Johnnie Johnson’s 1942 Diary, The War Diary of the Spitfire Ace of Aces

In a generation of outstanding RAF fighter pilots, Johnnie Johnson was the top scoring Ace who survived the Battle of Britain and the fight for air supremacy, to stay on in the post-war RAF, to reach the rank of Air Vice Marshal. This book is based on his war diary of 1942 and provides a number of insights into life in the RAF Fighter Command of that period. Most Highly Recommended

NAME:  Johnnie Johnson's 1942 Diary, The War Diary of the Spitfire Ace of Aces
FILE: R3329
AUTHOR: Dilip Sarkar MBE
PUBLISHER: Air World, Pen and Sword
BINDING: hard back
PRICE: £25.00                                               
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT:   WWII, World War II, World War 2, Second World War, air war, fighter 
aces, RAF, Hurricane, Spitfire, Luftwaffe, Fighter Sweeps, Rhubarb Missions, post 
war, Air Vice Marshal

ISBN: 1-52679-170-6

PAGES: 232, 8 page B&W photo plate section
IMAGE: B3329.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/48dwsjuc
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: In a generation of outstanding RAF fighter pilots, Johnnie Johnson 
was the top scoring Ace who survived the Battle of Britain and the fight for air 
supremacy, to stay on in the post-war RAF, to reach the rank of Air Vice Marshal. 
This book is based on his war diary of 1942 and provides a number of insights into 
life in the RAF Fighter Command of that period.  Most Highly Recommended

This reviewer had the privilege of meeting many of those amazing pilots and 
Johnnie Johnson was typical of them. Those who survived kept in touch after the war 
and Johnnie Johnson's son Chris went to school in Norfolk, a county within East 
Anglia, with which his father had strong links.

Unsurprisingly, the small band of Battle of Britain fighter pilots grew smaller as the 
war drew on and, amongst the survivors, many ended up as POWs. Unlike the 
Luftwaffe, the RAF tried to preserve their experienced pilots with spells on training 
and by cycling them through the Groups so that the intensity of combat was spread 
and the burn-out rate reduced. It was interesting to hear Bob Stanford Tuck and his 
post-war friend General Leutnant Adolf Galland talk about the different approaches 
of their respective services. Galland remarked that he started the war as a squadron 
commander, rose to General and ended the war as a squadron commander. That put in 
perspective the 'kill' scores of the best Aces of the RAF and the Luftwaffe. Those 
German Aces who went on to the Eastern Front achieved much higher kill rates than 
their RAF counterparts, partly because they initially achieved air superiority against 
Soviet pilots of less experience, but mainly because they kept flying in the main 
battlefield and achieved very high survival skills, although they also suffered steady
attrition.

Johnnie Johnson was a schooled by the legendary Douglas Bader and his participation 
in the Duxford Wing actions towards the end of the Battle of Britain gave him the 
opportunity to learn from the best and then develop his skills further. By 1942 the 
game had changed significantly. During the Battle of Britain, RAF pilots had several 
home advantages. Notably, when their aircraft were fatally damaged they bailed out 
over friendly ground and could have their wounds treated, to rest and to return to 
service. The uninjured simply got into a fresh aircraft and went straight back up. One 
of the leading Aces, 'Ginger' Lacy also had a number of bail-outs that probably earned 
him his own silk worm farm. Another strong advantage was that the German fighters 
could only reach the 11 Group area, covering London and the South East. That meant 
that the RAF could rotate squadrons so that those taking the main heat in 11 Group could 
be withdrawn and rested in the neighbouring groups. Of course that meant that they had 
a reduced possibility of further 'kills' until it was their turn to go South again to 11 Group.

For the Germans, the fighter aces had only about 10 minutes combat time within their 
fuel reserves, which meant the Spitfires, covering the Hurricane squadrons attacking the 
bombers, gave them a reduced opportunity for kills, not least because the Spitfire Mark 
then in service out performed the Me109 variant in service. When a German was shot 
down he was a POW when he landed, or ran out of fuel on the way home after cutting the 
fuel reserves too short. Many of those who came down in the Channel were rescued by 
the British to become POWs, or were drowned.

The period covered by this engaging set of War Diaries covers the period where roles 
were reversed. The Germans continued to send bombers across, mainly at night and also 
some Lone Wolf hit and run fighters, but the battle had moved to mainland Europe. This 
meant the Spitfires and Hurricanes had limited combat fuel on the Rhubarb fighter sweeps 
across Belgium and France and they often flew low where the heavy coastal anti-aircraft 
fire was an additional threat. Being shot down meant a high probability of becoming a 
POW, although some were lucky to be helped home by the courage of Belgian and French 
evader lines.

The result of the new tactics for RAF fighters meant a change in the ace tables. During
 the BoB there were a number of contenders for the Ace of Aces position, with Bob 
Stanford Tuck in a narrow lead, hotly pursued by pilots like Bader and Lacey. By 1942, 
many were shot down over France or moved to other duties. Few followed the career of 
Johnnie Johnson were he survived the BoB, continued on front line flying and fighter 
sweeps, having the opportunity to open up a lead in the Ace of Aces stakes.