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.