The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight


The author is best known as a photographer and this book contains some stunning full colour photography. The text has been well-written and tells the story of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight but that is the central theme rather than the full scope. Even thought the British military have suffered swinging cutbacks in the decade of the Blair/Brown regime, the BBMF has continued to survive along with the Red Arrows display team and this is important because once lost, the collection would be very difficult to recreate.

The stars of the BBMF are the Hurricanes and Spitfires that commemorate the aircraft that took part in the Battle of Britain. The addition to the BBMF of a Lancaster originally generated some controversy because it was not part of the Battle of Britain story, but it commemorates the thousands of aircrew who took part in the Battle of Germany at great cost to themselves. The Lancaster is now so firmly established as a worthy co-star that it is inconceivable that a BBMF display should ever take place without it participating. More recently, a Dakota has become an integral part of the BBMF and goes some way to commemorating the role of RAF Transport Command. To keep the BBMF flying, it needs engineers and pilots who are drawn from the modern line squadrons where today they have been brought up on jet technology and modern navcom electronics. There is no shortage of personnel wishing to join the BBMF and great reluctance, on the part of those who are selected, to leave. As part of their induction, they require training aircraft. The Lancaster and Dakota are able to take new recruits on conversion flights, but the Spitfires and Hurricanes are single seaters. During WWII, pilots learned to fly on Tiger Moth biplane trainers and then spent some hours on advanced trainers before a first solo flight in a Spitfire or Hurricane. The BBMF has employed the Chipmunk trainer to provide experience of flying piston-engine tail wheel monoplanes to convert experienced jet pilots to the BBMF aircraft. All of this story is told by the author with a feeling for his subject and with an eye to capture of these historic aircraft as images. The editorial and production team have done a first rate job of setting this out for the press and the result is a very good value for money book that uses full colour throughout. The only question raised is why more publishers cannot manage to achieve this standard at an affordable price. The book will obviously appeal to all aviation enthusiasts, but it will undoubtedly appeal to a much wider readership because the BBMF has established a wider fan base where people who otherwise have little interest in aviation are drawn to these iconic planes.

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