Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.
With reviews of books that cover these topics
Luftwaffe landings in Britain 1939-1945
Grub Street July 2014
ISBN 9781 909808126
Andy Saunders is a veteran aircraft historian, who is one of Britain’s leading experts on WW2 aircraft wrecks and their excavation. In this volume he examines 16 cases of Luftwaffe aircraft that landed in this country. For the most part they landed (under some degree of control) due to navigational error and therefore were soon able to be flown by the Enemy Aircraft Flight at Farnborough. Hence the foreword by Winkle Brown, who was a pilot on that flight, and who is said to have flown more aircraft types than anyone else of his era (and who continues to enthral audiences with tales from this part of his eventful career).
The book is illuminating in its explanation for many of these navigational errors – they must, mostly, and admittedly due to circumstantial evidence, be attributable to
RAF’s early attempts at electronic warfare – the ‘Meaconing’ system. As there are many contemporary and recent interviews with Luftwaffe aircrew, the book is also illuminating on the varied standards of treatment and interrogation they received in the UK – it was not always as civilised as British folklore would have it. Saunders sets out how valuable could be the intelligence sometimes gained from such ‘chats’.
For those who know a bit about the RAF’s WW2 history, one of the book’s more fascinating episodes is one which describes a battle which nearly generated Fighter Command’s first VC. In the event this awarded to James Nicholson, for what, according to this tome, were largely political reasons.
Very uplifting is the tale of two French pilots who managed to steal and fly a Bucker Jungmann from France to England, and go on to careers in the Free French Air Force. One of the last tales is frankly the least credible. Hitler’s pilot, Hans Baur, was said to have contacted the British intelligence services in 1941 to say that it may have been possible to divert to England with Hitler on board. Arrangements were put in place to welcome him at Lympne in Kent! Anyone who has read Baur’s book (reviewed here), will find this notion fanciful.
A slightly off beat book. Two criticisms: Saunders has a technical style that does not always flow easily. Secondly, he never quotes sources, which in view of the stance he takes on some issues, is frustrating.
Buy the book here
One of the more famous eagles to have landed in the UK (& described at length in this book)