Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.
With reviews of books that cover these topics
There is a plethora of books hitting the shops at the moment to exploit the imminent centenary of the RAF. Few are better qualified to participate in this than the established author Air Cdre Graham Pitchfork. As one might expect, this large format volume betrays a sure touch from its author, and does what it says on the tin. There are very many photographs, a lot of which you will not have seen before – sadly they are all in black and white.
Probably like other centenary volumes, the reader will be left shaking his head at the shrinking scale and spread of the Air Force in the latter half of its century.
Many of the entries are somewhat dry – the renaming of a branch, the closure of a station, an entry into service, etc. However there are also many obscure if interesting entries, such as:
The two-man crew of a Canberra (Flt Lt J. de Salis and Fg Off P Lowe), operating from RAF Hemswell, made the highest recorded emergency escape from an aircraft when they ejected at 56,000 ft using a semi-automatic Martin-Baker Mk 1c ejector seat. They descended in free-fall to 12,000ft.”
Apart from an over-use of the verb “commence” (a reflection of the author’s service background, no doubt), the only beef I have with this book is its format – all events on a particular day, throughout the 100 years, rather than in a straightforward chronological narrative. In my opinion the latter method would have been more user-friendly.