault Training Exercises at Slapton Sands

B1997

The author has told the full story of Slapton Sands in a very readable style with some interesting and evocative images in a photographic plate section. This is a valuable addition to the available pool of knowledge of the greatest amphibious landing in history.

The author has drawn on first hand accounts of those who lived and trained at Slapton Sands, producing a unique account of the training area. This is a book that makes a sense of D-Day that eludes most accounts of the actual Normandy landings. Those many books on the D-Day invasion have to concentrate on the battle and this makes it difficult to present those battles in context with the extensive and lengthy training programme that made success possible. A highly recommended book.

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NAME: D-Day Assault, The Second World War Assault Training Exercises at Slapton Sands
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 200814
FILE: R1997
AUTHOR: Mark Khan
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 198
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWII, World War Two, Second World War, D-Day, amphibious assault, beach landings, landing craft, landing ships, armour, training
ISBN: 1-78159-384-1
IMAGE: B1997.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/mljg55z
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The author has told the full story of Slapton Sands in a very readable style with some interesting and evocative images in a photographic plate section. This is a valuable addition to the available pool of knowledge of the greatest amphibious landing in history.

Slapton Sands became infamous because a group of German S-Boats got in amongst the landing craft during one of the later landing exercises and some 800 US Army lives were lost. The author has included this episode in his absorbing account of the use of Slapton Sands, but it is just one part in an important story.

The probing exercise at Dieppe demonstrated the serious risks that would be faced Allied Forces as they attempted to land in Normandy. The losses at Slapton sands were modest by comparison and the lessons they taught, together with the lessons of Dieppe not only saved many lives in Normandy, but they made possible the successful Normandy landings and the advance on Germany that ended the Second World War in Europe.

In any beach landing, the advantage is with the defenders. They are already located in defensive positions that reduce the risk of casualties, whilst the landing force is very exposed to fire from these positions. The further advantage is that those guns that can fire on the defenders are subject to the movement of the craft they are mounted on and most guns can only be brought into action after they have been landed. Even ashore, the invaders have to cross open beaches and may have to climb cliffs before they can engage the defenders on equal terms. The result is that any amphibious assaults require careful training before they are attempted and therefore require training grounds that most closely resemble the target beaches.

In preparation for D-Day, there were a great many unknowns and an equally large number of known or suspected risks. The sheer size of the Normandy landings was daunting. Never before had any army attempted an invasion on anything like that scale. Perhaps the closest experience was in WWI at Gallipoli and that was not an experience that the Allies could afford in this second global war.

There were two critical challenges. The first was to find realistic training beaches, The second was make the training as realistic as the conditions on D-Day. That meant a stretch of beach on its own would be insufficient because the Normandy landings would involve the dropping of airborne troops behind the beaches and the first wave of landings would be followed by a series of later waves and the delivery of ammunition, food and fuel to support the breakout. Training for a single beach would have been demanding enough, but the Allies would land on a number of neighbouring beaches at the same time to produce the depth required to stand a realistic chance of success. Hundreds of vessels of every size would have to form up and navigate to their designated beaches. In addition, amphibious tanks and trucks would accompany the various sizes of landing ship and landing craft. It was a potential logistics nightmare.

To conduct the essential training, the Allies had to identify several beaches and decide whether each beach should be allocated to a single army, or to mix the Allied Forces. It was a matter of great complexity, made more challenging by the many items of new technology. Armoured troop carriers and fighting vehicles that would swim ashore had never been tried, certainly on the required scale, or at all before. Many nationalities made up the Allied Forces and they included some items of equipment unique to them and some tactics and attitudes that were unique.

The author very ably describes how Slapton Sands came to be selected and allocated for US troops to train on. He also shows the size of the area of productive farm land that was transferred to training of soldiers and their weapons. It was hugely disruptive as hundreds of homes were vacated by the local population. This huge area was not only used to train virtually every US soldier, allocated to take part on D-Day, in beach landings, but it was also used to train the paratroops who would drop behind the beaches to take and hold key positions.

However, these enormous training exercises faced one special set of problems. There was a danger that they would attract German attention and betray the true location of the D-Day beaches, and there was a very strong risk that the level of activity would attract the attention of German aircraft and warships. It was extreme good fortune that only Exercise Tiger would become victim of a German attack during the exercise.

The author has drawn on first hand accounts of those who lived and trained at Slapton Sands, producing a unique account of the training area. This is a book that makes a sense of D-Day that eludes most accounts of the actual Normandy landings. Those many books on the D-Day invasion have to concentrate on the battle and this makes it difficult to present those battles in context with the extensive and lengthy training programme that made success possible. A highly recommended book.

Veteran Volunteer, Memoir of the Trenches, Tanks & Captivity 1914-1918

B1996

This book has been assembled from an archive of material produced by Agnew for his family, documenting his experiences of joining the British Army, eventually becoming a pioneer of tank warfare and then as a POW. Jamie Vans has carried out the work as co-editor of producing a publishable work, aided by the late Professor Peter Widdowson. The sensitive editing has produced a fine and rare account of early tank warfare and will be greatly appreciated by all who have an interest in WWI and the technological advances made in mechanized warfare. The photo plate section is also very interesting and supportive of the text.

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NAME: Veteran Volunteer, Memoir of the Trenches, Tanks & Captivity 1914-1918
CATEGORY: Book Reviews
DATE: 200814
FILE: R1996
AUTHOR: Frank Vans Agnew MC
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 194
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, World War One, First World War, Western Front, opening campaigns, reconnaissance, technology, tactics, tanks, trenches, POWs
ISBN: 1-78346-277-9
IMAGE: B1996.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/l7oyhzz
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION:

Agnew was a former Roosevelt's Rough Rider and adventurer who left America to fight for the British. He lied about his age, successfully convincing the British recruiters that he was only 40 rather than his 48 years. He enlisted in the 2nd King Edward's Horse, but was soon commissioned and attended the Machine Gun Corps School, taking part in the Battle of the Somme, before joining the Tank Corps.

IN 1917 he was wounded at Messines and awarded the Military Cross. He was again wounded at 3rd Ypres and captured at Cambrai. He was then held for the next 12 months as a POW.

His accounts of early tank warfare are particularly valuable and rare. This was the game changer in WWI that helped to breach the stagnation of the trenches. It was also beginning to show how armour could be used in a war of rapid movement. To have such a fine account of this in an outstanding war memoir is excellent and this is a very important book that demands to be read.